Sunday, 29 September 2013

Weekly catch-up

A mixed week - very tired (due to work), and quite low in mood (due to being tired) for much of the week, but I did complete my biggest swimming week since February (20.9km), which included 2 visits to the lake and 4k swum there without a wetsuit, and a trial at the local masters swimming club!  In addition, my times which were So. Slow. last week, are finally getting around to where they probably should be - I did a 3:03 for 200m this morning, and 6:15 for 400m.  Very definitely not as good as they could be (I once swam 5:57 for 400m) but going in the right direction, and I'm looking forward to trying to get them down a bit more over the forthcoming months and weeks!

Yesterday I went to a trial at the local Masters swimming club.  I was a bit scared once it became described as a trial (even though I know someone MUCH slower than me belongs to the club).  I was also a bit scared as I hadn't been to the pool before (which proved very difficult to find), and I didn't know what it would be like [twenty year irrational fear of swimming pool drains].  However, the pool was lovely, if very hot, and I had a good time.  The coach wasn't there - in fact there weren't many swimmers - Saturday ams are apparently the quietest session - but we followed a sheet and I swam with two other ladies.  I was the slowest swimmer there during the warm-up (not least because I had to swim breastroke and backstroke (which are normally my warm down strokes ) and even attempt butterfly.  We did an aerobic main set which we didn't get all the way through but which was great because it involved swimming hard for short intervals which I struggle to motivate myself to do on my own.  My times got faster as we got through the 16 x 100m!  I am pretty sure I will go back, but I would like to try a session when the coach is there to meet him.  I also need to work out whether I can physically/mentally cope without my Saturday morning lie in, as I usually get an extra hour or so of sleep that day, and lack of sleep is a big trigger for low mood for me.

So what did I get up to this week?
Monday: 3k pool swim, 2k lake swim
Tuesday: 2.5k pool swim
Wednesday: 2.25k pool swim
Thursday: 4.25k pool swim
Friday: OFF
Saturday: 3.3k masters swimming session
Sunday: 2k lake swim, 1.6k pool swim.

what's the plan for this week?
To swim as as possible Mon-Fri as I am on the first day of my triathlon coaching course on Saturday, and on a mindfulness taster course on the Sunday - out 7.30am - 7pm both days running so no time for swimming!  That said, I am going to try to be kind to myself this week and next as they are both due to be very busy at work, and as I am out for the entire weekend there will be little time to rest, so a swim may have to be sacrificed for some sleep!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Weekly catch up (confused and flat)

As the title say - confused and flat.  In the last 6 days my mood has plummeted, back to how it was at the start of the year.  I was supposed to be racing at Dorney Lake this morning, but my times were so slow earlier in the week that I just couldn't face it.  It also seemed like just too much effort to go over there and hang around waiting for the race to start and then to try and push it hard.  In the end, I waited for my friend Claire to wake up, and then we went over to the lake for (probably) her last swim of the season, and a bit of a pootle for me without a wetsuit.  About 15C but I didn't get the shakes, wearing a neoprene hat definitely helped keep me cosy (even if that's not within the definition of non wetsuit swimming).  I then headed off to the pool to do a 3k set.

Whilst I had anticipated feeling a bit down, and also physically tired, I didn't expect it to be this bad, or to last this long.  It's also difficult to determine what is my illness and what is related to the race.  I sought advice as ever from friends on facebook, and there were some interesting thoughts.  Jothelibrarian wondered if the fact that I wrote the list of things I wanted to do after the half ironman whilst I was still in training explained why I didn't really fancy any of the things on it for now.  And Mandy said that it was "post ironman fallout" and that a mental break was as essential as a physical break.  Not sure I'm any closer to solving the issue but I shall plod on.  I STILL have a lingering sore throat that comes back most afternoons/evenings which I'm sure isn't helping.

Anyway, onto the training, I've managed to swim 19k this week (partly due to being on leave on Monday and Tuesday), which isn't too shabby and probably the biggest swimming week I've managed for a while, obviously hoping to beat that this week coming!  Although my times were realy bad on Thursday, today they had picked up somewhat - still a way from where they should be but not quite so appalling.

(Monday - 3k, Tuesday - 3k, Wednesday - 2.5k, Thursday - 4k, Friday - 2k, Sunday - 1k, 3k)

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Chillswim Coniston (DNF)

My first ever DNF...  Chillswim Coniston was the treat I was looking forward to after the half ironman.  A lovely, long distance swimming event, swimming the length of Coniston (5.25 miles or about 8.5k) which I knew that I was more than capable of, and a nice weekend away in the Lake District.

Of course, I had to complicate things.  If you've read this blog over the last few months, you'll know that I've been dabbling in swimming without a wetsuit recently.  I decided that I really wanted to give the swim a go without a wetsuit.  Unfortunately, because of the cold that I've had recently, plus the half ironman, time to accimilitise to the falling temperatures has been a bit limited.  We arrived in Coniston on Friday night and I had a quick swim, about 500m.  It was cold, colder than I'd swum in for a while, and I really didn't know quite what to do.

Mr Tuna and I talked it through.  We both knew that without question that I could swim the 8.5k without a wetsuit.   What we didn't know was if I could swim that distance in 15-16C water without a wetsuit.  So, we made a game plan, which was "to see how far I could get".  Obviously I wanted to get to the end, but I didn't know if it was possible.

It was a beautiful day, and the organisation of the event was excellent, as you would expect from something run by Colin Hill, who also has the Olympic Openwater Swimming events to his credentials.  However, the water was jolly cold for me.  I got in, and it was cold, and it eased off slightly, but by the first mile marker I was cold, and had stopped enjoying it.  I kept trying to sprint a bit to try to warm up, but it didn't make much difference.  Stopped at the 1.5 mile feed station and had a couple of jelly babies which gave me a bit of oomph, but was still really cold.  Kept going, hating every minute of it.  At the 2.5 mile station I asked if I should get out as I was really cold, but they said that I could keep going and that a kayaker would tow me to an exit point if I needed (I couldn't face the embarassment of that!).  I started chatting to a kayaker who realised I was struggling, but just before 3 miles I started shivering.  If there had been less left to swim, I might have persevered, but there was still around 3.5k which would have been over an hour of swimming (and I seemed to be swimming really slowly, around half an hour for each mile).  Mr Tuna had managed to get to a little bay to wave at me, and I knew that he had my warm clothes, so I said to the kayaker that I thought I should get out.  Mr Tuna dressed my shaking body, and we walked to the next feed station where 2 other people (one of whom wearing a wetsuit) had also come out, and were able to get a minibus back to the finish (Mr Tuna was on his bike!).  I shivered for a good half an hour.

I'm still undecided as to whether I made the right decision.  I feel like a big failure now, even though I did what Mr Tuna and I had agreed that I would do.  To only manage 3 miles in 16C water doesn't seem very impressive when my arms weren't tired and I wasn't even mentally or physically tired or drained (or at least, didn't feel like it - I acknowledge that I must be very run down from 20 weeks of training with a house move, a half ironman, and a world championships in the last 22 weeks), I was just hating it because of being so cold!  On the plus side, 3 miles/5 k is much further than I've ever swum in 16C water before, so that is an achievement.

2013 Aquathlon World Championships

On Wednesday, only 10 days after completing my first half ironman, I had the other big event of my year - my chance to go and represent Great Britain in the 25-29 Age Group at the Aquathlon World Championships.  Pretty cool.  This was never my A race, rather I viewed it as an exciting, one-off opportunity, and perhaps a lap of honour.  It couldn't be my A race because of the half ironman, but also because of the format - if it had been a 5k swim and then a 1k run then perhaps I might have done somewhat better at it.  But I felt very privileged to be there representing my country!

We got up at 5am, collected Claire (who took the brilliant photos illustrating this blog) and headed to London.  We'd booked parking near to Hyde Park so only had a short walk to the event site once we arrived, at 7am.  I hadn't been able to register the day before so I had to try to find the team manager who had registered for me - that was the most stressful bit.  We then went off to find some drinks, and Mr Tuna, who had a very bad cold had a waffle with ice cream to ease his sore throat.  It did seem to perk him up a bit.

Here's me setting up transition - unlike a triathlon not that much to do.  We'd been promised boxes to put our wetsuits in (with a penalty if we didn't...) but they never materialised.  Towels weren't allowed so it really was just a case of leaving my shoes, opened and ready to put on, and my sunglasses, and making sure I knew where my slot was.

Then there was a very long period of waiting around until it was time to put the wetsuit on and go.  We sat in the British Triathlon Tent, trying not to get too cold, and meeting up with another athlete from our club, and my oldest friend from school's Mum who was also racing!  It was especially nice to see her, as although she went on to take an impressive 7th in her age-group, she was just as laid back about it as me which was refreshing.  There was then time for a quick photo in front of the list of names in the British team - quite a number!
Then it was time to go and line up - there was 20 minutes of lining up with the 18-34 females for our start wave.  It was pretty chilly at this point and I got jolly cold waiting around, so much so that when we sat down on the pontoon and put our feet in the water, I actually started shivering.
We waited here for about 2 minutes (I had a nice pee into my wetsuit to warm it up), before we were told to get into the water.  There was no chance of any warm up in the water (I'd done a dryland one as part of trying to keep warm whilst waiting), but I did manage to dunk my head under a couple of times - it was very brown and about 15C so I wanted to try to eliminate any panic as it was quite a big mass start.Then
Then we were off.  I tried hard not to panic and reminded myself that always, always, the field spreads out and then there is more room to swim.  In fact, somehow I spent most of the swim swimming on my own, which is a bit weird, as there should have been plenty of good feet for me to hang onto.  But if I'm honest, I just felt sluggish for the first 750m, I was obviously still very tired from the half ironman.  However, by the time we rounded the last buoy, I was getting into the swim, overtaking people, and feeling really disappointed that it wasn't longer.  1k is such a short swim for me - I did get a pretty embarassingly slow time though of 16:49 - not good at all, that should have been at least a minute faster!T
It was then into transition where I disgraced myself further with the slowest transition in my age-group (just over two minutes) - I think I lost time putting socks on and struggling to get my cold feet into my trainers.  And then onto the run.  I have mentioned in the run up to the half ironman, the problems I was having with my hip.  The half ironman did not do anything to improve that, and even though I wanted to, I hadn't been able to run since that event :(  In fact, I couldn't actually run properly, and everyone said I was visibly limping around.  Unfortunately because I was so slow, I got a lot of sympathy cheering, which I didn't enjoy very much.   But I cheered on all of the GB women overtaking me and was especially excited when my pilates teacher overtook me and went on to a 5th place (she was in the wave behind...)
That said, the course was flat and I somehow managed to do 28 minutes for the run, which is ok for me!  Here I am on the last bit.

And then afterwards, with my medal. I thought that only "medallists" would get medals, so I was pretty pleased to get this as a memento of the day.  We went off and met up with my old friend Emily, and her Mum and heard about her race, and then Mr Tuna and I grabbed a quick lunch in Pret before coming home, as he had to work.  Quite an excellent day out, I'm not sure I'll ever get the opportunity to do it again, I was so proud to be in GB kit with my name on!

Weekly Catch Up 15th September

Just a brief weekly catch up this week, as I have two big posts which I also need to write about the races that I did on Wednesday and Saturday.  It's been a busy week.  Now we approach the end of the season with my last swim race on Sunday.  Distance for this race TBC - I'm entered for the shortest distance available, 3.8k, but am tempted to switch to 10k as it's wetsuit compulsory.

So, what did I get up to this week?
Monday: 2.5k swim
Tuesday: 2.5k swim
Wednesday: World Championships Aquathlon (post to follow)
Thursday: 2k swim
Friday: OFF
Saturday: Coniston swim (post to follow)
Sunday: OFF.

What's the plan for this week?
Monday: 3k swim
Tuesday: 3k swim
Wednesday: 2.5k swim, pilates
Thursday: 4k swim
Friday: 2.5k swim
Saturday: OFF
Sunday: Last swim race of the season!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Weekly catch up - one week post race (or where did my mojo go?)

Unsurprisingly, having done a race with a bad cold, the cold would only get worse in the following week.  I am bitterly disappointed that I didn't get to spend the rest of my holiday in the way that I had planned (swimming across Lake Zell, getting a pedalo with a slide out on the Lake, spending time in the hotel spa) - I just couldn't face doing anything wet - which is most unlike me.  Even when we got back (after an epically long road trip..) I still wasn't interested - I went to the pool, but just couldn't get going.  (It didn't help that my sinuses were so filled that every time I did a flip turn I had an excruciating pain in my face - and if you're not flip turning then it's soooo easy to stop at the end).  I've finally managed to get a bit of swimming done but not quite what I hoped.  My hip is still excruciating so no running even though my legs are twitching.

The other odd thing was today.  I went to the lake for a swim as we were having a photoshoot of club members in their GB kit.  We got there early enough for me to swim for over an hour, the photo was at 9 and then we came straight home.  So by 9.30, I was home, having trained.  That felt seriously weird after literally weeks of Sunday bike rides (with the only exception being when I wasn't at home on one weekend to do one).  I did lots of stuff, ate lunch, and I wasn't even tired and needing to go to bed!  Weird.

What did I get up to this week?
Monday - Weds: off, had bad cold
Thursday: 2k swim
Friday: 2.5k swim
Saturday: 3k swim
Sunday: 3.5k swim

Total: 11k swum - 3.5 hours of training

What is the plan for this week?
Monday: 2.5k swim
Tuesday: 2.5k swim
Wednesday: Aquathlon World Championships
Thursday: 2.5k swim
Friday: OFF
Saturday: Chillswim Coniston (8.5k)
Sunday: OFF

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Some of the official pictures from Sunday

In other news I am entirely full up with cold now which has made me pretty grumpy as I haven't been able to do the things I wanted to on the remainder of the trip and I've been feeling pretty awful.  I'm starting to get twitchy from the lack of swimming but just can't bear to get in the water!  Hopefully by the time I am home on Friday I'll be able to head to the pool for a good session :)

Monday, 2 September 2013

Ironman 70.3 Zell am See/Kaprun 2013 Race Report

Since I last blogged, I came down with a bad head and very sore throat on Friday evening.  This was worrying as I felt quite poorly on Friday night.  However, paracetemol dealt with the head, if not the throat, my pulse rate wasn't too high and I didn't have a fever so I was hopeful that things could still go ahead if they didn't deteriorate.  On the advice of various medic friends, the aim of the day was to rest as much as possible to give my immune system the chance to fight back.  I had planned to do the Iron Girl run in the afternoon but that was ditched in favour of rest.  So on the Saturday we just went to the race briefing (which was very informative) and then rested, and then took our bikes over to transition and dropped the transition bags off (a confusing process for a first-timer or maybe that was just because I wasn't feeling tip top).  We rested again before an early dinner in the hotel (who kindly offered to make whatever we wanted for dinner - although our requests did get a bit lost in translation) and then off to bed by 9.30.

Race morning
We were both awake before the 7am alarm, with the usual pre-race dodgy tummies.  The condemned girl managed to eat a hearty breakfast (cheese and rice cakes and peppermint tea - the planned peanut butter was just too nauseating), and we filled our drinks bottles, I filled my bike snack box with biscuits and crisps, and I did a last bit of facebooking.  It was raining hard at one point but had eased off as we walked the mile and a half over to transition at the end of the lake.  Transition closed at 9.30 so we had to get there in time to put drinks etc on bike, and for Mr Tuna to give me a neckwarmer to wear around my sore throat on the bike.  We left transition, and found a quietish spot to sit, until in a moment of crisis I realised I was still wearing my glasses and would need them on the bike!  Although it was after 9.30, transition still seemed to be open, so I ran back in and popped them into my bike bag.  Being blind for the remaining 55 minutes was preferable to spending the rest of the day blind [yes, I know I should try contacts but I just can't bear touching my eyeballs...urggghhh] [in the pre-race plan, I'd expected it to be sunny and I would have had my sunnies in the bike bag and just left my regular glasses behind].  I delayed as long as possible getting into my wetsuit and handing my streetclothes in as it wasn't that warm, but eventually it had to be done.

The race started at 10am with the pros setting off; we had a little bit of time to wait as there was another wave at 10.10 before Mr Tuna set off at 10.20 and I set off at 10.25

The swim
Getting into the cold (ish, it was about 18C, but please remember that I had a horrible sore throat) water was particularly grim, especially as it had started raining again and I knew I wouldn't be dry again until I had finished the race.  The one thing that I can't stand when I have a cold is getting wet, even in a warm bath, so this was particularly unpleasant.  Weirdly, there was only a 5 minute gap between our wave and the previous one so it was a bit of a struggle for everyone to get in on time (I'd wondered about this and had made sure to be near the front of the queue).  Unusually, the swim start area was nice and wide, so it was all spread out nicely for once, especially as some people were still getting into the water and a number of people were holding back.  I managed to get lined up with the first buoy (900m away).  There wasn't much warning, suddenly the cannon went off, and I was wondering "is this it" but everyone had started swimming so it was time to do so!  It was pretty grim immersing my sore throat in the water and my nose started running, but I knew if I could keep going it wouldn't take me long to get around.  Almost immediately, I was catching up with the slower swimmers from the previous wave, and for nearly 600m to the first buoy I had to fight through them.  Round the buoy and towards the next one was more of the same, until I then started to run into some swimmers from the wave before that.  Then towards the last buoy.  In my slightly muggy head-state, I'd forgotten to check where we were getting out, so I lost a little bit of time looking for where to aim for the exit (in the process overtaking 2 swimmers from the very first wave), but I was out, in under 33 minutes.  Not a bad time given that I'd had to swim through a lot of swimmers, but it was slow for me, but then I couldn't have expected to go much faster given that I had never really pushed it hard in the swim as I knew I had a long day out.

Swim: 32:39

Transition 1:
Out of the water and around the corner into transition.  Transition was really very big compared to other races that I've done and it seemed like I had a long way to go each time getting in and out of it.  Struggled to get out of the top of my wetsuit, grabbed my bag, and went to the changing tent.  Found a spot to perch, and tried to get my clothes on and a bit dried out, so that at least I was going to be comfortable (ha!).  Out to the bike - pink tyres make it easy to spot - and deliberately ran past where Mr Tuna's bike was to make sure that he'd got away (he was a bit worried about the swim, and although I knew he'd be fine, I would have waited if his bike hadn't gone).  Across a now fairly muddy field, and then a good 300m of carpet to push the bike along (not fun in cleats) to the mount-line.

Transition 1: 8:44

Secretly, in my head I wondered if I could get under 4 hours for the bike course.  My best ride previously for 56 miles was 4h 6 minutes, but that had been on a much hillier course.  However, it was wet and I was under the weather AND still had a half marathon to do.  I had planned to take some paracetemol at the start of the bike (it being 4 hours since I'd last had any) but I forgot, and decided to push on, having a stop at around halfway or before if I started to feel thirsty.  I suppose the good thing about the rain was that it meant that I didn't get dehydrated.  But with water sloshing around like mini swimming pools in my bike shoes by the third mile all I could think about was my rooky error in not having put another pair of socks in my T2 bag :(  There's not too much to say about the bike course except that I tried to cycle as fast as I could.  With our names and nationalities on our numbers on our backs, I got a few shouts from some other GBR people as they passed me, and I tried to shout also for other GBR people (interestingly it was only the men who really cheered me rather than the women, with the exception of someone who is a friend of a friend of mine from tri-club who recognised).  Of course I did not overtake anyone on the bike, but I thought smugly as people continued to overtake me well into the second lap, that I had had a much faster swim than them (since I had been in the last wave to leave).  I eventually stopped for some food and drink just after the first lap was done, about 29 miles in.   I was sure that I would fancy something savoury so had packed crisps, but unusually for me I didn't, but luckily I had my Sainsburys Free-from shortbread (very low fibre too!) so I had three of those and a good swig of orange squash (none of those gross gel things for me). (There were feed stations but as they were positioned on hills they were too awkward to stop at)  This was the only point at which I felt cold but I had to keep on going.  I wouldn't have minded stopping again, but I did want to get around in a decent time and I wasn't too keen on getting cold again so I just kept going.  With 9 miles to go, I went past the run course (I was up high, so I couldn't see the runners) and Mr Tuna spotted me and yelled at me.  I was able to tell him that there were 9 miles to go!  The nearer the finish got, the more relieved I was that I had not had a puncture or a mechanical fault as I had seen a few people stopped because of that sort of thing.  I was looking forward to getting back, not least because the course had been full of spectators on the first lap cheering people on, but they had rather disappeared by the second lap.  Finally, I was turning off back towards transition, it was about 2k from the main bike loop back and seemed to take forever!  But eventually I made it!

Bike: 3:48:52 - I actually averaged 14.6mph - my previous "solo" best was 13.9, and my previous group best 14.5!

Transition 2
I got off the bike and was faced with having to walk in my cleats back to my rack - another 300 m or so.  I wondered if I should start running, but behind me was another GBR athlete, Jamie, who said "Don't run Verity, we've still got a half marathon to go", so we had a bit of a chat as we pushed our bikes along - it was his first half as well.  We also worked out that we had enough time to walk the half marathon if necessary!  I racked my bike and grabbed my remaining shortbread and drink, and headed off to pick up my bag - easy to find as not many left.  I decided on an entire change so dived into the women's section of the tent and stripped off my wet shorts and soaked top and replaced with my Mind running vest and my favourite skorts.  A nice 11 year old Austrian girl put my stuff back into my bag whilst I struggled with my shoes and shoved the shortbread in, and gulped a bit more squash down.  And then I was off and running out of transition (another 200m or so)

Transition 2: 9:12

So, out on the run I went, no idea at all how I'd fare.  After I'd managed to conquer my fears about getting around a 56 mile bike ride in training, my thoughts had turned to how I'd manage to run after that.  I just thought I'd see how it went and be prepared to walk some of it.  Unfortunately my back was hurting from the run (usually I go for a nice lie down) and it wasn't too many km before the hip problem that I've been struggling with joined in.  The run was a 3 and a bit loops thing, with 4 loops through the town (where you picked up a wrist band each time you went through, except the last time when you turned left and went down the finish line), this was a bit undulating as the town is sort of built on a slope, and then 3 loops out towards the top of the lake and back.  There was a feed station at the top of the lake that you went past twice in the space of about 500m, and then one in town which you went past twice, which was nice, as there weren't any points when I felt I was desperate for one.  I suppose that the cool and slightly damp conditions did really help at this point, my run would have been a lot slower if I had been hot as well!

Throughout the run I just kept bargaining with myself.  Run to 5k (with walks through the feedstations) and then maybe have a walk, then at 5k, let's try to make it to 7 as that's 1/3 of the way around, then to 10k, because that would be a respectable distance to have run to, then to 11k because that's more than half way round, then to 14k because that's 2/3 of the way, then just after 15k I saw Mr Tuna who had finished which really perked me up!  Each time that I went over the timing mat, I remembered that loads of people at home were watching the splits and I hoped that they were working ok, it really helped me!  I got to 16k, ran a little bit further and then started walking.  My friend Monika had sponsored the 16th kilometre for me as she says that she always finds that one the hardest, so I gave myself permission to walk, and actually enjoyed seeing the mountains and not hurting.  I had 4 jelly babies and wished my training friends were there with bananas and flapjack!  After that it was pretty much run/walk all of the way back, although I was managing 9 minutes for a km walking, so it wasn't really too slow.  When I got back to town for the final time, Mr Tuna walked a little bit with me and then headed to the finish line.  Unfortunately now most of the crowds had dispersed but I started hi-fiving a few people as I got nearer to the finish.  Final tiny uphill and then left down to the finish line!  Amazing!  I had such a big smile on my face as I got through the finish arch.

Run: 2:14:02 - about 18 minutes slower than my standalone half marathon time.  Interestingly, Mr Tuna's was about the same amount slower.

TOTAL TIME: 6:53:29

The finish
I sat down at the finish line and was wrapped in a space blanket.  Unfortunately, the volunteers had started to lose interest at this point as I nearly didn't get a medal!  And there was no obvious explanation of where to go to get a drink/my t-shirt/pick my bag up - but luckily Mr Tuna had done it an hour and a half before (5:42:41 on very little training - insane!!) - and we did these things before I sat down outside the expo and started sending a few text messages to let everyone know that I had survived.  Which everyone knew already, as there was a huge party going on on facebook and twitter!!  Mr Tuna then went to retrieve the bikes (another 3 mile round trip to the bottom of the lake) and I went home to shower.  Or rather, check facebook!

Wow - whilst I was out on the course, the lovely Liz had followed the tracker and posted updates, and it seemed that a fair few people had had quite a tense afternoon watching me go around.  I was overwhelmed by it all!

When Mr Tuna got back, we eventually went for dinner, where I disgraced myself by crying a lot into my dinner.  Ooops.  We then lay on the bed, too tired to do anything at all, and eventually put the light out at 9.30.  My sore throat returned and it was a very very long night.

Today we're off for some sports massages shortly, and then I hope to head up the mountain (NB we intend to drive to the bottom of the cable car...)!  I haven't really made it out of bed yet, so I'm not quite sure how sore I am, but I suspect pretty sore.  Hopefully the massages will help a bit!

Thank yous
This has been such a very big challenge for me - 237 hours of training over 5 months, and a big commitment financially, emotionally, and in terms of time.  I think it has been worth it - to raise money for Mind, and to give myself a distraction from the depression-demons.
I have had a lot of support along the way for which I am very grateful and so I want to say a few thank you's now (in no particular order!!) - I really hope that I haven't left anyone out - I may well be editing this as I remember other people who have been so kind!

Mr Tuna - an obvious one perhaps, but as ever I could not have done my latest challenge without the support of my husband.  Which this time meant helping me to learn to ride a road bike and putting up with the most immense tantrums and tears as I struggled to do it.  Seeing you on the run course at 15k and your pleasure that I was on the last lap really cheered me up.
Liz and everyone on facebook/twitter yesterday - thanks to Liz for keeping everyone updated and leading the facebook cheer-squad and for everyone who cheered.  I thought of you all watching the tracker everytime I went over a timing mat!
Martin - for the two excellent tridynamic swim camps that I attended where I met triathletes, and quite possibly picked up the inspiration for doing this event.  But also for the fantastic support along the way, reminding me that cycling was more important than swimming, even if I didn't listen to you as much as maybe I should have done :)
Dan - for last minute swimming/wetsuit advice, but also for getting my swimming into such good shape last year that I started to contemplate doing other things!  I'll be back to just swimming very soon
Mandy - for encouragement on twitter and for loaning me a saddle which didn't hurt my bum so much - that made such a difference!
Vicky and Tarsh - for being such inspiring fellow triathlete friends in entirely different ways.  My journey is only small compared to your own ones but I gain so much inspiration from following what you are both up to.
Oxford-Triathlon "beginners" cyclists and anyone who has had to put up with waiting for me on one of those rides over the last 10 months.  I really appreciate the advice and encouragement given and that no-one laughed at me when I shared my goal.  I can't say I ever really enjoyed any of the rides, but they definitely helped me get around yesterday!
Claire and Monika - the two best training friends and encouragers that a wannabe-half-iron-lady could hope for.  It's still probably a no if you offer me a banana, but it would have been yes, yesterday, the one time when you don't offer me one!!  The humour and fun that we've had this season on bike rides and going to the lake and unpacking my house-move have made it all a lot easier and more entertaining.  I didn't know either of you when I entered the race a year ago, but so glad to have got some new friends along the way.
A shout out to other twitter and facebook friends who have been especially encouraging - "liking" my training related posts and responding to despondent tweets - there are far too many of you to mention by name as if I did, I'd be sure to forget someone!
 Everyone who has sponsored me - at the time of writing this post this is 67 of you!  I hope that the donations will continue to roll in as I'm just over £300 short of the target.  Link is:  Mind is a charity very close to my heart, and I am extremely proud to be raising money for them for the 5th year running.

Everyone else - for understanding that I have not had so much time on weekends this year due to the dreaded long bike rides, and that I have often been tired from training.  This understanding has been hugely appreciated!

PS: Photos to follow - I really hope there'll be some official ones!!