FAT MAN TO IRONMAN
At my heaviest I weighed 23 and a half stone, I was proper fat. I loved junk food, drank copius amounts of beer and smoked 40 a day, I was a heart attack awaiting to happen.
I hadn’t always been that way, I had played a variety of sports and played rugby to a high level. Unfortunately when I was younger I had a devastating knee injury (it’s still dodgy) and a victim of a very violent assault (got a cool scar), my once healthy lifestyle disappeared for the whole of my 20’s.
So I was 30, I was fat, I could hardly walk and knew I had to do something. I began a diet and weight started to fly off, I joined a gym and started to get fit. My knee got stronger and stopped collapsing under my weight. With some mates we started hill climbing and then I read Ranulph Fiennes autobiography and it struck a note with me, in particular his mindset of “how do you know you can’t do something until you try” inspired by him I tried to run for the first time since I had injured my knee. At first I could only run to a lamppost and walk to the next and so on. But as with all things once you start and you keep going you get better.
My first race was a half marathon, I took about 2 and a half hours, then I did a marathon. My first marathon was a disaster, I cramped at 12 miles and then cramped all the way back, with lots of rolling about on the ground in agony, I eventually finished 3rd last and medics thought I had a heart attack when I collapsed over the line cramping, my poor mums face too watching. It didn’t put me off as I’m a bit stupid that way, so I did more marathons and got quicker. Me and my friend Dougy on a beer inspired night came up with a challenge.
Could we do an Ironman Event???
So we entered a half iron at Bamburgh, first triathlon to be a half, told you stupid. Well I was awful on the bike, I came firmly last but I completed it, yay!! But we knew to do a full Ironman we had a lot of work to do so we joined GTC and best descion we ever made. An absolutely great bunch of inspiring folk.
We found out others from Club were signed up to Ironman Bolton and started training with them, great camaraderie and inspiration to get the finger out.
Off to Bolton we all went but I was still pants on the bike, I just wasn’t too confident. An Ironman is an incredible experience, the sights the sounds the nerves at the start. Then you enter the water and it’s on, you are doing an Ironman. The the swim was fantastic, loved it! Well you can guess what happened on the bike. I really did not like the hills, oh my god they killed me, had to get off and push and I got slower, slower and slower. It became an absolute chore to turn my legs and when I reached the transition for the run, the inevitable happened, sorry Aaron you’ve missed the cut by 2 minutes!!!
It absolutely crushed me, luckily I’m in GTC and all the guys ‘n’ gals rallied round and sent me their best and inspired me not to stop but to try again.
And try I did, I entered Ironman Weymouth 2016. I had learnt a lesson, try cycle a bit more. So off I went to Weymouth with Gordon and Doug, can’t be without my Doug obviously. I had the best wishes of the Club behind me, my favourite quote was from Nic Philp “put your big girl pants on and don’t be shit this time” so with that ringing in my ears I started my second attempt at an Ironman. Sea swim this time and it was awesome but I do advise protecting your neck as wetsuit rub in sea water is not very pleasant. Also sunburn on top of that wetsuit rub is very unpleasant. But never mind that I was on the bike, and oh wow I was going quicker this time, well until I hit a hill. But I was still quicker, and then to my absolute surprise I made transition and no one was stopping me, er hang on. I had actually done it, I had done the bike. And guess who popped out tent at the same time, only Gordon Dixon. I had the pleasure of starting the run with Gordon, he eventually told me to go ahead and make sure I finish, get the job done. So I kept running, well run a bit, walk a bit, run a bit, stumble a bit until I got to the magic carpet. I had bloody well done it. I was an Ironman, although the voice couldn’t really say my name so he announced me as Big A. But I was an Ironman, I had failed before bit I didn’t give up and kept going and tried again and had done it. What a goddam rush by the way. I was hooked.
I entered Ironman Bolton 2017 as I wanted to complete that course. I had a great lead up to Bolton training with some fantastic folk from the club especially Joe Fowkes, Wendi Duncan, Nic Philp, Maureen Hill and not forgetting Douglas “the mighty eagle” Stewart. The training I had done gave me lots of confidence I could do it this time.
I did so much better this time, I managed the bike course much better, first time I never got off the bike too. I loved finishing that bike and getting on the run I’m sure a few folk didn’t expect a rather excited Scotsmen high-fiving them and going hell yeah. And the run at Bolton was amazing doing the loops and seeing Joe, Wendi and the eagle on the course was fantastic. There was lots of team hugs, high 5’s and general whooping. A great unforgettable day, especially when I ran up that carpet again. My 2nd Ironman!!! and the voice called “welcome back Aaron you are an Ironman”, got my name this time. I had done Bolton, I had come back and done it, over the bloody moon is an expression.
GUESS WHAT – STILL HOOKED
When I heard it was the 10th Anniversary Bolton and that there was a crowd going from the Club. I signed up again. Why not, it’s an amazing experience and made more so when you go as part of GTC.
So that’s me going for my Ironman hat trick in July, a long way from where I was at 23 and a half stone and you know what I’m extremely proud of that and proud to be a Member of GTC, the friendliest and most inspirational Club around.
If I can do it so can you. Believe in yourself and dream big!!!