The few weeks leading up to the race wasn’t ideal for me, for whatever reason I have developed pains in my shin so Steve and I decided to completely back off running to prevent any further injury but maintain fitness through bike and swim. Not being able to run instantly sends you into sheer panic that every single piece of run training you ever had will simply just disappear, however after having numerous words with myself I decided to do as I was told and trust in my training, after all coach knows best!. The Thursday before the race, I did a bike reccie of IMUK and was made (much to my protest) to do hill reps up Sheep House Hill so I was going into this race with some fatigue in my legs but generally I felt pretty rested.
It was a 4.55am start on race morning, the sun was shining. It was going to be a great day for a race. All the normal nerves of race morning had kicked in, it was only at this point did I realise how much this race meant to me, I wanted to do well and make all the 5am training sessions and sacrifice mean something but more importantly I wanted to know I was heading into Bolton in good condition. Being a local race meant I knew quite a few athletes there, it was comforting knowing my team mates Team Scotty were there, as was my dear friend ‘Bloody Hell Fire’ Mark (whom I blame for the said sheep house hill reps! Hopefully I am forgiven for getting cross at him) and of course Dan Ellis who was our bag support and number 1 fan on the day!
With swim briefing done, we were in the water and at the start line. The swim was manic, punchy and I never seemed to get a space to myself, swimming over people, being swam on, a major kick to the head resulted in me having to stop briefly to put my goggles back on and get back to it. It definitely wasn’t for the faint hearted. Before I knew it I was out Australian Exit style and back on my 2nd lap. I was pretty chuffed to see a fast time on my watch as I ran into transition. 32.20 for 1900m. When I started working with Steve my swim was pretty poor, 10 months ago1900m would have easily taken me 40 plus mins so it’s fair to say, my swim has been a massive improvement area for me and I am so grateful in Steve believing there was a swimmer in me.
Into T1, now anybody who knows me, knows I have a history of taking my time in transition, I think my personal record time is 8 minutes. I was determined not to give away free time, so I planned my kit layout with OCD precision and committed myself to the fact transition is still a race and not a chance to sit on the floor and have a quick recovery. T1 time 1.07 nailed it!
Onto the bike, my favourite bit of any race. I know these roads extremely well so my biggest challenge was not to go off too hard, I had to continually reign myself in and remind myself I needed to run when I get off the bike. The conditions on the bike were near perfect, no wind at all which is really unusual for this area. My focus on the bike was to practice my nutrition, I am a lazy eater and drinker on the bike and this cost me dearly at IM Marbella 70.3 at the beginning of the year. I had exactly the right amount of nutrition to fuel every 30 mins. However after dropping both my energy bars within 10 minutes of getting on my bike, I had to rethink my nutrition very quickly and revert to taking gels. This played on my mind a lot, we all know what can potentially happen when too many gels are consumed! Thankfully I never experienced this! The 2nd mishap was my bottle exploding on me as I took it out of the holder. Sticky sports drink / flies…. nice!
It was lovely seeing my children waiting for me outside my house their cheers of ‘go mummy’ definitely pushed me on.
The bike passed really quickly and I was happy with my time of 2.38.55 avg speed 19.8mph this was delivered in a low HR zone, it felt comfortable, I had stuck to my plan, fed and drank well, now time to see if I was able to run.
Phew off my bike, I’ve not fallen in front of everyone, my legs feel good. ‘ Nailed T2 with a quick in and out and then onto the run.
It was pretty hot out on the run; the course was 4 laps which involved running up, over and down a motorway bridge. The first time this wasn’t great but ok, by the 4th time it felt like a mountain. The run was made easier by seeing loads of friendly races, high 5’s as we went past each other and words of encouragement. On my 2nd lap is where my problems started. I had stopped a bit longer than I should have done at the feed station, and it was then the pain in my left shin started. I tried to forget about it, but I could feel a burning sensation going up to my knee. I didn’t know whether to stop and pull out with Bolton only being a couple of weeks away or whether to just push on. The encouragement I got from the supporters as I ran through the 2 lap, spurred me on, and Dan (amazing supporter thank you!) told me I was 2nd lady with a good gap between me and 3rd place. I gritted my teeth dug deep and kept moving my legs. Tap, tap, tap, tap running through my head. The 3rd lap consisted mostly of a walk/run strategy which was just making it worse, and I could tell my time lead was reducing dramatically. I’d worked too hard to just give my 2nd place away easily, so I focussed on everything other than my shin, mostly what food I was going to inhale after the race, and got stuck into last 5k. My watch died so I have no idea what I ran that final lap in but it felt fast. As I crossed the line someone shouted you’re 2nd lady. Boom! I had set out what I wanted too; I’d had a great race.
I had no idea what time I had completed it in, as my watch had died, I couldn’t believe my eyes when Craig passed me my slip and I saw 4.58.55 sub 5 hours wow. The course is a little short on the bike but never the less I will take it!
After being disappointed with my race at Marbella, I was keen to see whether I had it in me to pull a good performance, and this race proved just that. A great confidence builder going into Bolton.
When I first started working with Steve I was broken, literally. I had a fracture in my femur and my confidence was at rock bottom, would I ever get back to where I was pre break?. I hadn’t done any real training for 10 months so I felt unfit and generally wasn’t in a good place about myself. It’s fair to say thanks to Steve and his patience with me I have exceeded where I was before my injury, we have rebuilt the machine as we like to say. I am going into Bolton nervous and excited, this will be my 2nd full Ironman and I have goals I want to achieve, I want a great race experience. This race has given me a confidence I am on track to do just that. Thanks Steve.