Friday, 10 September 2010

Challenge Roth. The aftermath.

Well, i did it. And yes, So did Chrissie. Her time of 8.19, was a new world record by 12 minutes. She is an incredible woman.An incredible athlete...and incredibly nice! She was there, at the finish, as FT and i crossed the finish line, chatting and smiling at people, and handing out medals. I think FT fell just a little bit in love that day. He, along with the rest of us, fell, just a tiny bit under the spell of Chrissie Wellington, triple world ironman champion, MBE, and all round lovely person. And he got a medal! Chrissie, in fact gave both the children medals. And they deserve theirs, as much as i deserve mine. Mine i earnt for achieving my goal, to complete my second IM distance race. They have put up with my distance, my absence, and my grumpiness, tiredness and general grouchiness that comes along with IM training. and W deserves one too. He has supported me, helped me, listened to me moan for months. And i couldnt do it without him.

So. what happened next? I crossed the finish line, and was enveloped in a huge hug, from my children, AND CW....i chatted with her, then headed the athletes arena to collect my stuff. Handing the kids over to S, i collect my finishers t shirt, and head into a marquee, full of people....eating, being massaged, milling around. I can only focus on one thing. i have to get my bags. Where are my bags? I cant find them, and i dont even know where to begin looking......

I approach a helpful looking chap, who, in near perfect english, asks if i need an ambulance. No, i need my bags. I am just tired, i just need to get my bags and sit down.Am i sure i dont need an ambulance? No, I am just really tired.

Suddenly, it is all just too much. The tears start rolling down my cheeks, and i lose the ability to stand. I dont need an ambulance. But it is very clear that i need help. And i need it now.

Now, have you been paying attention? Remember the water bottles? i have not, with the exception of a small handful of crisps, taken on any salts all day. I have been exercising, in 26 degree heat, in the blazing sun, in the wind, for nearly 15 hours, and my body has had enough.

i am helped by two attendants to the medical area, where it is quickly established that i am in dire need of electrolytes. Within 10 minutes, i am hooked up to a drip of Ringers solution, with added calcium. Within half an hour, i am feeling better. At this point, i realise that W is probably worried about me. i try and find someone with a phone that works. No phone appears to work. I cant get through to him. I am starting to stress. Suddenly a motherly looking woman appears, telling me a friend of w's is outside. It is S, who has, at W's request, come looking for me. After searching the marquee, he concludes i might just be in the medics area. Within 10 minutes i am reunited with my bags, my t shirt, and, more importantly, my phone. I manage to text W. It transpires that his phone was out of credit, so was unable to accept incoming calls. By the time he realises something is up, he has added funds to the phone, and we are able to speak.

After an hour, i am able to go. I find W and the sparklers fairly soon, and we return to the car. We are all tired, weary and hungry. But most of all happy. S and S have collected Ruby from T2 (thank you!) and i reluctantly relinquish my faithful, hard working (and still muddy) bike, back to the Berkshire fire service. She did me proud.

Heading back to the hotel, the kids fall asleep in the back. W, bless him,carries the 2 sleepy bodies to their beds, while i make my slow, painful way upstairs. I am hungry. SO hungry. and salty, in need of a shower. Except the shower in the hotel, is a bit...crap. So, a bath is in order. Which is fine, except it is a corner bath. which means i cant lie down. So, 21 hours after i first get up, i can be found, kneeling in 6 inches of warm water. Eating. Cheese. A whole packet of cheese. God i love cheese.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Challenge Roth July 18th 2010

The finish line in an ironman is a long way from the start. The race itself is a 2.4mile swim, a 112 mile bike followed by a 26.2 mile run..or a marathon in normal language. The journey of course begins several months before, with hours and hours of training. In the dark, in the wet, in the cold, and, ever so occasionally in warm, bright sunshine. Life stops. It becomes a bit neglected. the kids get up on the weekends, and i am not there. They go to bed after school, and i am not there. They go away for the weekend, and i cant go, because of training. Everything revolves around ironman; training or recovering from training, prepearing to train, eating to replace the calories burnt, or sleeping. SLEEPING......only to get up the next day and do it all again. In amongst all that, you have to try and work, and have some kind of life. It isnt easy. My family go through a lot, just for me to pursue some crazy dream.

For my family they havent just had to put up with this once. Challenge Roth was ironman number 2.....

The day before IM consists of last minute panicking, racking of bikes, checking checking and rechecking your kit. For me it involves driving to the swim start, only to remember i have forgotten my helmet, so we have to go home again to get it, and then try again.My lovely bike, which had only arrived the day before was left, shrouded in plastic, with 2000 other bikes, all different, all race ready and all very much loved by their owners. My bike lives in the house. To leave it in a field is a wrench, and i have to hope that she will still be there in the morning.
A supper of wild mushrooms and rice is follwed by an early bed, as my start is at 6.20 next i will have to get up and eat at around 3am. It hardly seems worth going to bed, as my sleep is not exactly restful, but sleep i do. I get up, accompanied, somewhat bleary eyed by W. He also has a long day ahead of him...looking after the sparklers.
I breakfast like a king. Or like a lamb to the slaughter maybe? either well, i eat a satisfying breakfast: Yes, this ironman ate chocolate spread and peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast!!!
I leave, feeling anxious, having said goodbye to W, knowing there is every chance that i wont see him, or the kids until 18 hours later.
Getting to the swim start, i find myself swept along with the lithe and fit. I stick out like a sore thumb. Firstly i am considerably more chubby than many of the athletes around me, and secondly, i am distinctly more female than a lot of them. Women dont so ironman. or so it would appear. THIS one does. Having got this far, i am hopeful of a good day, even if it is a long one. The plan for the day is simple. get through it, enjoy it, and cross the line in one piece. Under 15 hours. Simple. that means losing an hour and a half from last years time. Piece of cake :-)
The pros go at 6am. Chrissie Wellington has the weight of history and expectation on her shoulders. She won last year, and as the triple world IM champ, she has yet to lose an IM race. Last year she broke the world record. Will she do it again?

I would like to say i swam past Chrissie. It is true. i did. except she was on the return leg of the long swim to the bridge, and i was still making my slow way through the steaming water. An hour and 35mins pass, and i am out of the water. Slightly disappointed with my time, but had already started making inroads into the time i had to lose. 5 minutes on the swim. Into the change tent, to eb confronted by a lot of german bottoms. Saggy ones. Why did they send the veterans off before us? where were the lovely young lithe athletes? Wandering round transition mostly. Through T1, and off to find Ruby, my faithful steed, and companion for potentially then next 7 1/2 hours. As we leave, i hear my name shouted, a friend from the tri club....i wave and set off.

The bike is fine. Apart from my back going at 50k, a couple of hills....oh, and throwing my bottles of isotonice drink away before the first aid stop. i drank water from then on. Remember this. it becomes significant later.
 I look down at my speedo. I am through 70miles in 3 54. I have NEVER ridden so far in 4 hours before. It dawns on me that i could possibly do 6 15 on the bike. :Possibly. Chrissie comes past me, as i start my second lap, she flies past me, just a blur of red. I shout Go Chrissie, and carry on. Pain being the demon i carry with me always digs his heels firmly into my back. He is not letting go. My pelvis and lunbar spine are locked solid, and no amount of stretching or dropping out of the saddle will help. As the miles tick round i find myself begging for it to stop, and for the finish to come. Before i know it, it does...and i am helped from my bike. Ruby is taken away and i dont even get to pat her saddle and thank her. Again, she has done me proud.

I realise that pain has taken its toll on me, so am thrilled when i realise that the 15 hour deadline is within my sight. I have taken 57mins off last years bike time. If i walk the whole marathon, again, i might just make it. But i have to get going first. Into T2, i cannot take my shoes off. I am so tired, and so, so hungry. I have never got off the bike and been so hungry before. EVER. Eventually, when it feels like i have spent a week sat in the tent i get up and start the long road ahead of me. 26.2 miles await me, in searing heat and blazing sunshine.

And so it begins. The long march. My plan to run 5 minutes and walk 1 is already thrown out, as i cannot run at all. My back is so tight, i end up shuffling along. Within the first KM i see something to make my heart sing. My beautfiful children, there, by the road side with W. They have missed me at every turn until now, as my bike was faster than we all expected, so to see them now is heaven. I grab hold of the kids and dont want to let go, drawing strength and resolve from their embrace. I ask for some food, and am offered crisps. My salt levels are now so depleted that i wolf them down, and reluctantly say my goodbyes. 100yeards later i come across a small group of english girls, picnicing by the path. They shout my name, and i am again overwhelmed. I steal food from them, and carry on. Slowly, painfully the km pass. The pain demon does not like marathons. I feel him loosen his grip, and eventually i am able to lengthen my stride and run. and run. I run 200m, then walk 200m, each time, feeling that i can run again. The time, and the distance pass. I eat watermelon and banana, and wash it down with water. I eat a handful of jelly babies, from the berkshire fireman. Slowly slowly, i make my way closer to the finish, keeping an eye on the time, as it creeps ever closer to 15 hours, and the official deadline.

I run, eventually, through Roth itself, and past 2 of my fellow hotel guests. They stand and shout to me, and then they too are gone. suddently i pass the 41km mark. 1km left to go. At the rate i am now running this will take me just over 7 minutes. I have less than 10 minutes to go until i am done. I am tired. I am sore, and i know i am going to make it. Not just make it. I am going to blow it apart.

And so i run.

Challenge Roth 18th July 2010 14.47.12 :-)

Cobwebs and dust

 My blog is looking distinctly dusty and unloved. Have I a reason for my total lack of blogging for the last.......2 months? Um.......not really. As a friend says of himself, he is always full of good intentions....

Me too. Just they dont transpire to anything as useful as siting down and blogging! Still, here i am, bursting with hang on in there....this might take a while.

Before Roth
Now, where shall i begin? I had a big bust up with someone in Mid July, which left me very unhappy......details are, i am afraid going to remain sketchy, but suffice to say i will probably never stick my nose into a relationship break up EVER again. My idea of caring and concerned were interpreted as interfering and nosey, and i have learnt my lesson. It was a lesson that found me in a little heap (ok, actually, quite a big heap) sobbing on the floor, the weekend before Roth......questioning EVERYTHING?
NOT GOOD.After several texts and phone calls to other friends, (W and FG were away, so poor FT was left trying to console his mummy) my friends reassured me that no, i wasnt a bad person, nor was I a 'psycho lesbian wannabe bitch' (i paraphrase) and i was a good friend.

But, there has been an apology, so since then, the slow repair of bridges has been occurring, and i think we will get back to where we were before. The person involved knows that i love them to bits, and that i was trying to help....but i know my place.


So, you remember this Ironman thing i have been training for for months and months and months? Well, it happened on July 18th. It went well. I think :-) The journey to Roth was mostly uneventful...apart from the traffic jam on the autobahn.....which left us sweltering in the car for 3 hours, with a little girl who had been sick, and no idea of how much longer we were going to be sat still. If your sat nav tells you a 10 minute is LYING to you!

But we arrive at the most darling hotel in a little village near Roth. Absolutely charming with a beautiful bedroom...although the shower was crap....and there was NO fan or air con...but apart from that it was lovely. especially as it had a cherry tree in the garden..which was covered in fruit. And we were allowed to eat it! :-) We arrive on the thursday, Race was on the Sunday, and it was lovely to meet so many others who were doing the race too....leaving a couple of days for last minute prep. and for me that involved NO training. AT ALL....

I was described by someone as a recreational ironman though, which was a bit....annoying to say the least. Ironman, by its very nature is not the sort of thing you just rock up to and try to wing. It takes months of training..even for someone as sedate as me! So to then be called recreational was, i felt belittling to me and my achievements...and to all those BOTPers, who try really hard. I have a job, 2 kids, a family, hobbies OUTSIDE of triathlon......and i do my best!

Anyway. Roth. WOW. This town really embraces Triathlon. Driving in, we spot banners across the road....This place really gets behind the race, as the entire town becomes a part of it. The run course even goes through the middle of the town, where townsfolk sit outside and have parties and drink beer, celebrating and supporting the 2000 plus athletes who pour through the streets. It is AMAZING to be there.
The build up to the race is fine....apart from the fact that i discover it is a split transition. How did i not know this? The swim and bike start are in one place, and the bike end/run start are in another. I am such a wally! So, friday afternoon sees the four of us off in the car to find the swim start.....ah. did i mention the heat? no, obviously not. It is about 35 degrees celsius. We are melting, and i am in great fear of being able to race AT ALL, let alone in this heat.....Will my back hold out, will my nutrition plan, training, race plan come together? or will the stress of the last few days prove too much?

We find the swim start. It is a field. next to a canal. a very BIG canal. There in the hazy distance is a bridge. That i have to swim to. And back.Gulp.

Well, how hard can it be? As MC says to me on a regular is just a swim, then a bike, then a run...
Or if it was easy it would be called football. Both gems that regularly fall from his mouth. Neither of which offer any comfort at this time.