by Chrissie Wellington
Ironman legend, Chrissie Wellington is a straight-up badass. She started in 13 Ironman races and won all of them. Among them were four world championships. In this book, she tells a lot of the details behind those victories in addition to the full story of how she got into the world of triathlons.
Chrissie also goes into detail about her battle with eating disorders, her coaches and teammates, her extensive travels and her history of being accident-prone. I was surprised to find out that she actually had a successful career as an international development adviser and she talks about her decision to leave it all behind to become a professional athlete.
One thing that really impresses me about Chrissie is how insanely tough she is. Maybe being so accident-prone caused her to develop a high level of resilience but she claims that her secret weapon is to simply smile when faced with adversity becasue it relaxes your face, makes you think positive and best of all, it intimidates your competitors. She has a lot of stories about how she dealt with injuries, illnesses, bad weather conditions and gear problems by remaining positive. There is a photo in the book of her riding a bike trainer just a few hours after crashing her bike and breaking her wrist. Sure enough, in the photo she is smiling ear to ear and wearing a cast on her arm.
Since Chrissie was always ahead of the women, it was normal for her to be racing against men but I was surprised by how much she actually wanted to beat the men to the finish line as well. She pays attention to trends in race results and noticed that women were advancing faster than men. She was usually among the top overall finishers and took great pride when she would have the fastest overall bike or run split. In a long distance triathlon in 2007, she finished second overall and was only 1 minute and 23 seconds from being the overall winner.
Chrissie also talks a lot about people who she is inspired by. After she crosses the finish line, she stays there until the end of the race and congratulates everyone else as they finish. She takes a great deal of inspiration from all of the non-elite athletes who she has met at the finish line and devotes an entire chapter in this book to them. She says that the age groupers who have to balance training with real lives are far more inspiring than the pros and she loves that fact that she gets to race with them. How classy is that?