Archive | September, 2016

Finally! I am an Ironman :)

21 Sep

Its been a long old season and I had meant to update you more frequently but to be honest the year didn’t go to plan and all I had for you was bitching or moaning.  No one wants to hear that so I didn’t write.

Entering Ironman Wales (IMW) was one of the scariest things I have ever committed to. There are 3 races I’ve watched Dai (hubby & all round hero) do that I fundamentally didn’t believe I had in me to complete.  Snowdon Marathon I ticked off in 2012, but could I really manage the other 2?

Committed and entered, training commenced.  Just as I was finding my mojo a young chap in a Ford Focus didn’t feel that stopping to let me across a zebra crossing fitted with his journey plan. Crash, bang, wallop, a knee the size of my head, an arm that sported all the colours of the rainbow and a hand with a not very useful thumb.

Several weeks off all together, many hours of physio, a lot of tears and we suddenly find ourselves only a few weeks away from 70.3 UK in Exmoor.  I managed a meagre amount of training and off we popped to the land of zero mobile signal or wifi.

(photo credit Huw Fairclough)

What would follow was the toughest lesson in suffering, on a run leg, I had ever learnt.  It wouldn’t prove to be the toughest lesson I would learn this year but its certainly the first time I have run til I puked!  Literally puked but because I was passing a very nice family who were being all sorts of encouraging, I would force it back down and spend the rest of the race in all sorts of trouble!img_1896

What a hideous race.  NEVER again.  My mother pointed out that I looked worse after that than even after MdS!

Training recommenced but I by now I was down.  Down but not totally beaten.  My bike is normally my strength and all my power was gone.  I couldn’t climb, I had no enjoyment and my injured right arm/hand were causing all sorts of problems on the handlebars.

Long course weekend.  One of my all time favourite weekends of the year.  First time completing 3.8km of sea swimming – massive boost. rith1375Next day, died a death and failed to finished the 112mile bike ride – boost all gone!

Then summer hols, a fabulous road trip, loads of opportunity to train, a chance meeting with a 3 time Tour de France winner and the Alpe D’huez Triathlon.  Now that really was a lesson in suffering.  If I were to do that race again, I would need a gastric band!  The only way up the alpe in 32 degrees, without feeling like dying, is to have the body fat of Kate Moss!

Did I mention I met Chris Froome?! img_2123

Home, more down, way more down, almost out.  Nearly pulled out of the race.  Nearly threw my bike in the bin. Cried on poor Craig in the middle of Pembrokeshire.  Cried a LOT more.  Cried on more people.  Since I started doing these stupid things in 2010, I have never been lower, never been more lacking in confidence or self belief.  Cried on Mark in the pouring rain.  You get the gist – there was crying, an awful lot of crying!

Time to rally. 4 weeks to go, suck it up, train hard and give it all you’ve got.  There was no way in hell I was putting myself through a year like this again so I had to make it work.  I knew if I pulled out, I would enter again and go for 2017.

Mini camp to Pembrokeshire with a lot of coachly hand-holding for my delicate mental state and I was as ready as I was ever going to be.

A calm descended.  The cut off for an Ironman is 17 hours so I decided as long as I made 16.59.59 that would do me fine.  I secretly hoped to manage something starting with a 15 but thought that was pretty wishful thinking!

If you see my IMW post (or this one) from last year, you’ll know this is where Cr@p Tri come into our own.  It is THE race of the year for us, the pink army of support is unrivalled.  They would get me through, I was sure of it!

Race morning – more tears! National anthem on the start line – more tears.  Then we were off.  The sea was kind, the sea creatures stayed away and my best estimate of 1hr40 for my swim was smashed with a 1.17!  It set the tone for the day!

Bike time.  I was happy as larry by now and raring to go.  My legs felt utterly invincible, I can’t describe it.  Nothing hurt, even the 2nd time up Wiseman’s Bridge and Heart Break Hill.  The feeling coming up that climb in Saundersfoot was like nothing I’ve ever experienced.  I felt like a Tour de France winner  (did I mention I met Chris Froome?) and it was worth entering the race for that alone!

(photo credit Huw Fairclough)

Into T2, bike leg smashed by 42 minutes over my best estimate and time to run.  I knew by now that I would finish, I knew I would be an ironman.  Running in pain and after a really long time is what I do, sadly its what I’m best at.  How I long to be fast but I wasn’t born that way.  I can just keep going for a really really long time, that is my talent and so that is what I do!

I LOVED the run, despite the fact that my stomach was in a world of hurt and I couldn’t eat, I really loved it.  Maybe not so much that 3rd time up the bloody hill but every other minute of it was amazeballs.  The support is something else.  Everyone that came, cheered, made a sign, sang, played music or banged a saucepan lid, I thank you.  Take a bow because without you guys there would have been worlds of hurt out there.

I suddenly realised that a finishing time starting with a 13 was a distinct possibility.  I would have to shift it but a possibility none the less.  I didn’t realise how much time I had to spare and crossed the line in 13.42.  A good 90 mins faster than in my wildest dreams!img_2788

Broken, battered but over the moon.  Hands down the best race I have ever done.  Hands down the one I least believed I could do, and hands down the one that is laid to rest and never needs to be entered again!

Thank you to everyone that helped me, my boys, my coach, my fantastically brilliant friends, Cr@p Tri and every random stranger that called my name and willed me on.

Time for a rest now, time to chill, think about what I want to do next.  Not time to enter some random challenge, after a glass of vino, that I hate training for and makes me grumpy for months on end.  Time to find my mojo again.

Lastly: If this ex chain-smoking couch potato can do Ironman Wales, anyone can so what are you waiting for?

Keep Trucking

V 🙂