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"Are you limited by your Challenges" or "are you challenging your limits"

I Live with a Neuromuscular / Spinal Condition and plan to 'Challenging My Limits' 2017 my goal was the Lake Zurich 26km Marathon Swim.

Where do I go from here? #destinationunknown

The Winner Takes It All or My Waterloo

DragonRunnerby DragonRunnerAug 21st 2013
So this is it the final Operation Abba blog, or is it.

For those that do not know by now, I got to cross the finish line in Kalmar, however was outside "Lock Down". However for me that was job done. This was the first time for me to completed the full 140.2 miles of an Ironman / Long Course Triathlon and what an incredible experience. When that moment came to cross that line, and even thou it was late I was given a reception I will never forget. This blog is going to have so many thank you's, sorry about that but I could not have done it on my own.

The first has to be to my shepherd on that last 18k run leg - massive thank you to Sofia WilĂŠn for following me, and making sure I took the right route etc. No words can do justice to her support.

A little about Ironman Sweden, and again I hope to do the event justice. I have to start with the people of Kalmar and the surrounding area, a city that normally has 30 thousand people rose to over 100 thousand on the day. All around the bike and run course there were constant Ironman Parties that went on all day which created an atmosphere I have never experienced. Getting stopped in the street the following day and be greeted as a "hero" "the man that did not stop" by people just out and about their daily lives is still leaving me speechless - when they say "you can quit and they did care" I can tell you now that is so true, I think I was more tried the following day "shaking hands with true Ironman from around the world" for not quitting.

The swim course was one of the most technical I have swum over that distance, sighting a little bit of a problem as I was not able to pick up the next turn buoy until late. But the last 1k at least brought you so close to the shore where the support was like swimming in a pool. This probably made it a bit easier as all was needed was to follow the long line people shouting encouragement in their respective languages. T1 has to one of the shortest for an event this big. Overall for me not a fast swim, but conditions were not the easy either.

The bike has been in the past where it has all gone wrong. Firstly I now have a new PB for the 112 miles, taking a massive 2 hours plus of my previous best. As for the course, the roads for the majority of the distance were like a race track (Britain you have a lot to learn). After about 5 miles you hit the Island of Orland, this was after the 3 mile road bridge, the down side on the day was the winds, with advice of not to use disc wheels for safety reasons this was evident on the bridge crossing. Which was followed by nearly 30 miles of the straightest road you can imagine, but that also give the problem of going into a 20+ headwind and no where to rest from the wind, which I found very energy sapping. The return had two crossings of the island, again open to the wind (however on these occasion hitting you from the side). So back over the Orland Bridge and Kalmar before the start of the second shorter loop which was slightly more lumpy, still windy. I have to admit the final ride into Kalmar was quite emotional knowing that I was going to be inside cut off. This for me was now going to be a new experience.

The Marathon run course was to be 3 loops of Kalmar and district, it was quite early on when I felt the need to go into survival mode and with the words of "Tracy Williams" in my head, "every step forward is a step closer to the finishing line" It took me more than 8 miles just to get into any sort of rhythm. I was only imaging the FB conversations that where going on and the encouragement that was been sent. There will be too many to name here, but a massive thank you to everyone for even just taking the time to track me.

But here is one that simply just has to be repeated 'if anybody has any favours they can call in off the Big Guy in the sky now would be a good time to use them up and send them to Mike" (Darren J Jones). It must have been at this point where I had sat down to consider if I was going to carry on - when that gust of wind blow me onto my feet. It was time to "believe" I think by this time finishing had become more important than time. If I was to analysis the run element then the following would be the key point - Yes I had trained for the run, but with past experiences I had not trained enough, surprising how much the mind influences training plans.

The reception coming into Kalmar at the end of this loop was in the words of Burt Le Berock, unbelievable, just unbelievable. With the encouragement both from the people present and that over a thousand miles away was the drive to go onto the last 18k loop. This was going to push me forward. A few safety checks from the organisers and I was allowed to continue, I now just need to give a little bit more - thank you all.

The Name of the Game was to cover 140.2 miles and with the support of many this was done.

A special mention must go to some of the people who helped me get there. Firstly ALL the members of the best club of any kind in the world - Hats Off to Celtic Tri. To Rose and Terry Jones (Celtic Tri Leads / RTJ Sports) for the many months of wise words. To Paul "Sid" Wilkins and Andy Bartlett for the "House of Pain" run sessions. To Becky Thomas (Bodyworks) for getting my legs and mind to work. To Luke / Sam at Urban Cyclery for mechanical support both body and bike. To Brendan (Nirvana Europe) for taking the stress of the event away, The list is endless, however there is one name I must put to the top and that is my "Ironwife" Karen who has put up with the endless hours of me disappearing on training sessions and so on and who I had worried so much in the last hour in Kalmar.

Now is a time reflect on what I have achieved and what I wish to do in the future, one thing I already know is that I will not be giving into my Neuromuscular Condition. Thank you all for taking the time to read these blogs and I need to think of a new header name for the blog which I plan to continue with for my next venture - suggestions welcome.

Next Stop - Newcastle for Great North Run in a month, and who knows after.
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