Challenge Weymouth – 10h 35 mins
The day had finally come, after countless hours sitting, sweating, crying on the turbo, pounding the pavements, tow paths and Royal Parks, ploughing up and down pools and ponds, the calm waters of Weymouth Bay awaited us. Or at least they did on Saturday evening. Sunday morning was a different matter. Sunday morning started early, before the sun had risen wetsuits were donned, the bike and run kit treble checked and then we made our way down to the beach where the surf was pounding in. Breakers with furious white horses meant that the swim would be an out and back rather than the original course, parallel to the beach. Getting out to deeper water involved swallowing a lot of water, not finding a rhythm as the swells lifted you almost clear of the water and then plunged you down again but it was fun! Particularly body boarding the last bit back in to the shore.
The short run to T1 was a chance to regain some equilibrium and think about the next section only. There was no point in thinking about the run, just focus on the bike. Coach Mike and I had agreed that I would stick to 200W power base for the 112 miles and not worry about the other competitors. As he predicted for the first few miles people were frustratingly speeding past and then as they started tiring, it was time to reel them in. The mental boost that came from pulling in each rider gave a physical boost and the tune that was going around my head got louder and more powerful. The beautiful rolling roads of Dorset were seemingly blessedly free of a notable headwind. There was the scare that the SW prevailing wind would make the direct west ride into Weymouth a nightmare but it was not to be! The ride was completed in exactly the time that I aimed for although by this stage I wasn`t really looking at my watch.
T2 was suddenly there, how had the past 6 hours gone past so quickly? Into the trainers and the expected jelly legs wobbled me out of transition. Some gels, the shining sun and some excellent spectators and the run was under way. Having stuck to the agreed power output on the bike, my legs felt quite fresh and I started recognising people from the bike leg. A quick dash into the beachfront loo for a “comfort break” and I was on my way. The cheering crowds, laden with beers and ice creams, kept morale high and the wrist bands collected at the end of every 10km lap added up. Then disaster struck. At the penultimate feed station as I started to run out my left knee gave up. The agony was excruciating. Right, walk it out, now jog. No, walk. try a shorter jog, no walk. Ok, jog 10m to that lamp post. No, walk to it. Hmm, this is going to take a long time to get to the finish. All those hours pounding the pavement, for what? To become an Ironman. Jog to that lamp post, ok, now to the next, yes, this is feeling good. Now speed up. You can do this. Somehow the knee clicked back into place and I was able to really pick up the pace and suddenly I was rounding the grandstand and there was the finish line. I had done it. I beat my marathon PB by 20 minutes and after a swim and cycle. I was over the moon. I had wanted to finish the IM in 12 hours and I had done it in 10:35. I could hardly speak I was so overjoyed. All those hours were worth it. The elation of having not only completed the race despite all the training setbacks that had occurred, but to have done it in a reasonable time left me speechless. Actually, it could have been the “sprint” finish that left me speechless but it was over. Now what?