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Race Reports 2011

The Vitruvian - Saturday 3rd September 2011 (Sue Graves)

I can honestly say, that I do not remember putting my hand up for this!!!!! All of a sudden, I hit the "send button" on the completed entry form and I was in. For those of you who are not aware, this race is a bit like entering the London Marathon, you have to be quick to enter, a very short space of time to enter, then you are not certain!!!

Entry confirmed, so the reality of the whole thing took over when I started the training. A 16 week programme used by one of the top Triathlete coaches and I was on my way. A few problems along the way, the loss of my sister, a fall in the woods, (tree roots are a pain when your legs are tired,) then a water infection. But you know the saying, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger". I kept thinking of my sister every time the going got tough. I wanted to train hard for the event, but not to the cost of illness or injury, so treated this new distance with respect. I had only ever done sprint distances before, so a whole new ball game lay ahead of me.

Gillian and I tried to meet up to train, as it is easier to have a training partner than go solo. Early morning lake swims, followed by long bike rides became the norm for a Sunday morning. At this point I would like to say a huge thank you to Derek and David who were bike carriers, mechanics and general dogs body to us!!!

The race itself was awesome, I loved it. I was very nervous at the start, as the day before the lake was being dragged for WEED, huge piles were being dragged out and placed on the waters edge. If Claudia and Ali saw it ,they would have known what I was going through, as I have an issue with the stuff. The race was held in Rutland Water near Leicester, a huge water sport activity centre.

We had to rack out bikes between 5am and 6am, so up at 5 to have my porridge and banana, easier said than done at time of the morning. We camped a few hundred meters from the start, so no problem. It was still pitch black, as we were in a field, it was eerie seeing all those head torches heading towards you.

The night before, Mark & Ali Richardson were in the tent next to us. It was good to have a chat to them, as they have done this event a few times. The advice Mark gave me about what to eat and drink was very informative and certainly helped. THANKS.

The men went off first at 6.20am in swim wave's of 10 minute intervals, just after sunrise, until ALL the female's went off en mass at 7.10am (186 ) of us all making our way for a deep water start. The water was pretty well churned up by then and was as Black as Welsh coal. You had to swim 1 loop of 950m, get out of the water, run around some barriers, then get back in and do another 950m loop. I did not "race" the swim, as for me, it was all about survival,keeping calm and most of all, finishing the whole event. I managed a 52 minute swim so well pleased, as the cut off time for the swim was 1 hour and 10 minutes. A lot slower than training at Mytchett lake, but did not have the luxury of Gillian, Claudia or Ali at my side!! Thanks you girls.

Part 1 completed, then into transition for part 2, the 53 mile bike. Wet suit off, bike shoes,helmet, warm top a bag of gels and off I went. The first 5 miles were a wake-up call, the mind was willing, but the legs had other ideas. When I hit the "Rutland Ripple" aptly named for the 3 hills, I just found my easy gear and just turned the legs. I was told that there was a long easy stretch after, so enjoyed that very much. I could not believe how quick the first lap, of just over 25 miles went. You had to ride back into transition for refuelling and over the chip mat timing so that they knew you had completed the first lap. It was off again to do the second lap of the bike. I loved it, as I knew what to expect from the first time around. I was delighted when I overtook a young girl walking, pushing her bike up the hill. I encouraged her, but never saw her again. I then started overtaking other females, so knew I was not going to be last female. (bike time 3.35). Back into transition, bike racked, running shoes on and off I went to run a Half marathon.

The first few miles were a bit like running through treacle, but once I found a rhythm it was ok. The run consisted of an out and back course of 6.6 mile, back to the start/finish, then do it again. This way, you see how far the other runners are, which was fun. Gillian and I passed each other 3 times going in opposite directions. This was brilliant ,as we encouraged each other with "Yes, we are going to do it". I must admit my run turned into a bit of a shuffle towards the last few miles, but managed a sprint finish with the biggest smile and a sense of achievement which I have never felt before. I had a camera in my face and found myself being interviewed by a very nice man (still do not know who he was) I remember saying that I loved it and he asked me if I would do it again, which I replied NO, I would go the whole way and do a FULL IRON MAN. We do say the silliest things don't we?????

My overall time for the 1900m swim, 53 mile bike and half marathon run was 7 hours. 12 minutes and 49 seconds. At first I was worried that I would not make the cut off time, of 8 hours, so well in time. I must admit, that at one stage I was going to break the 7 hour barrier, as I felt great. I suppose if I had not taken 7 minutes in Transition 1, a pit stop and a first aid stop( Bra rub) I could have????? Oh well, perhaps if I do another one I will take all that into consideration. I was the oldest female competitor at 62, the next age down was a 59 year old, who did not finish!! picked up a lovely trophy for first over 60. I even managed to beat at least 8 men and 6 women, so all in all, a good day at the office.

I would like to thank all of you who sponsored me for the Dialysis unit at Farnham. I have managed to raise just over £300 and will be handing it over to the unit soon. The lucky winner of "Guess my finish time" was Neil Bausor who will have a sports massage, he was just 9 seconds out!!!