Kathy’s half-Ironman Triathlon proved to be the most amazing experience. An incredibly challenging one, but hugely rewarding too, as Kathy says in her own words:
“Wading into the Beaulieu river at 5am was the most surreal experience. I was fearful of how cold the water was going to be – having trained in the chilling sea – but was pleasantly surprised at how relatively warm it felt (albeit I was wearing a full wetsuit and wetsuit hat, gloves and socks …). So the event started well. I found my rhythm and really enjoyed the 1.9 km swim, which was 3 laps around some rather lovely boats moored in the middle of the river.
I remember waving to my mum as I ran up the hill back to transition, pulled off my wetsuit and prepared to hop onto my bike. The swim and transition took me 38 minutes. It was quite a chilly morning so I put on an extra couple of tops and my gloves, then I was off. The first 40 miles were wonderful. A low mist hung over the moors as we cycled through the New Forest with hardly a car in sight. Then again, it was 6 o’clock on a Sunday morning! The last dozen miles became a little tougher, so I concentrated on ‘fuelling’ to be sure to have enough energy for the run. 3 hours later and the bike was all over.
The run consisted of two seven-mile laps, each finishing with a 400m uphill stretch. I started off fairly well at a steady pace I hoped I could continue at, but my lack of running training (for fear of aggravating a recurring knee problem) came back to bite me as the race progressed. I will be eternally grateful to the competitor at around 9 miles who, having stopped to walk up a hill, shouted to me to “keep going!” when I tried to do the same. This was the spur I needed to ensure I ran the whole 14 miles, albeit at a slower pace than I had hoped. 2 hours 13 minutes all told for transition and the 14 mile run.
So 5 hours and 54 minutes after plunging into the river I ran over the finish line to collect my medal. Having felt incredibly daunted at registration the day before at seeing so many athletes – many of them serious athletes – clad in Ironman t-shirts I was delighted to have finished 35th out of 50 women, and 253rd out of 302 competitors in all.
But more importantly I raised over £1,100 for the Lymphoma Research Trust in memory of my best friend’s husband and my second cousin, who both lost their battles with this aggressive disease.
And whilst I may have said ‘never again’ at the time, I’ve pencilled next year’s event into the diary already …. And I’ll be completing an Olympic distance event this Sunday.”
Justin’s Dales Struggle Sportive
I had managed quite a few miles on my bike. After all, I was intending to complete one of the most brutal of cycling Sportives in England – a 108-mile ride through the Yorkshire Dales – so I needed to get fitter. I completed a few 100-mile training rides and quite a few shorter distances to feel saddle-fit and as overall-bike-fit as I could, given the time constraints resulting from work and family commitments.Training for the hills in flat, sunny Dorset proved somewhat more challenging.
I am convinced that the surveyors in the South of England use different metrics than those ‘up North’. The 20 degree hills I had trained on were nothing like the 20 degree hills in The Dales!
The event was absolutely brutal. The hills were steeper than I’d ever envisaged; some even had hairpins and quite a few competitors resorted to riding across the ride to cope with the steepness! A brisk wind added to the difficulty factor, but I did manage to complete the event in 8 hours 45 minutes.
I’d like to be able to say that I enjoyed the beautiful scenery the Dales has to offer, but I was too focused on keeping my head down and climbing the next hill. But I did enjoy the pies on offer at the final fuelling station at the 70 mile mark!