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 :-)


  1. Awesome awesome awesome!!! I'm sitting here crying. So darn proud of you, Emma.

  2. God it was so tense just reading that, what an achievement xxx