Triathlon: 'It was one of the best days of my life'
Physiotherapist Nessa Smyth (36) from Dublin has tackled the infamous Ironman Triathlon -- a blood, sweat and tears endurance test covering more than 225km by land and sea. But 'don't be intimidated', she urges other would-be Iron Women.
"I'd been to an Ironman event and thought it was mad -- a 4km swim, 180km cycle and 42km run without stopping in a time limit of 17 hours. But when a group of my friends said they were signing up, I decided to go for it. I've never been one to do things by halves!
"In preparation I was in the gym twice a week, swimming three times a week and cycling twice a week. You have to make a lot of sacrifices -- like missing family days out, but training was never lonely as I had my friends. Doing Ironman was one of the best days of my life. There's a fantastic atmosphere -- total strangers cheer you on. Afterwards, I was on such a high that I didn't even feel tired.
"I got a medal, but I don't consider myself an 'Iron Woman'. Anyone can do a triathlon -- age or gender is not a factor. I even saw 70-year-old women taking part! Mostly, it's about hard work and mental attitude.
"My advice to other women is not to be intimidated by a new challenge. Set yourself a goal -- then believe in yourself to cross the finish line!"