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.
SO WHATS NEXT??????