Life was perfect!
In November 2017, I sat at the awards ceremony breakfast banquet in Florida following my husband having completed his first Ironman. I recall being overwhelmed with pride at his achievement and full of admiration for the athletes stepping up on the podium to receive their well-deserved awards. I was also immensely content with life with my beautiful 20-month-old boy snoozing in my lap and my little 12-week raspberry growing inside me. Life couldn’t be more perfect.
Panama Beach, Florida November 2017.
It was at that moment I decided I was going to give triathlon a go. Ross had been trying to persuade me for months to dip my toes in. He seemed to have some kind of faith that I had it in me. Right there at that breakfast banquet we set a goal…for me to do the Mallorca 70.3 in May 2019. The baby would be a year old by then giving me adequate time to train. Excited at my goal, as soon as we got off the plane the next day, I phoned mum to ask her if she’d come with us to babysit a 1 year old and 3-year-old!
However, the following day my dream came crashing down…now 13 weeks, I went for my routine scan only to be dealt those terrifying words “I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but…” I don’t recall the rest. I knew what she meant. The baby’s heartbeat had stopped.
What ensued isn’t relevant for this report other than it was a horrible and distressing journey. I was in/out hospital and experienced complications and required weeks of follow-up. It took time to recover physically, but longer to recover psychologically.
Then one day, while I was moping in my pyjamas nose deep in a tub of Ben and Jerry’s, the doorbell rang. Postman delivered what was clearly a bike box. Rolling my eyes at the assumption my husband was further indulging his expensive triathlon habit, I was yet to be surprised when he opened it up to reveal a lady’s road bike. From there my toes started that dip into triathlon. 3 months later I did my first super sprint getting to step onto the second tier of the podium. I then competed in a couple of local aqua-bike races, due to my aversion to running, and found myself on the top step of the podium on one of them.
First ever triathlon, Turriff super-sprint distance, 2nd place senior
Huntly Standard distance Aquathon, 1st place senior
Bit the bullet:
As much as I enjoyed it, I admit however that I lacked focus. I just ached to be pregnant again so never saw the point in setting long term triathlon goals. It just wasn’t happening though (we had had difficulties for years conceiving our little boy). Eventually, almost a year after losing the baby I had a fuck it moment! I was pissed off and needed a focus. So, I impulsively booked IM 703 Mallorca 2019. There, it was done! I was committed! I approached total endurance and got set up with a coach.
And (I’m sure you’re probably thinking about bloody time she got to the point) so began my 70.3 journey. Juggling parenting, working and both Ross’s and my training was tough at times, but I really did enjoy it.
IM Mallorca 70.3:
Fast forward to May 2019. I stood on the sand near the front of the race start next to a couple of team mates. I was glad to have my Goggles on as ACDC’s ‘thunderstruck’ bounced out the speakers because tears swelled in my eyes as the adrenaline and emotion coursed through me. I couldn’t believe I was actually here in the thick of it, having only been a spectator to my husband for several races to date. Then I thought “Shit! Stop crying you twat, your goggles are steaming up!”
And we were off! I experienced the common initial seize that seems to hit many when they start the swim. My body felt stiff and tired. My chest felt tight and a wave of fatigue crushed me. There was no way I could keep my arms going for 1.9k. But I did. 200m in i found my rhythm and got into a comfortable pace. I found myself passing other swimmers. I just focused on one bouy at a time. Why the fuck didn’t I count the bouys before I started? Then came that wonderful feeling of sand at my fingertips. I swam a little further then was forced to stand by the shallowing water and other athletes rising to their feet. As I looked up, in front of me stood one of my teammates and a superb athlete at that (a Kona qualifier). I felt so delighted that I’d kept up with him and further boosted my confidence by looking at watch. You can see the smile in my face in the race photos as I exited the water!
Exiting the swim in 28 min 21 sec, 2nd female in age group out the water
My first transition was by no means quick but it went without an issue. I was methodical and calm as I wanted to ensure I was comfortable starting the cycle.
Now the cycle. The disadvantage of being a strong swimmer is that the several thousand people’s ass’s you’ve kicked in the swim, glide past you throughout the bike course. I’m pretty sure I saw some of their butt cracks winking at me! Nonetheless I was mentally prepared for this and just focused on my own performance. The risk for me was that I went too hard on the bike to the detriment of my run. So, I switched my Garmin to the heart rate screen and focused on keeping it between 140-150. I really enjoyed the cycle. The climb was beautiful and peaceful despite the course congestion. I found the downhill hairy at times and afterwards heard horror stories of some athletes going over the edge. My only real discomfort on the bike was that I needed to pee from half way in. I just didn’t want to break my momentum and therefore pushed on past each port a loo with a longing but acceptance as a girl does walking by a Gucci store. I also just couldn’t pee on the bike. I know lots of people do but my bladder went into lock down! I kept a steady pace and focused on regular nutrition and keeping hydrated, mostly in preparation for the run and for what will be revealed soon!
Enjoying the bike
I felt such joy and satisfaction gliding into T2. I was delighted to have got to this stage and still feel good. And holy smoke there was a loo! Bike was quickly racked and… damn it! All 2 loo’s were full! So ,I decided to get out of T2 and onto the start of the run course where I knew there was row of several sweet grey boxes of smelly heaven.
Again, my transition was careful and methodical and the only footage my mother in law caught on camera. To watch it back is painful. I look so slow and am totally faffing. So ,rocket up ass next time girl.
Over the timing mat and into the run I went, and veered straight to the first grey box. Ah, here comes relief I thought. But no, my bladder had other ideas and decided to punish me by going into retention. After wasting a couple of minutes managing to only squeeze out a dribble, I got going and started my run. My legs felt ok and I focused again on not going out too hard. I started to find my comfortable pace about 2k in and at that point my bladder decided to play ball and I veered again into a loo and this time gained much relief.
Off I went again. 3 laps to go. I mentally prepared myself for the middle lap being the toughest and for some reason found it not too bad. I just got into a rhythm and felt comfortable, by no means fast, but comfortable. I slowed down through each aid station to guzzle water and I ate my own gel each 4K. This seemed to work for me and my guts were settled (I’d had lots of issues with runners trots on training runs).
Onto the last lap I needed yet another pee -stop. Goodness, I was nailing the hydration stakes! Looking at my Garmin I spent 7 min in total in the loo during the run. Guess that’s an area to chop time off next time!
The run: The spectators were phenomenal!
The run was hot but it didn’t seem to bother me, despite my having trained mostly in freezing and wet conditions. I also owe a lot to the spectators who were phenomenal and gave me a constant buzz of motivation. As I neared the finish line, all I could think about was my husband hopefully being there and how proud he would be. Running down the finish chute was amazing, and I ran straight into Paul Kaye who was a legend. He engaged me one-on-one and congratulated me with solid eye contact. It’s humbling how he can make one athlete among several thousand feel so important. There was quite a flurry of finishers at the same time as me so I chased a woman and actually asked “can I have a medal please?”
Completing my first 70.3
Get the tissues out:
My husband didn’t disappoint. He met me at the entrance of the finishers tent with a huge hug, smile and we both had tears in our eyes. We were both filled with pride and delight also at the special little ironic secret we shared…I was pregnant!
Love this guy!
So since then we’ve had to tell a lot of white lies as to what I’m doing next, why my training has bonked (due to nausea mainly) and why I still hadn’t got around to releasing my race report. I’ve been looking forward to making the announcement with this race blog for 4 weeks now.
Get the tissues out again:
Sadly, I’m now releasing this blog early and completing it from a hospital bed as de ja vu has occurred. We attended an early scan (due to the last pregnancy having a genetic condition) and have been dealt the news again that we have had a silent miscarriage. It looks to have literally happened in the last couple of days so I know racing pregnant had no bearing on this devastating outcome.
The next few weeks are going to be dark and painful but I know what got me through it before and will again…triathlon! So, I’m browsing races for the Autumn and will, knowing me, impulsively book something again very shortly. I have a 6 hours 15 min time to absolutely smash and I am full of determination and have a lot of emotional energy to channel. So fellow triathletes, watch this space! His girl has f**king huge goals…
Teambrems will keep on rising!