Tag Archives: Ironman

What should you put in an Ironman special needs bag

3 Sep

Now that Stuart has entered Ironman Copenhagen, I’ve already started to think ahead to the day itself (it’s only 11 months away!) Having done two large triathlons that required kit to be in bags, I know how important it is to plan ahead.

Many iron distance triathlons allow athletes to have a special needs bag available at an aid station on the bike and another one on the run. At Ironman races these are normally returned, but this isn’t possible at all iron-distance races, so if you choose to put something in a special needs bag, you must be sure it’s something that you can live without later. I surveyed people online to find out what they thought should be included in special needs bags.

© Jameson King

© Jameson King


  • Bike repair materials
    • extra tube
    • CO2 cartridge
    • old tyre
    • chain link
  • Nutrition
    • Nice food – this is going to depend on your personal preference. Some people suggested Nutella sachets!
    • extra salt
  • Clothing
    • socks
    • cheap sunglasses
    • toe warmers
  • Medical kit
    • vaseline
    • medical gloves (for applying sun cream/vaseline or bike repairs or if it’s raining hard)
    • sun cream
    • tums/rennies
    • imodium
    • ibuprofen
    • chamois cream
    • mouthwash
    • blister plasters


  • Nutrition
    • As above, anything that might appeal to you.
  • Clothing
    • headlamp
    • LS t-shirt
    • another clean shirt
    • socks
  • Medical kit
    • blister plasters
    • vaseline
    • face wipes
    • chapstick
    • imodium
    • sun cream
    • anti-insect spray
    • eye drops
  • Notes from your family to inspire you

Obviously, the more stuff you put into a special needs bag, the harder it is to find what you need and it may actually add to the stress you feel during your race… but if you lose something whilst out on course, the items in special needs may save your race.

One suggestion that someone made was to get a long pair of men’s tube socks, cut the toe off and to use them as disposable arm-warmers.

Do you have any recommendations? What would be in your special needs bag?


Monday Morning Motivation – From 280lbs to Ironman

22 Jun
Before and after pictures of Ginger Kaburek

Before and after pictures of Ginger Kaburek © Ginger Kaburek

If you’re struggling for inspiration, check out Ginger Kaburek’s amazing story about how she lost half her bodyweight and became a certified personal trainer:


Monday Morning Motivation – Touch the sky with Alex Zanardi

18 May

Alessandro “Alex” Zanardi is an Italian racing driver and paracyclist.

He won two CART championship titles in North America during the late 1990s and also had a career as a Formula One racing driver. More recently, he has attracted widespread praise for his return to competition in the aftermath of a crash in 2001 that resulted in the amputation of his legs. He returned to racing less than two years after the accident, competing in the World Touring Car Championship between 2003 and 2009.

Switching sports, Zanardi took up competition in handcycling, a form of paralympic cycling, with the stated goal of representing Italy at the 2012 Paralympics. In September 2011, Zanardi won his first senior international handcycling medal. In September 2012 he won gold medals at the London Paralympics in the individual H4 time trial and the individual H4 road race, followed by a silver medal in the mixed H1-4 team relay.

Alex Zanardi at Ironman Kona 2014

In October 2014, Zanardi finished just outside the top 10% at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii: http://www.espn.co.uk/f1/motorsport/story/179809.html

New Year’s Resolutions – is it worth making any?

27 Dec

In 2015, I will be:

  • spending more time with my family (whilst also making new friends and expanding my social circle)
  • rekindling my passion for an old hobby (and trying my hand at something new)
  • shifting that extra stone/14lbs/6kg and not giving into any unhealthy temptations whatsoever.

Yeah, right.

With an estimated 14.5 million adults making New Year’s resolutions that focus on fitness and health, self-improvement (or, at least, the desire for self-improvement) is a national hobby here in the UK. Yet very few of us – some estimates say only around 8% – achieve their New Year’s resolutions. If this is the case, and if the true definition of madness is ‘repeating the same action, over and over, hoping for a different result’, then this year we have to mix it up a little if we’re going to achieve our goals.

I’ve got some huge goals and A races for 2015, but I’ve also planned some fun events and less important races to help keep me motivated (whilst never taking my eye off the ultimate goal of completing an Ironman!)

Get fit and have fun for a good cause

Sometime, it’s helpful to have a little extrinsic motivation to keep you going. It might be that you agree to do something with friends, or perhaps the thought of raising money for charity will spur you on. Several friends have told me how they managed to while away the time whilst running marathons by calculating how much each step/km/mile was worth to their chosen charity in terms of sponsorship.

If the thought of losing the pounds by spending endless hours on a dreadmill makes you worry about losing your mind, then how about the idea of getting your mates together to take part in a Human Race Macmillan Cycletta? These women-only bike rides are set in stunning, family friendly host venues. There is also a range of distance on offer from 50-150km. There are five events around the country featuring spectacular routes between 50km and 150km, taking place in Bedfordshire, Surrey, the New Forest, Cheshire and Scotland.

If you’re not female, or want to take part in a mixed-gender event, why not search for a local sportive? Alternatively, if you visit the website of a charity that you’d like to support, they may have places on events you’d like to enter or might host their own events. If you’re worried that you’re not fit enough to do an event yet, perhaps you could volunteer so that yu witness the wide range of ages, sizes and abilities who participate in most sporting events.

Pick up an old hobby, lose weight and make new friends

Rekindle your high school love of netball, volleyball and dodgeball, or try something completely new like boxfit or Insanity classes with social sports clubs such as GO Mammoth, the UK’s largest social sports and fitness club. These kind of clubs exist simply to make your life more fun and social, without the seriousness and commitment involved in joining a specialist sports club or gym.

If you’re in North American, you might be able to join November Project: http://november-project.com/ It’s a fantastic FREE fitness movement. If you’ve been to  session, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

If you’d like to take part in a free timed 5k run every Saturday morning, then have a look to see whether parkrun is in your country yet, and if so, where the nearest locations are: http://www.parkrun.com/countries/

Try something new with old friends

Why not kill two birds with one very muddy stone – have fun with your friends AND try something new by taking part in a muddy obstacle course run! Bonus if you raise money for charity whilst doing it. Such events have rocketed in popularity during 2014, and look to be even bigger and better in 2015.

I absolutely HATE mud (and will be looking after my ‘new’ eyes), so am unlikely to do an obstacle race in 2015, but I have set myself the challenge of continuing with something new: crossfit. I’m now going to sessions offered by my Uni tri club (SUTRI) every Monday and hope to continue doing so in 2015.

Eat healthy & stay motivated

healthy heart

The problem with deciding to completely overhaul a lifestyle is that it can often be a case of biting off more than you can chew. So, when making dietary changes, start small. Set a few realistic goals – in the long run, the boost of actually sticking to them will up your confidence and self-esteem, helping you to make even better changes.

Gradually switching to a healthy eating style (not dieting!) such as clean eating can make a massive difference to your wellbeing without being overwhelming.

My sister and her fiance bought Stuart and I a Nutribullet blender for Christmas, so we’re hoping to drink lots of heathy smoothies in 2015… and I am planning to lose at least 15lbs, but more on that in another post!

Cut down on alcohol & fizzy drinks. Stay hydrated!



This challenge isn’t so hard for me. I very rarely drink alcohol and try not to drink coke too often. I drink water almost all of the time. Did you know that a big bottle of a juice-based drink can contain 300 calories – and those calories add up. Instead, think about switching to something like nuun, light and refreshing sugar-free hydration tabs which you simply drop into a bottle of water to get a great taste AND stock up on the essential electrolytes you lose during everyday activity. One nuun tube has enough tabs to make twelve 16oz (500ml) hydration drinks. It’s sturdy, waterproof and easily fits into a gym bag, bike jersey, purse, or pocket! Sorted.

So – there are some of my basic thoughts about New Year’s Resolutions… but as I mentioned, I have some very clear goals that I will be sharing in the next couple of weeks.

What are your goals, plans and dreams for 2015?

Monday Morning Motivation – Mike Julien

15 Dec
Mike Julien

Mike Julien ©ironman.com

This week’s motivation is the inspirational story of Mike Julien who has battled cancer and completed an iron distance. Sadly, his triathlon days are now behind him, but that hasn’t stopped him – he has now moved on to running ultras. What an amazing guy!

This first article tells of Mike completing his first ironman after being diagnosed with cancer: http://www.ironman.com/triathlon-news/articles/2013/07/mike-julien.aspx#axzz362Rns08q

The second article is more recent and cover’s Mike’s story up until June 2014: http://www.triradar.com/triathlon-features/triathlon-inspiration-mike-julien/

I think Mike’s story reminds us of two things: firstly, don’t ignore niggles, get them checked out, and secondly, if someone with Mike’s health problems can continue to train, what excuse have you got for not training?


Monday Morning Motivation – From Fat Man to Ironman

17 Nov
Dan Hyatt

Dan Hyatt

This week’s motivation comes courtesy of Dan Hyatt, who managed to lose nearly 10 stone (135lbs) to put him on the path to a healthier life and much closer to his goal of becoming an ironman. You can read Dan’s story here:


18 months into my 5 year challenge… what have I achieved?

23 Sep

18 months ago, I laid out my plans: http://fatgirltoironman.co.uk/2013/03/28/failure-to-plan-is-like-planning-to-fail/

A year ago, I reported back on my progress:  http://fatgirltoironman.co.uk/2013/09/10/where-am-i-now-assessing-my-progress/

So it’s now time to check up on whether I’ve made any progress in the last year. Here’s a recap of my goals.

Year Swimming Cycling Running Triathlon
2013 800m swim 42k cycletta or 82k Marathon Novice – Newbury
2014 1600m swim 63 mile sportive (IoW) Marathon Sprint
2015 2k swim 86 mile sportive Marathon Olympic
2016 3k swim 100 mile sportive Marathon Half Ironman
2017 4k swim 127 mile sportive (Chichester) Marathon Half Ironman
2018 2.4 miles/3.9k 112miles/180k 26.2 miles Ironman

Swimming – goal: 1600m – surpassed!

I feel like I’ve made significant progress over the last six weeks to two months. Back in April, I did a 400m time trial and managed to swim it in 9:30. I would love to repeat this now as I’m confident that I could beat that time. Coach Peter has timed me doing 25m in 25, which is a massive improvement and several people have commented that they think I’m getting faster. I wouldn’t say that my technique is good yet, but I’m finally getting to grips with breathing. I’ve persevered and with the help of Huw (and the stress of sea swimming), I’m now starting to believe that I might one day be able to swim 3.8k in 2:20. In June, I managed to swim 1.54 miles in 1:23 at the Big Cove swim.

Cycling – goal: 63 mile sportive – achieved!

In April, I completed the Wiggle Spring Sportive (100.74km) and at the end of August I cycled 100km in Cornwall with Stuart and Donna. When I set my goals, I had a specific sportive in mind. I did not do a 63 mile sportive on IoW, but I am confident that I can cycle the distance having done the other 100km rides, so I am going to count that as a success… especially as teh Cornish ride was at least as hilly as the IoW!

Running – goal: marathon – achieved!

In April, I ran Brighton Marathon. My time was a little disappointing (4:39:44), but I was unwell and had not trained to my full potential, so this is far better than I expected.

Triathlon – goal: sprint – surpassed!

This is the one goal that I leapt ahead on. I completed a sprint triathlon back in April (Good Fri Tri) as well as Eastleigh Open Water (sprint) Tri in June. I did two Olympic distance triathlons in Weymouth this summer (GU Classic in July and Weymouth Classic in August) and then I soared past my goal to finish Weymouth Half last week.

I think it is probably time for me to revise my original goals. Obviously, an ironman is still my ultimate goal, but I think the swimming targets are a little soft. I regularly swim over 2k in an hour and my longest swim this year was 2.67km. I am considering entering a 5km lake swim next year, although I may find it a little boring. I need to persevere with cycling, but I think that with some good mileage over winter and a new-found friend in my turbo trainer, I should be able to complete a 100 mile event next year. My running aim is the one that is most challenging. I’m not sure that I have the motivation/desire to run a marathon whilst I’m struggling so badly with my breathing. I really want to focus on my speed and achieve a 5k PB and get a great time (ideally a PB) at Southampton Half Marathon in April, so I may choose not to focus on doing a marathon next year.

The area where I still feel that I am failing is my nutrition and weightloss. I am an emotional eater and this year has been a rollercoaster for me. I am also struggling with having a huge workload, which means that by the time I’ve finished training, I’m too tired to spend a lot of time preparing food. I know that unless something changes, I will never be successful in this area, so I’m going to spend a bit of time planning ahead and preparing to try to get me back on track.

I want to do another half iron triathlon next year. I loved Challenge Weymouth, so I may enter the event again and aim for a PB, or I may do Ironman 70.3 in Dublin. As soon as I’ve made a decision, I’ll share it here!

Monday Morning Motivation – What makes a triathlete?

1 Sep

The combination of powerful images, stirring music and emotive words in this video make it really inspirational. I’ve told Stuart that when I’ve completed Challenge Weymouth 70.3, I’m expecting a montage that is just as powerful!
















There is no can’t, because this isn’t a sport for the weak-hearted, but for the strong-minded. Once you start, there is no backing down. We are triathletes.

Monday Morning Motivation – Ironman

4 Aug

Three minutes of inspiration, courtesy of Ironman:

Fatgirltoironman is here to stay

21 Sep

Well, my post on my blog’s name generated a lot more discussion than I expected… thank you to everyone who commented on my blog, or on Facebook. It certainly generated some food for thought.

Facebook feedback on name change

I’ve decided to stick with my blog name… it’s how I’ve branded myself and although I may not be large enough to appear on ‘The Biggest Loser’, I am definitely in the ‘overweight category’. (Today’s BMI is 25.64). I think it conveys the fact that I am on a journey… the journey to Ironman triathlete started this year, but the battle with my weight started several years ago, and it’s not over yet.

Here’s a great video that illustrates what my goal is: