Iron Sharpens Iron
Many say that competition is the one true test of character.
Whether it’s competing with a co-worker for that promotion at the office, going head-to-head with a teammate for a starting spot in the big game or trying to beat a personal fitness record, competition can certainly bring out the best in all of us.
While there are virtually no true competitions that are considered easy, the Ironman is one that strikes fear in even the toughest of all competitors.
“Consisting of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride and a marathon 26.22-mile (42.20 km) run, raced in that order, the Ironman is widely considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world,” Lorna explained to us in a recent interview.
Just a bit more challenging than the average day in the gym.
To prepare, Lorna commits herself to an extra strenuous training routine that could get anyone in top shape.
“I’ll complete an hour run or bike during lunch breaks a couple of times per week, which is good because it gets me going for the afternoon. Or I’ll get up at 5:00 a.m. and get something in then, or squeeze it in after work. Oh, and I have kids as well.”
And while it’s an undeniable challenge of wits, strength, stamina and overall ruggedness, training for – and completing – one of the “most difficult one-day sporting events in the world” has proven to be more therapeutic than torment for Lorna. Even on the toughest days.
Lorna has been a competitive athlete most of her life, logging hundreds – if not thousands – of hours on running, biking and in the swimming pool over the last few decades. She also rides her horse on a regular basis and is accustomed to clearing hurdles. But she appreciates that competing in an Ironman is not like competing in these types of sporting events, or even a marathon. The Ironman necessitates a special amount of grit and determination.
Unfortunately, it was a family tragedy that fuels that determination in Lorna.
“We lost a baby four years ago, when he was five weeks old,” she said. “After that we started fundraising for a charity called The Lullaby Trust. About six months after we lost him, we did the London Marathon and raised nearly 14,000 euro, which was really good. It was the first mega challenge for us physically, mentally and emotionally, as well as in an official charitable capacity,” Lorna shared.
The marathon helped her process her grief and gain the strength to start moving forward with life. It also proved that her life-long passion for fitness could become a powerful platform for good. Her competitive spirit could be used to support a cause that had become near and dear to her heart.
“Not long after I completed my first marathon, my brothers did their first Ironman at Bristol. That’s when I challenged myself to do the same in memory of my son. I’ve now crossed the finish line of six Iron Man races, and it has been rewarding every time. There has been a lot of sibling rivalry going on ever since that first race, too, which has made it quite fun as well.”
Unyielding Resolve Yields Curative Rewards
Since starting in her first Ironman four years ago, Lorna has helped to raise more than 14,000 euro for the Lullaby Trust in memory of her son.
She has also come a long way personally.
Lorna is now ranked 14th Ironman in the UK, and 156th in the entire world in her age group! She recently clocked a personal best time of 14:04:54, which is nearly two hours ahead of her previous best.
How did she do it?
By following the same advice she gives to others who want to face the Ironman but may feel a little overwhelmed at first:
“You just break it down into little bits,” she said. “If you think about the whole thing at once, you wouldn’t want to do it. It’s just like work in that you’re going to encounter some hard bits going up a hill. Then you’ll have the opportunity to catch your breath and revel a bit in how far you’ve come on the easy bits going down the hill. So, just approach it one bit at a time and you’ll get through.”