Firstly- thank you so much for choosing to support Endometriosis UK! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what and motivated you to get involved in fundraising?
My pleasure! Thanks for your support in preparing for this challenge!
I'm a 24 year old from County Tyrone in Northern Ireland. I graduated from university 2 years ago and I work in marketing for a tech company. An absolute stereotype of a millennial if ever there was one.
I wasn't the most gifted athlete and coordination isn't my strong suit so I started triathlon at university and I've been doing some form of running, cycling or swimming ever since. I was initially motivated to get into fundraising because of my sister's journey with endometriosis.
I was unaware of exactly what impact the disease had. I knew it caused severe pain but I didn't consider the impact that would have on day to day life. As I grew up, my sister and I were able to connect on a more personal level. I started to understand that having endometriosis was more than needing regular medical appointments and painkillers - I was starting to understand the scale of the impact it has. I could see that there was a disparity between how common of a condition it is, but how generally unknown it was at that time. I thought the best way to support the awareness of endometriosis was by supporting Endometriosis UK.
When I did my first bit of fundraising in 2016, an Olympic distance triathlon was a huge challenge, made even more daunting by the fact I couldn't swim.. a fact I only realised after signing up to the race. I felt that taking on a challenge would be a good way to grab people's attention and get endometriosis in front of them. The motivation is the same this time around as well. I was intimidated by the Ironman distances (and still am if I'm honest) but having a strong "reason why" has kept me motivated through all of the setbacks that come with this sort of challenge.
Tell us about the Iron Man challenge and that sort of training is involved.
Ironman is a long distance triathlon - its a 2.4 mile swim in open water, followed by a 112 mile cycle, followed by a 26.2 mile run. It sounds insane to type out those distances but with all the training, being able to finish it seems more conceivable. There are lots of Ironman races globally each year, with around 20 (give or take) races in Europe. I'm taking part in Ironman Cascais, Portugal on October 23rd. All details on the event are available here: https://www.ironman.com/im-cascais
The training is essentially "high volume and low intensity" as the goal is to train your body to be able to go at a steady pace for a long time, using as little energy as possible to do so. If you've ever trained for a marathon, it's the same idea. 90% of the training is at a very controlled and easy pace, with 2-3 sessions a week being shorter and of higher intensity. I "measure" the intensity of each session according to heart rate. I've been training 10-14 hours a week since March. It's generally 1--2 hours of swimming, 4-7 hours of cycling and 2-3 hours of running per week. That means training 5 or 6 days a week, sometimes twice a day. Rest and recovery is as important as the actual training so there is also lots of strength and conditioning, foam rolling, stretching, mobility work and early nights.
Wow! That sounds very intense. Do you have any tips for anyone who might be thinking of fundraising for Endometriosis UK?
I think the best tip is the most cliche - just go for it! You can find hundreds of reasons not to but ultimately, putting yourself out there and going for it is the best thing to do. It's a great way to start a conversation about endometriosis as it's not exactly a topic that comes up that often. It helps if you're doing something you're passionate about - baking, a coffee morning, a quiz, a raffle, a physical challenge or anything else; the more passionate you are, the better you will do it.
If you're thinking of doing a challenge, there is nothing too small. I'm sure there are people reading this who have several Ironman races under their belt thinking "Ironman isn't much of a challenge". Whether it's a 1k walk or climbing Everest, people will understand what is feels like to take on something that challenges you.
Very well said Cormac! What are your hopes for the future when it comes to endometriosis treatment and awareness?
In the short term, I think making the symptoms and possible treatments of endometriosis more widely known is a realistic goal. Additionally, continuing to take the taboo off periods is something we can all do. Painful periods shouldn't be something to be second guessed. If you think "my periods are quite painful" the response shouldn't be "are you sure?". You should be able to see a doctor and be taken at your word from the start.
The longer term goal I see is shorter diagnosis times, with detection being as early as possible.
My goal is to spread awareness. Donations are appreciated as 100% of donations go to Endometriosis UK but a share is appreciated just as much. There are a few links you can share:
I have a JustGiving page here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ironmanforendo
I have a Facebook post here: https://www.facebook.com/cormac.harte.5/posts/4481659288587511
Thank you so much Cormac and best of luck with your challenge