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Written by our Digital Editor, Marie Yates.

The experts say that it’s important to take a break after an Ironman. I crossed the finish line of Ironman Wales in 2013 so I think I’ve had enough of a break now.

Ironman was something I wanted to tick off my bucket list. Without a doubt, it was the most incredible day of my life and it has been ticked off the list in style. The only down side of that, is I have no idea how to top it.

Do I need to top it?

Many of the stories we share on Tri Radar and in Triathlon Plus Magazine are beyond inspirational and show the extremes of human endurance and potential. Having the opportunity to engage with people like James Ketchell, Sophie Bubb and Luke Tyburski is an honour. I have recently read and reviewed Hollie Cradduck’s book which has stayed with me. On a day that was profoundly significant for me, she crossed the same finish line and faced profound sadness.

Triathlon means different things to different people. Learning from people who have tested their body, mind and spirit is something I am constantly inspired by, but it is something that also feels more than a little out of my reach. My Ironman finishing time was 15:50. I crossed the line in the dark, with the crowds still cheering and I know that I could not have gone any quicker. Nothing went wrong, everything went as I planned and while I was never going to be a threat to the elite field, I had the time of my life. Reading about the distances covered by James and Luke, the speed of Sophie and the sheer resilience of Hollie, is mind blowing.

Having waited three years for my comeback (!) and I am back to being a beginner. I think I have basked in the glory of my Ironman finish for long enough and this weekend, it was time to take that first step and ‘tri again’. Having ‘emigrated’ from England to Wales and therefore forced to leave the triathlon club I was a part of, I found myself searching for a new club.

I know that the thought of joining a triathlon club is something that can be intimidating. I felt apprehensive as I joined my local club for their swim session yesterday, but the nerves disappeared as I was welcomed, had the session explained to me and prayed my body would remember how to swim. One of the guys in my lane was also embarking on his first session with the club. He had been away from training for two and a half years because of an accident when he was out cycling. He was training for IM New Zealand and was knocked off his bike by a car, resulting in numerous bones being broken and an intensive period of rehabilitation ahead of him. As he swam ahead of me, I was disappointed in myself. Seriously, what was my excuse?!

Chatting with the other women in the club after the swim, they talked about some of their friends who wanted to join, but who felt intimidated. This is a welcoming, mixed ability, friendly group and I believe that if more people took that first step, they would love it as much as we do. I understand the fears and I wonder if some of the exceptional feats that we share and discuss with such awe and admiration can inadvertently add to the trepidation.

This blog will attempt to show that we all have to start somewhere. Whether you have been tempted to give triathlon a go, you are new to the sport or, like me, you are ‘tri-ing again’. The goal doesn’t have to be an endurance event or a super-fast time. The goal can be rediscovering the enjoyment of sport, having time for yourself or simply trying to be a better version of yourself.

As I followed through with my comeback swim plan of ‘start slow – get slower’, I realised that I have a long journey ahead of me. I was wondering if my swimming cap had always been that tight or whether I had actually put weight on around my forehead, I inhaled water as my neck was still adapting to breathing at the side and now, a day later, I am aching in places I had forgotten I had places.

Onwards and upwards. I have printed the ‘absolute beginners training plan’ and I am about to take my canine running buddy out for the 15 minute run/walk. Who’s with me?!