• Atul Prasad

The IronWoman

Ironman. A word that a select few regard with utmost respect, while the rest have a vague awareness that it is a significant achievement, but without much understanding of what it actually is. For all the curious ones out there, I'll tell you what it is. It's one of the toughest endurance events on the planet. It involves a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run (Jaw dropping...I know). Originating in the US, the Ironman challenge is now a huge global event and takes place all over the world. This means that tourism can play off the back of what is becoming a sought-after status symbol – the countries that host Ironman challenges have an opportunity to show off their treasured cities and resplendent natural ecosystems in all their shining glory.

It is no secret that triathlon is not exactly up there at the zenith of sporting media interest. Despite having raised the bar of triathlon, the female triathlon stars remain being questioned.  So imagine, then, what public interest endurance triathlon generates. Yep, about as much as a protest against wearing outlandish shoes. There are more men than women. Many more. In fact, the longer the distance of the triathlon race, the less women there are. Which is interesting as women generally possess better endurance than men. (Suck it up, Men). 

One such amazing and inspiring individual we are talking about in this article is Blossom Fernandez. Hailing from Bangalore, she worked really hard to train for this challenge while having a full time career in aviation as cabin manager. So we at Hobbyist World got a chance to connect with her and get her on an instagram Live to tell our beloved audience how she did it all. 

She has always enjoyed athletic endurance events and over the last few years, she has taken part in running events and marathons alike. A friend casually mentioned the idea of a triathlon a few  years ago, and the idea stuck with her. As a cabin manager with Jet Airways, a full-time job with odd hours,  regular activities are difficult to plan. So she had her  coach build a training plan specific to her schedule. This meant that sometimes she would be running outdoors in the afternoon. She did many solo bike rides. She had to fight for motivation to even train some days. And she trained wherever she found herself. Along with swimming, cycling and running, she did yoga, weight training, strength and conditioning.

She found a group of women triathletes in Bengaluru, all of them juggling worklife and training schedules. There is also a Facebook group that connects women triathletes and they share race information. How cool is that? Most big cities in India host a triathlon once a year. But the Ironman 70.3 World Championship is a different beast. The Ironman 70.3 race series, also known as a Half Ironman, consists of over 85 events with more than 3000 athletes between the ages of 18-75 representing over 70 countries aiming to qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship. Blossom was 1 of 3 Indian women who participated in Ironman Dubai 703, which was a qualifying race for the World Championship.

As part of her nutrition for the training period for this challenge, she cut out white rice, white flour, red meat, processed food, refined oil, packaged products, carbonated beverages and alcohol. One month before race day, she cut out refined sugar. Meals included wholewheat flour, brown rice, oats, quinoa, millets, fish, chicken, coconut milk, almond milk, one leafy vegetable, one raw vegetable, one cooked vegetable, fruits (predominantly bananas/apples/watermelon), dates and peanut butter. She drank at least 2-3 litres of water every day. After each training session, she immediately drank a green smoothie (spinach, bananas, peanut butter, chia seeds, flaxseed, supergreen powder), followed by orange juice with turmeric.  

Essentially, when you’re training for anything, it means you’re not just doing it for the sake of satisfaction. You are most definitely “In it to win it”. The most important thing you will need during this period of training is, Patience. Greatness is always achieved over a period of time and after a lot of failures. Blossom Fernandez, did not give in, in spite of limitations in the form of work schedule. My school’s motto has always been “Never Give in” and I guess I see that now and how it really does make sense in anything you try in life.