A Little Bit Heart Broken

I’ve been staring at this blank page for the last hour … because honestly, I’m not quite sure where to start.

To say I’m disappointed is an understatement. I’m gutted. To work so hard for something only to have it taken away at the eleventh hour is a little bit heartbreaking. But it is what it is and it could always be worse. NB: I realise this might sound a little like #firstworldproblemsmuch but it’s all relative, right?

Those who have been following this web series will know that, in addition to training for Ironman WA while juggling work/family/social life, I’ve been battling some serious allergies and eczema (click here for a recap). But despite it all, I’ve been determined not to let this defeat me. I’ve altered my training where I had to – I kissed chlorine goodbye and divided my swimming time between a local saltwater pool and the bay. I made sure that I didn’t push too hard on long training weekends and made my own nutrition to limit the amount of processed cr*p I was consuming. I made it through the last big week of training; I was excited to race – I had even altered my goals and was excited to see if I could achieve them on race day. Things were going well.

Or so I thought.

I had planned to have some routine allergy tests done during the first week of taper. In hindsight maybe I should have waited? But then again, it’s hard getting into specialist appointments and I thought I would be fine. I’d have the tests done, I’d recover and I’d be on track for the Ironman. But unfortunately, things didn’t go quite to plan. Without going into all the details, basically, the allergy tests triggered the mother of all flare-ups. My back completely blistered (from the skin patch test), I was red-raw and burning from the inside out – imagine being badly sunburnt and multiply that by about 100 – my body went into some kind of shock and unfortunately, I haven’t been able to recover from it all as quickly as I thought I would. As I sit here, while it’s ever so slowly starting to heal, my skin is still very raw, tender, and flaky – I’ve shed so much skin! I’m emotional (there have been so many tears), exhausted and wiped out.

With that, after extensive chats with my mum/boyfriend/doctors/coach I have decided to officially pull out of Ironman Western Australia 2017. Ironman is a beast at the best of times and the concern is what it might do to me if I tried to push my body through it, while everything is so fragile. I also have too much respect for this sport to go in underdone.

So, while I’m down for the count at the moment – I’m not out. There WILL be another Ironman … in the future. The number one priority at the moment is getting my health back. But when I do … watch out! I’ll be back.

In the meantime, I have been able to change my race entry to the half so if my skin continues to heal and comes good, I might do that instead – I’m not 100 per cent sure yet …

But for now, to all those preparing to line up on that start line, I wish you all the race of your lives! May the swim be flat (and shark free – ha!), may you have a tailwind on the ride and, may the run be cool and calm. You’ve got this!

And to all the people who have helped me get through another Ironman build, to all those who have stuck by me (you know who you are) – thank-you, thank-you, thank-you! This isn’t over. I won’t let this defeat me. Ironman number 5 – I’m still coming for ya!


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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