In doing so I had also become a World Record holder being the oldest woman to do so, at the age of 60 years and 10 months, narrowly beating Sue Oldham of Australia by one month!
Knowing that after such an event with all the build up and preparation comes an inevitable ‘low’ and I was sure Sue would try to get her title back, I immediately vowed to try again when I was 65 in 2012.
But my heart wasn’t in it and I had no inclination to ever swim the Channel again.
However, a life changing moment turned my life upside down when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in September of 2012. I suddenly ‘woke up’, “Life is for Living” and within a millisecond I resolved to swim it again, but would do it at 70 with my chosen charity Cancer Research. Oh, and in that same millisecond I decided to buy that new Triumph Tiger 800 that I had test ridden a few weeks previously.
Through all the checks I was also diagnosed as having osteoporosis, I said I was fit as I swam regularly but apparently I needed an impact exercise such as walking. I said,
“Yes that’s good but not recommended you might fall and break something.”
So I started running.
Well sort of, not far, not long, more walking and running. At school I wanted to emulate Roger Banister. Whilst the under 15 boys had the full range of races including the mile, as a mere female we were restricted to the longest being 150 yards! Even as under 17’s we were allowed neither the mile nor cross country running.
Toward my half century I had started Masters swimming and accompanying my daughter all over the country for Biathlons I decided I could swim better than the Seniors taking plart so I took up running. Boy did I cough as I trained for the 1 km sprint. And that was the extent of my running until…………….
Weyport Masters Swim Coach Kate Mason, (who I had thought was far too old do the Ironman in Austria that she had bought for her husbands 50th birthday), eventually nagged me into dipping my feet into triathlons in 2014 with the view to eventually do an Ironman myself.
Secretly I had been rather envious of the triathletes running the streets of Weymouth, but cycling! ……. The thought of cycling ten miles, let alone up or even down the slightest incline horrified me.
As it turned out I took to cycling like a ‘duck to water’ – running was my nemesis which took over three years to master in what I thought would be the easiest discipline. (Boy was I gobsmacked when I learned I was the first female over 70 to cross the line at the London Marathon 2018, I feel I can now call myself a runner.)
Having qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Kona in 2015 – I was well and truely ‘hooked’ and my Channel attempt would have to be delayed a year whilst I chased the elusive World Title for my age group.