Written by Allyson Anstee
I arrived at the Shugborough race village on Friday; excited and slightly overwhelmed. I registered, packed my red bag ready for the run transition, dropped it off and went back to the village to explore. The heavens opened and we were subjected to thunder storms and torrential rain before heading to the race briefing.
On Saturday, I went to Chasewater to rack my bike and pondered the practice swim. I couldn’t decide whether to go for a dip or not. I had swum my best ever swim the week before and I didn’t want to jinx it. I was told at the briefing that the temperature would be 20 degrees which would be the warmest I’d swum in – sounded good. I went down to the lake and asked about the rolling start; whether I’d have time to acclimatise or I just had to get in and go. It was the latter. One of the swim guys asked if I was doing the swim. I replied ‘I’m thinking about it’. He told me if I was thinking about it then I should. Wise man! If I could go back and thank him I would. The temperature was perfect and later, back at the hotel, I felt calm having been running on nervous energy for two days.
On Sunday, Race Day, I was up early and at Chasewater I was feeling surprisingly calm! I went through my checklist; nutrition on the bike, tyres, wetsuit on and I was ready to go. It was reassuring to talk to others taking part for the first time, comparing notes and race questions. I placed myself near the back of the swim start as that’s my weakest discipline and didn’t want to get caught in the rush. My plan worked well and I felt comfortable. It took about 300m for me to get in to a rhythm but I soon settled. Then disaster struck! My goggles started leaking and continued to do so for the whole of the swim. I kept treading water to try and (unsuccesfully) fix them which was frustrating as the next wave began overtaking me. I finally finished the swim 5 minutes slower than I had hoped but I was pleased to be well within the cutoff.
Transition was a little bit messy as I was struggling to get my wetsuit off but I was soon happy to be out on the bike. Everything was going well and I had a great hour of riding but then the chain fell off at mile 20 and burst my bubble. I sorted that out and carried on – covered in oil. Then the rain started. It poured down for the rest of the ride, but didn’t hold me back and I was happy with bike time.
On the run, I was a bit too excited and went off too fast before realising I couldn’t maintain the pace. I then slowed down a lot! The run course was compact which meant there was incredible crowd support. I felt slow and tired, I was still very wet underfoot and was glad I’d put spare socks in T2 as the bike pair were soaked. It was well worth those extra seconds to start the run with dry feet.
Eventually the red carpet was in sight. I welled up for a minute, then pulled myself together for the run to the finish line. The announcer called us heroes and it felt amazing to have completed the biggest challenge of my life so far.
I finished in 6hours 44minutes; happy to have finished in under 7 hours. My next goal is to beat 6hours 30minutes. I loved the experience and will definitely be back.
Thank you to Triathlon Plus and Ironman for giving me this opportunity.