I woke up at 2:30am, 2 hours before my alarm, but as I had been asleep since 8pm, I’d already had enough sleep! ( Well, Musty did say have an early night!)
My lovely husband and number one supporter drove me to Boxhill in Surrey for my first ever Ballbuster duathlon. It was very dark but not raining when we arrived at 6:15am and no queues for registration or the toilets!
I collected my numbers, chip and Ballbuster hoodie and sat in the car to stay warm and watch the sunrise (!)
The rain started and competitors arrived, cars were blocked in and massive queues formed, except for the ladies toilets, as so few women take part…..I wonder why?
I racked my bike in transition and stuffed my clothes and shoes into plastic bags in an attempt to keep them dry. I found Musty and he sorted my tyre pressure out for me, I hadn’t got a clue about such things as I’m a complete novice to anything sport related!
Soon it was time for the race briefing, when luckily I spotted Michael, whom I’d never actually met before, but recognised from S4F photos, so it was lovely to have a quick chat before the off! At this point it was raining quite heavily and the wind was cutting across the summit making for a chilly and uncomfortable start.
After previous discussions with Musty, we decided to change my race plan in an attempt to avoid the 3 hour cut off for bike finish and start of the last run. So instead of the carefully monitored heart rate caps, I was going on pace only and ignoring my heart rate, (which is usually goes crazily high).
I had to run at an average pace of 5:45 and bike at 26kph to beat the cut off.
So off I went, I never run that fast so it was quite a challenge for me, after about 5 mins in to the run I had a quick peak at my heart rate which was 175 bpm, so I decided I wouldn’t check it again as I might scare myself!
The rain was hammering down and the wind was blowing sideways, I loved it, very refreshing as I usually get really hot when I run! I kept my pace as best I could and focused on keeping up with a guy wearing a bin liner, who I named sack man. Lots of runners were over taking me, but at the same time I was overtaking others, which was very pleasing.
The road had been quite a slow gradual incline, but now it was downhill. I decided just to let myself go and kind of fall down the hills reserving my energy for the zigzag uphill to come. I managed to overtake sack man and I felt I was travelling at quite a pace. The rain continued to beat upon my face and I could hardly see as the rain dripped from my hair into my eyes.( Should have worn a hat!) Most of the time I was running on my own, but I soon latched on to a small group of taller people, who I ran behind in an attempt to seek shelter.
I refuelled with a torq gel at 40mins.
I was really enjoying the run and was so happy that I was managing to keep to the pace, the weather at this point did not bother me, I’m from a family of market traders, so used to battling with the elements from a very young age!
Finally I reached the bottom of zigzag hill with the very friendly marshals cheering us all along!
Sack man reappeared and over took me, the group I had joined slowly disappeared ahead of me and the zigzag hill became quite a lonesome run. Cyclists then started to overtake me, they were so friendly, shouting words of encouragement ! My pace was slowing because of the hill but I pushed on and it looked like I might make the run in the 1hr 15 we had planned. I reached the summit cheered on by people whom I didn’t know along with my husband!
I made transition at 1:17, so was cutting it a bit fine. I got cold in T1 as the wind was really strong and and had difficulty putting on my helmet and shoes as my hands were so cold. I couldn’t get my new dry gloves on, so stayed with the damp pair and set off on the bike leg. It felt quite tough to start with and the weather conditions were deteriorating further. I pushed on as hard as I could but had no idea of my speed as I couldn’t see my garmin as it was covered in water and my eyes were blurring with the raindrops.
The downhills were dangerous as the roads were so wet and slippy with leaves. I have no experience whatsoever of cycling in the rain or on wet roads, so it was quite a challenge as I was worried about falling off! I took it very steady.
The climb up the zigzag was better than I thought, I just took it fairly easy so not to be in too much oxygen debt as I wasn’t sure if I would manage it. My hands were numb and I had difficulty getting my fuel bar out of my pocket. On loop 2 of the bike I started to feel very cold on the downhills but was coping, however by loop 3 I was freezing cold and shivering the downhills were even more dangerous as my numb hands were having difficulty squeezing the breaks. I looked forward to the uphill as I thought it would help me warm up. As I reached the final zigzag, runners started to overtake me and I was kind of hoping that I would miss the cut off point as I couldn’t feel my feet and was not sure if I would manage to run.
When I dismounted at T2 I was relived when they said I’d missed the cut off as I was starting to shake uncontrollably and couldn’t feel my hands or feet at all,I have never felt this cold in all my life! I was in the early stages of hypothermia. If my lovely husband wasn’t there to help me I would have had to seek medical assistance as I couldn’t operate my hands at all, I had to be fed a cup of tea as I was shaking too much to hold the cup! Dry clothes, hot drinks and a warm car, I eventually warmed up but it took about an hour!
What an event! I was very pleased with my efforts even though unfortunately the Ballbuster beat me this time, but hey, there’s always another year!