A Change in Perspective

They say that Ironman is all about the journey – that it’s not so much about the actual “race”, but what it takes to get there. Well, my build to Busso continues to be a rollercoaster – one setback after the next. From sickness and injury to a major eczema flare up that landed me in hospital recently, it’s been a crazy ride. But I’m determined to get there. I may not achieve the time-goals I set all those months ago when I first thought about signing up but I’m going to get there and I’m going to finish – I’m going to finish what I started.

If you think training for an Ironman is hard, try living in a body that’s trying to destroy you from the inside out. Over the last three weeks my eczema and allergies have been on crack – they’ve been flaring up like crazy. It’s like my body decided to throw an allergy rave party and the whole neighbourhood was invited.

And I’m not talking your standard sneezing and itchy eyes that you might get when the pollen count is high. To paint the picture for you, it feels like you’re burning from the inside out; like you have thousands of needles pricking your body all at once. You get so intensely itchy that no matter how hard you try not to itch, you can’t resist even to the point of waking up in the middle of the night madly scratching until you bleed. It’s SO much fun (insert eye roll). This doesn’t make training easy, fun or even possible at times.

At the end of last week things got pretty bad. I went to swimming on Friday morning as normal, had a windtrainer session planned for that night, and was excited about the training set for the weekend ahead. But throughout the morning my right eye started to swell. It got progressively worse as the day went on and I was starting to feel worse and worse (chills, hot skin, itchy, burning etc.). By about 5pm I couldn’t handle it any more and took myself to Emergency at the closest hospital.

I was in there for a few hours but was ultimately sent home diagnosed with “conjunctivitis”. Are you effing kidding me? Seriously frustrated and on the verge of tears (I may have even told a security guard to F off when he asked to look inside my bag to check if there’s a goon bag in there. What the?) I drove home hoping that I would come good by the next day.

But that wasn’t to be. The next day I couldn’t open my right eye. It was that swollen that it had completely closed over. “Well, training is out this weekend,” I sighed, frustrated and called my mum. She came over straight away and took me back to the hospital…

Fast-forward to now and I’m feeling a lot better – I look like a normal person again and my skin is feeling a lot better too. The road ahead includes a battery of tests, doctor/specialist appointments, a super strict diet (the list of foods that I can eat – that won’t cause my body to hate me – is getting shorter and shorter), but I’m getting there. And after missing another weekend of training, I’m getting back on track and am extremely grateful for the ability to do the things that I love. I will never complain about an early morning training session again.

This whole experience made me question Busso. “Will I be able to get there?” “Should I pull out?” “I don’t think I can do it.” This is what was going through my head the whole time I was in hospital. In tears, I turned to my mum and said, “I think I have to pull out.” Her response: “Don’t be silly. Even if you can’t swim [because of the chlorine] you can still ride and run. Plus you have 17 hours to finish the Ironman. You don’t have to do it in 12.” Ha! I love her.

You know what? She’s completely right. This is no time for a pity party. I have to focus on the things I can do, rather than the things that I can’t. It is what it is. I need to accept the things I can’t change and focus on the things that I can. Bring it on!

So, while it may have been in doubt, Busso is still on the cards. I may have to alter my training a little and I may even have to start making my own gels (preservatives suck!) but I will get there! And when I get there, I will finish. I may not get my goal time but I will be an Ironman again.


Margaret Mielczarek

Margaret Mielczarek is the deputy editor at Australian Triathlete Magazine and writes the web series 'Shenanigans of a Deputy 2.0'. She is a passionate age-group triathlete and four-time Ironman finisher - currently in training for Ironman number five!

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