I NEEDED A CHALLENGE!

Here’s a little bit about me, Greg Pearson, and why I’m writing this blog.

My first Triathlon was the Ironman70.3 Western Sydney in November 2018. I booked the event back in April of the same year with no hesitation after feeling like I needed to do something big and test my body’s capability in a much more rigorous event than I had ever previously competed. Having watched numerous videos on Ironman events; the gruelling training, the psychological battles on the field, the relentless will of all competitors to cross the finish line – Ironman was something I wanted to be a part of. The dedication, determination and desire of these people to complete an Ironman is inspiring. I hadn’t even started training and I wanted to do one the next day! 

The joys of reaching the red carpet

Growing up, I was always the fittest person on the field. I had big lungs. I played every sport under the sun, including cricket, football, golf, and tennis, with football taking president. Like many kids growing up in England, I dreamed of playing in the Premier League alongside Thierry Henry, Paul Scholes, and David Beckham. Having trialled at a few teams as a 12 year old including Manchester City & Leeds United, I began my footballing career at Huddersfield Town FC where I went on to gain myself a professional contract back in 2011. 

After a short spell at Huddersfield Town I parted ways with the club. I began a career in semi-professional football where I spent the next 6 years at a few different clubs, while working and studying at university in Manchester. Throughout this time, I was always extremely disappointed with myself that I didn’t achieve everything I was supposed to in the footballing world, having spent so much of not only my own time, but my parents time, working towards developing a career in professional football. From 12 years old the weeks would include training and matches three times per week, with Dad travelling all over the country to watch us get beaten by the likes of Newcastle 6-0. It must have been difficult to watch at times. I’ll always be grateful for the time spent by my parents helping me to achieve whatever I wish. Ultimately, on graduating from university I needed a change of scenery, a different lifestyle, to see another part of the world.

In 2017 I packed up my things and boarded a plane to Australia, firstly to travel, but secondly to find opportunities that I wasn’t interested in finding in England. I needed some excitement and I needed to be out on my own with no one to rely on but myself. After witnessing some beautiful places and spending what I had on partying along the east coast, I headed back to Sydney to set up camp. 

In no way was the transition tough in terms of adjusting to the cultures of Australia and any form of language barrier of course, aside from my thick Yorkshire accent, but it was tough nonetheless. Living in 8 bed dorms in hostels and moving from one place to the next for the first 8 months wasn’t exactly fantastic while working full time, but I worked it out, because I had to. I’ve met some great people over the course of my time in Sydney, and early on I quickly developed a love for the city. The beach one way, the city the other, Sydney is awesome!

THE BABY

As I move on to WHY I’m writing this blog, 6 or so months after meeting Jordanna, I booked myself the Ironman70.3 Western Sydney. Great decision.

In June 2018, Jordanna and I found out that we would be having a baby. Very exciting, although initially quite overwhelming. Both foreign citizens living a few thousand miles away from any family, my thoughts were that I should cancel the Ironman. With baby due in February 2019, I didn’t think I would have the time, resources, and money to be able to purchase all necessary training equipment, swimming passes, or coaching sessions if required. A bike, helmet, cleats, pedals, cycling clothing, spare tyres, tyre pump, running shoes, goggles, swim shorts, tri suit, wetsuit; the list is endless, and not to mention the entry fee! What about baby clothes? Toys, books, food, bottles, crib, hospital bills, doctors fees, car seat, a pram? Priorities! Would I really be able to commit so much to competing in the Ironman? 

The debate on how much time I would have to train and prepare properly circled my head for quite some time. If I’m going to do something, I want to smash it. I want to win (maybe a little over ambitious). Where would I find the time to go cycling for 2-3 hours? My body hasn’t travelled through water more than 20 yards since I was 6 years old, how would I swim 1.9km? With the amount of hours I was working at the time, baby scans, doctors visits amongst other things; time didn’t feel like it would be on my side. 

JUST GET SHIT DONE!

Credit to Jordanna, super positive attitude to life. She was not allowing me to cancel my entry to the race and after much deliberation, I decided to just get shit done and start training! I would find the time somewhere and I’m a firm believer in that if you want something bad enough, you’ll just do whatever you need to do to get it done. I’d just have to make more money, find more time, prioritise weekly tasks more effectively. Easy… no. 

From July 1st I began training. I had 20 weeks before the race and I would be able to commit 10 hours per week to training alongside work etc. Thats 200 hours to Ironman70.3, November 26th 2018. Each week my plan was to train 2x1hour swim sessions, 1x3hour cycle, 3x1hour run sessions, 2x1hour strength sessions, not to mention travel time on public transport. 

10 hours was my base, but I felt I should be training more often. After a little research I realised I needed to focus the training, make it specific and efficient. I didn’t want to waste any time unnecessarily on mindless training. That being said, this was going to be my first triathlon and although I knew I should have had a training plan drawn up, I spent a lot of time just covering distance during training sessions to compensate for my lack of knowledge and experience in the sport. I knew this was an ineffective way of training but I was working hard, regardless. I had the ability to complete the race. If nothing else, my work rate would get me through. 

I was ready, I’d trained hard. My only concern nearing race day was that I hadn’t actually taken part in any form of triathlon before, and I wasn’t sure of the race structure, how to swim in the middle of 100 other people, or the transition process. How would I react to the race day pressure? I’m aware I’m not a pro, but I didn’t want to fail, having trained for so long. 

RACE DAY

3am wake up call. I remember setting 6 alarms, just to be sure I didn’t sleep in that morning. We were staying at an AirBnB in the Blue Mountains, a 30 minute drive to The Sydney Olympic Regatta Centre, Penrith. A dark, cool morning, I ate my breakfast of ‘overnight oats’ and we set off as I snacked on granola bars and sweets. I have a tendency to snack on sweet sources of food before any race event or football match; maybe a little too much. 

Parking up at the regatta centre, everyone is ready, the car park is full of participants. Bikes out, lights on, athletes proudly make their way to the starting area to load their bikes into transition and prepare themselves for 6am wave starts. These people have trained for so long for today. One slip and all that pain has been for nothing.

There is a strong sense of understanding between everyone. No one knows exactly what each other has been through to get to this point of physical capability, but everyone understands that each has worked their arse off to get here. With around just 1200 participants, it’s obvious this isn’t for everyone, but with the low participation rate comes a sense of welcoming and feeling of community that I haven’t felt at any other event. 

After nervously awaiting my call to the start line, I say goodbye to my heavily pregnant PR lady and jump into the water. I finished the race in 05h 27min. Happy with the time for my first triathlon, searching for Jordanna as I ran toward the finish line, a great sense of achievement as I crossed the line. That being said, I was surprisingly underwhelmed after the race, as if I hadn’t just taken part in a gruelling physical and psychological battle – I think more because I wanted to do a full Ironman.

I knew there were bigger events out there, more painful, more possibility of failing. Events that dig deep and drain every ounce of will you have inside. I wanted to do something bigger and I don’t think I will really be happy with myself until I’ve done a full Ironman, an Ultramarathon, both.

I did, however, complete what I had set out to do and I was happy with the result. The race itself is something I will come to in a future post.

COME ON, HURRY UP, WHAT ARE YOU GETTING AT?

Sorry, I had to set the context!

50 years ago, man stepped foot on the moon. 50 years ago!!! If humans can be sent to a big floating rock in space a million miles away, YOU can certainly train for an Ironman, or a marathon, or your first 10km, or a triathlon or whatever it is you have your eye on. 

I’m writing this blog for lots of different reasons. Having booked the 2019 Ironman70.3 Western Sydney, I have found myself altering my approach to training to balance family life, work, and Ironman. I get up earlier, I prepare for the week ahead, I prioritise, I plan.

I have to say, most importantly, I communicate everything with Jordanna as effectively as possible. We have a child, my desire to achieve my goals doesn’t surpass her desire to achieve anything. It’s important that I give Jordanna a rest and take over from parenting once I get home. Training can feel intense, I spend a lot of time out of the house, when I get home its time to be dad.

I want to share my experiences of my training regime, which still allows me to spend plenty of time with Jordanna and Lilly. After all, the only direct family we have in Australia is each other. Friends have of course become family, but having no parents, grandparents, brothers or sisters around means time is extremely valuable and I don’t like wasting it. 

Awesome feeling! Recommend going through the hardships of training to reach this moment to anyone!

Look, I haven’t sailed around the world in a rubber dingy with just a can of beans, a bike helmet, and a copy of Whitney Houston’s greatest hits, all raising millions for charity. In other words, I haven’t done anything particularly inspiring, so maybe that’s not the right word to describe my brief story or why I’m writing this. However, maybe there are fathers, mothers, young people, elderly people, whoever, wanting to achieve a goal whom may gain something from reading this blog. Something that gives them an insight into what they can do to get over a mindset of not having enough time, or not having the knowledge or ability to train for and complete a race of any discipline.

The only thing you need to complete a physical event such as Ironman is a positive attitude, a willingness to work hard, and the ability to just GET SHIT DONE.

WHAT IS YOUR TIME WORTH!? DON’T WASTE IT!

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