Pablo Marcos’ Pursuit of IronMan Kona: An ‘adventure for the soul’

How a PRO Bike Tool ambassador and secondary school teacher balances a full-time job with an even fuller training schedule.

For Pablo Marcos, a 26-year-old Spaniard living in Southern England, IronMan Kona is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. IronMan Kona is the World Championships of IronMan triathlon, a gruelling event that takes athletes through a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bike ride and a marathon 26.22-mile (42.20 km) run, all raced back to back. For triathletes around the world, Kona is a pipe dream; something they wish for but have also resigned themselves to being an unattainable goal. However, for the most determined, dedicated, and talented, qualifying for the event is a real target that is worked towards day after day.

Pablo’s target

Pablo has been racing triathlon for many years, having ‘got the bug’ for the sport in his early 20s. He rapidly gained form and proficiency in the event and represented his country at Age Group level in various races. Then, in 2015, that IronMan mecca – Kona – became Pablo’s target. Since then, his relentless pursuit of that ultimate goal has dominated his life and thoughts. However, he must balance this focus with his other passion – giving kids the best education that he can in his work as a secondary school maths teacher: a job that involves high-energy and around the clock marking, lesson planning, and extra-curricular activity.

A sporting discipline as tough as IronMan involves massive training loads, and we at PRO Bike Tool spoke with Pablo about how he fits it all in.

where the real battle starts

After a 5am alarm, Pablo jumps straight into a short session of yoga or meditation, followed by a rushed breakfast and trip to the pool for an hour’s swim. A second breakfast and race to school sees Pablo arrive at work for 8am, and ‘that’s where the real battle starts’. Even in the 30 minutes that Pablo has free before the kids arrive, he’s busy refining lesson plans, and any other spare time during the day is spent marking, preparing lessons, or coaching athletics or cross-country to students.

When the school bell rings at 3.40pm, the day is far from over for Pablo – up to three training blocks may face him next. During the cold, dark days of UK winter, this predominantly all takes place at the local leisure centre, where the pool, indoor bike trainer, and treadmill are all a matter of meters from each other. With a day this busy, efficiency is key to fitting in all the sessions that his coach prescribes.

The toughest of Pablo’s days comes when he is arguably most tired – Friday. The afternoon session involves around three hours of training, and the mental challenge is as great as the physical. Front of mind is that whilst so many of his colleagues and friends are off out for food, drinks or other relaxation, he’s training solo, chasing that Kona pot of gold.

"It’s at these times that I remind myself that those who put other things ahead of their goals are behind me before race day has even arrived. This is my own dream. As they told us at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships, it’s an adventure for the soul"

Pablo’s is a schedule that would break many

By the time Pablo gets home after training, it’s 8.30pm. Rather than eating and then collapsing into bed, he still fits in time to call loved ones, answer emails, and spend some time studying for the Level 2 Triathlon Coach Certification and a qualification in Sport Psychology and Coaching.

And it doesn’t stop at the weekend. An early start and long bike ride with his club – a rare break from his relentlessly solitary schedule –  faces Pablo on Saturday, before a long run, gym and swim session awaits him on Sunday. Although Pablo finds balance in his life with weekend afternoons socialising and watching films, front of his mind is always what’s on the training schedule for the next day.

Pablo’s is a schedule that would break many, not just due to the physical load, but also as a result of the largely solitary lifestyle it involves and the mental determination required.

That initial motivation to achieve your goal becomes your routine, and that routine is what keeps you going if that motivation wavers.

"It takes passion and love for what you do"

2018 is a stepping stone year for Pablo, and will see him racing in several Half IronMan events, with a view to qualifying for the discipline’s World Championships, as he did in 2017. In the following years, that dream of qualifying for Ironman Kona in the 25-29 year age group will come into Pablo’s nearer focus. That’s a number of years more dedication and sacrifice, but it doesn’t faze Pablo. His journey towards that ultimate goal keeps progressing, relentlessly and unfalteringly.

It takes passion and love for what you do. I hate my days and training sometimes, but I love sport and the person I am thanks to it.

Live the present day; embrace the pain and every emotion, stay positive and keep going.

Good things are coming.

Pablo is a PRO Bike Tool ambassador, and we’ll be supporting him throughout his journey. With the focus and determination that he demonstrates, we’re full of confidence that good things are coming his way.

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