I recently heard about this amazing mum who got into triathlon after having babies and turns out was rather good at it. It's hard to believe that before having children and meeting her husband, Sophie Bubb wasn't into running, she was an active person but had only ever done one 10K race. What an inspirational story for all of us parents who struggle not to fall asleep while building lego, how the hell does anyone train for long distance races, let alone Ironman ones with small kids? Here is Sophie's story.
After having Rory, my first son, my super active Ironman husband inspired me to sign up for my first marathon, at the time of the race Rory was six months old. In order to get the training done together we started using our running buggy, at this stage it was more of my husband pushing! When it came to the Paris marathon I just wanted to finish. I loved the whole experience with the amazing crowds. I didn’t pace correctly at all and had to walk the last few miles but I did it in 3hr45min and really loved the experience.
My husband has done heaps of amazing challenges and not long after Paris Marathon he completed the 90K Comrade’s Marathon in South Africa. We took our running buggy with us and from then on it ended up being our predominant buggy; the big wheels are great on the most difficult terrains, including the beach and it’s so lightweight that it can be easily transported around. It really became our absolute buggy of choice.
In my experience having something to work towards when you have a baby and are super tired can be a good thing. It’s so easy to just feel tired and for me sleeping when the baby slept didn’t make me feel any better. For me it helped me mentally having a challenge and doing something for myself, I know that giving myself this little bit of space made me a happier and more patient Mum. My husband also relished the time where he was the ‘primary carer’ without me fussing over him!
There is a lot of stigma about post partum running but I believe if you take advice from a health professional and in my case, look after your core training can be a very rewarding thing to do. The first time round I had to learn the hard way the importance of looking after the core and building it up slowly. The other worry I had was about breastfeeding; I didn’t want training to affect my milk supply and it didn’t, but I would recommend doubling up the sports bras!
I had a second son 16 months after my first. Prior to Billy’s arrival I always thought an Ironman was too difficult but whilst I was in the water pool delivering Billy I decided that if I could do this I could do anything! It was here I told my husband I wanted to do an Ironman. I completed my first long course triathlon six months later, however this period of my life is all a bit of a blur!
Three months after Billy was born I entered Challenge Weymouth, at the time I didn’t know this was also the ETU European Long Distance Champs, all I wanted to do was finish. On 13th September 2015, six months after giving birth to my second son, I became the first amateur to finish the European Long Distance Triathlon Championships, I finished 9th overall and amongst the back end of the professional field, the result was a total shock. It also Qualified me to race at the ITU Long Distance Wold Championships in Oklahoma.
Ironman takes a huge amount of training and my double mountain buggy was invaluable. In the early days the boys used to go to sleep easily when I was out, but as they got older I had to become more tacticle and time runs with their naps; now Rory has dropped his nap I can still take them out for a ‘chariot race’. I’m very lucky with where I live all my running is around the beautiful New Forest. Training with a family is about balance and making sure everyone is happy, one tip would be to make it as family friendly and as family inclusive as possible, even if it means compromising the odd session. On longer training days when I was out on my bike and breastfeeding Nick used to meet me with the boys so I could top Billy up, we still often combine training with ice cream stops, picnics or even the occasional pub lunch.
I had an amazing time racing and training last year traveling around the world with my two little boys in tow. The season started in Bolton in July for Ironman UK; I returned home Ironman UK Amateur Champion 2016 finishing 5th overall and ahead of several professionals. It was a hard fought victory, chasing down my main rival during the marathon to win by just 20 seconds after 11 hours of racing, this result qualified me for the world championships in Kona Hawaii.
My international triathlon season began in early September in Austria, where I won a bronze medal at the European Middle Distance Age-Group Triathlon Championships. Later in the month I flew to Oklahoma City and surpassed all my expectations by winning a silver medal at the Long Distance Triathlon World Championships, finishing 15th overall and second amateur and second in my category. The last event of 2016 was the iconic Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. I finished as 3rd Brit in my age-group, but without the ability/time to train properly, I just wasn’t on the same level as the top end of the field let alone the pros however this is something I am trying to change for 2017. For all of the events I’ve ever entered my family have always been at the finish line and it has been an incredible few years.
This year I’m extremely fortunate to have a wonderful sponsor, Z Hotels, who are continuing their support from the second half of 2016, and also now have some free nursery hours to help me find time to train properly. The juggling act, has eased slightly, but it’s still a daily jigsaw trying to get all the pieces to fit together.
The best things we bought in the early days was our running buggy and the double mountain buggy, they gave us freedom as a family to get out there. At weekends we still love to go ‘chariot racing’ and join in with the occasional parkrun as a family. I think it’s really great to promote running buggies to help more parents get out and be active, the hardest thing is starting, but once you get going there is momentum to keep going.
You can follow Sophie on her Ironman and family adventures via the Facebook and Instagram page @sophie.bubb. She is also on Twitter @SophieBubb. Thank you to Sophie for taking time out of her crammed schedule to talk to me in order to help further inspire others.