Where to start? It’s been a heck of a few weeks. As the title gives away, I have managed to battle through my first 2 challenges. The Great West run on Sunday the 22nd of May (only a few painful days ago) and The Exmouth Triathlon exactly a week prior. What can I say? Both events were epic, in so many ways. Firstly hills… I can honestly say I have never encountered hills like them in my training at all. Not handcycling for the Triathlon or wheeling using my non-sport wheelchair for the half marathon. Then the support… There were so many people cheering me on. I did not account for that level of support. It was just incredible. I almost burst into tears coming into Exeter Stadium on Sunday.
This was my first ever triathlon. I had dreamt of becoming an age grouper before my amputation and was training my socks off, which is when my feet began to become even more problematic than when I was in the Army. So when I thought that I could not only never realise my dream, bit never do a triathlon, my world almost fell apart. Then Blesma and the Aaron Lewis Foundation stepped in and helped me by providing a handbike, and I began to realise that this may be possible after all.
The event itself was hell…. but a good hell. I went out too fast on the swim, took in half the pool and almost drowned… so my time was terrible. Then got stuck in transition as it was very off road, and I had to get in and out of my wheelchair. Then came the handbike, against an enormous headwind. I battled through. I’d cycled 10k many times, so thought to myself (you’ve got this…) oh how wrong I was. The hill came, and it continued, and continued, and continued… it was probably about 4k long, bit felt like it was 25. I saw a snail on the way and felt the need to comment “I know your pain!” I was going that slow. To give it context, imagine doing seated rows at the gym on your maximum effort, continuously for about an hour! That’s what it was like. The coming back down the hill was good though. Then into transition. Most people had finished by this point and I still had my wheel to do. This really is my thing… but again I was wrong. Across uneven grass, I got stuck. A Marshall then told me the wrong way to go. To be fair to him it wasn’t his station. Then the wind increased and the heavens opened. I battled through and came into the finish to a soggy applause from the organisers, and my amazing wife, who waited for my in the pooring rain. My wife, came 3rd in her category. I was and am so proud. I missed her presentation though, which I am so gutted about. But how well she did.
After a week of ice, heat, massage and recovery we were onto event 2, The Great West Run. My first ever half marathon using a non-sport wheelchair, or any wheelchair for that matter. We arrived in the village, and I had a lovely interview with ITV Westcountry whilst in the epic que for the loo. There were no disabled toilets, but luckily I can hop a bit. I was, to be fair the only wheelchair entry. Stood in the line of 4’000 people, the excitement built…then bang! We were off. First came a downhill. Then up hill… then more up hill…then steeper up hill… then a few down hills where I flew…then back to uphill… then near the end was the worst hill ever! I could barely move. But again, my lovely wife who was with me, was there by my side. Telling me I could do this… and, “what would chiefs women do?”. We are big supporters of Exeter chiefs women rugby team, and I find their courage, sporting ability and resolve under immense pressure, very inspiring. Hence the comment!
I made it up the very large hill, and thought I was home free. Iwas wrong. Then came more hills.. and more…and, well, you get the gist! But finally after 2 hours 40 minutes my wife and I came over the finish line. I could have been happier. I got the word out about my challenge and more importantly Blesma. I really can’t thank the crowds enough.
I’ve also managed to secure my 1st official sponsor. Rebel HR who are an amazing company who help make workplaces more bareable (you should take a look). I will be wearing their logo with pride, throughout the next 6 months of training, and everywhere I go.
So after a half marathon, what do you do? I’m not sure what everyone else did, bit we went straight (via a quick bath) to Sandy Park to watch our Chiefs women beat Bristol bears and secure a place in the Allianz 15’s Final! Gosh this made that day one of the best days of my life, so far.
Well, that’s it for now. I’m still a little sore. Strangely my right leg is the worst! Odd considering I don’t use my legs! Now it’s a week of rest and recovery, then training commences for the next event in 5 weeks, Triathlon 2 in Plymouth, then a week later, the Cardiff half. So no let up. Plus I’ve got to begin wheeling further than 13 miles on the ramp up to 26.2 for the Marathons. Wish me luck!