Author: nadiaelawady

Sport and my mental health

I have suffered from anxiety for years. It’s the kind of anxiety that I can usually keep at


Feeling happy and relaxed after a day out on the bike.

bay. Most people won’t realize I have it because I hide it relatively well. Instead of thinking: Oh, she’s anxious; people probably just think: Huh. She’s a bit of an odd one.

Sport has played a huge role in helping me manage my anxiety. No matter how bad I’m feeling, if I can just get myself out that door and go on a run, for example, I know that my anxiety or stress will almost immediately dissipate.

I have found that the rhythm of sport—of running, of cycling, of hiking, of swimming—puts my mind almost magically at ease. Sport and my daily prayers are my form of meditation. They are how I cut myself off from the daily grind and tear myself away from one screen or the other, if even for a few minutes, to clear my head and start anew.

There’s a “but” coming up.

But, recently, as I’ve felt myself less and less able to manage my stress and anxiety as successfully as I have at times in the past, I’ve been reviewing my lifestyle choices to try to find ways to improve things. (more…)


Winter mountaineering: A new hobby for the list

Call it hiking, hill walking, or trekking, almost anyone can do it with a bit of fitness and


On top of Stob Dearg in Glencoe, Scotland

some simple gear (hiking boots, gaiters, trekking poles, water proofs, layers, and a backpack). Depending on where you are hiking, you can do it on your own by following a clear trail, hire a guide, or use your navigation skills to get from one place to another. I’ve been doing it for several years now. I’ve done lots of hill walking in the UK, I’ve climbed the mountains of Sinai in Egypt, hiked in America’s Smoky Mountains, climbed and summited Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, walked the full distance of the Inca Trail and did the Santa Cruz trek in Peru, walked between the seaside villages of the Cinque Terre in Italy, and attempted (but failed) to summit Mont Blanc in France and Aconcagua in Argentina.

It was on that last trip that my tent buddy Victoria mentioned an amazing Scottish winter mountaineering course she had taken a few months earlier. I had taken a short course in using crampons several years ago before I climbed Mont Blanc. But I felt maybe it was time to refresh those skills and to get some of the technical skills needed to climb in the UK in winters; something I’ve mostly avoided when there has been snow and ice.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I wanted to know if winter mountaineering was for me.

Let’s just say it was EPIC.  (more…)

Remembering January 25

I haven’t been able to write much about Egypt’s revolution in the past few years. I have 167242_494564512476_3077619_nbeen too traumatized. But today I find myself in need of acknowledging the day, January 25 of 2011, when it all started. I need to assert that I was there. I was on the tarmac when it all happened. I was part of it from start to finish. And now it is a part of me, for better or for worse.

My husband, a Scot, asked me two days ago whether I regret the revolution happening. Are things better or worse, he asked. They are worse, I said. But the country’s political, economic and security situations can’t be the only measure of our revolution’s success. We failed in all that. We were ready to revolt. But we weren’t prepared to take charge. We simply didn’t have the wherewithal. I vividly remember thinking the day after Mubarak resigned: I’ve done my job. We’ve removed the dictator. Now I need to leave the rest to the politicians who know how to take this forward. But they didn’t. The “good ones” squabbled amongst them, leaving room for the baddies to move in quickly and spread more evil than we had ever seen.

Despite all that, despite everything the country is going through, the revolution was not a total failure and I will never regret taking part in it. (more…)

Training: Turning off the stubbornness

I have never been able to understand people who are all lovey-dovey about their


I like to think my stubbornness gene has been active since childhood.

training. You know; the people who are on a constant high because they live a life of “activity”. The ones who wake up cheerfully at 5:30AM in the morning because they are about to go out for a 5km run in the freezing cold. The people who talk incessantly about how great their four-hour bike rides make them feel. Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy for them. But those feelings they have are something I have never experienced and I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to have them.

I am the kind of person who wakes up at 5:30AM and thinks: But I just want to go back to sleep! I am the kind of person who never really learned to enjoy pain, and I find running in particular quite painful and thus not enjoyable. I am the kind of person who hates the cold, so jumping in an 18C lake for open water swim training is simply a miserable experience. I am the kind of person who can sometimes enjoy a bike ride, as long as I’m going at my own comfortable pace, I’m not expected to push myself, and I don’t have to ascend or descend too many hills, or to keep going for too long.

When I explained all this in a blog post once while I was training for my Ironman, and then shared said blog post in a Facebook group for people training for an Ironman for the first time, I got a lecture from an Ironman coach in that group saying something along the lines of: Well if you don’t enjoy it, maybe this isn’t for you. You shouldn’t do things just because other people do them.

That woman made me very very upset that day.

We are not all alike. We don’t all get lovey-dovey about training. Some of us find training extremely difficult both mentally and physically. But we do it because we recognize the value in keeping fit. And we book ourselves into events because they give us goal posts to aim for in our mission to keep ourselves fit. We are the people who hate the training, but love the benefits we reap from doing it. We are the people who have learned that we can do things that we really don’t want to do because we know they are good for us in the long run and that they will get us to our ultimate goals. We are the people who take these lessons from our training and are able to extrapolate them into other aspects of our lives.

Because I find training so challenging and not enjoyable, I have to turn my stubbornness gene on to full volume, especially when I need to train hard for an upcoming event. (more…)

The Unclimbing

I may not have summited the mountain, but I did discover the amazing wonders of the pee bottle.

I would not have thought it possible for women. I’ve long heard about men peeing in


The view from our tent at basecamp (4,300 meters).

bottles while on the road and I was always envious. With years of camping, hiking, and cycling under my belt, I had become accustomed to the quick squat behind a bush and getting my business done. When I set up my tent on a campground, I always made certain it wasn’t too far away from the toilets. I’m the type that gets up at least twice during the night to pee; more during the winter when I’m cold. It’s a bother getting up, getting dressed, unzipping the tent, going to the toilet, coming back, unzipping then rezipping the tent, undressing, then getting into my sleeping bag. But what was I to do? If you have to pee you have to pee.

But on Aconcagua, Latin America’s highest mountain, I learned that it is very possible for a woman to pee in the comfort of her own tent into a wide-mouthed Nalgene water bottle with perfect aim. Of course, this means peeing in the same tiny confined space that your tent mate is sleeping in; that same tent mate that you only met for the first time three days ago. But does that matter? No! Not one single bit. Not when you don’t have to go outside into the freezing cold to pee in a dark, smelly toilet. Not when you can get your business done in seconds and quickly snuggle back into your warm sleeping bag. Besides, who wants to watch someone else pee? No one. So all you really need to worry about is others hearing the sound of a water bottle filling up with liquid. Actually, your real concern is peeing in your actual water bottle instead of your designated pee bottle. That is why the pee bottle gets taped up with duct tape that you can clearly feel in the dark to distinguish it from your other bottles.

The pee bottle is one of my most important takeaways from an extravagantly expensive trip up part of a mountain.

Aconcagua beat the crap out of me. (more…)

Here she goes again: But why, oh, why?

Today was one of those mornings. I woke up thinking: Why on EARTH do I keep doing this to myself?

As usual, at the time when I booked this trip, I thought it was a totally inspired idea. And also as usual, now that I’m about to set off on it, all I can think is that I hate traveling. I hate change. I just want to sit on the couch at home and do nothing.

Of course, when I sit on the couch with nothing to do, I am so incredibly bored with how


If you happen to see a woman struggling to carry these through the London underground, PLEASE offer her a helping hand. Otherwise, I have no idea how this is even happening.

routine my life has become that I book myself onto trips like the one I’m about to go on today.

Something must be wrong with me.

Well, whether I’m totally sane or completely bonkers, I have no choice now but to set off on another epic journey.

That sentence makes me sound so ungrateful for the opportunities that I have. I promise you, I’m not.

I know that I want to give this a try. I have wanted to go on this trip for years. But there is always some sort of a struggle going on inside of me. I have learned that, if I want to achieve anything in life, I need to somehow rise above that struggle and just do the things I know I want, and sometimes even need, to do.

Today, my big job is getting myself from Leeds in the north of England to London Heathrow. It will be no easy task. I’m taking the train from Leeds to London King’s Cross, then I need to make my way through the London underground carrying 30kg-worth of stuff. I have no wheelie suitcases with me for this trip. I’ll have to carry ALL of it.

Listen, if I can get myself to Heathrow Airport today, I’ll be fine with whatever happens over the next three weeks (she lies).

I really wish I had been able to prepare more for this trip. But I was so exhausted, more mentally than physically, after completing my Ironman and the months of training that preceded it, that I just didn’t have the motivation to do the kind of physical preparation that I was hoping to do. Instead, I focused on making sure I had all the gear that would keep me as safe as possible for this trip. I also focused on just getting through a work day without feeling like I was in a constant rush to get in another training session.

I have decided that I don’t really mind how the trip goes as long as I stay safe and enjoy myself while I’m there. I am not looking for any amazing accomplishments. I am most looking forward to being forced not to connect to Internet World for the major part of three weeks. Knowing me, I’ll still manage to find that rare Internet connection so I can quickly post something nonsensical on Facebook. But it will be rare if it happens at all.

Other things will be rare too: showers, for one. Toilets. A warm bed. Clean clothes. Even a general sense of well-being might be rare!

Why do I choose to do these things again?

Ok. I’ll admit it. This post has me thinking I’m actually quite excited about what is to come. I might have been lacking motivation over the past few weeks, but this just might be worth digging in deep and pulling it back out again.


Focus, Nadia. Just get yourself to Heathrow for now.



Learning I don’t always need to be super-Nadia

Oh, those mood swings. Up and down, up and down. I wish there was a “straightforward” way around them.

Back in my Ironman-training days—now long gone, I promise you—I started seeing the race as such a scary monster that I needed to do something about it. So I booked another event for myself three months after the Ironman. It would be something I could look forward to and it would mean that no matter what happened in the race itself, whether I finished it or not, all that training would not have gone to waste. For the last two months before the race, I could tell myself that I was training to keep fit for everything that was to come. I wasn’t “just” training for a race.

Post-Ironman, however, my body was really in need of a break. My MIND was in need of a break. I hadn’t realized while I was training just how much pressure I was putting on myself to do every single training session exactly the way my triathlon coach had prescribed, AND to keep up with work without anyone thinking that I was falling behind because I was doing a crazy race. I made sure never to mention my Ironman training to the people I worked with (well, hardly ever). It was not going to be used as an excuse for falling behind. So I just never fell behind.

Once the race was over, I took that break I so desperately needed. It was HEAVEN. When it was time to start training again, I was ready. But it’s been a bit of a roller coaster since then. Sometimes my motivation levels are sky-high, other times they are almost non-existent. That was never a real problem when I was Ironman training. Or, at least, I had it under control because my mind was stubbornly set on doing everything possible to get to that race.

That roller coaster of motivation has meant that I haven’t always felt like I was “properly” preparing for my next adventure, now under two weeks away. But you know what I caught myself thinking today? I’ve actually been doing quite well! I’m being too hard on myself. I’ve been listening to my body and that’s important. I’m also unwittingly comparing my training now with the training I’ve been doing for most of the year, and that is such an unfair comparison. If, instead of comparing my current training with Ironman training, I compared it with how I trained for something similar a few years ago, I’m bloody smashing it!

While away for two weeks in Egypt for a family visit, I really struggled to keep up with work and training. The stress of feeling like I HAD to do both was too much for me and the result was that I was feeling very down about it all. I ended up neither keeping up with work OR training. And I had decided that booking that December event was probably the most stupid thing I had ever done.

But this morning I got up, went to the gym, and did an interval session on the treadmill. I then went for a relaxing Jacuzzi and came home to eat a huge breakfast. Do you know how good that felt? It felt GREAT. I’m back into my routine. I’m on top of work. And I have an adventure to look forward to very soon. As I was eating my breakfast I was thinking, “How boring would life be right now if I didn’t have that adventure coming up?” So now I’m starting to think that this upcoming adventure might actually have been one of my most inspired ideas yet! No matter what happens during this next event, I’m really really looking forward to it. I am so glad I am back to feeling that way.

So what is that next adventure I keep alluding to? I’m not ready to tell you yet! I just needed to publicly reflect on those mood and motivation changes of mine. It’s good to be back to a “good” place. And I’m learning that I don’t always have to be doing super-human training. Normal human training, which sometimes involves just not doing that workout today, is fine too.




Reflections Ten Days Post-Ironman

This past year, I have been a member of a Facebook group that was set up by the


I spent one of my recovery days just walking around Girona, Italy. If you ask me, THAT is what living life is all about.

Ironman brand organizers for people who registered to do an Ironman for the first time. Can you believe that about 70% of the participants in Ironman Barcelona 2017 had done an Ironman before? The more I have spoken with people, the more I have discovered that lots of people get hooked on the race. Some people do more than one Ironman race in a single year!

The Facebook group was really helpful. Being a complete novice, it was helpful for me to see how other people trained, what their plans were for what to wear during the race (one piece vs two piece), how they planned to go to the toilet (stop at a port-a-potty vs peeing on oneself while cycling/running…yes, that seems to actually be quite common), what their nutrition plans were for the race, etc. Once people in the group participated in the various Ironman races around the world, many posted reports on how their races went, most of them successful but some not. It was as inspiring to hear the stories of those who crossed the finish line as it was to hear the stories of those who did not. In both cases, a tremendous effort was had, sacrifices were made, and strength and determination shone brightly. There was so much to learn from every story.

As my race day neared, my nerves began to fall apart. During the major part of my training I was able to keep my mind focused on getting through one session at a time. I didn’t need to think about “the race”. I just needed to get through a training session. I could do that. Tapering began three weeks before the race. I started feeling fatigued. The race was also suddenly becoming so much more of a reality, which frightened the heck out of me.

It was around this time that someone in the Ironman beginners’ Facebook group wrote that he finished his race, but he wasn’t feeling, like others had expressed, that he had done something absolutely amazing. I think lots of people took that in a negative way. But when I read his post my immediate thought was, “I want that! That’s how I want to feel about this race!”  (more…)

I’ve always been an ironman

People who do Ironman races are not iron men. They are normal people just like you and me, but with an ironclad determination that can move mountains. Find that determination within you and you will move mountains too.

It was the most difficult part of the race by far. I had already done the 3.8 kilometer swim


Walking on air in those final steps on the red carpet across the finish line of Ironman Barcelona 2017.

and the 180 kilometer bike ride. Now, “all” I had left was a 42 kilometer run. I was tired. I was sweating in the Spanish humidity like a pig. I really wanted to get out of my tri-suit, which I had been wearing now for more than ten hours, and jump into a shower. My quads were cramping in a way that made me think they might soon snap off of my knee bones. Even so, I found myself thinking, “This really isn’t all that hard!”

I realize how ridiculous that sounds. But what it really meant at the time was that I felt that the training I had done during the months before the race had prepared me well. I didn’t feel anything I didn’t expect to. Most importantly, I was able to keep going.

The real Ironman experience, I believe, is in the months before the actual race. So much is learned during that process about oneself and about the sport. I feel so privileged to have found a professional triathlon coach, Louise Hanley of The Triathlon Coach, who gave me a customized training program suited to my abilities and goals, while being able to adjust it as needed due to my shin splints that just never seem to go away completely. I now understand how fortunate professional athletes are to have support teams. It makes such a difference to be trained by people who know their stuff.

I don’t remember exactly when the idea of doing an Ironman entered my head. Probably soon after I started doing triathlons three years ago. My husband Colin had told me so many stories about the half Ironman he did in Florida many years ago. It sounded like a great challenge and lots of fun. I wanted to have that kind of experience.

But as I was in the process of trying to figure out how or when to do an Ironman, I fell from my bike and dislocated my shoulder while my husband and I were touring in Belgium. This eventually led to a very painful frozen shoulder and an operation. While still groggy from the anesthesia, a physiotherapist was already working on my shoulder to make sure it had full mobility. “Is my shoulder going to be all right?” I asked her. “I really want to do an Ironman.” As it turns out, this particular physiotherapist had done four Ironman races. She told me my shoulder would be fine and that I absolutely could do an Ironman. “Are you sure? I’ve only just started doing triathlons. Do you really think I can do an Ironman?” I asked her. I’ll never forget her words. They have been ringing in my ears ever since. “Do it. Do it!”

Nine months later, in October 2016, I registered to do Ironman Barcelona the following year.

My training with Louise began in January. The nine months of training were in some ways similar to a pregnancy. You get up in the morning feeling nauseated because you know you’ll have to go out and run in the dark and cold. All you want to do is go back to sleep, but if you don’t do the run now, you won’t have enough time for your job, which you need to pay your bills. Your whole day and months revolve around your training. It becomes the priority and everything else is there to support it. And you have one date in mind: the day you hope to deliver at that finish line.

The training is every bit mental as it is physical. It is not easy getting your self to do things it really doesn’t want to do. I eventually taught my self not to look too far ahead. Every morning, I’d look at the program and see what Louise had in store for me. Louise’s word became almost Godly. If a swim was scheduled for that day, a swim was going to get done. When I was feeling lazy, I would tell myself to go out and do the training session but that I didn’t have to push myself too hard. But then, during the session, I’d tell myself that as long as I was out, I might as well do the session properly the way Louise has asked me to do it. And so it was.

I was able to keep it all together until the taper. On September 1, Louise sent me my final monthly training program before the race. When I saw it, I realized the worst of the training was now behind me and I got tremendously excited. But by September 7, I was feeling fatigued and panicky. I began to have serious doubts that I would ever be able to beat the cut-off times on the bike course. To avoid being removed from the course because I was too slow, I would have to cycle at an average pace for a distance of 180km that I never managed to reach over smaller distances during training.

The panic stuck with me until the second I dived into the Mediterranean when the race


I was so anxious just before the race I might as well have been shitting myself.

started on the morning of Saturday, September 30. As soon as my body hit that water and my arms started to move, something clicked in my head: “Hey! I know this! This is familiar. I know how to do this.” All those months of training suddenly kicked in. I was so accustomed to jumping into a cold, dark, murky, weedy northern England lake, that getting into the gently rocking, warm Mediterranean seemed like heaven. That 3.8km swim was so enjoyable (ENJOYABLE!!) that I could have just removed myself from the race and kept swimming forever and ever.

Getting out of the water, I just automatically did what I always did during transitions in other races. Then I got on my bike and pumped those legs. It was all so strangely and comfortably familiar, even though I was doing it all in a completely new location. I made sure I followed my nutrition plan. I ate solid foods, took in gels, drank lots of water, and drank some energy drink. I made sure I was hydrated, replaced the


Ask me if I enjoyed the bike portion of the race that had me panicking for a whole three weeks before it. Go ahead. Ask me!

salts I lost in my sweat, and had enough energy to get me through the bike ride and through part of my upcoming run. I put myself in the aero position on my tri bars for the majority of the ride. And by the middle point of the first of the bike course’s 2.5 laps, I realized that I was going to nail this. When I passed my husband Colin at the end of the first lap, I yelled out to him, “I’ve got this, Colin!! I’ve got this!!” During the whole ride I had two mantras: “Make Colin proud.” And “Anything is possible,” something Becki, one of my triathlon club’s swimming coaches, stopped to tell me the evening before I left for Spain. If Becki says it, then it must be true, I was convinced.

That part of the race that I was most worried about was the part I most surprised myself in. My bike time was better than anything I could have possibly imagined for myself.

During transition two, I thought I’d reward myself for such a great bike time by taking a tiny bit of extra time in transition to change out of my sweaty socks and into nice dry ones. Little did I know that minutes later I would be pouring water over my sweaty body, only to soak everything, including those socks. (Lesson learned).

The run was the most difficult part of the race. No matter what, you are bound to be


I included this picture because it looks like I’m passing this incredibly fit-looking man. Let’s just ignore the fact that the run was comprised of three laps and he could have been on any of the three. I just want people to think this is the kind of guy I can beat during a run. The reality isn’t important.

exhausted after the swim and the bike. But again, running after a long bike ride was familiar. Louise had me do it many times in training. I was in familiar territory. So I just ran. I walked through every single feed station, drinking water, pouring it over my head, sometimes taking a gel and most times drinking energy drink. I had to stop a few times to stretch out my quads. I really did think they were going to snap. The pain was almost unbearable at times. But the stretches worked. And I just kept going till the next aid station or until the next unbearable quad cramp. I broke the run down into bits. Just run the next 2.5km until the next aid station. Just do the first half of this 13km lap. If you need to walk the rest, you can walk the rest. When I managed to run the first 16 km, I told myself to try to run the next 7.5km. When I finished the second 13km loop, I told myself I might as well just run the last 13 km loop. My pace didn’t matter as long as my legs kept moving forward in a slow jog. I knew that if I kept that up, I wouldn’t be disappointed in myself.

I had kept my eye on the time throughout the whole of the long bike ride. I needed to make sure I was going to beat the cut-off times for the bike loops. But during the run, I knew I had enough time to finish the race before the final cut-off time even if I walked the whole course. So I decided not to look at my watch at all. I didn’t want to be demotivated by finding out that I was going very slowly. I also needed to listen to my body and my body alone. I needed to do a pace that wasn’t dependent on time but was dependent instead on my body’s ability.

So, when I saw that I had one final kilometer to run and decided it was all right to check my watch, I was completely taken aback by the number I saw.

I had had no real sense of time during the 42 km run. I figured that it was more than possible that I was nearing the 15-hour mark since the start of the race. But my watch was telling me I had been out for just over 13 hours. I saw that number and said (out loud), “No no no no. Something is definitely wrong with this watch.”

You see, in the weeks leading up to the race, I had serious doubts about my ability to even finish it within the allocated cut-off times. I wasn’t being silly. I had never reached the overall average speeds during training that I would need to maintain in order to beat the cut-off times for the bike course’s loops. Even so, I thought that if I was really lucky and did manage to get through the bike course without being removed by the marshals, the best possible time I could ever dream for would be in the 14 hour 20 minute range. Even that, I believed, was pushing it.

So, when I realized that it looked like I was going to have a sub 13 hour 30 minute time, I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t understand it. The tears, of course, welled up in my eyes. As I turned the corner and was about to step onto the red carpet, a British couple cheered me on. I told them, “I think I’m going to cry!” The guy said, “Cry! Let it all out! You deserve it!”

I was so ecstatic though that I couldn’t even cry. And that’s saying a lot because I’m a huge crybaby. I stepped onto the red carpet and started yelling, “Woooooooohooooooooooooooooo!” saying it over and over again. I found Colin in the crowd. He grabbed my arm, gave me a huge kiss, looked me in the eye and told me how proud he was of me. I nodded my head and said, “I know!” Then I continued down that red carpet and my name was called out, “Nadia. You. Are. An. Ironman!” And I screamed down the rest of that red carpet, holding my arms out wide, taking it all in. It really was a wonderful moment to experience. The race I was hoping to finish within 15 hours 40 minutes, the cut-off for Ironman Barcelona, was completed in 13 hours, 16 minutes, and 57 seconds. Never would I have imagined that time in my wildest of wild dreams.

I need to emphasize that despite this being a great personal achievement for me, in the grand scheme of things this was just another race. You don’t need to be superman to finish an Ironman race. You don’t need to have superhuman abilities to achieve your academic, professional, or adventure dreams. You just need to have the courage to dream, a structured plan to get you there, and headstrong determination to follow that plan no matter what it takes.

People who do Ironman races aren’t iron men. They are normal human beings just like you and me. All they did was they believed in themselves. And that is all you need to do to achieve whatever you want in life.

Dream. Believe. Get a plan. Be determined. Achieve.


I have so many people I need to thank.

My husband, Colin, for his constant support of my crazy ideas. Thank you for always


I found this on my bed when I got back to the hotel room after the race. I have the sweetest husband in the world. Evil eye, stay away!

telling me how amazing I am. Not that I don’t already know it, of course. But I like hearing it from you. :-p You are my rock.

My kids, who are only aware of these things I do because I keep reminding them, for keeping me grounded and realizing what’s really important in life.

Louise Hanley, my triathlon coach, for giving me structure, advice and support. Your training program became akin to the word of God to me for months. And whatever it is that you put into it, it made magic happen.

Tom Waite, my personal trainer, for making me strong and never doubting that I’d do this.

All the Leeds Bradford Triathlon Club coaches and members who have given training, guidance and support.

Carl Akeroyd, you crazy man, for being so damned inspiring.

Philippe Evans, a twelve-time Ironman who is about to take part in the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, for humbling himself and taking me out on those last three long rides when I needed the company the most. Smash it at Kona!

Becki Maud, for those last three words, “Anything is possible”, that became one of my two mantras on the bike ride.

Amany Khalil, an Egyptian woman who did Ironman Barcelona last year, for showing the rest of us Egyptian women that culture, age, and motherhood are no deterrent to achieving your wildest dreams. Thank you so much for standing in that horribly dark corner at the end of the running loop to cheer us on this year. It kept me going, knowing you would be there.

My best friend Arwa, for putting up with my crying, complaining, and having nothing to talk about except for my training for months on end. I love you to the end of the earth and back.

Stu Hart, for telling me all those months ago that I CAN.

The Ironman coach who, on a Facebook group for people registered to do an Ironman for the first time, told me that maybe doing an Ironman was not for me. This was because of a blog post I wrote, and posted in that group, about how difficult I was finding the training. I was saying that I never understood people who constantly talked about the “joy” that training brought them. The stuff is fucking exhausting! I find my “joy” in the sense of achievement afterwards. But I have always struggled mentally to get myself out of bed and out into the cold. Why do I thank her? Because she got me so mad that I was determined to prove her wrong. These sorts of events are MADE for people like me, lady.

The physio, who may or may not exist in real life, whose words have been echoing in my ears ever since my shoulder operation, “Do it. Do it!”


Overcoming yet another fear

I have spent the past few months disciplining myself to do things I find very difficult

bib IM

My Ironman race bib number.

and/or unpleasant. “Mind over matter” has been one of my many mantras. “I can do this” has been another, and “Just a few more minutes”, “Just a few more laps”, and “Just a few more kilometres” have been others.

I have been teaching myself not to fear the water, not to fear pain, not to fear exhaustion. And I have been telling myself I should not fear failure.

It is that fear of failure that has prompted me to write today. While I was doing a 50-minute intense treadmill session this morning, and doing it well, my mind was in complete self-defeat mode. Something inside of me was telling me that no matter what I did, I still wasn’t good enough.

The other Nadia inside of me has decided enough is enough.

On September 30, in less than three weeks from today, I will be standing on the start line of Ironman Barcelona.

For those of you who don’t know, an Ironman race involves a 3.8km swim followed by a 180km cycle followed by a 42km run, all within a specified period of time.  (more…)