The boss as ScotlandShop has been a little bit distracted from tartan over the last few months as I prepared for a sporting challenge just a little more testing than the usual 10k or cycle sportif. Inspired by long chats with our much missed Steve Cully about how we would do an ironman one day, when Steve passed away suddenly at only 41 I knew it was time I took my chance and put my name on the finisher's sheet. Egged on by fellow nutter Gail photographed below we signed up last October to this almighty challenge. The ironman distance is a 2.4 mile open water swim, 112 mile bike followed by a full marathon of 26.2 miles. When I started training the distances seemed ridiculous and it was hard to imagine how you could run a marathon after all that time swimming and on the bike. But the body is an amazing thing and the over 6 months you just build up little by little until cycling for 6 hours then jumping off and running for an hour seems like a standard weekend training session. The Outlaw Ironman starts and finishes at the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham which is a brilliant place where they do lots of rowing, canoeing and open water swimming. Organisers One Step Beyond have to be the loveliest bunch of people looking after us all so well and running a slick, professional and very friendly event. Although I knew I was really well prepared I have never been so nervous as we stood in our wetsuits ready to get into the lake. It felt very warm compared to the Scottish water we had been training in! It must have been quite a sight when the hooter went and 999 people thrashed around to find some space. Out of the water and onto the bike and that's when the horrendous heat that day hit home. The bike felt a lot harder than I had anticipated and I have to admit I missed the quiet roads and beautiful countryside of the Borders where I did all my training. Nottingham is a little busier and so flat we never got to rest our legs on a downhill! Thanks to Darren and the girl from Wales for a bit of a chat and some distraction on the way round and of course to Simon Porteous from the bike shop in Kelso for servicing my bike so it behaved beautifully on the day. Off the bike and into my trainers for the final stage. People were stopping and having a lie in the lake to try to cool down and I was so tempted. Thanks to the man with the bucket of lake water he winged over us every time we passed but most of all thank you to my great friend Rosi and my hubby and kids for the big cheers every step of the way. Without you and all the people at home tracking me online I might have been tempted to lie down and give up! I have never been so glad to see a finish line and be handed my tartan scarf to do the victory run down the funnel. I still can't quite believe I am an Ironman! Gail must win the prize for looking the best at the finish in her MacLeod of Lewis tartan mini kilt to match the Pirates team colours. Her description of how she felt at the finish says it all: "Too high to feel the exhaustion or the pain; very, very proud of myself; pretty overwhelmed by the support and by the awesomeness of all the other Outlaws, and really happy to have been part of something so amazing". Gail is returning next year to be part of the atmosphere once again as part of a relay team. And me? Well I would love to do it all over again but right now I must concentrate on tartan and my family. Dreaming up more fantastic improvements for the website, our products and our services will be my focus for the next 6 months so watch this space!