After my bike was stolen a around 10 days before the event there were a multitude of ups and downs leading up to the day! When around 5 days before the event I realised I'd been struck down by a bug (not unlike the flu) I was pretty certain this wasn't gonna happen for me!
But it all came together the day before the event. I'd given up hope on the Friday after renting a bike didn't go to plan and I felt like the illness had also won. Then during an email conversation, I had an offer I couldn't refuse of a bike loan from Freya for the event. All of a sudden, I'd gone from down and out, to excited to take on my first ever multisport event!
I had already thrown all my gear together a few days before so I was somewhat prepared. I shared this picture with everyone... no beautifully folded, spaced out and laid out outfit. Just the real deal.
Pre Race Set Up
I met Freya and Madge (her amazing Road Bike) at 8am sharp by Roehampton Gate of Richmond Park. I promptly then made my way over to the Race Village and got myself ready to enter transition to set up. It was a little nerve wracking with all the rules to remember and stickers / labels / numbers to attach! But I got checked in and organised myself.
I laid all my bits out on a bright pink towel ready for when I was back from my run and left the transition zone where I promptly bumped into Alpha and David, my supporters for the day! Seeing them put a smile on my face knowing that I'd get to look out for them each time I came around the course!
Alpha and David kept me company until it was time to step into the starting line up...
Stage 1 Run: 10km
About 30 minutes before the start of my first run, I knocked back some water and 2 or 3 cubes of caffeinated Clif Shot Bloks - energy to help me run my best. I think this contributed to the fact that although I had used the bathroom in the 30 minutes before the 10km start, I decided I needed to use it again while on the start line. It took about 20 minutes for me to cross the start line by which time all I could think about was using the bathroom.
500 metres out of the start and there was a water station. Although very much not needed at this point I decided this had to be a good sign for what was to come in regards to the amount of water stations available. Finally, just before the 3km, there were bathrooms. I nipped off the course and came back feeling ready to take on the next 7km.
Having run in Richmond Park once before, I was aware that it would be a hilly course. Looking back now, I can't say I really noticed the any hills on the 10km run. I spent my time taking in the view, looking out for the Deer and keeping my breathing under control. My iPhone was stuffed in my bra (you can read more about this in my kit list post which is coming soon!) so I could still hear the cheers from everyone who liked my Nike+ status on Facebook. It also meant I could receive feedback on my time, pace and distance.
A little later on the course I came across some of the marshals with megaphones. These guys were funny - made me smile and gave me that extra little bit of confidence. I didn't start to flag until around the 7 or 8km mark which I was proud of! I hadn't run this far for a couple of weeks and had been unwell for the past 5 days! Just at the right time, in the final km were some small children handing out haribo sweets, smiles and cheers of encouragement.
Those children and the fact that I knew I would see Alpha and David on the final straight powered me though to the end of my first run and into transition.
Stage 2 Cycle: 22km
Onto the second stage. As far as I am concerned, this was active recovery from running. Yes, it's still tough, but it's a different tough. It was also the first time ever I was riding Madge. In the first wobbly 500metres I got to see Alpha and David again before I was off!
Having found stability with Madge, I kept focused on the signage warning of a steep climb coming up. I climbed...and thought that was tough, before I realised that wasn't even the climb! This was what I've heard since been referred to as Cardiac Hill. People were walking their bikes up this hill it was so steep! I made a decision to sit it out - I was not gonna let this hill defeat me! ...I struggled, but I did it! I could barely breathe by the time I reached the top but the marshals at the top were so encouraging and motivating that it kept me going and I recovered while on the flat course.
And as we know, what goes up must come down. Following Cardiac Hill were a couple of pretty swift declines! Once I allowed myself to relax and go with it (and also acquainting myself with Madge's brakes) I enjoyed the downhill glide!
Before I knew I, I recognised where I was and knew I was nearing the ned of lap 1. One more lap to go! I slowed down briefly as I cycled past Alpha and David before calculating that I would finish the second lap in around 30 minutes...after conquering Cardiac Hill one more time...the downhills, a couple of tight right turns and what was quite a tough wind in the direction we were cycling!
Second lap completed and it was back into transition to rack Madge and run the final stage of my event!
Stage 3 Run: 5km
Here goes! Running into transition was interesting...jelly legs were all I had. But within the time it took me to rack Madge and have a quick snack, my legs started to feel a little more normal!
Again, I started this run needing the bathroom! I'm pretty sure though, that this helps me to run a little faster! Once I found a bathroom on the course, I was ready to bring this home. What kept me going on the 5k lap was different though. I had seen Becs of The Style Dynamo running whilst I was cycling which put a smile on my face; I hadn't expected to see anyone I know on the course so that was a welcome surprise! I also got a number of compliments on my outfit from marshals and other competitors (again, you can read more about this in my kit list post which is coming soon!). The guys on the megaphone were there again too where the 5km course joined the 10km course for the final 3km.
By this point, I'd come so far I knew I could finish this. I'd enjoyed every moment of the event so far and wanted to enjoy the end too! I'm pretty sure I must've been running with a big grin on my face...and by the time I got to the final straight I saw Alpha, David and Freya all there cheering! I turned off the course to go over the finish line as the commentator welcomed me over (by name...which was a lovely personal touch for us competitors!).
I had my medal placed around my neck, got given a t-shirt, water and banana (no lucozade for me! I hadn't trained with them and didn't wanna risk it!). Just outside the finish line, I bumped into a lady who had been on the same Introduction to Duathlon course with me in August and we chatted about the event until Alpha, David and Freya made their way over.
Limelight Sports for the place in the event; All the Marshals for being so encouraging and doing an amazing job; Freya for lending me Madge; Alpha and David for cheering me on the entire time; The unknown supporters at the sidelines who cheered, waved and / or helped keep me going with encouraging words; Everyone that believed in me; Everyone else that offered me the loan of their bike; Everyone who messaged me their support before, during and after the event; My Mum - the first person I called to let know that I had survived!
I'm now more determined than ever to replace my bike and have already decided that I would like to take part in a cycling event in 2015!
Here's to many more AWESOME events!
Elle :) x