July 10th 2016 saw me in a pickled heap on the verge by a roundabout nursing a broken collar bone. It was the end of a cold and damp ride where I had continually had to work hard to keep pace with the guys. I lost them when we got back to Dorchester and should have called it a day, but ‘red mist’ clouded my eyes and my brain and I ‘went for it’ down the hill onto the roundabout in order to catch them up which proved to be much tighter than I anticipated so I chose what I thought would be a soft landing.
That was three months prior to my second attempt at the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. In my first, the previous year I had come 3rd in the 64-69 age group. Being a Moto GP fan (motorcycle racing) I was not deterred as when my hero Lorenzo had similar injuries he was back racing in less than two weeks – I had months – no problem!
My specialist was rather sceptical to say the least but he did prioritise my operation for a metal plate and was much more supportive and positive when I went back seven weeks later for a routine check.
Walking, hill walking, jogging, turbo training (indoor cycling) were all possible, but swimming was a ‘no no’ until the middle of September when I tentatively competed in the Weymouth 70.3 (a half Ironman) that I had already entered and paid for.
Despite everything the Channel swim was still on the cards for 2017 until I was in Kona, Hawaii for my second year at the Ironman World Championships.
I had trained hard, I had moved up an age group, now in 70-74, so it should be ‘easy’. How wrong could I be? It was my hardest race ever, I was in a very black hole on the run and swore I’d never do another. Despite that I beat the two women who had come first and second the previous year but they were still in the 65-69 age group. I had not bargained for a phenomenal cyclist in my age group, Cullen Goodyear, who left me standing and I ‘only’ came second.
Then serendipity took over – of all the thousands of volunteers, who should I chat with but someone who knew Sue Oldam, the then current oldest women to swim the Channel and apparently she was aiming to swim it again in 2017. But being a year older than me – I wouldn’t get my title back – not that that was the only reason to swim it. Well, perhaps it did help to motivate me.
Also, after a couple of days I had recovered from the race and resolved to come back and beat Cullen. Little did I know there would be a ‘new kid on the block’ to beat – and beat them all I did.
In addition I hadn’t managed any long swims that summer, as I had done in the year previous to my last attempt. So …………………..the Channel attempt delayed to 2018 with some long open water swims planned for the summer of 2017.