Grafman Half Ironman – May 2017 by Louisa

I arrived in the car park to be greeted by Katherine’s smiling face. I got my gear sorted and we headed over to transition with Team Probert. It was only a short distance from the car park which was a bonus. We knew where to rack our bikes as we’d registered the previous day. Another positive. Added to that we were on the first set of racks so from the swim exit it was a straight route to our bikes.

I laid out everything as I wanted – unlike standard distance events I had plenty of nutrition for the bike (thanks to Ashley’s helpful advice). Then off to the toilet before wet suit time! We had a bit of time to kill so hung about in the sunshine outside transition. Katherine suggested another visit to the loo as it was going to be ‘such a long time’ before we could go again! There were two portaloos in transition but it wasn’t in my plan to stop for a comfort break!

As we were getting into our wetsuits the announcement was made that the swim would be only one lap instead of two due to the water temperature being 12 degrees. I was gutted as it meant the event would no longer be half iron man distance. Anyway, down we went to the water’s edge. I said ‘Goodbye and Good Luck’ to Katherine and took my start place. The rolling start was ok. In I went and got into my stroke pace quite quickly. The water was not ‘freeze you face off’ cold like I expected (that was how Jesus Green Lido was a few days ago!). Coming up to the first buoy was there was a lot of jostling for a tight position. Much shoving and kicking but I gave as good as I got and once round the buoy there was more clear water. Soon I was out of the water and into transition. I managed to fall over taking off my wetsuit.

As I was exiting transition I saw and heard Team Probert and then there was Jane cheering me on too! Once out on the bike I felt fairly comfortable. The sun was shining. It wasn’t too cold. I was familiar with the route from a practice ride which really helped me – I knew what was coming up. Four spurs, the third being the furthest out and back including the topically named ‘Cleat Hill’ which is just over the half way point when you’re feeling a bit tired!! Star Supporter Jane popped up at various points and urged me on. With a couple of miles to go I had another gel to give me some umph for the run.

Into transition, bike racked, footwear changed and off for the final and most gruelling part! Jane shouted ‘See you in 4 miles’! I was beginning to feel quite hot especially the first leg along the dam wall. I wasn’t running a great pace as one of my calf muscles hurt a bit but I was determined to keep going. Running back towards transition there were lots of spectators cheering us on including Jane. Out on the second leg in the opposite direction it was really quite pleasant under the shade of the trees and I was enjoying myself! I didn’t feel so joyful the second time around! I almost bumped into Simon – husband who had cycled over to drive me home. The turnaround point seemed to take ages to reach (probably because I was running slow!) The last 5k was tough. However, the body does whatever you want it to do but you have to want it and boy did I want it!!

As I turned the last corner I saw Katherine and JuniorTeam Probert on their bikes. They chased me down and then there was the finish line!! Fab. I made it! Would I do it again? You bet I would!!!


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