I remember meeting my first Ironman in 2002. This was before I started running and long before I contemplated entering the world of triathlon. He was my hero; nothing could be more difficult than an Ironman.

And now, a little over a year since my first swim and ride and exactly one one
year since my first triathlon, I am an Ironman. I owe this all to you, Coach. It was a fantastic experience, from start to finish.

Swim – 1:13:25
The start of the race and the highest concentration of athletes. All 2,500 of us, lined up on the famous pebble beach of Nice, waiting for the gun to go. The most memorable moment was aiding an octogenarian over the pebbled beach and into the water. She was from Florida and this was her 20th Ironman. As a result, I started at the back of the group and had a pretty rough ride throughout, the peak being when a swimmer kicked sea water into my mouth (and consequently causing me to throw up). Regardless, it was wonderful being out in the open and no matter what anyone says, the most exciting part of these races is the start. Your heart is beating, your nerves are high and the adrenaline is pumping. Bliss.

Transition 1 – 8:52
“WTF, were you putting on make-up!?”. Yep, that’s you Fi, berating me for taking so long during T1! The reality is I took a long shower to get the salt water off my body (to stop potential chaffing) and ate a bit seeing as I had the unfortunate incident during the swim.

Bike – 6:08:01
Loved every minute of it. Flying up the hills and feeling stronger than ever given the miles from the Alps and the trip you arranged to go to Nice and scope the course. Thank you. This was my weakest discipline and I have come so far.

Transition 2 – 6:06
Better, lots of sun tan lotion and onto the run, my favourite part.

Run – 3:42:45
A tough challenge but I stayed full of energy, this was the moment I has been waiting for all along, the carrot dangling at the end of the stick. My beloved run, finally! Unfortunately, school boy error running through a shower and getting my shoes soaked, which was awfully painful towards the end, but a stop in the medical tent sorted it out.

11:19:09 – I am an Ironman.
The finish line was in sight, and I sprinted, a new burst of energy. Tarek, you are an Ironman, you’ve done it. Thank you, Coach. I can’t wait for my next challenge.