The end of a 2 year journey that I didn't realise I was on. What started as trying to be healthier & losing weight has ended in completing my 1st full Ironman. I always thought Ironman would be cool, although finishing would be impossible with my knee, and frankly, I didn't think I wanted to spend 12+ hours exercising. I joined embark in August 2020 with the hope of one day doing a 70.3. I built up slowly with the help of coach Mike Reddington and then coach Nicole Godfrey from January 2021.
The training plan was easy to follow and could be done on your own or with the group. Embark has been more than just a training plan. Training with a big group of athletes, all with different goals and abilities, had a massive impact. Seeing others smashing goals is inspirational and made me believe a full ironman was possible. The gees at training and banter at the obligatory coffee stop keep you looking forward to training, even in bad weather. The journey was littered with setbacks and many injuries, including being hit by a car on a training ride 3 weeks before the race, but Luckily I was okay.
The race day nerves were high, but with the coaches and the #rednblackarmy in full force in PE, I never felt alone and was guided every step of the way. I was disappointed that the swim was shortened to only 380m due to severe sea conditions, but once I was swimming, I understood why. I was basically doggy paddling, trying not to drown as the waves crashed on top of me. The bike was beautiful as it followed the coastline for an out and back 2 loop course. The beastly easterly blowing between 30-50km/h throughout the day meant a tailwind to the turnaround point. The headwind on the way back was brutal and left me questioning my life choices😜, as the hard part was yet to come…THE RUN. Due to a calf injury, I hadn't run much in the last few weeks and was fully prepared to walk my 1st marathon. To my surprise, I started the run feeling fresh with no pain.
The crowd, the vibe, the many embark supporters along the route, and all my fellow Embark teammates kept me going and feeling fresh till around the 30k mark. I still had a lot of energy, but my legs started to hurt. As darkness fell and the number of athletes on the course began to dwindle, so did my enthusiasm. I can't remember exactly what was going through my mind, but I remember feeling grateful for my health and blessed with tons of support from family and friends, most of whom were following me on the tracking app.
As the finish line was approaching, all the pain disappeared, and I was running at what felt like world record pace😜. Then with a lump in my throat and my wife cheering me home, I finally heard the words I'd dreamt about from Paul Kaye, MARTIN YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!
Although Triathlon is an individual sport, I would not have made it to the start line without Embark. A special thanks to coach Nicole Godfrey and my Southern suburbs squad, and thank you, coach Steve for creating such an incredible community.