2 Years Ago Today – Heart Surgery to Ironman

23 Jun

23rd June 2010.

My heart was stopped for 39 minutes. My sternum was broken and the hole in my heart patched up. I was in Intensive care and had 8 days in hospital. The pain was unbelievable. The recovery was slow and frustrating. To work my way through this experience, I needed to look to the future.

In my hospital bed, I made the decision firstly to run my deferred London marathon place the following April ( 2011) and secondly, complete an Ironman in 2012.

Why? I get asked this all the time. In usual circumstances, you could say the extreme element to the challenge makes it appealing. The feeling of satisfaction about pushing your body to the limit. It’s also actually enjoyable to train long and slow in all three disciplines. For me, the real reason for wanting to do Ironman is to prove to myself that anything is possible. I believed this before the diagnosis of my heart condition but afterwards, that confidence slipped away somewhat. I needed a clear positive goal that I knew would help me through the tough months of recovery.

Being both a physical and psychological challenge, I wanted to take my feelings about heart surgery and channel it into a positive experience. Another reason for wanting to do Ironman is to make the most of having an opportunity to get fit again. Many with a heart condition are severely limited and cannot exercise. I was lucky that my defect was picked up firstly as a result of exercise and secondly there should be no real long term complications. Once I was fixed, that was it – free to get back to the sport I love! That’s lucky. If I wouldn’t have been here in 10 years time, I need to make the most of what I have – an opportunity to do the things that really challenge you and push boundaries of what is possible.

There’s such a community of long distance triathletes, you really stick together. I wouldn’t have been able to make it through the training without my friends. Without support from those close to me, life would have been a whole lot tougher. No-one has questioned my decision to do this. My coach has been nothing but supportive, despite set-backs along the way. Having people believe in you makes all the difference when occasionally you question yourself!

Recent advice has included taking the time to take in the atmosphere on the day, to really get a sense of everything and to remember it. After working towards my goal for so long, it will all be over so quickly. When I swim my 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles, I will be thinking about all those who can not do this challenge even if they wanted to. I’ll be remembering the determination I felt after my operation when a short walk exhausted me. Above all, I will enjoy the day because I am lucky to be there.

Two years ago I was alone in a hospital bed after being woken for surgery. A last minute decision by the consultant meant that my operation had been brought forward and I was about to be rushed down to the operating theatre. I was petrified! Family had planned to visit early in the morning to wish me luck but I soon realised there was no times for goodbyes. I considered the risks previously explained to me and my heart raced. The very thing that keeps me alive was about to be stopped.

Lying in a bed connected to pacing wires, drains and drips is a funny time to start dreaming about Ironman. Maybe it was the morphine  but suddenly a seedling of an idea had clarity… it was my goal to achieve it. It was going to be a long journey with many ups and downs but now I’m here, with only a week to go, it’s been worth every minute.

Heart Surgery to Ironman, race report next!

4 Responses to “2 Years Ago Today – Heart Surgery to Ironman”

  1. Trina wright 23. Jun, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    Corinne, you are amazing. No other words to describe you. A complete an utter inspiration to me. ~ I’ll be thinking of you next week, I know you can do this & you’ll enjoy the mixed emotions felt along the way. You’re strong & no forgetting that. … Good luck lovely! x x x

  2. Jo Everett 23. Jun, 2012 at 10:41 pm #

    Corinne, what can I say that has not been said already by everyone? You truly are an inspiration, a brave and positive lady who deserves alll the best life has to offer. I have no doubt you will excel in your challenge and I can’t wait to hear the next instalment. Look after yourself, enjoy every moment and pat yourself on the back xx

  3. Jase Lewis 27. Jun, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    Good luck for Sunday Corinne, you’re an absolute star and truly deserve everything that WILL come your way on the day. Enjoy every minute of it from your first steps into the water to the unforgettable moment when you hear ‘Corinne Ellison you are an IRONMAN’ the time will fly by so take time to take it all in.

    Best wishes
    Jase xxx

  4. Achim 27. Jun, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    Just would like to wish you all the veryvery best and as much enjoyment as possible for *your* race on Sunday!

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