I DID IT!!! I'm a 70.3 Ironwoman J and I can't thank you enough for all your support in helping me achieve this and exceed my donation target - THANK YOU!
Let's say the challenge didn't just start at 11:00 on Sunday 28th August when we jumped in the clear waters of Zell am See lake to start the swim...
Challenge 1 - The week before: Getting the bikes to fit into the boxes (thanks youtube!) Unfortunately Anna's dismantle didn't go so smoothly - the saddle would not move & 2 bike shops couldn't even budge it (so removing the cassette was the next best option)…
Challenge 2 - The Friday before the race: Get us, plus our 32kg bike boxes and 2 rucksacks from Cambridge to Austria. Despite asking for a big taxi, the smallest car arrived 4am to pick us up - we ended up dismantling the car for us to fit the boxes in! Check-in on the plane was ok & pick-up at Salzburg was too. We then managed to find a lovely Austrian man who worked as a medic for the army who kindly offered to carry our boxes onto the shuttle and to the train station, up the stairs to the train platform - thanks Felix! They are not easy boxes to move around, I'm not going to lie.
Challenge 3 - The Friday evening: Put the bikes together again (and for Anna, find someone who can!)
Challenge 4 - The Friday night: Find the missing wheel…Anna returns to the bike station to pick up her 'fixed' bike, to find that the wheel seems to have gone missing! But the panic was over by midnight when we received a text to say the wheel had been returned by a random man- phew…
Challenge 5 - Saturday, the final preparation day: Pray you have put your bike together safe enough for the race. Remembering to pack everything for transition changes & then dropping everything off at the transition zones on time! Plus hydrating and eating what you think you need to survive the next 24 hours!
Challenge 6 - Saturday evening: Locating the wonderful family supporters - both the Puffer and Oswald families came along to cheer us along (thank you!) Then controlling nerves so you get a good night's sleep!
Challenge 9 - Morning of the race - keeping calm, hydrated and getting 5 of us to the start line, on time, and remembering all the kit/nutrition/drinks...and then trying to stay cool in a wetsuit for 20 mins...and I can assure you that's not easy in 30 degrees!
Challenge 11 - Time to START the race - & enjoy everything you have worked so hard for over the past 1 ½ years.
I loved the race. I had real high moments and of course more difficult times:
- Swimming in a fresh, clear blue lake surrounded by beautiful mountains!
- As I am about to come out of the swim, I see Anna swimming alongside me. We exit the water together and Anna tells me we did a super fast swim in 33 minutes! Then I hear the family cheering us on as we run into transition...
The 90k cycle was beautiful. There was just one big climb of about 8k at 10% if I remember rightly with the final 2k at 15%. I was a tad worried that I didn't have enough gears on my bike to get me up there but to my delight- I MADE it to the top on my bike!
The rest of the cycle was super. The feed stations were great - water, sugar sweets, energy drinks...everything you could think of!
Despite feeling like everyone was passing me on the cycle (although I won't be too harsh on myself as 1600/2000 of the competitors were male), I was pleased with my time at 3 hrs 35 averaging 26k/hr which was my aim. Shame you can't draft in these races as that's normally how I cycle and keep motivated. But the beautiful landscape definitely helped me keep going!
Finally I came to the end of the cycle and felt ok! Well, until i started to run...and oh lord. Why did I feel so sick? My body was telling me to stop but obviously i wasn't going to listen to it. Not this time. I tried to ignore and think about putting one foot in front of the other. Finding runners to run alongside to keep my pace. But it didn't last long. 4k in, after passing the supporters and parents in the little centre, I stopped on the side and let my stomach give in to me. Nothing but the internal motion of my stomach squeezing itself happend. So after this episode I stood up to carry on. And to my delight, an Italian girl who I kept passing throughout the cycle was there running beside me. So I tried a few Italian sentences with her and we were soon a team :) We ended up running together for about 14k, until again I had to stop to be sick. I hadn't taken any sugar or food during the run. No gels. My body didn't want it. So all I could have was a few sips of water as I passed through the feed stations...Not ideal as by this point your body needs a sugar kick to keep you going and I had planned to take a gel every 5k. My hip was starting to feel week after 16k too, so I had to try to keep focus on my form (thanks to Mary Twitchett for teaching me!) Anyhow, the water and ice cold sponges that I threw on my head seemed to get me through....to 18k, where I then took 5mins to bring up everything I had tried to eat on the bike (mainly apricots & a few nuts which I'm at this point thinking was a terrible idea!) After this second episode, the sweet Austrian man who had stopped his run to hold me up during the fight woth my stomach another wonderful man running passed encouraged me to keep going and run with him. So I did . ...& I had 4k to go. And my parents were at the end. And I had to finish this challenge. As the run was 2 loops turning back on itself, it was great to see all my girl friends during the run! We all shouted, cheering each other on. Alex's final comment and high five as we passed for the final time just pushed me to run to that finish line - thanks Alex, you're the best!
And I arrive at the final turn to the finish line listening out for my parents. I could soon hear them and it was such a happy feeling!! They made me smile and the commentator at the end also told me I couldn't finish without a smile (hey, I'd like to see him smiling after all this pain! Haha)... So I did, and I crossed the finish line with a BIG smile, all in one piece at that!
It sure was a challenge. And I can say one of my biggest achievements. I worked for a y
ear and a half to get to this fitness and I'm proud I did work for this! I can honestly say that I'm the fittest I have ever been, and that too is a wonderful feeling!
As a 10 year old kid, skiing on holiday with my family, I was lucky enough to meet an amazing Scottish man called Tommy - he was telling me that he was training for an Ironman. It was the first time I heard about this race/sport. And I thought he was incredible. He was a true inspiration and I wanted to be like him. I will always remember this day and how in awe of him I was. Now I have completed a 70.3 17 years later...I'm very happy with this. There are many more people who helped me along the way including Rosie Clarke and of course the Cambridge Tri who are all just so so supportive it's amazing. Then my crazy girl-friends...without Alex, Anna and Megan I would never have dreamt of doing this. So thanks to everyone! And the support from my mumma, dadda and sister who took time out of work to come along and help spur me on :)
I'm so happy that we have raised so much for the International Rescue Committee...thank you, truely x
(ps. But DON'T go asking me about a full Ironman - because I'm telling you, that will need a little more persuading than "oh Kelly, we can have a wonderful holiday after!" J
Who knows what the next challenge will be...)