for taking the time to visit my JustGiving page.
I will be under
starter’s orders amongst 2,700 athletes on Sunday 14 June at 7:30am in the cold
water of Chasewater lake. Attracting huge local support, this inaugural event
has attracted high profile names such as Gordon Ramsay, Danny Mills, Jonathan
Ross and Charlie Webster to its entry list. It has a 30-strong pro field
including Javier Gomez the current ITU World Triathlon Champion.
event which takes places through the four districts and boroughs of Cannock
Chase, Lichfield, East Staffordshire and
will consists of a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile cycle and a 13.1 mile run.
for individuals sold out in minutes, but I was really lucky for World Child
Cancer to get me a place so I could raise money for them. I have done
fundraising events for the charity before and would like to raise as much as
possible again for them. We are good friends with Vincent and Hannah Gauci who
tragically lost their beautiful two-and-a-half year old son Sacha in December
2012 to an extremely rare and aggressive, undiagnosed brain tumour. The Sacha
Gauci Remembrance Fund is there to support World Child Cancer and their efforts
in helping children in Africa with Cancer.
Please make a
donation. No amount is too small. Look forward to all your support.
through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe
with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you
donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most
efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.
I finished in 5:14. Not without hiccups!!! Was hoping to go around in under 5 hours however ……
If I hadn't been doing it for charity I may have registered my first ever DNF (Did Not Finish) on Sunday at the inaugural IM 70.3 in Staffordshire as I had an absolute nightmare start to the race which didn't really improve much throughout the day.
After 6 months of preparation this was a major blow as you can imagine!!!
Alarm was set for 3:45am at our hotel room in Tamworth about 35 mins away from Shugborough much to the kids horror! Plan was to get ready, eat some breakfast and make our way to where the event organisers suggested we turn up to get a free shuttle bus down to the start. These were supposed to be turning up every 5 mins from 4:30am onwards. The buses were to transport us from Shugborough, where the run and finish were, down to Chasewater where the swim and bike start was. This is usually a 30 min journey.
Even though we arrived at 5:15am the bus did not get me to the lake until 6:48am. Transition was due to close at 6:50am so I only had a few minutes to ensure my tyre pressure was ok, set up my Garmin and put my nutrition and hydration on the bike. Trying to get my Saltstick on to the bike in a hurry caused me to snap the plastic holder so this wasn't going to come with me as planned and I had to put some salt tablets in my food bag.
After transition I had to try and locate Vikki and the kids who had been told to get a separate bus down, with athletes taking priority due to everything running late. I managed to locate them in the crowds and began to get ready for the swim. Vikki was going to take my white bag as Ironman had originally announced they would not transport them back to the finish. This meant she would have to hold it all day until I had finished and needed my clothes back.
About this time it was announced that the Pros were going to start 10 minutes late and that there was a 10 minute delay. I was quite relaxed at this stage. The weather was nice, I was ready and the family were all together. We made our way over to the swim start. It was about 7:38. As we got there we realised that no one had my white bag and we had left it back on a bench with some other friends. Vikki thought I had it and I thought she had it!!! :-) My friend John who had driven up to support said I had best get going, not to worry and they would go and find the bag.
I made my way through a small gated area and noticed there were only swimmers with black caps on. I asked where the 7:40 swim wave was!!! The marshall pointed at the lake. I was only just getting in the water when the swim started. They said there was a 10min delay but then didn't mention they had changed it back to the original start time. There's me strolling along the pontoon looking at 100s of blue caps in the water thinking this don't seem right. As I got in the hooter went!!! This meant not only did I have to swim past lots of slower swimmers I also probably had 150m to swim before the actual start point in the water. I had not even had time to warm up or make sure my wetsuit was on properly.
Usually when I am in the water I have a mental note of where I am swimming. With the rush I kind of just followed a pack of swimmers. This wasn’t ideal as I was following slower athletes with poor sighting skills. I stopped to take a look to get my bearings. I then got my head down and the swim went without much fuss. It did seem long but that was probably just me not being that settled.
I exited the water up a concrete ramp with the help of a marshall. Looked at my watch and my swim time was about 3-4mins slower than I had expected. Disappointing but probably not too surprising considering the start that I had.
The transition back to the tent was a very long run across gravel, mud, grass and plastic matting. Certainly wasn't pleasurable on the feet. I did get my first shout out from John, Vikki and the kids though which was great to hear. John took a few photos and ran alongside me chatting. Not sure what about???
I found my blue bag very easily in the tent, having remembered it’s location from the day before when we racked them and begin to get ready for the bike. It was manic in there but I found a quiet spot and started going through my bag while removing my wetsuit, hat and goggles. On goes my helmet, strap done up. I then notice my headband in the bag which I wear under my helmet to stop sweat getting in my eyes while riding. As a contact lens wearer this makes my day much more comfortable. Do I take my helmet off and put it on? I decided against this! I then tried to put one glove on. It seemed a real struggle as my hands were wet so decided not to wear gloves. I put both these items in there for a reason though!!! I threw the glove back in the bag and made my way out of transition and, as instructed, dropped my bag off on my way out.
I got half way to my bike on the huge grass field containing thousand of bikes. I hear a marshall tell someone they don't have their race number on. No race number!!!! Epic fail ..... I don't have a race number on. I don't need a warning from the marshall as I noticed myself that I had just totally forgotten to put it on. Don't even recall seeing it in my bag. Obviously pre-occupied with headbands and gloves. This is serious and you can get you DQ (Disqualification) without it being worn!!
Had to run back in to the changing tent. By this time there was a pile of blue bags 5ft high. Managed to find it after a few minutes of frantic searching. Was lucky it was found at all. Some eagle eyed marshall really came up trumps and saved my day.
So I finally get on the bike. We make our way out of Chasewater which involved a series of speed bumps and pot holes on a single track. I wasn't sure if we were allowed to go fast yet or not so took it steady. I didn't want my water bottle falling off the bike. I could see quite a few already scattered along the track!!!
The first section of the bike was a long steady climb heading up a big A road. I was settling in ok and heart rate felt well under control. As normal on the bike I usually just stay to the right and continually pass other riders. There was one guy ahead of me, heavily tattooed and he seemed to be riding at a similar speed so I focused on keeping him in my sights.
Within the first few miles they took the competitors in to a section of narrow country lanes. I had been up to recce the bike route before and thought this would not be a good idea on race day with 2700 riders coming through it. They are narrow, poor road surfaces and high hedges. Certainly not ideal for racing.
This section was not very fluent. Lots of braking and turning. One turn went straight in to a very sharp climb and lots of riders were walking up it. Not due to the incline but they had been caught out on their gearing. Even though I knew about it, my gears didn't seem to like the quick change I had to make while tackling the climb.
After about 8 miles, still in the lanes but very nearly out of them, someone knocked me off my bike on a nasty bend following a steep descent. As I was making the left turn another rider came inside and just went straight on heading for the bush. They took me in it with them. I was in a state of shock. It happened so fast I just recall sitting on the floor, half in the bushes but very near the edge of the road. Lots of other cyclists were still coming down the hill right near us. As I sat there, two others riders obviously focusing on us rather than the turn also came off. One of them hit my back with their front wheel. Full force – impact at probably 20mph!!!
The other riders brushed themselves down and went off. No one seemed too hurt. Strangely no one spoke?? I couldn’t assess my injuries but I had some road rash, cuts and bruises. Worse one coming from the two other guys crashing in to us while we were sat there. My back was sore. However, my main concern was the bike.
The front wheel would not spin. Looking at it I initially thought it had buckled. However it was just the front brake that had moved – I managed to get that back in place and the wheel was free again. At this stage I had a bit of a sulk and a melt down. I didn’t know what to do or if I was OK or if the bike was OK. Suppose there was only one way to find out. Get back on ….
My Front mech (gears) had packed up altogether. I carried on riding in the gear I was in until I got to a faster section of road out of the country lanes. I was in the wrong gear but couldn't change them. Realised I needed to stop again to manually lift the chain. I then noticed I only had about 4 gears to play with for the other 48 miles as the right shifter was limited. I now know that it shattered internally!!!
The gearing was generally OK throughout the ride and I was still riding well. I had done enough bike training to stay strong for that sort of distance. I was struggling eating my food on the bike but knew I needed to keep my energy up so forced it down. With about 15 miles to go I went past a friend who was also racing. He started 10 minutes after me and is an exceptional athlete. He went on to finish 2nd in his age group and qualify for the world championships. We kind of stayed together till the end of the bike – but he runs like the wind so was soon off when we got back!!!
Some hilly sections in last 5 miles through Cannock Chase nearly killed me due to insufficient gears on the bike. This was going to bite me in the bum on the run I could tell!!!!!!
In transition from bike to run my red bag had been misplaced. It wasn't were I had put it. Luckily someone helped me locate it. My right knee was scabby and stiff and my back was very sore from the impact of that crash. I put my trainers on and grabbed my sun visor and my shot bloks. I asked for some water to wash my knee a bit and made my way out of the tent.
The run was just horrible. As soon as I started everything started hurting. I hadn’t noticed it so much on the bike. I also had a tight hamstring and my glutes were on fire. I also had quite tingly feet. I think I was happy to be on the run though and see what that had in store for me and within the first few hundreds meters I saw Vikki and the kids and John. It was good to know they were OK as I had not seen them at all on the bike. They had tried to get out to watch but it proved a logistical nightmare with all the road closures etc.
I did manage to get round the run, it was a three lap loop of approx 4.4miles. The first lap was really hard and there was a nasty hill on it that had me stop at the top and take a loo break. Think I needed this just to settle down as my heart rate had definitely gone too high after the climb. After this I settled down in to my run and decided I had to try and be consistent with my pacing, taking the hill in to account the miles were not going to be equal splits. After the first lap I saw Vikki and the gang again which always perks me up and puts a bit of spring in to my step. They were outside the impressive Shugborough Hall near the finish line.
I was soon on my last lap and managed to actually start running a bit more steady. I was digging deep and I honestly just kept thinking about the kind people sponsoring me and what a let down it would be if I didn't get to the finish.
With 800m to go I really upped the pace and knew that the end was just around the corner and I could now really empty the tank. I came round the corner, blew a kiss to the family and made my way down the finishing shoot.