Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Weymouth 70.3 - if it were easy, it wouldn't be Ironman

After the disappointment of being cut off at Barcelona earlier this year I really wanted to do another Ironman-branded 70.3 and finish. I was wary, though. After IM Copenhagen I got very bad piriformis syndrome and couldn't train properly for months. However, this year, once IM Hamburg was over, I didn't want to lose my fitness and Weymouth was my next target. For this race I had three aims:

  • To complete a 'full distance' Ironman branded 70.3 (the swim was cut short in Edinburgh)
  • To finish
  • Try not to finish last (or nearly last)

I tried my hardest to stick to the training plan I'd been given. I did have to move things around so I could get to the lido on the bike and, for various reasons, ended up discovering the local cycling routes near where my parents live. Not as hilly as I would have liked!
Finally taper week arrived. I wasn't ready. I never feel ready. The Fear gripped me. Coupled to this was the weather reports of high winds which really didn't help my anxiety. They cancelled Velo South, would they cancel all - or part- of Weymouth? I couldn't bear the thought of yet another very expensive duathlon. Ironman sent us an email to tell us they were going ahead but maybe to not go with the deep rims.
The weather report went from windy to rainy to ALL the wind and ALL the rain and cold!

Friday morning I drove to Weymouth to my B&B. I cannot fault the Kingswood guest house, they were extremely accommodating even though it was a bit of a walk into town. I made it in time for the first race briefing where once again they tried to reassure us that they were going to try and give us the full race. It was lovely if windy on the Friday and the sea was flat calm. The weather reports started to look more hopeful windwise (not rainwise though, it was going to be a horrible day!). I had a nice easy run, ate fish and chips (well it is the seaside!) and tried to sleep. I slept very badly, tossing and turning all night, worrying about things like how I was going to get to transition on race day and whether I would make the cut offs.
Saturday was a useful morning of course recce with Adam which really put my mind at ease regarding any steep hills on the course. I racked early afternoon in the driving drizzle which was pretty miserable. I was glad this time that transition was inside a tent so at least our bags were protected. I then had nothing to do with the rest of the day apart from worry so I took myself to Ironprayer. I met up with Caroline and Sarah there which was great and it did help ease my mind a bit.
Saturday night was another terrible sleep. I worried about how I was going to get from the finish to transition and then back to the B&B. My alarm went off but I was pretty much awake anyway. I got ready, attempted to eat something slowly and, after much checking, left the B&B. It was dark and cold. The amount of drunk people going home the other way was interesting! It was only as I got to the other end of the esplenade that I finally saw other athletes. I was one of the first into transition to sort my bike. Then I waited. I stood in someone's garage for a while trying to keep out of the cold and rain and that was when the message came through that they were cutting the swim short. Blast. They also delayed the start which meant more standing around in the rain. A combination of cold wind and rain meant most of us were shivering before we started. I spent a lot of time thinking about quitting but I couldn't face the faff of trying to find my bag etc. Plus apparently the sea was going to be warm in comparison! 

The swim- Never gonna give you up

We started to move and eventually got to the start line. Once again I went through the  beep, beep beep and go! Run into the water and start swimming. The sea was a maelstrom of waves and swimmers. I could hear someone behind me being reassured by a lifeguard. Someone tried to kick my goggles off but luckily was unsuccessful. The buoys were all over the place. I tried my best to swim in a straight line and sight but it was hard work. Every buoy was a concentration of legs, arms and bodies. One red buoy down - or was that the second, no there it is ahead. Round the second red buoy and back to the red arch. I started to motor towards the finish. I was very grateful for my years of experience surfing (well bodyboarding) on the Cornwall beaches as it meant I could use the forward propulsion of the waves to get me back to the beach. My coach had promised me a crystal clear sea and I had an irrational moment of thinking, "it's not bloody clear, I can't see anything!" The rough seas had churned up the water so much. I could feel the rain lash against my goggles every time I went to take a breath. I got into the beach, trying to keep low as long as possible, and when I got to stand up next to the assistant I got terrible cramp and almost fell back in the sea again. Luckily I managed to hobble under the arch and it eased almost instantly.
Into transition, which was heaving. I took this as a good sign that my swim was quick, or maybe it was just full of people making sure they'd put layers on before venturing out into the pouring rain. I'd packed arm warmers, a gilet AND a packable rain jacket and decided to put on the arm warmers and the rain jacket. Out into the rain, straight through a couple of puddles - wet feet already! - grab the bike and onto the mount line.

The bike - Never gonna let you down

Relive of the bike
Someone said before we started "This is going to be less of a question of endurance and more one of survival". The rain was absolutely lashing it down. Within about 5 minutes my glasses had steamed up and were positively dangerous. I had to take them off and put them in my back pocket (that was the last I saw of them 😢). Thank goodness for contact lenses. The first part of the bike ride just seemed to be mostly climbing but I tried my best to keep pedalling. I was surprised to find I wasn't feeling nauseous and this time made a much better effort with my nutrition, eating when I felt low and drinking whenever my alarm went off. I never managed to finish my water bottle between stops though. The food helped and made me power on through. The amount of people that I saw stopped, sorting out punctures, freezing in cars and minibuses was something else. Almost every marshall or corner seemed to be complete with at least one bike and sad looking rider. The aid stations were inundated with cyclists who had given up. The marshalls and volunteers did an absolutely amazing effort standing out in those conditions for hours. I started to feel wet and cold myself. My feet were freezing, but I actually decided that freezing wet feet were better compared to burning feet that I experienced in Hamburg. I decided to take ownership. This was MY country, these were MY roads and this was MY kind of weather. It could have been hypothermia speaking, but it helped me. I was also grateful to my hours of experience of cycling commuting in the pouring rain. My coach had told me to go aero as much as possible in the blowing wind and, as I infamously don't have any aero bars, I just crouched as low as I could. This helped me be far less of a sail I usually am... Eric (my bike) and me were having as good a time as we could. I only saw one race marshall on the course, I think the rest were attending to cyclists who had got stuck. I saw one poor lady at the side of the road who looked like she was in absolute floods of tears. I got songs going round my head "Something inside so strong" and
Strong enough to walk on through the night 
There's a new day on the other side 
I have hope in my soul
I keep walking baby, I keep walking baby
I thought to myself, no walking today. Then I realised those were the lyrics to "Relight my fire" and had an ironic smile that the one thing I really wanted right then was a nice warm fire!
Over half way round the promise of sunshine started - very faint glimmers but it was better than nothing. Then came Revels Hill. I'd been warned about this hill but in the Strava segment it really didn't look that bad. Oh but it was. Oof, what a climb. In the end, I had to focus on the cat eyes in the middle of the road and go from one to the next. It worked though (thanks Scott for that tip!) and soon enough I could hear the clanging bells from the supporters at the top of the bad climb. Unfortunately the hill wasn't quite over and there was a bit more climbing to do - not as bad as the start though. Made it over, phew, it's all downhill from here - allegedly - and the sun was definitely coming out. Some really nice descents and a couple of small climbs (one where my chain shifted weirdly making me have to walk up to the top, sigh!) and soon enough we were back on the main road and back into transition. Hooray! Just over the 4 h mark, I'll take that. 3 and a half hours to do the half marathon in, I can do that.
In transition I discovered I no longer had my glasses but there wasn't any time to worry about that. I'd packed a spare pair of clean socks - top tip for transition folks - and it was so nice to get some dry socks and shoes on. Just time for my now traditional one pit stop and off out on the run.

The run - Never gonna run around and desert you

Relive of the run
My feet were still totally numb. They felt so weird I was convinced that I'd managed to mess around with my insoles and was almost going to check them until I realised I just needed to wait until my feet defrosted. I suffered for a good km until someone ran past me and said "You're doing really well! Do you need a gel?" and I realised what I needed was something to eat. The peanut bars that had saved me in Hamburg were stored in a special running bag that I'd bought specifically for the purpose after they made a rather nasty hole in my back at Hamburg! I started eating bits of peanut bar and visualizing Stuart at the end of the promenade shouting at me to keep running and that I was doing well (sadly he couldn't make it down with me). The support of the crowd was something else. I realised this is why I love these events, random people just shouting your name and encouraging you to the finish. I suffered round the first lap and then the paracetamol and the peanut bars started to kick in. I started to feel better and felt like I could pick up the pace. So I decided to push it a bit harder. I thought, I might regret this, but let's give it a go. The sun kept shining, the crowds kept cheering, the route was as flat as flat can be. My average speed came down (I managed a negative split for the second half of the half marathon, almost unknown for me!). The second loop came and went, I started to feel hot. Then I remembered Hamburg and this wasn't even close to that. I saw Adam and he told me to smile while he took a photo. I was hoping that the bit of peanut bar I'd just eaten wasn't going to show in the photo!
Smile Hilary!
Round BustinSkin corner again, past the finish and back down the promenade. Last loop, thank goodness. Keep eating, drink at the aid stations, keep running. On my way back to the finish I start cheering the runners coming the other way - felt like there were quite a few people behind me, perhaps I won't be last this time. Back to BustinSkin corner for the last time, they were cheering so loud I decided to whirl my arms around to whip them up even further, what a cheer! Final straight to the finish, chuck some more cola down myself (I was very thirsty!) and over the line for a sub 8 h finish! Fastest time for a while! And a sub 3 h marathon. I was totally chuffed.
I finished and I didn't come last or even nearly last 😀

So, 7 years after my first Parkrun and 6 years after my first ever triathlon (super sprint!) it is time to hang up the trisuit for a while. This is not the end of my journey, more of a pause.

The End


Thanks to
- Stuart who has put up with me coming in late, tired, hungry and often grumpy
- my coach Simon from Tri Force Endurance who seems to have managed to get me to not hate running
- the Greenwich Tritons, too many of you to mention, without whom I would never have got this far. 
- work Microbiology Society, thanks for being flexible 

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Ironman Hamburg - Der Weg zur Hölle

"The race format will now be changed to a Run – Bike – Run duathlon"
When you've spent all year training for a swim bike run to the point where I've been going to the lido at 7am before work, this news was pretty disappointing. Additionally, those who are previous readers of this blog might remember running is my least favourite discipline (to the point where I actually actively hated it but thankfully not so much any more). I'd only done one duathlon before and it wasn't an experience I wanted to repeat. It is what it is though. You can only control the controllables and I certainly couldn't control a load of toxic algae in a German lake.

I'd done 3120 km cycling, 560 km running and 188.2 km swimming this year and spent 320 hours training in the snow, rain and months of hot weather. The training had been done but the anxiety had started to get to me though on Saturday night and I found it hard to be around my fellow Tritons. I slept very badly, mostly because I was worried about whether I'd be able to get a pump for my tyres in the morning (I'd deflated my tyres because it was so hot).
When the time finally came to get up, I crashed around getting ready. I tried to eat something but I felt so nauseous. I made the mistake of trying to force too much porridge down which almost instantly came back up again. Not good. At least with the run-bike-run format I didn't have to worry about swim cap or the brand new goggles I'd had to buy at the last minute. I did notice a couple of people line up with swim cap on and goggles round their necks!

The run start was a bit chaotic. Nobody really knew where they were going. I lost Jodie after she walked off too fast for me and ended up milling around on my own. I found the timing pens and put myself in an early pen so to give me a bit more time to get round the course. The race started with the pro men first then the ladies. I reckon it took at least half an hour to get to the start where they were letting people off six at a time like they would if we were swimming. 
We lined up, the whistle blew, and we were off! I tried to maintain marathon pace but I was a little fast in the end. Still much slower than most of the others. It was early but still warm. I was already suffering and wondering if there was going to be any aid stations. As we came back into the centre there was a water station - thank goodness - and we went around another block and into transition. At the turnaround point there were still some people behind me, including a guy who looked like he was hobbling in pain already.

Hamburg transition was incredibly long, with bags all at one end, then loos and long racks of bikes. I tried to change as quickly as possible from run shoes to bike and then grabbed my helmet and gloves to run to my bike. 

Once out on Eric (my bike) I was not a happy bunny. The nausea I'd experienced earlier was still there with a menace and I really thought I was going to be sick. I just wanted to turn tail and go back to the hotel. At the second aid station I grabbed some coke and that helped ease my stomach and give me some much needed energy. The road was so long and featureless that I ended up focusing on the cyclists coming back the other way to keep me going. The only interesting part was the turnaround section where we went through a couple of villages and people were actually cheering.
Out to the Road to Hell again
 Then back down the featureless road - for some reason it felt slightly downhill on the way back. The headwind on the way up seemed to be a headwind on the way back. It just went on forever and my feet started to burn. I remembered last year the first loop feeling better but not so much this time. Finally started coming into town, over the cobbles and under the bridge where Jodie's supporters were waiting along with Stuart to cheer me on. There was a loop through town, then back under the bridge which echoed with the cheering of Jodie's supporters! Through the cobbles and then back onto the featureless road. I renamed it the Road to Hell as it was so boring, and it was just getting hotter. I kept telling myself to suck it up. I'd written several mantras on my water bottle and I just kept going through them. Ride to cider was one that was helping. I began to fantasize about the bottles of fizz my parents had kindly given us and having a nice cold glass of champagne. Hot feet, sore legs, ride to cider, do it for cake. I even started the alphabet game, this time of Tritons. The Lizzies featured twice in this as I was sure at least one was an Elizabeth. Other honourable mentions were Rebeca, Thea and Gary. I struggled with Q and D ended up being (James) Donaldson because I couldn't think of anyone else. My bike handling skills must have come along because I was so hot at one stage I grabbed my water bottle out of the cage and poured it all over myself - you guys would have been so impressed. I saw Gary and Jodie on the course and a couple of other Tritons shouted my name as they whizzed past me. Burning feet, sore legs, ride to cider, do it for cake. This really was the road to hell, constantly spinning, where was that aid station? Suck it up. You paid for this. A to Z of bands fizzled out after Erasure. My feet are literally on fire. Drink more coke, eat something, where's the half way point? Those sheep look hot. I wished I was one of the Germans having a paddle in the river. Aid station, thank goodness, more water, throw some over me, more coke. Nausea is receding. Burning feet, sore legs, ride to cider, do it for cake. So hot. Musn't forget to drink and try to eat. I think my nutrition did suffer because my stomach was so in bits and I ended up eating when I felt a bit tired which wasn't a very good strategy at all - I should have eaten whenever my watch buzzed at me. 40 km to go, you can do this, it's just an Olympic distance cycle now. Burning feet, sore legs, ride to cider, do it for cake. How much more of this road to go? I remembered reading something about how tarmac reflects heat and wondered if it was actually hotter because of that. Believe, keep pedalling, put your head down and use that power. I decided I wasn't going to enter another race, that I needed to go back to the place where I loved cycling and wasn't constantly chasing cut off times. 30 km to go, how long was that? Only an hour maybe left to go? Usually I have songs going round my head but this time all I had was "he is a very model of a very stable genius" which made me go off on a tangent about whether geniuses were in general stable...  20 km to go, nearly there now, Rebeca will have left by now, where's the final aid station and the route into town? It was only at that point that I noticed that my aid station km notes were wrong because I'd written 190 km as the final aid station... given the course is less than 180 I knew that was incorrect!
Hmm something doesn't add up here
 Final aid station, more water down my back, let's get into town. Over the cobbles, under the bridge - now empty, so I sang "All by myself" down it to echoes. Stuart was at transition waving me on, back out to do a quick loop through town, loads of people on the run course, and YES there was transition. I could finally come off my bike.
I smiled at Stuart and ran into transition. Racked the bike, and then ran to the bags. On the way was the portaloos so I had to have my now traditional only loo stop of the Ironman. Unfortunately I'd already taken one of my bike gloves off and one ended up falling into the portaloo. I was almost going to try and rescue it until I remembered that I was going to buy myself a new pair anyway and it wasn't worth getting any nearer the disgusting contents. At the change area, I ended up taking both bags off the hooks again (you get one for bike and one for run) for no particular good reason, put my bike stuff back in the bike bag and put my trainers on for the second time that day. I got the bags mixed up on the way back but the lady told me to leave them. She also put some sun tan lotion on me, and muttered something in German that included the word "rot" which even with my incredibly basic language skills I understood as red and that I might be burnt already.
Don't stop when you're tired, stop when you're done 
Out onto the run then, and I'd already established from Stuart that I had 7 hours in which to complete the marathon. It started off ok but I really began to suffer round the first loop. I walked a lot. It was incredibly hot. There was a tune I used to sing "I had a tractor, the wheels fell off". Well, it felt as if the wheels had well and truly fallen off. About 6 km in Alex came past me and started to offer me the contents of his rucksack - a salt pill, some energy drink to swallow it down with, and even a peanut energy bar thing which I refused as I didn't want to eat something new on race day. It did remind me though that I probably hadn't eaten enough and thus Alex may have saved my marathon, because from then on I tried my hardest to eat food.
90% mental
Every aid station I walked through and grabbed water, ice, sponges, coke, iso and occasionally bananas. The bananas really helped. I grabbed too much ice from one aid station, chucked it all down the front of my top and then ended up almost giving myself cold shock! I didn't make that mistake again... The first loop was awful, still very hot, and although I saw most of my fellow Tritons and the Jodie cheering squad I was properly suffering. I even shouted at Gary and told him to give me a hug (sorry for making you turn around!). I told Stuart and he said "Do you want to quit?" and I said "I'll keep going and see how I get on". He also saved my marathon, because he told me if I kept walking I wouldn't make it before the cut off point. So I ran as best I could between the aid stations. Finally picking up my first band, I ran past the finish line and off out to my second lap.
Ironman is like a holiday only harder
My second lap was easier and I knew what to expect more. Still lots of people, many with three bands. I had a peanut bar of my own in my trisuit and this was the best thing ever. As my stomach was still a bit iffy the shot bloks were making it worse so I was so glad I'd stuffed this peanut bar in the back of my trisuit. I now knew every time I looped around I got the chance to run back into town and see Stuart, which was an incredibly powerful motivator to keep going. By the time I got to the third loop - the awkward loop as I thought of it - I felt OK.
If it was easy, it wouldn't be Ironman
Right then, out along the river, through the stinky tunnel, past the American embassy, past the retro bike trailer, past the aid station, through the two out and back loops, back towards Stuart, another aid station, the super posh hotel, the sign to Eppendorf (my scientist mind was really amused that there was a place called Eppendorf), on and on until finally back through the stinky tunnel, up the ramp which I walked every time, round and back past the Red Bull truck, and then through the aid station that had the lap bands. Repeat. Far fewer people on the course now, most had the dark blue band that meant they were on their last loop. The aid stations had started packing up which made me panic that we were running out of time. My £3.50 shades from Decathlon which I'd planned on chucking once they were uneccessary were quite happily sat on top of my head so I left them there (I actually think I've ended up with slight glasses chafe on the side of my nose!). I could feel my arms rubbing my trisuit every time I moved them but I had to keep going. I ended up with really bad chafing all along the inside of my arm from that. The sponges that they gave us which I stuffed down my top also started chafing so as soon as it started to get a little bit cooler I stopped taking sponges.
If you're going to cry, do it now
My quads felt so stiff by this stage. I thought, well, if they're going to cut us off at 14 h at least that means I don't have to run any more. As I ran past Stuart I asked him if the cut off was 14 h. He said no, and that I was doing really well. Blue lap band can mean only one thing, last lap time. Hurrah. Made it past the finish line and off I go back out again. The aid stations are still open, and there are only a handful of us on the course now. My average pace is truly awful, but I know I can make it to the end in time if I just keep jogging. I go past a couple of others who seem to be suffering. I try my best to offer words of encouragement but it's hard when you're not sure they understand English. One who doesn't seem to understand then does start to talk to me and we jog for a while together. Back through the stinky tunnel for the penultimate time and off towards the American Embassy. The lights start coming on and the aid stations aren't clearing away as much as they were earlier. I thank as many volunteers as I can in my broken German. Danke, Danke. Water, coke, iso. Salt. Next time I will buy salt tablets because pure salt or salt water is Grim. Although there is not going to be a next time, I remind myself. I'm never doing this to myself again. As I come back into town, there are a few people behind me, I clap them as I go past. One guy I go past I am sure says he is only on his third lap. I don't think he's going to make the cut off. So close now, only a Parkrun left to go. This should sound easy but in practice after you've been going for over 13 hours it really isn't. 38 km, we're getting there, past the posh hotel for the final time and I end up being caught up by the guys who would eventually finish just ahead of me. Another aid station, I mistakenly take a large gulp of Redbull (yuk!), and finally through the stinky tunnel for the last time. Up the hill, the Redbull station is now closed and gone home, although the sticky road is still there (yuk!).
Final furlong, last aid station and YES here is my last red band. I can now run down the finisher chute! The guys want to run with me "We run together!" but I can tell I'm slowing them down so I encourage them to go ahead. Here's the last corner, and there's the finisher chute! I am so bloody happy I made it! I am going to enjoy the moment, so I start leaping and dancing like a mad thing (no idea where I got the energy from) as I go past the volunteers giving them high fives and the immortal words... Hilary Logan, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN ring through the loud speakers. I jump through the finishing line with a massive smile on my face.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Barcelona 70.3 - If you try and fail, congratulations because most people don't even try 

Spoiler alert - this is not a happy race report. But I feel it's important to record the bad with the good.

This poster met me in Woolwich DLR a couple of days before Barcelona 70.3. It pretty much predicted how my race would go.

Rewind back a year, when (other members of) the Greenwich Tritons qualified for the Ironman tri club championship. Although we qualified last year, the race took part this year. I had originally planned to take a sabbatical from racing this year. However, redundancy and a bit of the good old Tritons peer pressure convinced me to enter.

The place booked, my body finally getting back to normal after Ironman Copenhagen, I started training again. Being unemployed meant I had a lot of time to train. I'd have coaching duties on a Thursday and get to the pool/gym three hours in advance so I could swim and go to the gym. I'd find the fast lane full of head up breastroke swimmers  (or given to kids lessons) and the gym full of testosterone-fuelled males desperately to get a glance of their guns in the mirror!

When I finally got a job in March everything changed. No longer free to train when I wanted, I went back to work, train, sleep, repeat. I got up early to squeeze a swim in before work so I could also coach in the evening. I got home late and hungry countless times so I'm endlessly grateful to my lovely husband for feeding me!

My new job is very demanding and can be stressful (bear with me, this is important to the tale). As the time got closer to Barcelona, I discovered the cycling route was very hilly. This made me anxious because I have started to struggle getting out into the Kent countryside and I kept being dropped by my Tritons friends going uphill. The second concern was, what goes up must come down and if there's one thing I don't enjoy is going down steep descents. Especially when the phrase 'switchback'/hairpin bend is used. My final concern came when I saw the cut off points. How could I manage 21km/h when my usual speed round Kent was 18 ish? Yes there weren't traffic lights, but I knew I would struggle.
The anxiety built and along with the stress of work and trying to fit in training led to exhaustion. Our wedding anniversary celebrations involved me crashed out on the sofa after being broken by a long bike followed by a brick run on the end of a long week.
My trip to Barcelona finally arrived and I went out a day early deliberately so that I could see the city as I'd never been. I walked far further than I probably should have done. Friday involved building my bike, taking it out for a test spin, going to register and swimming in the slightly chilly Mediterranean sea. We went to the briefing where the talk of technical descents jangled my nerves even further. Garmin connect constantly told me I was experiencing high stress. Saturday was racking day, where you take your bike and everything else to transition and set up. I'd never had one transition before and I liked that. We then 'paraded' down the beach which seemed to end up with us walking about 500m waving our flags and then standing around before being sent back.
Sunday started with not much sleep (noisy outside revellers) and a total bag of nerves. I made my way down to breakfast ready to leave. It took a while for us all to get down to transition, sort bikes and get to the beach. I went into the water briefly to get acclimatized - still cold! More waiting anxiously while the pros started and the fast people went off. Then finally it was our time. Good luck everyone, beep beep beep... run into the water. There are a lot of people swimming with me despite the rolling start and it's a washing machine, a maelstrom of hands, arms, legs and bodies. People keep trying to swim across me, knock me so my watch stops and it's chaos. First turning point done I find some clear space and try to get into a rhythm. It works until more legs and bodies get in my way. The salt water tastes horrible and keeps being forced in my mouth by flailing arms. I notice several hats which have fallen off (they were the smallest caps you've ever seen). I get a bit fed up with swimming but finally the turnaround buoy comes along and now we're swimming into the very very bright sunshine. You can't even see the final buoy so I navigate by the intermediate buoys and hope that those in front are going the right way. Yippee there's the buoy,  now to turn in and get out of this brawl. I'm out in 43 minutes,  happy with that, now into transition.
Transition is a faff - I think next time I won't bother with a cycling top because it doesn't go on very well over wet skin. In the end it took about 6 minutes so I'm sure there's time there I could save.
Out onto the bike, here we go then. The first rolling hills were familiar after a quick spin on Thursday but then we turned inland. As we started to climb my legs just felt like they had nothing in them. The swim had tired me more than expected. I tried a shotblok, which seemed to help. Got to the first aid station,  grabbed some water, carried on. The first climb started and it just seemed to go on and on. I looked at the distance and thought, this can't go on for much longer? My average speed started to decrease worryingly. I had to keep to 21 kph, but I was at 18. I shouted at the hill. Then I started to notice my saddle was slowly sinking. As bad as I am on hills, I'm even worse when my saddle is too low. With another 2km to the top I decided to pull over and fix it. Much better. Finally reaching the top, the pros were descending into the valley. They'd got round the majority of the course before me! I started to descend,  this doesn't seem too bad, and caught a couple of cyclists up. I'm enjoying myself and powering on through. My average speed is poor and I think I will be cut off.
However, I wasn't prepared to be stopped at the first cut off point and told race over.
I look at my watch and see that I am 4 minutes over the cut off time. There are shocked and cross faces around me as others are stopped. As we're at the race intersection, I see James who's had a bad day with a couple of punctures and Duncan who was blue carded for drafting when he was overtaking. We wait for the coach, which I dub the 'coach of shame' to pick us up. As we're all still a bit wet we start to get cold so I move into the sunshine and cheer any Tritons I spot on the bike course. Eventually we get on the bus. I have a lot of time to think. I feel ashamed, embarrassed and a failure. I curse the hills, my overweight body and wonder whether I really should call myself a Triton or if my coach is going to want to continue with me after this. I wonder if I should come back to Barcelona again and beat the hills. I worry about Hamburg, the Ironman I'm doing in July, and whether I'll be able to do it. I am desperate for my phone, to tell everyone I'm still alive but it's in my white bag at the finish line. Which I'll never get to go through. I worry about the lady in front of me,  who was coughing so badly that she coughed up blood and passed out while we were waiting. I worry about Lucy, who never came past me and one of the ladies stopped with me said she was being taken care of by a Spanish family somewhere down the hill. Most of my time was spent beating myself up and thinking what a waste of time, energy and money this whole thing was.
Looking back on it a day later, I am still disappointed. But I wonder if it was the stress, the mechanical, perhaps the zone 2 training which just encourages my body to go slow or a combination of factors. I would like to do another 70.3 before Hamburg so we'll see.
Sunday was not my day. I live to fight another day.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

VO2 sportive – Here I go again on my own

Here I go again on my own
Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known…

As I started up the car on Sunday Whitesnake told me something I already knew. I’d be doing this ride on my own. The VO2 sportive has to be my favourite sportive, as it takes in the majestic Ashford Forest and the climbs/descents aren’t too technical, just long and dragging. Usually, there are several Tritons entered, but I think because the event fell on the Easter Sunday everyone else was busy. I’d spent about an hour trying to convince myself to get into the car and go because I was a little terrified of going up and over Toys Hill, but I’d managed to convince myself that I’d done the back of Toys several times in the past so I could do it again.

I got to the car park and instead of the usual manic crowd of participants there was a handful of people. No queues for the ladies or anything. It was bizarre. The start, instead of going out the school exit, was out through the finish line which also almost caught me out. Two minutes before we were due to start I got into the queue, the guy told us there was a small change to the course, and we were off! This time we didn’t get sent off the wrong way and went off towards Tonbridge and Shipbourne. Lots of cyclists came past me, but I wasn’t worried as I wasn’t planning on going too fast. I always forget how long Shipbourne is. The corner where I think it is is actually the end of a very long drawn-out climb. By this stage most people had come past me already. I cycled past the deer park, trying to look out for deer (all I saw were walkers) and then down what I used to call “Death Hill”. I was still on edge and not really enjoying myself at this stage. We didn’t take the direct route to Ide Hill once we crossed the main road and I did get a bit confused by the signs at one stage, which for no particular good reason made my chain fall off as I stopped to check. A couple of ladies came past me, and I tried to catch them up after I’d sorted my chain to no avail. I kept seeing them in the distance. Finally after going past Bough Beech reservoir I started to climb up to Ide Hill. There always seems to be a white house half way up these hills, where either the road starts to flatten out or get steeper. The rest stop was a sight for sore eyes and I was very grateful to get some more water, grab some sweets and go for a “comfort break”. The ladies that I had been following were just leaving as I got there, I’m sure there were three but now there were only two.

Ok, I thought, now let’s do Toys and go home. Down Ide we go, starting to enjoy myself a bit more, through Brasted… there’s the left hand turn, but no signs. Do I go on? Oh, don’t tell me I don’t have to do Toys! I thought, right, I’ll carry on into Westerham and hope that we get to go over Hosey hill instead (a favourite for my rides with Rebeca last year). Out of Brasted, the road gets busy with traffic and I hope that I am going the right way. A guy, let’s call him Grey Man, comes up behind me and says “I think this is right” and lo and behold here are the signs directing us towards Hosey instead. I start to smile. We start to ride up Hosey. I notice the bluebells aren’t showing yet – perhaps a few leaves in the woods is all. The guy overtakes me and then stops somewhere near the top. I shout to him “Nearly there now” and a few minutes later he comes up behind me. He starts to draft but I tell him I’m far too slow for that and that he can overtake me! It turns out he’s doing the short route. He asks where the turning point is and observes that it seems we’re cycling in circles. I think to myself, more like a loop. We get to the turning point where we have to choose the short or the long route. Another older guy who has joined us has also stopped. Grey Man says, “So are you doing the short or the long route?” Older guy says “It seems a shame not to take the long route”. Up to this point I was just going to cut my ride short and do the shorter loop. However, there is that bit of me that remembers my favourite bit of the whole ride is down the long route and up into Ashford Forest. That bit of me agrees with the older guy and decides, why not?

Within about two seconds the older guy has disappeared into thin air and I’m left on my own cycling into Edenbridge wondering if I’ve made the right choice. I could always turn around and go back to the turning point? No, I’ve made my decision. If the sweep wagon catches me up, he can pick me up and take me back.

It isn’t much further before the sweeper van does catch up with me. He comes past, shouting out his window “Are you OK?” I ask him whether he’s the sweeper van, and he confirms he is. I say I’m fine. He continues to follow me, picking up signs every now and then which slows him down. We get stuck in a traffic jam behind a rather beautiful steam wagon which it turns out was going to a local fair. I lose the sweeper van for a while again. I think to myself, OK, I’ll get up Chuck Hatch, then hopefully I can take a photo, and I’m happy if he needs to take me off the road. He finds me again on Chuck Hatch. Again, he asks me if I’m OK, and I ask if I can get to the top of the hill. He says that’s fine. Every now and again I see him out the corner of my eye as I heave my way up Chuck Hatch (to be fair I’m actually faster than I was last year!) and wave to him when I do. Nearer the top he shouts that he’s going to wait at the aid station. Aid station I think, I’m sure there wasn’t one of those last year. I get to the top. Hooray! I take a photo.

Then I look for him, he’s at the very final car park, eating an ice lolly. No aid station, surprise surprise. I stop and chat to him. I ask if he has to pick me up. Apparently I have 45 minutes to get to the Groombridge stop before I get pulled off the course, and if I feel up to it I can carry on. I decide to carry on, despite being “midly broken”. This is the furthest I’ve been for a while and I’m actually starting to enjoy myself and relax a bit on the bike. After all, most of the next section is downhill. Most. Plus the sweeper van has most of his lolly to finish before he starts to follow me again.

I whizz down the hill and then encounter the rolling sections of Lye Green. Very soon I see the characteristic lights of the sweeper van slowly following me. I watch the time creep down slowly. I’m reminded of doing this ride with Mel three years ago, this is where she really started to struggle. Finally I get to Groombridge, hooray I think, but I still have the long hill after Groombridge before I get to the aid station. Where is the aid station? Ugh. Another corner and there it is, hooray. I’ve made it with 10 minutes to spare. The lady there is really nice, she asks if I’m OK. I say as I’ve said to the nice man following me that if I need to be taken off the course I’m fine with that. She explains that they want people to finish if they can and gives me the option to finish but not have to go up Hubbards Hill. At this stage I’m really not bothered about having to go up Hubbards so I happily agree to her plan. I will follow her through a short cut and to the finish. I cycle off as it’s clear that she will catch me up before I need to take the short cut. Soon I see her car overtake me and I start to follow her to the end. I even have a bit of time to take in my surroundings and recognise that this part of the countryside is truly pretty. I really am enjoying myself now, even though I’m tired and sore. As we cross the main road I start to recognise the area and start to smile even more. There’s the entrance to the centre, and the finish! Hooray! Nearly 5 and a half hours after I’d started… but on 97 km. This may sound a bit crazy, but I was determined to go over the 100 mark. So I then spent the next 5 or so minutes cycling up and down the road until the distance marker showed 100!

I cannot thank the organizers of this event enough for their help and patience while I pootled round their course. I hope I’ll be there again next year.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Ironman Copenhagen - blood, sweat, tears and rain

How could it be August 20 already? I'd spent my entire year training to get to this point but I still didn't feel ready. The days before I'd felt like a fraud, all these fit athletes and then me. I'd been emotional, stressed and walked so far I was exhausted - and yet I had an Ironman to go. The weather prediction was looking awful which didn't help.
The alarm went off at 4am. I did sleep a bit, not particularly well, and picked up my carefully prepared trisuit to change. I tried to force down the cold porridge I'd prepared the day before  (the kitchen was closed that early in the morning) while I got my bottles and myself ready. We got to the metro only to be faced with a fairly full train of athletes and supporters. It only got worse with every station until it felt like the Central line at rush hour, rammed like sardines.

We somehow managed to squeeze off at the right station with everyone else and walked towards the rising sun and a bridge covered in giant green balloons. I sorted my nutrition, gave my white bag in and made my way to the start. Finally I saw Gary, Ric, Tom and Stuart who were waiting for their start. Gary tried to encourage me to go in for a practice swim but I didn't want to get cold. I did test the water and it was warmish.

I waved bye to the guys who were in a wave in front of me and waited my turn. It was just a swim, a bike and a run, right? Soon enough we were called for our wave, I washed my goggles (finally getting them less foggy!) in the bucket of water and then beep, beep, beep we were off! I dove into the water and started swimming. It felt like an age even to get to the first big yellow buoy but then we turned towards the first bridge, which was the one with the green balloons we'd walked over earlier. Each bridge had a distance marked on it which was kind of helpful but also reminded you how much further you had to go. At the bridge you had to scramble for space as we were squashed together and then we were released for the next long age to the next bridge. When we eventually got to the final bridge, hooray there was another big yellow buoy and we could turn around and swim back. On and on the swim went, slowly but surely getting back past the green balloon bridge and then past the exit to the final bridge. Hooray as I saw the distance marker, only an Olympic distance swim to go. Forward and back swimmers were now parallel with each other and some guy came swimming straight towards me on the wrong side of the barrier. I tried to shout a warning to him but I have no idea if he heard me. Onwards I went, feeling a bit tired and wondering how the ladies who went down the Thames managed 14 k of this. Round the last dead turn and now all we have to do is get to the swim out. Weeds getting stuck in my hands, last big yellow buoy and where's the exit? No that's the entry,  there's the exit, no more weeds for me, through transition with the largest glob of chamois cream you ever saw, cycling shorts on over the top, grab my helmet, nutrition and glasses, put my shoes on and off I go to grab my bike.
Did I remember to check my tyres in the morning? Do they feel a bit strange? Ah well I'm cycling now there's nothing I can do about it and it doesn't feel like they are flat. My back aches already, keep an eye on your average speed, don't forget to eat and drink something every 15 minutes when the watch reminds me. The sun comes out and I idly wonder if I should have put some sun cream on. We hit the sea and it's lovely. Not as flat as I'd expected and I suspect the wind is more head on than southwesterly. A guy called Sergio keeps overtaking me then slowing down much to my annoyance, particularly just when a marshall comes past us on their motorbike and I have to slow so it doesn't look likve I'm drafting. I go past him again and keep pedalling. My water bottle has various mantras on it including 'shut up legs' but I'm thinking it should be more 'shut up back' perhaps the long swim has hurt my back. I try to stretch out but it's not easy when you're pedalling. We start to head inland and again it's more rolling than I'd expected. We go past lovely villages and aid stations where I take on water. I have a scrawl on my bike of all the aid stations and where the 'hill' is - about 80 km in. I'm keeping good average speed now where is this hill? Lots of faster cyclists go past, some with the thrub thrub thrub of a disc wheel. We go through a funny little village with chicanes and bored looking young marshalls. Ah here's the hill, people either side, cheering me on. It's not much really and it's lots of fun and then a great downhill the other side. Get to 90 km, where's the split point, feeling pretty good apart from my aching back, should make the first lap cut off without too much bother. We start coming back into town, did I miss the second lap? Finally there it is, off I go for another roll around the Danish countryside. My average speed has slowed a little so I make an effort to try and push harder. I go past some poor soul crashed out on the ground with medics round him. Lots of puncture mending going on as well, thank goodness for my four seasons tyres I think. I feel sorry for those who look particularly forlorn at the side of the road and hope I haven't kaiboshed my tyres being grateful for no punctures. The kilometres tick by and I'm just pedalling. My speed gets lower so I have to push on. Magic beans are round the corner says my bottle, no surrender to the pain or the desire to stop. We start going inland again, over 120 km done only 60 to go. I can do this. Then the sky goes black. Uh oh, I think. Please pass over, please pass over. 5 km later the heavens just open. I have never experienced anything like it. The wind, rain and thunder just hit me like a sledgehammer. Rain turned to hail and I raise my left arm to the sky and say 'Really?!?' It felt like the bit in the Truman Show where he gets stuck on a boat in a massive storm and he says 'Is that the best you can do?!?'. There is nothing I can do but keep going and be very grateful to the poor marshalls who were having to stand in the drenching rain. I was also in some pain by this stage. My right hip - usually the good one - was hurting, my back no longer wanted to crouch over the handlebars and my feet were sore. Where was this blasted hill? Keep your head down and keep pedalling. No surrender. Magic beans are round the corner. Don't be sh@t. I can, I will, end of story. Taiwolf rules. Look Jim, I'm down on the hoods... Oh maybe not! Where's that bloody hill? 50 km to go, that'll take me two hours... No that's not helping! Beep, keep eating even if the rain has turned your protein blocks into wet mush. Ah here's the hill,  much emptier than earlier,  the man saying something about us having pedalled for so long. Whee downhill, we must be getting in to town now, less than an Olympic to go, let's do this. I'm now doing overtake/be overtaken with a guy in a Hong Kong suit on a fancy bike and aero helmet. I reckon he must be suffering too. Yes yes, here's the sign to Copenhagen, here's the split point,  coming up to 180 km, where's T2? Where are the runners? Here they are. Someone shouts 'Go on Hilary!' which is picked up by one runner and then another, who I recognise as Gary as I whizz past. Here's transition and hooray I can finally get off my bike.

Change my shoes and wet socks for dry ones, change nutrition and here I go for my marathon.
My longest run in training was 22km so I knew I'd be in an unknown zone for at least half the race. I'd calculated that to make the 6 hour time I'd have to do a pace of around 8 and a bit (I'd forgotten how much the bit was!) min/km and had set my watch to give me an average speed. I was pretty sure Jim had told me I could walk through every aid station so I did. The course was 4 and a half loops which took in a building site past the library which was very quiet apart from a lady dancing around in a Wonder Woman outfit, then past Stuart and Carsten cheering me on then the canal with bars which was the best bit of the course as had most support, past the theatre and then the finish zone and back out past a massive fountain and a short uphill section which I also walked, the mermaid statue and a very quiet section that seemed to go on forever until finally I got a band. Then back into town, rinse and repeat again and again. I saw Gary on my first and second laps and he stopped and gave me a hug. Stuart and Carsten were doing their very best to cheer me on in town as well. Stuart kept telling me I was doing really well and I'd be fine with the time I had. However, by the second lap I knew I was close to time so I just had to keep running. I was so worried about not making the cut off time. I also knew everyone was watching me via the tracking app. I even raised my hands to the sky and said 'I'm trying!'. I saw Gary on his final few kilometres actually running to the finish. Going past the finish every lap was pure torture, with shouts of 'You are an Ironman!'. Then the rain came again absolutely torrential. There was nothing to it, again, head down, keep going. You can do this. One more step. Just keep running otherwise you'll not hear those words. I'm not an energizer bunny but I have to dig in. Yes, another band, this is the furthest I've ever run, please never make me do this again, it's going to hurt tomorrow. It's getting dark now. I go past the canal and a marshall tells me to watch my step. Two seconds later,  CRASH I'm on my side. Ouch that bloody hurts. Well done I've just added to my list of aches and pains. I pick myself up and start running again, cursing myself. It was at this point I started running with Eliot. Eliot was a lifesaver and really managed to convince me that we were going to do this. Eliot was (originally) a Welshman who was participating in his very first triathlon. To do an Ironman as your very first triathlon is a concept beyond my imagination. We ran/walked in the (very) dark down the lap band loop. Eliot was warning me to be careful over the cobbles. Hooray, final band on and then we can run/walk back to the centre. I start feeling a bit stronger so Eliot lets me run on ahead (maybe he was fed up with my whingeing!) back through the dark. I try and cheer on runners coming the other way but one poor soul doesn't look where he's going and ends up in a massive puddle. I just can't stop, I feel bad but have to keep running. I have an hour to complete 5 k. That's doable, right? Less than a parkrun to go. A marshall starts cycling next to me and I think this is like Edinburgh again but surely I'm not the last runner this time? He chases off a taxi on the wrong side of the road and cycles off. Back into town, nearly there, past the finish line and then back off to the building site. The crazy lady dressed in a Wonderwoman suit has gone. Another crazy guy tries to tell me that I only have 9 minutes to go before the race is finished. I know this is untrue and thankfully Eliot and whoever is running with him tell him off for lying. So close now, less than 2 km to go, we're on the last section. Watch my feet on the cobbles, the trip hazard has gone, round the theatre and there's the finish, YES I can finally go down the finishing straight, damn there's someone right in front of me but I'm not slowing down now.
I've bloody done it! I can't believe it! I get given a silver blanket and someone hangs a medal round my neck. I only find out later that it was the winner of the race giving me the medal.

If you enjoyed this blog I'd love for you to give towards the Stroke Association https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/hilary-logan. Thank you!  

Monday, July 03, 2017

Edinburgh 70.3 - Brutal

Back in the winter, they announced that a new 70.3 Ironman race was coming to Edinburgh. Oooh, I thought. I know people up there, let's enter! I didn't even bother to look at the race profile or think about it any further. As the days got closer, stories of a very technical bike course with a 17% descent began to fill me with apprehension...

Race day dawned bright but cold and windy. So windy that the waves had white horses and they had already warned us that the swim might be shortened due to the conditions.
Looking over the swim course with a rainbow
Dark clouds were coming in from Edinburgh but we didn't get any rain, just rainbows. Eventually they told us that they were shortening the swim for both age groupers and pros to 900 m as the water temperature was wavering around 12 degrees and due to safety considerations. Race start was self seeding so I placed myself around 3/4 of the way back as I knew I wouldn't be the fastest out of the water. I was so grateful that Andy was there as well - fellow Greenwich Triton - although swim start was the only time I would see him on the race course that day!
Andy and I at the start... looking remarkably cheery

When we finally got in the water - after being buffeted by the cold wind for a good hour or so - it was cold  but my first concern was the giant waves! I have never seen anything quite like it! I took a couple of mouthfuls of sea water before I realised that I was going to have to do breastroke every few front crawl strokes to a) actually be able to breathe and b) see where I was going. I used to surf in the sea in Cornwall but I've never had to race under such conditions. I can tell you it was a relief to get to the end buoy and turn around to come back. It was absolutely brutal. I could see people hanging on to kayaks and one guy being driven back to shore on a boat and absolutely understood why they didn't feel they could swim any more. I just kept slogging on through the waves, trying not to breathe in too much water and finally made it to the last orange buoy and - what relief - swam into shore. It was only when I started scrambling up the beach did I notice my feet were totally numb... I was told later that 40-60 people started the swim but had to either be rescued or gave up even trying to get to the first buoy.

I ran into transition, trying to get some warmth back into my body, and started faffing with my stuff. I seem to have joined the Gary Shaw Transition Academy because it took me 9 minutes to get through transition to my bike... For next time I think I need a) those compression socks so that I don't have to faff with socks and calf guards (if it's cold again); b) gloves that have velcro instead of being so tight it's a battle to get them on; and c) consider putting any nutrition I don't want in the bento box in my trisuit before I start the swim.
Happy on the bike!
On to the bike then, and the first part was a nice easy flat stretch of road along the sea which put you into a false sense of "well this is nice, let's power on through"... Bad idea, and I knew it, because I'd read the cycle recce that Grace/Silent Wolf had posted and knew that there was a very technical loop coming up. I was looking for Garvald/Gifford and soon enough it appeared... not far after a water stop which I ignored because I was planning on only stopping at one (BAD idea!). We went past all the faster cyclists coming the other way and then started the loop. This is where the ride turned into the bastard (apologies!) love child of the Kentish Killer, the VO2 and Malaga. Those of you who aren't Greenwich Tritons, you may not get these references but essentially it was hilly with some wicked descents and climbs like the Kentish Killer, the views of the VO2 but prettier and the winds - oh the winds - of Malaga. The wind which had whipped up the sea seemed to be deciding it was going to make our lives difficult on the bike as well, and there were a few points where I caught a cross wind and wobbled a little! When the sun came out it was warm but when it went in I did wish I'd packed my arm warmers in the transition bag! I was extremely grateful for all the training rides I'd done in Kent which more than anything made me feel like I could get through this. I saw so many people pushing their bikes up some of the hills - and several more saying, "Not another hill!". About half way through the Gifford/Garvald loop I ran out of water which was bad so next time I am definitely going to stop at the water stop and fill up again. I didn't really understand though why they only half filled the electrolyte bottles... The spectators were amazing and, even though we essentially closed down their villages for the day, they were out cheering even us the slower ones on to the finish. I was particularly amused by the Cockenzie cheerers who appeared to have taken the pots from their trangias and were "playing" them with wooden spoons!
I finally found the second water stop and gratefully took on some water and electrolyte drink. A guy behind me started to voice concerns about the cut off points. I thought, never mind that, let's just get through the next 40 km. They promised it would be downhill from there, but they were lying... We went through someone's estate which was very bizarre but a nice track, before making our way into town. We even ended up on a footpath at one stage, and a very tricky downhill followed by a tight turn into an uphill, which luckily I had changed down for but I think it caught quite a few people out - I'm so used to the inevitability of an uphill after a downhill that I was prepared! I was so glad when my bike computer told me we had 10 km to go and I could see Arthur's Seat looming in the distance. When we got into the park (and once again been falsely told it was all downhill from there!) we could see runners coming the other way who were cheering us on. Once again we had to climb yet ANOTHER hill to get round the back of Arthur's Seat and then finally a sweet downhill to transition. I'd made it in time before the cut off - somehow. I'd half hoped that I might not make the cut off so I didn't have to get running, but once again I'd managed to make it in time.
Suffering on the run
So out on the run and my woes were not behind me. Running is - and always will be - my weakest leg. I had pretty much left my heart out on the bike course and I was exhausted. The first loop was busy, with lots of other runners and people cheering us on. I did quite a lot of walking as for some reason I'd managed to get myself into panic breathing mode and felt like I couldn't breathe at all. So I tried to take some deep breaths and slowed myself down to try and wash some of the panic away. It really didn't help for most of my first lap, and I did just over 6 km in an hour... as I said I'm not a great runner. The run seemed to involve lots of hills, including a trip through a very dark tunnel - the Innocent railway - which had lights and music at the end to help us on our way! There were all these marker boards telling us how far we had got - which was extremely unhelpful when you're on your first lap and it's telling you how far it was on the third lap! The second lap was much quieter and I was aware that if I didn't complete it within an hour I'd be cut off, so I tried harder to run and - thankfully - the panic breathing attacks eased. By this stage it seemed that all the marshalls knew my name so were cheering me on which was a massive boost and helped to spur me on and keep me running as much as I could. My hip started to twinge a bit - during training I've been having such bad hip issues I've had to limp home half way through my run sessions - so I stopped to walk for a bit for that as well. Somehow I managed to make it round the second lap within the cut off time - again! and started out on what was quite a lonely third lap. I say that but on this lap the support was totally off the scale. I'd never seen anything like it in all the races I've been to. Even the marshalls running towards me with water to help me through my race and the lady who'd clearly been standing at the very last turn for hours jiggling around and cheering us on - thank you from the bottom of my heart. From that turning I was the last runner so I was joined by a couple of cyclists and then I became aware of the triathlon official who was also following me. When I ran, he ran, and when my breathing or my hip stopped me, he walked with me. It cheered me up no end - even though I was last - and once I was out of the tunnel I did start to run again and managed to catch a couple of people who had started to struggle. The official stuck with me even though I had overtaken them until he decided that I was definitely on the move and was getting closer to the finish line. Once I knew I was getting closer (it's all downhill from here - yeah right!) I pretty much ran the whole way knowing it was nearly over. Then there was the iconic finishing straight with the red carpet and the Ironman chute... I was so happy I could almost cry. I had done it! I was the last lady but I had finished.

Yay finished!

Afterwards I discovered that around 40 people had not finished their swim, and that over 100 had not finished the race. Several had not made the cutoffs. Apparently some were saying it was the toughest course they had ever raced - even worse than Wimbleball!

I did wake up this morning thinking, well what's next? The answer to this of course is Ironman Copenhagen. Will I be able to sort my breathing issues out before then? I very much hope so. I'll be back on the training and long rides later this week no doubt.

Some (slightly dull) thank yous:
Stuart - thank you to my lovely husband for all your support and help. I don't think I would have made it round the run without your encouragement.

Rebeca - thank you for being a riding buddy and showing me some new routes and especially for my treat ride round Ashdown Forest for my birthday. Also for showing me the "deer park" ride which I have been using and might well be using for quite a lot of my practice rides! I am very grateful that you dragged me out of bed and found some "magic beans" to encourage me to come out for a ride.

Andy - for being a fellow Triton in a strange town and cycling with me to T1, it was great to have a friend at the start and during the Saturday faffing around.

Thea - for being a great swim buddy and waiting for me even though you're a much better swimmer than I.

Lucy - for helping me with my core strength so I could actually feed myself on the bike.

To all my fellow Tritons - I'm going to forget someone but particular thanks to Gary, Scott, Jim (for his coaching help), and of course Coach W.

To the supporters and marshalls on the course - THANK YOU for all of your support and massive cheering - you have no idea how much it helped. Especially to the official who ran with me at the end which really spurred me on to start running to the finish.

The Ironman Edinburgh 70.3 Facebook page - especially Grace and Silent Wolf for all of your recce guides and help and support over the past few months. It really helped me prepare for the race and made me aware of the dangers!

My lovely godfather - who let us stay in his apartment even though he wasn't there for the majority of the weekend.

If you'd like to support me towards my Ironman goal I'd love for you to give towards the Stroke Association https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/hilary-logan. Thank you! 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Work, sleep, train, repeat

Note: I "wrote" most of this while doing a 3700 m swim - I had A LOT of time to think!

Ironman. Anything is Possible®

That's what they say. And after watching my friends Lucy, AJ and Rebeca last year I actually believed it. Last year, given that I'd gone up a distance every year since I'd started triathlons, was probably supposed to be my Ironman year, but I'd decided Ironman wasn't for me. Then I saw my friends do it and for some reason I thought, well if they can do it so can I.


At 17 stone, 6'3 I'm not exactly what you would term "athletic"

Plus as much as I love to cycle I hate running and value my free time, especially the precious time I can snatch with my husband who works shifts so I hardly get to see let alone have actual quality interaction with.

I like lie ins. I like "duvet days". I particularly like that we have Sky Movies so I can watch a whole slew of films if I really want to (and the blasted remote works!). None of this is particularly marking me as Ironman material. But, after discussing it with triathlon friends, my husband and even work I decided to enter Ironman Copenhagen.

I still don't know why. Every now and then I remind myself that the first triathlon I ever entered I specifically chose a super sprint with a 2.5 k run "because 5k sounded too far". Now I've entered one that includes A BLOODY MARATHON!
Longest I've ever run is 22 km, the last part through a forest shouting to the trees 'Will this EVER end?!'

I'm going to pause here because I think  (hope!) some of you might be muttering at the screen 'But you don't look like that any more! '. To you I say this:

The story of how I got on my bike and lost a load of weight  (only to put some of it back on again) is one for another day. And yes I do know my saddle is low in this photo.

So I spend my weeks going to work and then going straight out to train in the evening. I come home tired, hungry and often a bit grumpy (hangry!). I am endlessly grateful to my husband for putting up with me and for making me dinner when he can. My weekends seem to involve epic cycling tours of the gorgeous Kent countryside after dragging myself out of bed. I come home in the afternoon, and after a less enjoyable run (read: shuffle) round the local area I finally get to have a wash and a sit down. By this time, it's usually around 4 pm. I am hungry but confused. Is it lunch time? Is it tea time? I have no idea.

So I work, train, sleep (and eat) on repeat. My friends have gone from wanting to go out for a beer and curry on a Friday night to wanting to go out for Parkrun and brunch (or ride and possible cake!) on a Saturday morning. My Friday nights seem to now involve going to the freezing cold docks for a swim... I spend a lot of time exhausted and without my friends I don't think I'd make it out of the door. So thank you Tritons, for getting me prepared for "that endurance thing" that my parents seem to think I'm doing.

On a more personal note, I am raising money for the Stroke Association https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Hilary-Logan after a relative had a stroke last year and has had difficulty communicating since. The Stroke Association push for greater awareness of stroke and its warning signs and campaign for better stroke care.