Life throws all experiences and emotions at you. You live the highs and you live the lows. Sometimes things happen in life when you have to sit up and realise that we only have one shot at this. We are also on borrowed time as anything can happen at anytime. My brother never had the opportunity to truly fulfil his potential before he unexpectedly passed away last year from a ruptured brain aneurysm. I’m not going to waste my chance at fulfilling mine, even though this will include some crazy stuff… This is one of them.
Doing Triathlons aren’t exactly in my DNA. I’m from a relatively physically inactive family and up until 4 years ago I had never ever completed 5km run. But here I am.. about to complete a half Ironman distance. Even less than 2 years ago swimming front crawl wasn’t something I could do either. Now I’m doing this??? I was only ever going to do a sprint triathlon… once.. ha.. I’m actually looking forward to it now. Many hours of training behind me, I’m not worried. Let’s make this happen!
Forecast for Outlaw X changed so many times leading up to the race I honestly stopped looking. Turning up the day before the race to register and rack the bike, the weather was glorious! If only this was race day, I thought.
Woke up before the alarm and enjoyed clear roads towards Clumber Park in the dark. Got myself ready in transition and met up with few people I knew and one of the girls, Emma, had her number next to mine so that helped as I chatted away not thinking much about the race ahead.
Before I knew it we were called to swim start, some 500m away!! Sun was rising and the setting magical against a stately house and endless fields. Few minutes later we were in the water. 18 degrees? Was it heck! Felt closer to 15 degrees!! Foggy goggles and it got messy, elbows and feet everywhere. Goggles nearly came off after getting elbowed in the face. Had numb feet and hands from the cold water. Took myself off to swim at the side but sighting was a challenge. Lots of buoys and left & right turns. Let’s just get to the end. We swam around a memorial island in the lake which looked nice. I later learned that it was to commemorate 2 army people who died in that lake playing some war games, the sunken boat is still at the bottom of the lake somewhere. Oh goody.. glad I only found out about that after.
Exited the water to loud support cheers from OTCF support crew and a long jog to T1 and out on the bike. 10min in and the first of many raindrops hit. Up the steep climb at around 6 miles and I started my onboard food fest. Peanut butter sandwich pieces and jam, it was going to be a long day and I work better with real food in me. I continued the bike fuelling with my trusted Maurten.
Then it was up and down, up and down but so much fun. One of the advantages of having a slower swim is all the people you catch and pass on the bike. Picked one off at the time and the miles melted away. Rain was now relentless and I took it a little easier to match the now wet road conditions. My husband drove past with my daughter hanging out of the window shouting “mummy”, just the lift I needed. Knowing they would stop and wait at Mattersey helped me keep focused as it was getting really hard. When I saw them I stopped for kisses and exchanged a few words before they ushered me back, I was happy to stay here.. ha! Back on the road and less than an hour to T2. The bike course was very undulating but it was fun to ride, the last down hills were lovely but I was ready to get off the bike.
I could hear them before I saw them, the support gang were cheering us in as we approached the dismount line. Quick change and on to the run. I felt really cold now, wet through and I couldn’t wait to be warmed up on the run. Quick hello to JC who was also about to start his run. My legs felt really good, I found my run legs really quickly and I had decided beforehand to run to heart rate and not constantly look at my pace. If I could do the first 10km under an hour that would be amazing as I’ve recently only run/jogged max 6-7 miles at one time, as my PF is still niggling my left foot so that makes big run loads hard to manage. The kilometres ticked off nicely, under 6 minutes most of the way so I knew I was on track. It was hillier than I expected but manageable. 5-6km in I could hear them again, best supporters you could ask for, you cannot underestimate the power of having people you know, willing you to keep going, to do your best. Heart rate went flying straight after so had to slow my step a little, hard when adrenaline is surging. Soon after I saw Neil & Lucille again. I hadn’t expected them to come to the run as the weather was so bad but that was heartwarming and I felt really fuzzy and went to complete my first lap of 3. Half into second lap my watch beeped at me… 10km in 59.33. Yes!!!!! Goal done, let’s just complete this thing. Just before finishing the second lap my family had decided that they had to go. Lucille had done so well standing in the rain but had got cold and bored, like 7 year olds do watching a bunch of lycra dressed old people (only in her eyes of course 😆) running around the woods. I totally understood. About to start the last lap and David Hinch waved the OTCF flag and cheered me off on what was going to be the toughest lap, support was gone from the course (all at the finish line) and I knew it was just a case of slugging it through. I didn’t struggle but the effort was harder and the pace slower. I always find it easier to focus on other people to avoid thinking about my own. Chatted to some other runners and we helped each other on our journey. One guy had started walking and needed a mental push and he got an arse kick from me! (He did come and find me afterwards to let me know he hadn’t stopped once and had ran all the way to the finish after I pushed him) I love this about the sport, everyone is in it together, helping each other on.
As the kilometres drew closer to the finish line I started to count down. 20min left, 15min left, 10min left.. until the last down hill. The tannoy and music was now loud. I didn’t need to turn left for another lap, I was heading down the finish chute with a new surge of adrenaline. This was it.. it was actually it! 9 months of training and I’ve done it. The feeling of accomplishment to the sound of your friends cheering you on is indescribable. Just wow!
Looking back… it’s been a goal post pushing kind of a year and my first real season of structured training. I have loved the focus this has brought to my life. Having to juggle it all with work and life isn’t easy and impossible without support from family and coach’s weekly plans, which was scheduled to fit into to my busy life rather than the other way around. Joining the 5amclub has been essential to get training done before work and school runs but it’s so rewarding. Feeling fit and strong is great. I’m now going to enjoy a few drinks and spend time with friends and not talk about the latest carbon rims, fuelling strategies or anything race related and that is going to be great too!