There's a feeling you cannot describe when you cross the line after a race. A sense of elation.
The race didn't go as planned, but I made sure I enjoyed every last minute of it.
The nerves were not too bad in the morning. It's always a little strange pumping up your bike tyres in transition in the dark and having forced conversation with your fellow competitors racked either side of you. Today's pre-race check felt good. I strapped my nutrition to the bike, filled my water bottles up and checked my bike breaks and tyres.
Waiting for the swim is the worst part of the race for me, watching other waves get in, watching the pros get out and on to the bike before you even started. What I think threw me off was it was a dive start. One I had never tried before. Despite Nick (my partner) saying, 'have you checked your goggle are tight enough', I didn't expect to lose them straight away! This was when a bit of panic set in and made my breathing go out of sync. Trying to keep calm I swam through the first 3 boys, only to realise they were around my neck! The swim was not my best, and although I didn't wear a watch I knew it was going to be around the 40 minute mark.
Now the bit I love - the bike. The minute I got out of transition and hoped on I knew something wasn't right, the wheel was rubbing on the break and I couldn't change gear! I stopped to sort the wheel and realised either it had been knocked in transition or my wheel was bowing. The reason I couldn't change gear was my derailleur was hanging on by a thread. Not what you want to see. There was two choices, try and find a mechanic or hop back on and hope it lasted the race. So what I did was got back on the saddle!
56 miles of riding in the small chain ring was quite frustrating, but I kept saying to myself at least I can ride!
The course was hilly and tough, but I was so grateful that Nick and I had spent the time driving and riding the course in the lead up to the race as I think Look Out Mountain surprised quite a few riders.
Bike course done left the long and hot run. It was a suffer fest to say the least, but that's when your mental strength has to override anything else.
I finished in 5 hours 30 minutes on the dot. Not the fastest I have ever gone, but considering some of the challenges along the way I was happy.
All in all what an experience and one I will never forget! Thank you Chattanooga for a week of fun and a challenging course!
Thanks once again to everyone who has supported me in getting here!
I did a radio interview with BBC Oxford all about it which you can listen to here.