In 2008 I participated in my first Ironman. It changed me physically, emotionally and spiritually. A year later I crossed the line for the second time, and I am certain that it won’t be my last. To this day, I am still asked ‘why?’ The road to becoming a (Iron) man for me is a simple story. It was a journey of self-discovery, my darkness and my light, and finding meaning in my life. It’s about a rite of passage into manhood and the joy it has brought into my life every single day since then. I am truly humbled by the sheer magnitude of it all.
BELIEVING IN MYSELF
I have lived with fear and anxiety. No, let me be more honest. I live with fear and anxiety! It is part of our make-up that makes us human. It is instinctive, primal and reptilian; inherited and learnt. It is wrapped in human emotions and memories of ‘I can’, followed by a pregnant pause and that little voice of self-doubt that says ‘can I?’ I did my first Ironman because no-one else believed in me, and my second because I believed in myself! That is a very humbling and powerful place to be.
My conflicting mind, full of self-doubt, has always been a major stumbling block. We sit in our offices glued to Facebook and whining about our lot in life, when all we really need to do is believe in ourselves. “Easy for you.” I hear you say. “You are an Ironoman!” Perhaps now, but I wasn’t then. I was 95kg and unhappy. In fact, I was way more than unhappy; I was depressed, balding, overweight and lonely.
ONE BITE AT A TIME
There is a parable that goes, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is simply, “One bite at a time.” And so it was with the journey to becoming an Ironman – one day at a time. At 95kg, I could chug around a 5km track, albeit a little slower than most, but I could do it. I had stopped smoking and knew that I was heading in the right direction. Five kilometres became 10, 16, and then my first half marathon. I knew that I needed to keep dangling the carrot of motivation firmly in my sights, so I entered the London Marathon. I remember being at the start line with my friends Neil and Pord, and asking them tentatively, “So if I finish this, do you think I could do Ironman?” Neil just smiled.
I finished the London Marathon in 4:25 and so in September 2007, my Ironman preparation began in earnest. Transition, tri-bars and speedo just weren’t in my vocabulary, and added to this, my swimming technique was a consistent two-strokes-wipe-face-panic! However, I had dropped to 92kg and found an awesome training partner, companion, friend and Ironman – my amazing friend Vix. We challenged, motivated and inspired each other. I also made a few enquiries, put together a vigorous training programme and plied my new friends with Vida coffee to gather every bit of information about the event that I could.
CHANGES AND CHALLENGES
With my growing distance training came a new physique, a new energy and a whole new attitude. Each new event was a challenge and a stepping stone to my ultimate goal. One of the bigger stones in my path was the 2007 Ironman 70.3 in Buffalo City. I stood at the start line, at a streamlined 82kg, with my stomach in my throat and adrenaline surging through my veins. It tested me, but I succeeded. I knew then that I would be an Ironman.
The month prior to the Spec-Savers Ironman was by far the hardest for me. Gaunt and lean, I just wanted it to happen already. Like a groom on his wedding day, the big event arrived and suddenly I found myself in tears as I ran down the carpet and over the finish line. I was an Ironman! The day was momentous and the beginning of so many bigger things that would follow. I am so grateful for everyone that was there – those are bonds I will never ever forget!
BECOMING AN IRONMAN
I had become an Ironman and the surge of what had changed in me flowed on. I know now what I sensed then, that to lead, I first needed to serve. My story has, in turn, inspired five others on their journey to Ironman in 2009: Porra, Wayne, Craig, Alex and Lizl are incredible individuals. What is also fantastic to note it that Craig lost 42kg and when Ironman announcer, Paul Kaye, shouted “Craig Corte, you are an Ironman!”, he simply responded with “Indeed I am.” I also salute Lizl, who having missed the cut-off at 70.3, still had the courage to drive forward and cross the finish line to become an Ironman just eight minutes before cut-off. They are the real Ironmen.
Beyond society’s judgment and our own expectations; and in the stillness of our minds, there is a strength and presence that is steadfast and thorough. When you commit, providence steps in. You see, it does not matter how extreme or what your challenge is. All that matters is that you are doing something incredible with your life, something that touches your soul – because you believe in yourself.
My journey has lead to the creation of my own adventure lifestyle company called LIFESTRUCK. I believe that by doing first, you empower others to believe in their own glorious abilities. LIFESTRUCK is a platform created to share adventure stories of inspiration, of people following their dreams. Part of the LIFESTRUCK programme is helping people achieve not only their training goals, but also their life goals and dreams! LIFESTRUCK is about setting you on fire! It’s an adventure lifestyle business that specialises in giving life to dreams and making them a reality. LIFESTRUCK provides its members not only with training programmes and advice, but also creates a support base where you can connect with others who are on the same journey to become active, achieve their goals and change their lives! LIFESTRUCK also helps you get in touch with your emotional, physical and spiritual strengths, and connect them with physical success.
So if you’re hiding away from life, too afraid to come out of your little corner for whatever reason, dig deep and find the courage to do something incredible and change your life for the better, forever! Believe me, you can do it!
My thanks to all who gave me their unconditional love and support. You rock!