Make mine a half – my debut half ironman race

At 7.35am yesterday morning, I waded into a lake on the outskirts of Ashford, Kent, to embark on my first ever half ironman distance triathlon, The Owler. Five hours, 58 minutes, 9 energy gels, 2 litres of sports drink and 70.3 miles later, I crossed the finish line, exhausted in a way I’ve only previously encountered from running 26.2 miles or more and so stiff that I couldn’t even bend down to remove my timing chip.

I’m very proud of myself – finishing well within my goal time of sub 6.15.  Husband Jeff achieved his goal time too, clocking 5hr 4 mins. It’s been a great experience, training for something that constitutes ‘the unknown’ for the past four months. Even though I feel I challenge myself, it’s usually by trying to perform an already-familiar distance at a faster pace – such as a 10-mile TT on the bike or a 10km race. And while I’ve done a couple of 100-mile bike events before, and numerous marathons and half marathons, to put long-distance swimming, biking and running together in one race represented a new challenge and one I felt needed to be taken seriously.

As runners, first and foremost, Jeff and I focused our efforts on cycling (out went long Sunday runs, in came long rides and squabbling over whether we’d ‘earned’ a cake stop or not) and swimming – at the pool and, where possible, in the sea or lake wearing wetsuits. We scheduled a sprint and Olympic distance tri into the build-up to practise transitions but I had a foot injury that prevented me running in both races, so yesterday was the first time all year I’d experienced that unique experience of running off the bike. It wasn’t pretty! I was a little disappointed in my run split of 1.51, but surprised and pleased to complete the 94km bike circuit in 3.24. Almost pleased enough to treat myself to a new bike!

I’m not signing up for another half ironman quite yet, but I am motivated to see what other new challenges I can take on for next year…

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