Q1. Congratulations Erika on entering Iron Woman, when is it and what charity are you supporting?

The event isn’t called Iron Woman although sometimes I do feel like it!! The Outlaw Half Triathlon (Nottingham) event is run by OSB Events which is held at Holme Pierrepont in the National Watersports centre on 15/05/2022. It is sometimes called a Half distance Ironman.

I have chosen to support Cancer Research to honour some close family and a good friend that used to train with me for triathlons but sadly is not with us anymore due to this terrible disease.

Q2. Can you tell me a bit more about what is involved in the event?

It’s a half distance Triathlon with 1500 entrants involving a 1.2 mile open water lake swim followed by a 56 mile bike ride then a 13.1 mile run.

The full course is shown in the event’s website, and I am planning to go and practice especially the bike ride which has a 400 foot elevation.

I have completed in two of these events previously and the day is very exciting. I get nervous before the start but as the race goes on you just need to keep focused. I keep thinking in small steps and not on how much is left. At the last part, which is the run, I always think of the feeling when I am crossing the finish line. It is very emotional, and I can’t describe the feeling of achievement, but it is incredible after all the hard work that’s behind that one day.

At times when you start getting tired your mental attitude plays a big role when you start asking yourself why you are doing it. I’m very much driven by sport and personal challenges so have chosen Cancer Research as it is such a deserving charity.

Q3. The training schedule must be tough, how have you managed to find time to train?

Before I start proper training plans, I have some time, between 4 to 8 weeks to start adjusting my body and mind to the training load. I will be following a previously used training programme to help me build up fitness and stamina over the three disciplines. I have to focus on completing all the training as it gives me the confidence that I am prepared for the big day. Occasionally I’ve missed a few planned sessions but it’s all part of being a mother, wife and a working person which makes it all the more meaningful and difficult as well. I have to fit training around my full-time job and family. When I did the previous events, I did not have a full-time job at AML and it was easier to manage the training load. I also have a coach who will be guiding and tailoring my training plan to my personal fitness and commitments.

Now, I will have to train before coming to work and into the late evening to ensure I am prepared for the event, but I have to make sure I eat well, rest, be productive at work and have some quality family time. I have to take advantage of the time as much as I can around the family schedule and also be very organised to fit all in. My husband and club friends play a big part in my training as they usually come with me on many sessions so I find myself training a  lot with someone next to me.  I will also plan a couple of races before the big day as part of the training.

I am so lucky that my family is very supportive and will be there on the day who will keep me going and smiling. I also get a lot of encouragement from my work colleagues at AML; they are always asking how things are going and I may get some colleagues coming with me on bike rides.

For the swim training, I’m currently in the pool twice a week for around a mile and will be starting open water lake swimming before the event. At the moment, it is too cold for me.

Cycling is the hardest discipline for me as I only started cycling a few years ago. I go out when the roads are not slippery so, at the moment, I’m just doing one spin class a week and some turbo training sessions at home around 30 – 60 mins. Later on, I will be joining the Bassetlaw triathlon club sessions where we do bike/run sessions to get us used to the transitioning on the day.

The running is my favourite part as I run a few times a week with a running club (Retford Athletic Club) in my local area and with friends outside the club sessions. We do different sessions every week to build stamina and strength over differing terrains.

Q4. The sense of achievement will be immense, have you done anything like this before or how do you think you will feel when you cross the finish line?

It’s a fantastic sense of achievement after all the hard work to get there. The event should take me around 7 hours to complete. I did a similar type of event in 2018 and felt absolutely elated at the finish line when I met my family members who were cheering me on.

I have completed several Marathons (road and off-road ones) including London Marathon, Ultramarathons, half marathons and different triathlon distances, obstacles races and so on before. It is such an emotional feeling when I have completed those races, all the hard work that I put behind it just pays off!

I must say I feel so privileged to be part of the AML team and to receive some financial support to enter this event. I do strive to live a healthy lifestyle – both diet and exercise which I consider in turn helps me deal with the challenges of work and family life.

Also, it’s very rewarding to be able to share my training and experiences with my work colleagues who hopefully may be encouraged to do the same. Who knows, possibly one day I will complete in events with other AML colleagues by my side.