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“What if I fall? Oh, my darling, what if you fly?” By Dr Diana Griffiths

A triathlete tells her story…

It was an ordinary day when I had a pretty absurd idea. I wanted to do the Durban Iron Man 70.3. And I had 6 months to pull it off. This might not sound crazy to most people but let me give you some context….I didn’t own a bike. I had no idea what FTP stood for. I didn’t even know what a cleat was, let alone how to spell it (still unsure). I was terrified of open water. And the most I’d ever run was a few flights of stairs to a ‘resus’ at Helen Joseph Hospital. Couple that with a recent break up and, some might say, I’d reached rock bottom. Little did I know that an exciting and extraordinary journey was only just beginning to unfold. I had a vision and a valuable motivating factor, which we will get to later on. 

So I did what most people do when they find themselves in a precarious situation….I gave Samantha Harrington a call. And it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. One80 Multi-sport became more than a team to train with. They have an innate ability to welcome you into a family. What I love is that there is no judgement. Every individual is unique and encouraging. We laugh, we banter, we help one another. We train hard. We sweat. We have fun. And I feel privileged as a newbie to be training with world class athletes who are humble individuals and incredibly inspiring. 

My first swim squad I rocked up with my costume inside out (a 5am moonlit swim will do that to you). I fell off my bike twice (while stationary). I had to learn the ropes of what you do and don’t wear under a trisuit. ‘Chaff’ suddenly became a real thing in my life.  

To be completely honest, my Iron Man adventure was physically, mentally and emotionally gruelling. I couldn’t reach 80 watts initially without becoming seriously short of breath. Battling with a thyroid condition, my heart rate would sky rocket to 180bpm if I did the gentlest of jogs. I had to overcome my intense, debilitating fear of open water. When I couldn’t believe in myself, others believed in me. It took tenacity to get up after a bad fall off the bike and keep riding.

But at last, the day arrived…

The sea was crystal clear and flat. The sun was shining and for the first time in months, I felt genuinely happy. The nerves were there but I had so much support from family, friends and fellow athletes. I couldn’t have asked for a better race and the awe inspiring journey leading up to it. The day itself was extraordinary. Having my loved ones cheer me on from all over the country energized me. My race experience reiterated that anything is possible in life, if you want it badly enough. And if you set your mind to it, of course. 

And here was my reason for doing this remarkable triathlon….

This year marks the ten year anniversary of losing my father to cancer. He wasn’t an athlete. But he was an outstanding doctor, a phenomenal father, a loving friend and most of all….he was my Iron Man. He taught me that hard work and perseverance are all you need. That it doesn’t matter the cards you are dealt in life, it’s how you play them that makes you the person you are. 

What’s next you might ask? Portugal baby! Cascais IM70.3 2019. Watch this space closely…

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3 Comments
  • Karen Bartmann
    July 2, 2019 at 1:10 pm

    Awesome. Well Done.

  • Shelley Carrie
    July 2, 2019 at 2:12 pm

    Proud of you Sis! You inspire many.

  • Wanita Nicol
    July 3, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    I love this story! So beautifully written, honest and inspiring. Well done! I’m sure this is just the first of many great triathlon achievements to come.

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