Blog — 03 June 2013
Why do an Ironman?!
Mad. That’s what my friends and family thought. What sane person chooses to swim 3.8km, ride 180km, and then run a marathon – and pay to do it! My inspiration came from two very special ladies who introduced me into the sport – Tanya Butler and Michelle Wadon (a nine time IM finisher), and I couldn’t have been prouder to have Michelle cheering me on at my first Ironman in Port Mac.
It all started 5 years ago… Through Alex I was introduced to Megan (now Mrs Price). Megan invited me to ‘ride the loop’ – sure, why not, I’d only just learned to ride a bike, how hard could it be? Holy moly! 130km to Sutherland and back. No experience. No nutrition. No pump. No idea! But from here it was onwards and upwards, and before I knew it I was training for the race of my life.
Signing up for Ironman was so exciting, but then reality hit; I need to train (a lot), I have three little boys to look after, I have the business, plus my TAFE job, plus my Reserve duties…. This wasn’t going to be easy, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. Training started great and then in late 2012 I took an unplanned tumble on the ski fields and blew my knee. With the help of a skilled physio in Alex, I fronted up for my first big training goal – the Canberra 70.3 – and upon completion I remember saying to Alex “…if this is anything like Ironman, I’m not doing it!”. I later discovered that what I thought was an annoying sore foot was in fact a fractured bone – and with only months to go until Port I was in a world of hurt. Advice from Alex “Get a boot on it, and stay off it”. Sure, cause Simone likes to sit still, NOT! Between clients, kids, coaching juniors and getting ready for Ironman my foot was going to be a huge issue for me.
Long story short, I was cleared to run 4wks out from Port. I was definitely counting on my swim and bike legs to get me off to a good start.
Did I enjoy the training? Yep. I really did. Even those wet, dark, early mornings. I clearly remember a 7-hour Saturday ride in winter and thinking “this really isn’t very enjoyable” –yet when I reflect on it I am truly thankful for the experience, the company, and the achievements… after all, I was training for the most physically demanding milestone in my life.
For me, Ironman was a target, an opportunity, something so hard that it would almost reset life’s expectations. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, and I knew I’d need to earn every inch of it – but I think that’s what attracted me, the challenge to prove I could, not to prove it to others, but to myself.
The race was without doubt the hardest single thing I’ve done in life….. so far. When the gun sounded, I was still entering the water with the crowd. When I hit the bike the nerves were still with me, I was still settling into the race. The last 40km of the ride was hard – I was feeling the burn and looking forward to the run – at least, I was looking forward to the run until I’d actually started it! Four hard run laps. Physically, it really pushed me, but mentally, there was so much support – my family, the crowd, and my AP10 crew – all so amazing, all cheering me on, all calling my name, I was so proud my mouth hurt from smiling. I was fading on the last lap and it was only the sight and sound of the finish cute that keep me pushing forward.
13hrs and 40min. I had made it. I saw and hugged Alex who had waited a bit away from the finish, I hugged Megan, I was high-fiving people, the music was raging, the lights blinding, I found my family in the crowd, and with tears streaming down my face I heard my name over the loudspeaker “Simone Campbell…YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!” – what an awesome Kodak moment.
I left Port Mac on a high – years of preparation had rewarded me. This had been a life impacting event – and something I will hold dear for ever. So now, when people ask me “why?” – I say “why not?”
To my family – thank you for your support, I love you all very much
To my father – thanks for running the final 8km with – it was hard and your memory carried me!
To my coach, physio and mentor Alex – thank you, you kept me steady on my journey
To my cheer squad – loud and proud, you kept me smiling
To my SFS team – you motivate me each and every day
So what is next… Coolangatta gold?