On 19 July, in classic British-summer weather (cold, wind and rain!) I embarked on the toughest challenge of my life, the Ironman UK triathlon in Bolton. I had trained as best I could, but nothing could prepare me for the day itself, the highs, the (occasional) lows, and the incredible atmosphere along the course.
The two-lap swim (2.4 miles) began at 6am, and was very tough. The water was rough and there were nearly 2000 of us swimming through the choppy lake. I was pleased with how I paced it, but unfortunately got a nasty bout of cramp on my right calf muscle, which I could feel for the rest of the day. I was out of the water in 1 hour 38 minutes.
After a muddy, frantic 9-minute transition, I started the bike ride. At mile 10 of 112, I heard the noise every cyclist dreads – pop and hiss! I had a back-tyre puncture – my first EVER on that bike!! As my tyres are glued to the wheel, you can’t change them in the normal way, so I had to pump a canister of tyre sealant into the tyre, then pump it up with my hand pump and hope for the best. Luckily, the tyre did hold enough air to get around the course, but it was much flatter than it should have been, and for the last 30 miles I could feel the rim of the wheel against the road! But I carried on, and got around the bike course in 7 hours 9 minutes.
Another 9-minute transition and it was on to the marathon – mile 1 was up a steep hill, and then it was a 4-lap course of Bolton, including a notorious hill out of the city each time. Again, I was pleased with how I paced it, and I was determined to try and enjoy myself and soak up the atmosphere. There were thousands of people cheering and supporting us all, and this helped me a lot when my whole body was asking me politely to stop. I kept my running cadence going and managed to finish the marathon without walking, in 4 hours 15 minutes (440th fastest).
Crossing the finish line was one of the greatest experiences of my life – the clock stopped at 13 hours 23 minutes, and I came 735th out of 1900 competitors.
I had amazing support all day – a dozen family members came up to Lancashire to support me – and I could NOT have done it without Mrs Ashwin and her support and patience over the last year! And thanks to Rosie and Ellie for waving their flags and cheering me over the line!
Thank you all for your messages of support and for your generous donations towards the Meningitis Research Foundation – as it stands, you have helped raise nearly £2800, which I’m thrilled with.