A photo of two cyclists racing

Taking on an IRONMAN: “I’ve learnt I’m so much stronger than I thought”

If you thought running a marathon was impressive, try tackling a 112 mile cycle and 2.4 mile swim as well. Cat Alabaster, our Challenge Events Manager, will be taking on the challenge of a life time as she enters the IRONMAN Weymouth  on 11 September.

With just three months to go, writing about my inspiration for taking part in IRONMAN 2016 in Weymouth fills me with a mixture of emotions.

Catherine posing in her IRONMAN gear
Cat showing off her IRONMAN gear

For me this really isn’t about the race itself but about the ‘journey’ to get to the start line.  Working at Scope has given me the environment and inspiration to take on this challenge. Having always struggled with confidence and low self-esteem, this was my way to prove I’m as strong as I can be physically but more importantly mentally.

My challenge and preparation

The IRONMAN is a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon 26.2-mile run, raced in that order and without a break. No wonder it’s known as the ‘toughest one day event in the world’

I train six days a week and frequently twice a day. Obviously the bulk of the sessions are focused around swim, cycle, run but there are a number of strength and conditioning, yoga and physio sessions thrown in for good measure.

I’m heading out to do a half distance race (70.3 miles) in Budapest at the end of July. I’m hoping this will give me a glimpse into IRONMAN event day, plus I’ve heard the beer is super cheap over there for some post-race celebrations! After that it will be six weeks until race day.

Why did I choose Scope?

Two cyclists riding along a country path
Cat in training

Simply because of the people who are supportive, motivated but most importantly extremely passionate.  The desire to help create a better, fairer society for disabled people and their families is infectious.  Not only do I have the chance to impact Scope’s work in my day to day role as Events Manager, but taking on this challenge means I can hopefully broaden the awareness of Scope and its vital work even further.

It’s my friends, particularly my colleagues at Scope, who listen to me complain and give me the belief in myself that I can do this.  And there is definitely a lot of complaining, particularly as I fall off my bike nearly every time I go out!

The reward

I’m really excited to take part in the IRONMAN. This is my personal challenge of growth and acceptance, and for me that will probably be harder than the physical challenge itself. I’ve learnt I’m so much stronger than I thought, and with the right people around  me I am able to realise my dreams and push myself further than I ever thought. My mantra is ‘Don’t wait until you’ve reached your goal to be proud of yourself. Be proud of every step you take towards reaching that goal.’ So in case you’re thinking of signing up to IRONMAN, here are three things you need to know:

  1. It becomes all you think, talk and dream about
  2. You will need to eat more food than you ever thought possible
  3. You will meet some of the most incredible people along the way to an utterly life changing experience.

If you’re feeling inspired to take on an IRONMAN, or something a little less challenging, find an event that’s perfect for you at scope.org.uk/events or email the events team events@scope.org.uk.