Our very own Eddie, once again showing us how it’s done and inspiring generations with her Ironman triumph!
“I didn’t start running till I was 50 and triathlon and swimming till 58, so reaching Ironman distances later in life proves it is never too late to start. My husband had died at 54, and I was 52, so I was left with abiding thoughts that I was the lucky one and to make the most of life – you never know what’s around the corner.
An Ironman triathlon is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 miles on the bike and a marathon of 26.2 miles. After my disappointing failure in Maastricht Ironman in August 2017 when I was cut off from the run – I had taken 4mins longer than the specified 10 hours, a deep inner frustration drove me to sign up for yet another Ironman – this one, I told myself would be the last. It seemed such a waste of those long, long hours of training since the spring, not to be able to hear the voice of a commentator as I crossed the finish line `YOU ARE AN IRONMAN’. I signed up for Cozumel, in Mexico knowing a good friend Steve Trew would be out there to do the race commentary. He was so enthusiastic about the event.
So, back to training it was, early starts for swims, and instead of enjoying the Friday night life of Brixton, I spent many, many hours in spin classes or swimming up and down in the GLL/Better Brixton Rec pool. How sad was that? I would go back down the escalator to the tube, exhausted, but feeling like the only old woman, escaping, as everyone else is coming up to enjoy Brixton. I spent many hours too on a Turbo at home, motivated by the incredible technology of Zwift as my figure sped along the roads of London and the Surrey Hills, on a screen in front of me, racing cyclists around the world in real time.
I was so, so apprehensive about the imminent ocean swim because wetsuits were not going to be allowed as the water temperature would be too warm. So many thanks to Zone 3 who sponsored me and kindly gave me one of their tri suits and a new swim skin suit – a tightfitting number in purple and gold, to reduce the drag in the water, or more importantly to give me the feel good factor.
Cozumel Ironman proved to be the most incredible race in perfect condition in a fabulous, welcoming community. I arrived four days before the race in order to acclimatise, and relax, although the temperatures at 70F were never as hot or humid as I had feared. There was the embarrassment of Steve Trew introducing me from the stage, to all the other athletes at the briefing meeting as the oldest woman, an Irongran! Another commentator, Javier, taught me his Cuban version of the Salsa later that evening and everyone was incredibly encouraging of the diversity in age.
The day before the race is often logistically challenging, bikes are taken to the rack, bags with clothes prepared. It was going to be a unique course for me, with a point to point swim – 3.8k in one direction. Fortunately a brief practice reassured me– the fish below were fantastic and suddenly, I was really looking forward to the start. Last minute panics, were run and bike shoes in the right place, helmet, right glasses, enough High 5 energy bars and gels on the bike? Long before dawn it was up before 4.00am for breakfast and coach transport to check bikes and then down to the race start. The anxiety mounts, as you place yourself, according to estimated swim time, in a long long queues leading up to the swim start. So I was right at the back – the klaxon goes, the commentators and music belting out over loudspeakers as the professionals and then the faster swimmers went off at the start. Then the queue slowly shuffles for over 30mins towards the swim start on a jetty. Finally two or three of us at a time are directed to go over the mat that starts our timing chip – the blue sea stretched out ahead. The others were all diving in, but I can’t dive, so I gently plopped in and my race is on!
It was indeed a fabulous swim, the famous coral reef below and such beautiful colourful fish all around. There were dozens of the local community, volunteering out there too, on canoes or paddle boards around me, ensuring my safety, shouting encouragement as I lifted my head to breathe. This was fun, And then, far earlier that I expected, I sighted the framework surrounding the area where people are swimming with the dolphins and I past and then swimming around it and then clambering out of the water onto the jetty, to the cheers and the two commentators clearly recognising that it was a fast time for me. I wasn’t even the last person out of the water. Was that down to all those swim sessions, or the new suit, or just maybe the current behind me most of the way?
So, skin suit off, helmet on and I was off on the fabulous bike course in my new Zone3 tri suit. Three laps of 60k the roads were perfect, fabulous ocean views, palm trees and then, as we cycled back into the town, loud cheers and fantastic Mexican music. Music is so strong a part of their culture, usually fast rhythm with a strong beat – perfect to encourage speedier pedalling. Faster riders, by now on second or maybe third laps were overtaking, often shouting encouragement. I even overtook a few myself. And then, after 7½ hours on the bike it was finally onto the 3 lap run – again the crowds cheering shouts of `Go Irongran` between the blaring music, live and recorded, groups of enthusing drummers. I got into a rhythm of jogging for 2 mins, walking 30secs, and by the third lap I knew I could make the finish well before the midnight cut off, so I eased the pressure on my injured and arthritic knees and walked fast.
Then I met up with another woman from USA whom I had seen out on the bike course. We talked about previous races, our families, etc before the lightbulb moment when we realised we both had many years of social work experience. The miles just flew by as we chatted animatedly all the way to the end. Finally, over that finish line, unbelievable relief and joy, to hear Steve Trew’s tones `Eddie Brocklesby, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN, YOU ARE AN IRONGRAN` completed in 15 hours 20 mins.
My only regret, with that 5 hour time difference: – my kids and friends had to wait up in the UK till 4.30am to know their old mother had finally made it! I knew that a successful event could only be good news for Silverfit, and Irongran – physical activity and having fun are two key components of happier, healthier ageing.”