Debi, Charli, Cathy (my fan club) and I arrived at Shugborough on the Friday evening, our camping home until Sunday, the evening after the event. By the time we arrived it was quite late so early to bed ready for the busy day we had ahead.
On Saturday morning I woke up about 7am ready to head off for registration at 8am. I had made an itinerary for the weekend, which included everything I needed to do and know which made me feel calm and reminded me of everything I needed to do.
At registration I received my race pack, bag, and athlete wrist band. Then a quick visit to the expo (so many bright shiny things😊), I bought a top which had everyone's names on the back as a souvenir of my first 70.3.
Then back to the van, for a bacon sandwich, my sort of pre-race food!! I carefully put my kit into the T1 bag and made sure my bike was ready to go. I then went to check out the swim area. The swim course looked really big but I assured myself that it was only 1900m, I think I thought it was so big as I’ve only ever really swam smaller loops in open water anyway I worked out the swim route and where I would start from, the run from the swim exit into the T1 tent was quite far, about 400m, luckily, they were going to carpet it so the stones wouldn't hurt our feet. I then headed into T1, the race official checked my helmet and bike over and then let me in to rack my bike. I have never seen such a big transition before, it was massive!
The race briefing made it all seem very real. I pretty much knew everything that was said because as it was my first time I had read all the rules, athlete guide and the swim, bike and run guides. They had mentioned the hot weather and told us all to forget our times and focus on crossing the line alive and well, I agreed with this as I haven't done any training in the heat.
That evening Cathy made us dinner, we had pasta with chicken and sausage, it was very yummy! I then organised the stuff I would need for race day and my nutrition to put on my bike in the morning.
As it was an early start in the morning and I needed to catch a shuttle bus to Chasewater I decided that I should get the 5:25am bus. I then went to bed at about 9:45, I pretty much fell straight asleep and slept really well, I thought I would be really nervous but I knew that everything was ready and I needed a good night's sleep to feel good in the morning.
At about 7:15 Debi, Cathy, and Charli arrived and over the load speaker system I got a shout out for being the youngest athlete racing, it was quite cool to know I was the youngest person on the course!
With wetsuit on they called my wave to go to the pens, I said goodbye to everyone and then went to the pen. It was a rolling start, so we got in a pen for our estimated swim time, after no time we headed onto the pontoon. I chatted to some people I was stood near and then I got in and off I went.
The swim was lovely, the water was about 20 degrees so really warm. I got into my pace and swam. I picked people off as I saw them, passing quite a few people in the wave before me before the first buoy. After that it was a long way across the back of the reservoir before we turned towards the swim exit. My hat kept slipping further off my head which was annoying so after a while in would just pull it down a bit every minute or so. It soon came to the final turn towards the swim exit. At this point the swim became less enjoyable, people started to attempt to grab legs and swim over you, I kicked quite hard to warn people away and went towards the swim exit. I stood out of the water onto the ramp and immediately took my hat and goggles off. I felt dizzy but started the trek to T1, it felt like I was doing a half marathon then! You could already feel the heat, I checked my watch and knew that I had done a swim time slower than what I wanted, 37:20, I later found out that the course was longer than 1900m, this made sense with what my watch was telling me too.
The bike was fairly hilly which I liked and I had looked at the map and elevation and could see that there was one big hill towards the end, I thought I had done it, I was wrong. There was a really long hill all up through Cannock Chase, it seemed to last forever but by then we were so close to home and I was so excited. The bike seemed to pass really quickly and all I could think about was the run. I knew that I was going to get into T2 at about 4 hours so I was happy. Anyway, what goes up must come down so we had a long downhill before cycling past the runners and into Shugborough estate. When I arrived at the dismount line I was pleased to see my Dad and Debi Charli and Cathy cheering me on, I was on a good time and had completed the bike in 3:18, it was what I was expecting and felt happy as there were more hills than I realised.
At the start of lap two I saw everyone again and I let James run on as I wanted to walk. I found some ladies and we started chatting about what lap we were on, how we were feeling, how long we’d been racing triathlon and 70.3 etc, it was really nice. There was a pub just as you started to head downhill after the big hill, they had Bon Jovi ‘Living on a prayer’ blasting, people dancing, singing and cheering, it was amazing and a real motivator. I hadn't noticed but I'd actually passed James on the second lap and towards the end he came up behind me so we ran together for a bit.
Lap 3, I knew I was so close to the end, I was tired but still so happy, I had been smiling the whole day and I wasn't going to stop. I started lap 3 well, I passed a girl called Bella who was walking, I could see she was from my age category from her number, I told her to run with me and again we did a run-walk (walked the hills and ran between markers we set ourselves). We had a great chat and it was really lovely to talk to someone closer to my own age. As we got towards the end of the lap, I knew the finish was in sight but my legs had gone so stiff. Bella really helped me push for the last mile, we said goodbye as she had another lap to do and I headed for the finish line.
I managed to find some energy to sprint down the finishing chute round the corner and to the red carpet. I sprinted past a few others with what can only be described as the biggest smile ever! I was so happy I had finished, I knew the half marathon had taken me ages but I didn't care. I had finished, I had completed 1900m swim (or more), 56 mile bike and a half marathon. I collected my medal, waved to Cathy, Debi, Charli, my Dad and walked over to the recovery area where I sat and rested for a few minutes. I then got up to eat a well deserved pulled pork roll, watermelon and drink a few bottles of water. My final time was 6:46:48 meaning the half marathon took me 2:40, which was very slow but understandable due to the heat. I finished in 4th place in the female 18-24 category. I enjoyed every minute of it, even when it was difficult I knew that I had trained to be able to push past it and make it out the other side.