Ironman helps con­quer fears

Taupo & Turangi Weekender - - NEWS -

Pet­ri­fied of open wa­ter af­ter al­most drown­ing as a child, and with a real ha­tred for run­ning, triathlon might not have been the nat­u­ral sport of choice for Alice Wil­liams.

But the 31-year-old Auck­lan­der hopes sign­ing up for Ironman 70.3 Taupo¯ might be just the push she needs to over­come the fear that has haunted her since her child­hood. Ad­mit­ting she’s “a bit an­noyed” at her­self for be­ing afraid of lakes and the sea, Wil­liams hopes by treat­ing the event like an ap­point­ment she’ll get rid of her fear once and for all.

“I tend to do a re­ally mas­sive ver­sion of some­thing I want to over­come — and Ironman is just an­other ex­am­ple of this.

“Pre­vi­ously, when I’ve tried to over­come my fear of open wa­ter, it’s been some­thing I’ve tried to do by my­self. With an or­gan­ised sce­nario like Ironman I can treat it like an ap­point­ment — some­thing that has to be done.”

Wil­liams was about 4 years old and at a fam­ily party when she al­most died in a swim­ming pool.

“I’d wan­dered off by my­self and de­cided to get in the pool. Ev­ery­one was in­side hav­ing lunch and they had this weird feel­ing be­cause sud­denly it went quiet. My older brother found me float­ing half­way be­tween the top and bot­tom of the pool and pulled me out.”

While Wil­liams doesn’t re­mem­ber de­tails of the in­ci­dent, she re­mem­bers be­ing phys­i­cally sick af­ter be­ing re­sus­ci­tated and ev­ery­one crowd­ing round her, cry­ing.

“I re­mem­ber it be­ing an up­set­ting lunch.”

It was only sev­eral years later, af­ter a panic at­tack on a beach hol­i­day, that her mum told her the de­tails and the fear of the open wa­ter made sense.

She ini­tially took up row­ing as a first step to­wards over­com­ing her fear of the wa­ter.

“I didn’t tell any­one I was pet­ri­fied of open wa­ter — when I was put in a boat I was se­cretly freak­ing out, but the tech­ni­cal na­ture of the sport dis­tracted me.”

It was through row­ing she dis­cov­ered Ironman was “more than just a Marvel char­ac­ter” and the event was put on her bucket list.

“I hate run­ning, I’m pet­ri­fied of the wa­ter, but I just think why not. My body is fully func­tion­ing. There’s many peo­ple who couldn’t do it even if they wanted to — I’ve got friends in that po­si­tion — and I think, if I can do it, I should. You never know when that might change.”

Thank­fully for Wil­liams, she loves cy­cling, so is rel­ish­ing the thought of the 90km ride out to Re­poroa and back.

“I could cy­cle all day. It’s my favourite leg and it’s 50 per cent of the race.”

Af­ter break­ing her foot in Oc­to­ber 2018, Wil­liams has been training prop­erly since April, but cred­its a de­cent level of base fit­ness with help­ing her ef­forts. The lead-up has seen Wil­liams tick off the Auck­land Marathon and en­ter the Kohi

Sum­mer Swim Se­ries.

Wil­liams says the bulk of her training plan has con­cen­trated on run­ning, as it is her weak­est sport of the three.

She says the best piece of training ad­vice she’s been given is that “rest is part of training and sleep is king”.

It’s that men­tal fit­ness which will prove im­por­tant as she lines up at the start line.

“I ex­pect the 70.3 will be what we call ‘type two fun’ — ‘type one fun’ is fun at the time and fun on re­flec­tion, ‘type two fun’ is aw­ful at the time but fun on re­flec­tion. I sus­pect it will be char­ac­ter-build­ing.”

And there’ll be more of that char­ac­ter build­ing in her fu­ture with the 70.3 event be­ing the step­ping stone to the full-length race in Taupo¯ in March.

Photo / Sup­plied

Alice Wil­liams will be fac­ing her fear of wa­ter at the Ironman 70.3 this Satur­day.

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