This weeks post is from our very own Ironwoman Jos Morgan who has taken on many Dream Challenges and just took on her very own epic challenge Ironman UK. Here is an insight into Jos ups and downs along the way.
I see the tiniest advert in our gym...
Imagine the scene, I've just moved on from a very intensive job which had taken up pretty much six or seven days per week of my life for the last six years and been at times almost more stressful than I could bear. I take a new role where I'm only expected to work Monday to Friday and on top of that, ‘normal’ working hours too. After years in a pressure cooker, I suddenly have a life back and wonder how to fill it with something more rewarding. I see the tiniest advert in our gym for a charity cycle ride around the Great Wall of China, a little bubble of anticipation surfaces inside me….
I have to go out and buy a bike, I've not ridden since University days, I have to get buy in from my husband, my friends think I'm nuts, but heck I'm doing this and what’s more it’s all about me and rising to a challenge. I almost feel guilty it’s for charity as that’s not what’s at the heart of it.
All that changes when I finally arrive, nervous and alone on the event. The first night someone has a guitar and we’re off and bonded from night one. My room mate is lovely, many of the people on the event have done them before and know each other, but rather than being cliquey, they welcome all us newbies with open arms. I had a blast. The cycling was amazing, seeing things and staying places I could never have dreamed of. But what astounded me were the tetraplegic cyclists alongside us, suddenly I forgot I was doing this for altruistic reasons and became awestruck by what the charity could do for people who faced life changing injuries. I'm hooked, I loved it, it’s kind of strange when it’s all over and I go back to ‘normal’.
Now I am an advocate...
Now, I am an advocate! I persuade a friend of mine to join another one, Vietnam to Cambodia. It’s just as incredible, the camaraderie, the places, the experience, the heat, the team, the ups, the downs. If you think you see real countries on holiday, I realise you have no idea. Once again, the tetraplegic cyclists remind me what incredible work this charity achieve.
Next I persuade another friend to join me on London toParis, and she’s hooked too! We have a hysterical few days, non stop laughter but the support from the organisers, the camaraderie and sense of achievement is undimmed.
Shortly after this ride, my mobility is brought to an unfortunate halt as I slip on some ice and shatter my ankle. I lie disconsolate in hospital, am informed I'm unlikely to ever be a runner but that cycling is the one thing that will be fine. I'm also told it will be a year before I'm anything like back to full fitness and even then….in the throes of misery I actually receive an e-mail from Action for Charity telling us of the next challenge, in South Africa, a place on my bucket list. I have got 18 months to get there and I suddenly feel that determination take hold again.
The next five months are the tough physically but I am sure I can get there and I slowly progress from, literally, three steps, to thirty steps, to half a mile. I engage a personal trainer at the gym and over the course of the next twelve months he gets me fit again.
South Africa was fantastic, another brilliant, funny, crazy group of people from all walks of life. Everyone there for different reasons, but all in the same boat, supporting each other, making lifelong friendships, being equally astounded by the capabilities and determination of our tetra riders. Once again, the routes we took each day were amazing, scenic, challenging, out of the ordinary. Having been now on four rides, I see many familiar faces and its incredible how you just pick up where you left off. The group trials, tribulations, triumphs and experience bond you in a way that it is difficult to explain unless you have done it and there is invariably a rather strange down period on the return…..but always the knowledge that there will be another one to sign up for.
After South Africa I continued with my training and last year completed a significant one day cycling event in the Lakes, alongside another mad person who I met on the ride in South Africa. Many thanks to Alistair for putting his hand up and sharing the literal ups and downs of all six Lake District Passes in the 112 mile Fred Whitton Ride, it would not have been the same on my own.
Inspired to do one last challenge...
And so, inspired to do ‘one last challenge’ I sit here with three weeks to go to Ironman UK. To prove the doctor wrong, I have taken up running, and so far so good. To really do my head in, I had to learn to crawl from scratch. It was, and still is, horrible, but I now know I can get round those 2.4 miles of horror before jumping on my bike for 112 miles. I can’t imagine how I will finish that off with a marathon but somehow I will and if the Gods are smiling and nothing goes wrong I will hopefully be an Ironman in three weeks time.
And none of this would have happened if I hadn't seen that tiny advert and gone out to buy a bike.
My top tip is simply this. If you don’t challenge yourself you will never know what you can achieve. You will never share in what others achieve. Although you’re never too old (49 is a bit ancient to try an Ironman for the first time!) equally, just don’t put it off. As a result of every challenge I have signed up for I feel a little bit more confident, a little bit more epic, a little bit more ‘can do’. And that manifests itself every day in so many situations.
It’s a no brainer, so just do it, now!