Tag: Ironman Cairns

IRONMAN – NOT THIS TIME!

Ironman sign

Midst the tears of disappointment, frustration and devastating result I shall try very hard not to dwell on the brighter, brilliant and more positive aspects of my Ironman adventure … travelling over in FIRST CLASS (Oh My Goodness HOW WONDERFUL AND AMAZING WAS THAT!!!), landing in Australia for the first time (a dream since teenage years) (did I mention that I flew First Class?), the adorable company throughout of my wonderful and magical eldest daughter, corals, snorkelling ……… these things are for another blog. I must try very hard not to mention the Great Barrier Reef, the tropical fish, sky rails, rainforests, the cutest koala bears EVER and, of course, did I mention that I flew First Class?

First Class dining

I will focus instead on the task that lay ahead (after my FIRST CLASS flight)!

Good luck cards

Drop Bags

Time to Race

RESULTS:

Swim: 55:22 (1.9 km) – 1:12:55 (1.9 km) – TOTAL: 2:08

T1:       9:52

Bike:    5:05 (81.6 km) – RACE TIME: 7:13:18

DNF

 

Cue MELTDOWN!! Or, well, to be totally honest, the meltdown didn’t come until I met Caitriona on the way back to the hotel. At the moment the marshall informed me I’d missed the cut-off and he had to ask me to stop, my body said THANK YOU!!!! Having the decision made for me was one of the positives amidst soooooooooooooooo many negatives!

So what happened? Perhaps the reason this blog has been delayed a while is because I can’t say for certain. I don’t know! All I can say is that involved the swim, it most definitely involved bananas … and after that it was all down to lack of ANY fuel.

Breakfast was spot on. Breakfast has seen me through so many races I know it was right. Then there was that top-up banana an hour before the start time. Well, I’ve practised bananas pre-swim and never had a problem. Not so on June 14th. On this day the banana decided the limelight belonged to him/her and it was determined to fight back! Why? Nerves? I was pretty calm. Emotional? I got a bit flustered because I desperately wanted to hug Caitriona before I dived in and I couldn’t find her – but I DID find her and all was well, I took a deep breath and we were off. Fear? Nope. I’d warmed up, swum, nothing scary about the water. I was perfectly happy with that. So ……………. What? All suggestions welcome (please post below). Adrenalin? I’m pretty calm and wasn’t noticeably worked up (not that I knew, anyhow). Jet lag? Really? Who knows?!

Anyhoooooooooooooooo … took my place at the start line, perfectly happy running into the water, swam about 20 strokes, concentrating on not going out fast (chance’d be a fine thing!!), controlling my breathing and settling into my natural pace. It took about 20 strokes to realise that perhaps breathing should be a priority over pace – and I just couldn’t breathe! I started to breaststroke and attempted to slow my breathing down but EVERYTHING seemed constricted, it felt like my chest was about to burst out of my wetsuit and I couldn’t get any air past the top of my chest, which meant that essentially I was sort of hyperventilating and could NOT slow it down! After a couple of minutes I decided that if that was what my breathing was going to do, maybe I could adjust my stroke rate to suit it – as opposed to the other way round??? I know, I know – who DOES that??? But it was the only strategy I could come up with. Alas, it didn’t work (surprise, surprise!). On to Plan C. Wait. Slight problem. I didn’t have a Plan C.

Never mind. My stomach has a Plan C. Cue a new strategy. Lean on lifeguard’s surf board, retch, take a few deep breaths, swim 20-30 strokes. Repeat. For 1.8 km!

No, really! That’s how it was. His name was Heath, by the way (probably still is lol). He might have saved my life; he certainly saved my race! I didn’t think I was going to make it to the very first buoy! As it was, Heath didn’t move more than 3 ft away from me for the entire swim. He talked me through the lot, muttered a million platitudes and was a master at disguising his thoughts of me repeatedly retching over his lovely surfboard. He supplied me with fresh water and did my sighting for me – pointing out which buoy to head for next as my head was just spinning. As we reached the halfway beach turnaround he leant down and grabbed my wrist and looked at my watch – at which point he said ‘Awesome! Run! You can still make the cut-off!’ At which point I ran, returned to the water, swam 10 strokes and then properly threw up!! Hey ho, after that I felt soooooooooooo much better!! I managed to settle into a half-decent stroke rate and complete the swim. I was a little surprised that the timing for the second half of my swim was so much slower, but having said that the water had definitely changed by then. There was quite a big swell (compared to the first hour!), it was choppier and the current was a little faster.

Boy, was I glad to get out of that water!!!!! I actually did the swim in 2 hours (bloody miracle). The 8:18 seconds was the time it took to launch a quick hug in Heath’s direction – alongside a massive THANK YOU!!

I was a sort of greenish colour when I got into the tent. The euphoria of having actually made the cut-off was short-lived. The ladies who greeted me were amazing and literally undressed and dressed me – while I tried not to think about having to get on a bicycle!

I did my very very best to smile as I exited T1. I looked like shit but I was actually feeling positive by now. This was something that simply had to be done. I got on my bike thinking that I would just settle into a ‘regular’ pace and give my body a little chance to get itself together. I tried unsuccessfully to drink a little water. I figured that even if I had to play catch-up later it was more important initially to give my stomach time to settle so that I could then focus on the job in hand. I pedalled, remembered to look up and absorb the beautiful coastal scenery, I tried to relax and tell my body all was ok. Body wasn’t in listening mood.

Cut a long story short, hills felt like mountains and I watched my average bike time go down and down and down as the inclines went up and up and up. By the time I’d reached the first turnaround and beginning of the second loop I’d thrown up half an energy bar and avoided the energy drink I had because it was making me feel really queasy – which I wouldn’t have minded had it actually reached my blood stream and given me some ENERGY!! I was so desperate for energy. My legs felt great, my head was still battling with positives and ignoring little voices and I was simply praying for a hit of energy – even a small one!

As I made my way back up to Port Douglas on the second loop I was accompanied by the sweeper bike. I’m sure he was lovely but I feel I must apologise for the names I was secretly calling him. Eventually, he couldn’t sweep slowly enough and he buggered off for a while haha

Coming into Port Douglas for the second time the marshall chugged up alongside me and told me I had four and a half minutes to reach the turnaround. I did my best. With the help of the marshall on the microphone and the crowd – who were all counting down for me – I made it! I actually laughed. It was quite funny. My stomach didn’t appreciate the humour. I came out of Port Douglas and thought ‘Come on! All the way home!’ … Mr Sweeper was at the roundabout on his phone doing various calculations. ‘Twenty minutes to the next aid station cut-off’, he said. ‘Come on! Keep that pace and you’ll make it!’ he said. ‘And drink more!’ he said – as he whipped my water bottle out of the cage, pootled off on his moped and returned five minutes later with a full bottle. Bless them all, they did everything they possibly could to get me through this course bar getting on the bike and cycling it themselves.

A fairly brutal headwind thwarted my efforts to make that 20-minute cut-off. I felt like I was cycling backwards – and the cramps in my feet were UNREAL!! I don’t know where the cramps came from but they were agonising. I have a completely amateurish theory (I know NOTHING about cycling) that they might have been a result of my using the aero bars that I’d originally had no intention of using? In actual fact I used my aero bars for a LOT of the bike course. They were easy, comfortable and the position suited my stomach. I just wonder if the position then altered the pressure on my feet – maybe changed the position my cleats should’ve been in? I could be totally making this up in my head, but ……………….. it passed the time!

I was escorted into the wagon of shame at that 75-mile mark – having missed the cut-off by 6 minutes. I finally had time to feel sorry for myself and notice how upset and uphappy my stomach was – and it was the longest journey ever – brightened up only by the man sitting opposite, who informed me that he’d been BEHIND ME IN THE SWIM!! Oh My God! I didn’t come last!! Lol

I don’t think I need to detail the meltdowns. Unfathomable thanks to my beautiful daughter, who mopped up endless tears and annoyingly kept saying ALL the right things (love you)!!

Massive congratulations to all the athletes who DID finish. I’m very proud of ALL of you (special mention for Keith Jackson and Chris Stainer) … even if I didn’t applaud and smile and jump up and down as ‘XXX YOU ARE AN IRONMAN’ wafted up endlessly into my hotel room, which was directly over the finish line. I was not going to be allowed to forget!! Haha

But don’t think I begrudge you any teensy weensy millisecond of your incredible achievements! You are both just incredible athletes and I am so SO happy that I WAS able to see you both across the finish.

As for me ………………….. hey, I’m uninjured. That can only mean one thing. It’s time to fight back.

Message from Rebecca

 

Let the Adventure begin …

8 p.m. on June 8th and I’m sitting in the First Class (yes – gift from my amazing husband!!) lounge at Heathrow with a couple of hours to go before the adventure really and truly begins. It’s a little hard to relax when realisation keeps invading my dreams and sending my stomach lurching in fleeting moments of absolute terror – but hey, I’m trying! My new friend Mimosa (1 part orange juice, 4 parts champagne) is helping!

This is IT! If I squint I can just make out the start line. Over there … 6 days away. No matter what way I measure it, it’s still getting closer. In fact, it’s excruciatingly close – so close that it no longer matters what I do in terms of swimming, biking or running. In 6 days I will not learn to swim stronger, to bike faster or to run without swearing. I am where I am and all I can do now is to give it anything over 100% – my minimum effort percentage for anything I do (if not, then what’s the point?).

The final few weeks could perhaps have gone a little better. Training ramped up to 17-18 hours per week, which was more than enough for me – and I still maintain that my coach has been magnificent in bringing about the increases in volume and intensity without injury (permanent key objective). I’ve finished every session feeling proud, if occasionally it was tough getting out there because I was just ti-i-i-i-i-r-r-e-d!!

I’ve maintained all along that I wished to stand at the start line knowing that no matter what happened I had trained to my absolute best; that if things didn’t go my way it would not be because I missed out a few key sessions or had a few extra easy weeks. Unfortunately, the final two weeks didn’t really go as planned but I think that if there was ever a time to be forced to ease up a bit, then surely the final couple of weeks (taper weeks, in actual fact) must be the best choice? A migraine simply floored me for almost 4 days and I could NOT face my training sessions for love nor money, so that’s been a bit tricky to get my head around because I felt I’d ‘missed’ key workouts. Add to that my having to be fished out of the sea (again) due to a seeming inability to be able to stand up and walk out of that damned water (cue ‘shore dumps extraordinaire)! Well – ‘extraordinaire enough to lift my feet clean off the pebbles and send me into an undignified face plant … only to be caught by the next mischievous, evil bully of a wave which thought it was hilarious to see me frantically try to save myself by clutching a pebble! Cue the ‘fishing out’ bit … all of which resulted in damage to pecs and lats. Typical! Grrr! In short – that put paid to a few more sessions but I did manage a few catch-ups so everything has been ticking over. And, more importantly, I still maintain that I can stand on the start line confident that I never missed a session – because in my head (yes, that’s MY head … not a ‘general’ head) I’m not counting the missed sets of the last couple of weeks because I know in my heart of hearts I simply could not physically do them. Had I voluntarily taken a few lazy options, that would’ve been another matter altogether.

All that is very important for me – for my headspace. It has got me to where I am now – confident that I’ve given my training 100% attention and commitment. Whatever happens now, it will not be because I failed to prepare. And it certainly won’t be because I gave up!

Giving up is not an option. But I’m pretty good at not giving up – and where there’s not-giving-up, there’s hope!

Here’s hoping.

And through all this, never once did I hear a grumble along the lines of ‘Training AGAIN?’ or ‘Seriously? You’re going to be gone for how long?’ from my husband or any of my family. They’ve been magnificent and so incredibly supportive and inspiring. And speaking of inspiration, this journey would not have been so enjoyable and exciting and challenging without the help of so many friends beside me, behind me and – in the case of Jody East and most of BTRS Race Series triathletes – in front of me!

Thank you all for your unfathomable confidence. I won’t let you down.

6 days.

Eek.

Nothing more I can do.

‘Excuse me … yes, … could I have another glass of champagne, please?’

‘You can spread YOUR toes another day, then!’

snipped the yoga teacher, failing to understand why I couldn’t take off my socks (infected toe). Jeez, that must have been the stressiest yoga class EVER! I’d already been accosted for choosing the wrong mat, for not having the correct number of blocks (how would YOU know – I could be a professional ballet dancer?) and I’m not even going to try and describe the ‘tone’ with which I was informed that this was an ‘intermediate class, you realise’??? Oh dear. Wrong person to take that attitude with. Having spent twenty years trying to curb my tendency to corpse on stage (and failing miserably), a silent and deadly yoga class filled with regular pensioners farting, twisting and contorting and admiring their lythe and flexible bodies (not) in the Dorian-Gray-enchanted mirrors was only going to result in 90 minutes of something akin to an episode of Candid Camera as I attempted to suppress my giggles. Being told I would ‘just have to spread my toes another day’ was, frankly, the last straw.

Thankfully, yoga was an option I’d chosen for myself to supplement my training with an extended stretching session (with the exclusion of my toes, evidently!!). It is/was not on my official training plan. Phew.

Two weeks since The Pilgrim Challenge Ultra – and six weeks into my official Ironman training plan and I have suddenly realised that just in these last couple of weeks I’ve been conquering a lot of mini stumbling blocks. Even better, I am fully confident that this is ALL due to the training I’ve been putting in. My goal since January has been to not miss out on a single session. I’ve stuck to that and slowly slowly I’m seeing changes. You can’t complain about results that you don’t get from work that you don’t do. So true. And oh such a great feeling.
In The Pilgrim Challenge my nemesis was those 268 steps. They didn’t get me this time!

On the following week’s 16-mile run to Newhaven Fort and back (commonly known as BTRS Trail Run #4) my goal was not to PB but rather to ‘run the hills’. There is one particular nasty on the return journey which has ALWAYS brought me to a walk. Not this time. I use the term ‘run’ very loosely, but I didn’t walk AT ALL (and this definitely contributed to a fab bonus PB as well!!).

The same can be said for the dreaded hill on Trail #2 – which I conquered the previous week, a parkrun time that was a lot closer to my PB than I’d thought possible AND a very satisfying stamina blast at the end of kickboxing class which left me buzzing rather than dying! It has been tough, too, though. Oft times I really have to drag myself out of the house with a bucketload of unwillingness strapped to my ankles. You would think, after 52 years, that I would know myself pretty well by now but still just the other day I surprised myself with how much utter unadulterated CRAP I could come up with in an effort to get myself out of a workout on the gym bike. This continued, not only until I’d grumbled and fought my way to the gym, but even into the workout itself … Since I’m here I at least deserve to make the session a bit shorter …. I’ll cut out the cooldown …. Maybe I’ll just do one of the main sets rather than two … Or I could do half of the second but at an easier pace … Or I could … OR YOU COULD JUST SHUT UP AND DO THE GODDAMNED WORKOUT!!!!! JEEZ!

The rewards don’t come easily but it is soooooooooooooo nice to see them coming. I’ve found a lot of my training sessions quite scary, sometimes terrifying and I can’t even think yet about the big picture, i.e. start line of Ironman Cairns – because right now I know I’m not even close to being ready. Spotting these small changes in fitness and ability, though, is massively motivating and comforting. I just have to continue to have 100% faith in my coach and training programme and I WILL make it to that line.

Training starts here!

Uh oh! Here we go! The road to Ironman really and truly started on 1 January 2015! Not that I haven’t ‘kind of’ started. Since registering I’ve taken swimming lessons, been learning to swim in open water, bought a bike and had it fitted, completed a few sprint tris and a half-ironman … but all rather in preparation for the preparation, if that makes any sense? There was no real urgency. Training came under the umbrella ‘getting ready for 2015’! So I’ve done bits of this and bits of that and I know I can swim a 70.3 distance in open water, a full Ironman distance in a pool, I can cycle 56 miles (far too slowly) and I can run/walk 44 miles (just not after swimming and cycling for endless hours!). I worried about starting late but my coach has assured me January is perfect in order to avoid burn-out and make sure I get to the start line with half a chance of ‘enjoying’ my race!

So here goes. The training starts here. Oh. Wait. Training has already started!! Eeek. It is 20 January and I’m into my third week of Ironman training. Loving it. Loving the focus. Loving having such a fantastic goal but …………………………. ai ai ai ai ai ……………………. yes, panicking already. A few negatives have crept in – and so soon!!! I am so rubbish on the bike. How on earth am I going to last 8 hours!!!! My swimming is not very strong – what if, what if, what if ……. And my running? It’s so slow already – can it get any slower without crawling? Probably. And all that adds up to …………….. missing the cut-off!

Jeez! Googling personalised banners. I’m taking my own FINISH LINE ribbon with me – because I might not make that cut-off but I’m going to finish NO MATTER WHAT!!

Hopefully, as training progresses my confidence will grow too. For now, all I have to say is …. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!

 

DON’T LOOK BACK (well, maybe just briefly) – Cheerio 2014

Don’t look back. That’s not the way you’re going.

Just one of my favourite quotes from this year but I think that on occasion (like now, for instance) it can be quite beneficial to spend a moment or two (no more) looking back. Not with the intention of heading in that direction, however, but rather to draw on the positives and the triumphs which can only help to fuel to the engine I need to launch myself into 2015!!

I have a list of 52 goals for 2015 – the number of goals equating to my age. I always set out to make this list on my birthday but up to now it’s always ended up as a year of goals starting Jan to December. As always the goals are big, small, personal, business, health-related, fitness-related … and I have no intention of listing them all for you to fall asleep over. What I would like to do is make a shortlist of the building blocks from 2014 which have welded themselves into the most spectacular supports for my 2015 launch pad – due for take-off at 00:01 on January 1st. Countdown has begun. Everything’s in place. All I need to do is jump on. Eeeek. That’s the hard bit 
The blocks underneath are made of …

  • Theeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee most amazing and incredibly supportive family EVER!! You are all just unbelievable (and weird)!
  • Friends extraordinaire. I have drawn on love and support from old faithfuls and found inspiration and joy and soul and adventure in new and not-quite-so-new. Thank you for the memories exciting, funny, raucous, scary, fervent, thrilling and just plain silly.
  • My business clients – your commitment makes my job the absolute best in the world; your transformations inspire me beyond words.
  • Gabi Iveson, Kelly Wickenden and Karla Swain – for giving up so much personal time – and all just for meeee!!! I can’t thank you enough. As a result, I have a big building block made up of my black belt in kickboxing which has helped me believe that I CAN do anything I want if I can muster up enough self-belief.
  • Coach Ian Corless – for endless lengthy conversations, patience, for listening and for oh-so-careful training plans that have helped stave away injury while at the same time seeing me through another ultra. The High Peaks 40 was this year’s A-race. I crossed the finish – after a wee 4-mile detour. Soooooooooooooo happy.
  • Brighton Triathlon Race Series – possibly my top discovery of this year. Wow! There aren’t enough adjectives to adequately describe this ‘family’ unit, the family ‘buzz’, the determination, the friendliness, passion, drive and sheer enthusiasm and delight for everything tri-related. Not to mention what happens once you turn up. Oh MY!! My first open-water swim/sprint tri last April (ish???) sticks firmly in mind. After just about reaching the first buoy, I cough, spluttered and vomited my way back to shore, a faithful kayak at my side (thanks, Paul) … never even made it to my bike!!! Since then I have somehow found myself completing a half-Ironman, another half-Iron swim, several half-marathons and a full Iron distance swim (albeit in a pool)!! And THAT makes up at least 3 building blocks which will let me jump into Ironman mode in 2015!

The Highlights

Meeting and running with/behind/in the same city as (in that order) … Scott Jurek (I admit – my hero!)

Publishing my own You Choose Fitness recipe book

Huge success of my kickstart fitness/weight loss plan – Ten Day Turnaround

Endless list of children’s achievements

Kickboxing black belt

Half Ironman distance triathlon

Ironman distance swim

High Peaks 40-mile race

New friends

Family reunions

That’s enough. I HAVE the tools and the support and the love and enthusiasm and the drive. Now then: 2015 – for soooooooooooo many personal reasons (the fitness part aside) – is currently made up of June! I need to make it to June. Ironman Cairns. Sunday, 14 June.

First, though, I need to make it to January. I WILL launch. Once I stand on that launch pad, I will launch. I just need to get my head in the right place and step up! 24 hours-ish to go …

Meanwhile  … thank you everyone for making 2014 pretty amazing!! That’s enough looking back, though. Forwards we go ……………

(Oh – did I mention that I’ve just had a email from XEnergy? Apparently, I’ve been taken off the Pilgrim Challenge waiting list … )

Wishing each and every one of you a year filled with excitement, adventure, smiles, laughter, much giggling, good fortune, injury-free training, passion-fuelled racing and whole bundle of wonderful surprises.

Let’s jump – and hit the ground running … or at the very least land on our feet. Ready? Let’s DO THIS!!

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