From Iron ships in Merchant navy to becoming an Iron Man – Neel Deshmukh

From Iron ships in Merchant navy to becoming an Iron Man – Neel Deshmukh

November 19, 2017 5 By Neel Deshmukh

It all started after my 12th board exams, I gave competitive swimming 2 years back after my 10th I got a call from a friend asking me join his waterpolo team and I said yes without a hesitation. I had gained a lot of weight during my 2 year sabbatical  from a very successful swimming career. During this time that is after my 12th I was thoroughly training for waterpolo and was trying my best to get into the district team. After some weeks of training I got into waterpolo team for Pune and I was very happy with this new sport and was thinking of taking a bit seriously. Then there came the day I was with my friends hanging out and doing usual stuff what teens do during vacation after 12th thinking studying times of my life were over. This is the day I saw the IRONMAN video on Youtube and that was that, enough inspiration for me. Maybe I’m really easy to inspire or maybe I was always into individual sports. I very well knew my stamina and endurance was well above average atleast among Indians. I talked about doing IRONMAN to my friends and they wanted to join in too and hence we did a few training sessions together, but after a while admissions started and got an admission in a Merchant Navy Academy of my liking. Somewhere I got away from training for triathlons and joined the college team waterpolo and swimming as one of the fastest and best players. I was having a good time until the prepatory leave started and I could not swim for 2 months as the pool remains closed during this period. I started gaining weight again and this time I didn’t want to back all the way back to being really chubby. Therefore I started running inside my college campus. After 2 semesters I told my parents that I wanted to do IRONMAN and they said okay.

I wasn’t sure how serious my parents were.

During the starting days of my running inside the campus some of my batch-mates made fun of me but eventually stopped when I kept running everyday and on the contrary some started running too.

I thought if these small steps can motivate people to run how much will doing an IRONMAN will?. I started training for IRONMAN without telling anyone. The friend with whom I had started training had given up training along time back. After a few months of time I told my parents about which IRONMAN I wanted to do. Then I realized my parents were dead serious about the race as I was.

It is really necessary you have supporting people nad in my case it were my parents. They never hesitated on spending on equipment which itself is a big emotional support. A big part of my sports career has been only possible because of the tremendous support from my parents. A really big credit also goes to my swim coach who changed me as a person and developed a stubborn “don’t give up” attitude in me. Coming back to my IRONMAN training, while I was looking for peole who could guide me for my first race, I got to know Chaitanya Velhal who is an IRONMAN coach and that was the game changer

Everyday after that was a planned workout with heart rate monitoring and target time specific training.  My schedule in the college was pretty hectic. The day started at 5:45 in the morning with physical training or parade until 7:30 and then college from 9am to 5 in the evening, swimming practice after that in the evening at 5:15 to 6:30 pm and after that I had time till 7:30 for training for IRONMAN and to make it worse I was not allowed to move out of the campus unless it was Saturday or Sunday. Because of this, I could get only 2 cycling sessions a week and being a weak cyclist I felt that was not enough at first but as I grew with my training the cycling started to become one of the easiest part of the race.

This all went along for 3 long months and finally the race week arrived. I got my luggage and bike all packed up and ready for my first solo trip to foreign  land and that too not as vacation but with a lot of training and money on stake. The flight was long and tiring and finally after 13 hrs of travel I arrived at Antalya and was received by a IRONMAN volunteer and escorted to my hotel for some rest. The next day I went for registration and visited the expo. It was very energetic and race centric.

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Comes the race day, I was totally excited and confident about my swim. Pumped my cycle with some air and headed straight for the swim. The swim started off a bit rough because too many people started at once. The swim felt really refreshing and not at all tiring. Completed the swim with a easy and fast 32mins. Ran to the transition area through the hotel lobby and drifted fast in the transition which was pretty good for someone not trying the transition even once. I was nervous about the cycling bit but I was doing pretty well on the bike until the 74km mark. At this point I hear  a sudden burst of air from my tyres and there it was a flat on my rear tyre. It is really frustrating to have a puncture when I was doing pretty good and better than my expected speed. After changing my tube and losing around 10 mins I lost momentum and rank during last few miles of bike course. Inspite of the puncture finished the bike in 3:15 hrs which was 15 mins slower than anticipated. That is the point that rather than pushing my limits, I decided to enjoy my first IRONMAN experience as I very well knew I was going to make the cutoff. Had an easy scenic run through the resort and finally after 6 hours of race I saw the finish line and trust me when I say this the finish is magical. The finish line is unexplainable, you have to be there to feel it. Some things cannot be described in words.

I came back and people were amazed by the fact i did  an IRONMAN race specally my friends who thought that an IRONMAN was way out of our league. Now that I did the race I successfully have inspired my friends. They now talk about doing marathons and IRONMAN. My hostel room mate has even started with training for his first IRONMAN training. I don’t know how it is to inspire crowds, maybe because I don’t influence millions but inspiring friends who like brothers to me is truly magical. My finish has surely made a positive impact on most of the people I know. Inspiring a bunch boys how made fun of anything they thought of or anyone they see taking some effort and moving such guys and making them serious about some productive purpose is more amazing than any podium finish.

With this amazing first experience of IRONMAN I’m surely bound to do more races through the years.


Neel Deshmukh


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