So if you’ve been hiding under a rock the past week you might not know what I am talking about.
But last weekend on the 31st August at 9am (delayed start due to weather by 2 hours!) I took part in the hardest event EVER!
Swim – 4.8 miles in a 16° freezing cold lake
Cycle – 232 mile bike including 8 times up Pen y Pass!
Run – 52 miles including an ascent and descent of Snowdon
I already knew the start time was going to be an hour later than planned so set my alarm for 6am so a little bit of a lay in. I awoke and checked Facebook to see if the event was still starting at 8am and found it had been put back another hour so I tried to go back to sleep for a bit – who was I kidding!
Got down to a heaving transition – wind was blowing a hooley with very heavy rain. This was messing with my head already as was really worried about the bike in those conditions but I headed to the lake for the briefing and as we were getting in the water – hail stones!
Swim was good, you have to get out every 2 laps and we had 8 in total to complete – the first 4 went without a hitch. I don’t like tea but we were offered that to warm us up and a biscuit so I dunked away and drank a little bit. The worst lap was lap 7. There is a cold river that runs into the lake and I swam right through it which meant I was shivering my way around the last 2 laps.
Swim done in – 2hrs
Out of the swim and back to transition – shivering uncontrollable. Both children and husband were there to help me get out of my wetsuit and try and warm up – it took a long time. Got some porridge down me and lots of layers and off out onto the 1st lap of the bike. I had forgotten how hard the route was. The worse bit being the first climb up to Waunfawr – so steep and horrible and knowing you still had Pen y Pass to do was not filing me with joy! Still lap 1 done and only 7 to go! Got through the second lap and onto the 3rd where I met up with my crew – my husband and children. Got a coffee down me and some food and seemed to do my fastest lap that time!
Onto lap 4 where my running buddy joined Culvin in the van and kept taking pictures. It actually helped and I was still smiling.
Lap 5 is a blur – I remember getting really anxious as it was dark and I felt vulnerable being out there alone even though Culvin was following me in the van. Time for a sleep – I tried laying down in the van but just couldn’t get any shut eye so I carried onto lap 6. Things were starting to move like big tree trunks were owls – it was fun! Lap 7 came and my eyes just kept closing so I stopped again but this time for a 10min power nap and this seemed to work. Only 1 more lap to go.
Lap 8 I kept singing to myself ‘last lap, last lap’. I was so glad to get the bike done. I knew I would struggle as its easily my weakest and its also one of the hardest bike courses for an ironman and I was doing a double!
Bike done including sleeps – 27hours and 53mins!!
Thank goodness I was off the bike and putting on fresh clothes and trainers. Rich was waiting for me and keen to get going up Snowden. Sadly due to the winds we weren’t allowed to go all the way to the top but we still managed 2400ft of elevation! It was actually a lovely walk up Snowdon to see the medics and be checked off. I was chatting to Rich all the way and felt pretty good. The views were amazing.
I thought I would try jogging on the descent but I knew I was fatigued and didn’t want to twist my ankle or have an accident at this point so we kept up a steady pace and I was looking forward to pizza and coke at the bottom.
Snowden done in 3hr 8mins
Only 8 lake laps standing in my way to becoming a double brutal ironman finisher.
I felt great after the pizza that my Dad kindly brought to transition. Said bye and off Rich and me went. Again we power walked most of it partly as I didn’t want to bring the pizza back up!
Lap 1 complete and straight onto lap 2 after a quick toilet break. I tried intermittent jogging on this lap and felt ok but I was starting to feel sleepy again. Unfortunately Rich had to get back to the cottage and sleep before the long drive home so he stayed whilst I had a 10min power nap and then saw me off on lap 3. This was by far my lowest point. It was dark, I was knackered, on my own and feeling vulnerable and anxious again. I also knew I wasn’t going fast enough to make the cut off but thankfully Claire being amazing said to me before I had even started not to worry as the triple was on. Still I really wanted to finish in a respectable time but the bike and sleep deprivation were really kicking in now and being on my own I really felt like quitting. I got back to transition and set my alarm for a 30min nap, it went off and I must have snoozed it a handful of times. I really thought that was it – I couldn’t go on and just sat on my own for what seemed like ages in transition wondering what to do.
I finally got up, got warm and got going on my 4th lap. It was still dark and I was still freaked but I knew if I could get round this lap then I would be determined to finish.
Made it and treated myself to a cold rice pudding – my 3rd that day. Started lap 5 with the sun starting to rise and I knew Culvin would be with me on the next lap which really boosted my morale. And he brought Pebbles our dog which was lovely – my favourite brutal dog!
Lap 6 came and went, my feet were starting to really suffer and I had to get the compeed out. Rich came for the 1st bit before he had to head off home.
I can’t really remember lap 7 either but I do know I was past caring about the cut off – I did feel a tad despondent but thought no one can take away what I have got through to achieve this. The best bit of that lap was one of the brutal support crew was going to resupply the aid station and stopped to give me the best chocolate muffin I have ever tasted.
Lap 8 was by far my favourite and I ran all of it (apart from the nasty hills) this was because my gorgeous children joined me. They were chatting the whole way round and held my sticks when I didn’t need them and they each earnt another muffin from the aid station.
The finish was in sight and I couldn’t wait to cross that line.
The most amazing experience and being awarded 3rd lady was an honour – even though I was way off the cut off! I’m trying to fight the negativity in my head telling me I am not worthy..
TOTAL RACE TIME: 51hours and 31mins
Keep tuned to see what crazy event I decide to do next…….