Monday, June 20, 2011

Ironman 70.3 Wimbleball

We arrived at Wimbleball bright and early Friday morning. The weather was horrid.  We put the tent up in the rain and got battered by the wind.  This bad weather was in for the weekend.  On Friday night none of us got much sleep due to the rain beating down and Saturday morning the camp site was full of grumpy campers.  Saturday the weather didn't improve it got worse.  We had a practise swim in the lake and even though I went right of course I enjoyed it and felt confident. We were given 3 different coloured bags in which we had to put all of our gear, then these bags were hung up and we were not allowed to access then once they had been hung up.  I checked these bags about 4 times.  The race brief was pure madness, 1600 people all crammed into a marque.  All I remember was the race steward telling us that this year it would be the toughest due to the weather conditions..... that's a positive start!! Saturday night I was in bed at 8 through sheer exhaustion and actually had a really good nights sleep. 

Up at 5 and the mayhem began. The weather had actually calmed down and there was no rain or wind!  We double checked the bikes in transition and added drinks and put on our wetsuits and we were down at the lake before you could say Ironman 70.3.  Barry had removed his hearing aids and I had ear plugs in so we spent half hour stood by the lake using sign language.  The man in front of us was just peeing in his wetsuit and it was just dripping out....... nice!!! 

We entered the lake and I made my way to the far right and was about half way up.  I couldn't really hear anything and the next minute everyone was off.  OH MY GOD.... I tried to get into a rhythm and there was arms and legs flying everywhere.... there is nothing that could have prepared me for this.  Within seconds I was hit quite hard in the back of the neck as I was trying to take a breath and I was forced under so swallowed lots of water and came up in shock and gasping for breath.  That started a massive panic attack.... I couldn't breathe.  I ended up doing some really weird sideways stroke just trying to catch my breathe and every time I tried to swim I just couldn't.  The man in the safety canoe caught my eye and within seconds he was by my side.  He said if I needed to pull out all I had to do was touch the boat.  I seriously thought about it for all of 5 seconds and I decided that a silly little panic attack would not stop me.  I swam with my head above water conscious of time ticking away and slowly pulled it together.  It was about 500m in before I settled down into a stroke and controlled my breathing.  I swam along the back straight and nearly turned at the wrong buoy. You had to be very aware of people all of the time, I had people cutting me up and I was very scared that someone would hit me again and push me under.  I started to get some very dark thoughts about drowning and started to count my strokes to ease the mind.
 I was on the last stretch home 700m to go.  I ended up drifting right out of the way (as I had in practise) and tried to make my back to the buoys. My goggles were leaking and this made it difficult to see.  At last I made it to the shore. First cut off time beaten 49.22

As I made my way up to the hill to transition I saw Julie and Colin cheering me on but I was shaking so much and the realization of what could have happened as I was pushed under.  In transition I couldn't get my wetsuit off and some lovely lady appeared and got me out.  That's when my angel, Julia appeared.  She had spotted me and came rushing over.  I was shaking so much I couldn't do anything and she helped me put my socks and shoes on, sorted out my garmin and sent me off.  Without her help I'm not sure how long I would have been in there whilst the clock was ticking away eating into the bike time.  Thank you Julia, without your help I wouldn't have made the cut off time.

I left transition and was out on the bike.  I had put on a coat but halfway up the first hill I abandoned it.  I started to get belly ache quite quickly and on reflection it might have been swallowing lots air and water from the lake.  I put it to the back of my mind and concentrated on the bike.  I played cat and mouse with about 6 other riders... I was fast on the flat and they caught me up at the hills.  Enjoyable banter and some fantastic characters. The start of the hills arrived really quickly and that first big hill was a struggle.  Lots of people got off and walked which surprised me.  Knowing the course had lots of advantages, there is one very sharp left hand turn which takes you into a steep hill and as I turned it lots of riders were in the wrong gear. I was expected lots of supporters on the big hill and there was none.  As I climbed the last big hill, again I saw Julie and Colin cheering me on ( thanks guys, it makes a big difference).  So the second lap began, I was finding it very uncomfortable down on the aero bars as my stomach was still hurting.  I didn't take on too many gels because when I did it really aggravated my stomach.  I promised myself that I could sort it out once back in transition.  The start of the hills for the second time.... and boy could I feel it.  I just couldn't make some hills and I have to say here that I walked up the 2 big hills because I knew it would kill me and I was walking up faster than others were cycling.  I think I made a good choice here as after those 2 hills the people who had ridden blew up.  Stuart was there cheering us on the second lap.  I knew I was cutting it fine and decided I really needed to pick up the pace.  The last 3 miles and I went for it... my stopwatch said 4.13 and I had no idea how long I had been in transition so I caned it.  I overtook the pack that had always just been in front of me.  I went flying down over the dam and up that nasty little hill back into transition.  Cut off time no 2 beaten.  Bike time 4.20.14

I was so relieved when I handed my bike over, I was scared that I had missed the cut of time. So out on the run!!!!!!!!!! My stomach was really hurting now and as I was looking for the toilets I ended up on the run route!!  There again was Julie and Colin giving me a big cheer.  I had already decided that I would walk the hills and run the rest.  The first lap was ok but with every passing moment my stomach cramps became worse.  I found an empty toilet but nothing happened.  My stomach was bloated beyond belief and I think I had trapped wind that was causing the cramps.  The second lap I walked some of the flats because running was giving me sharp pains and I was feeling sick. The turn around point for the laps was very close to the finish line and you knew you had to just keep going. There were so many nice people out there on the course walking the hills giving good advice and keeping your moral up.  So the third and final lap now I was in a lot of pain.  The cramps were getting worse and I was very tired. I saw a Julian, Bev and Mark from the tri club cheering me on.  At times I had to stop and bend over to ease the pain.  I felt like I really needed to fart lots but I couldn't.  At last I walked up the last hill and was determined to run to the finish.  Julian was there at the start of the finish shoot egging me on, I saw Barry, Stu and Marina and high fived them as I headed for the finish line!!! DONE........ 8.01.35.  My first transition time had taken 9 mins and my second was 3 mins. 

I was 28th in my age cat(52 in total) and 137th (305 in total) women in overall.  My total postion was 1061 out of 1098

The whole afternoon I had severe cramp and after passing wind and visiting the toilet on several occasions my stomach finally stopped being bloated and normality resumed.  BUT I HAD DONE IT........ gutted I didn't get under 8 hours but completion was the focus.  Thank you to everyone who came up and supported us especially Julie and Colin who were there every step of the way and thanks to Stuart and Marina for supporting and all the photos and love to Mum who came and found me and gave me a hug when I needed it the most.  There was no phone reception and once I got home I was overwhelmed with the amount of support on Twitter and Face book.  Thank you all for the best wishes and thank you for all my fantastic good luck cards. 


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Am I ready????????? Wimbleball here I come....

Last night as I was swimming down the calm murky river singing "my tyres are pumped and so am I, got my wetsuit on and ready to fly" and then POW I had a moment of euphoria.   I was swimming really well and I felt inner peace.  I was thinking I AM READY...... I can do this.  I began to reflect on the journey to Ironman 70.3 and felt inspired to write a blog.

This was me after being put right after some surgeon broke my knee cap and severed my hamstring on what should have been an uncomplicated ACL reconstruction.
After my first marathon I decided to try out triathlons.  I couldn't even swim 1 length front crawl and took a few private lessons which was complete pants.  I taught myself and went swimming three times a week and the dedication started to pay off.  I joined a coached session for a while but it wasn't until I joined West Country Triathletes that I actually began to feel like a swimmer and I got faster! BIG shout out to WCT, fab group of people and lots new friends. If you are considering getting into triathlons I suggest you join a club its one of the best things that I have done.  I have overcome my fear of dirty water and fought motion sickness, panic attacks so that I feel comfortable swimming in open water. Its very different to swimming in a pool but now I really enjoy it.  Theres a bigger thrill "wild swimming".

I knew I had become deadly serious when I bought Whoopie.  A serious bit of kit.  She took a bit of getting used to but now that TT bike fits me a treat and we have bonded.  I have cycled over 1395 miles this year alone and I have found my bike legs.  I have cycled the Wimbleball course about 6 times now and all those pesky hills have made me tough.  When I'm down on those aero bars I feel pretty powerful and its a great feeling. 
I did however suffer 2 ankle sprains this year and my marathon training was affected.  I still managed to swim and cycle but my running suffered, despite this I took 28 minutes off my marathon time. (4.13.55) This just proves that cross training has helped my general fitness and that I am going from strength to strength.  I have enjoyed the training leading up to Ironman 70.3, it has given me focus and not sure I will be able to stop after the event. What will be the next big challenge(Ironman).
 I have learnt alot about myself over the last 10 months.  I have learnt that I am stubborn, that I wont give up and the harder things are , the harder I try. I have a mental toughness or is that stubbornness??  Ive learnt that the human body is amazing, whatever I ask my body to do, it does it without too much grumbling.  I am also very competitive. When that starter goes off I'm locked down into fight mode but I always enjoy it.

I have competed in quite a few events this year. My running times are faster, my triathlon sprint times are becoming faster. The training is paying off.

So here I stand.... the biggest personal challenge on the horizon....... and I AM READY. I have done the training and I will always be a little paranoid that I've not done enough but on the day I will give it everything I've got. I know its not going to be easy but I am prepared.  Its been a magical journey full of highs, disappointments and frustration and endorphin hits.   I have met some fantastic, inspirational people along the way and as always I have the most amazing network of support from my family and friends.  You know who you are.  My children have been amazing putting up with mum's crazy antics, not moaning when the tturbo is louder than the telly, getting up early to come to triathlons with me and laughing at me when I'm dancing around the house hyped up after training sessions and most of all telling me how proud they are of me ( I might cry now).

 THANK YOU to all those who have helped me by sponsoring me, trained with me, given me advice and been there with support and kind words when I needed them the most.  I would also like to take a moment to apologise in advance for my behaviour in taper week.   I am very excitable, emotional, crazy person right now and I'm creating a big rut in the ground jumping up and down.

WIMBLEBALL HERE I COME.......... do your worst as I'm gonna kick your butt!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Taunton Triathlon

I woke up to the sound of the rain beating against the window but I didn't care I was ready to race.  I was a bit tired and grumpy due to some teenagers playing pranks all night in the street and me giving chase in my dressing gown late at night
 I had great expectations for this race..... I was feeling fit and totally thought I would smash it.  I picked up Barry and off we went.

There wasn't much time to get everything sorted before the race began.  It was swim time.  I set off far too quickly, I had got used to starting off slow and then getting faster but today that went out the window.  I was in "I'm gonna cane it mode".  This is where it all went wrong, goggles filled with water, had to stay behind a woman swimming breast stroke couldn't overtake as too many swimmers in the lane and took in a big mouthful of water.  I was really glad to finish the 400m and started on the long run to the transition area.  I totally lost here it here as well, decided I would wear a top and couldn't get it out of my bag.  Totally unprepared.  As i ran up to the mounting point my garmin fell out of my nutrition bag on the bike and had to go back for it.  Swim time 9.11

I finally got on the bike and I had that horrible tight chest feeling, you know where you get a build up of C02 and you really really need to burp it all out but you cant.  I was lucky at the traffic lights and the roundabouts, there were quite a few.  Despite not being able to breathe well I got my head down and went for it.  I over took 3 men that made me feel better. Stu overtook me here like  lightening!!
The wind was pretty bad ( when is the wind never in your face , if I'm honest????)  The lanes were narrow with some hair pin corners and I had a dodgy moment with a tractor and was glad to be back on the busy main road. Bike time 41.33

I pulled up jumped off my bike and ran again that massive stretch to the transition area. I started
off on the run, they directed you all over the grounds of the school and finally that long awaited burp came where I could finally breathe properly again.  The run was pretty smooth, apart from running through the crowd of old ladies at the bus stop and choking on that old ladies perfume smog!  The run seemed pretty quick and comfortable now I had lost the C02 bubble!!! Cross the line and its done!! Run time 24.37

At first I felt disappointed with today's race total time 1.18.03.  I was 6th in my age cat, 8th woman in overall and on final results 61st out of a shocking 89 competitors .  On further inspection there was only 7 ladies in my my age cat and the woman in front beat me by 1 second...... I could have had my name on the leader board. 

Now I've had time to get over the race and reflect......
I had really set myself up to fail, expecting too much from today's results. I had such a bad swim that I felt it put me on a downer for the rest of the race, but I actually smashed the run today and did my fastest 5 k time.  Average 7.55 min miles..... get in. Honestly I have enjoyed every single tri I have ever done and had good results but as we all know life doesn't always go the way we want and its the way we deal with things that matter. I cant always have a good race and its all good training and we can always take something away from an experience.  The time 1.18.03 is actually a really good time for a sprint and I am getting faster.  I need a bad race so that wimbleball can be a fantastic race!!!!!