Bridgewater world record!

I have been rather hectic over the past few weeks. Prepping for challenges and training and getting over other challenges. We’ll, as you can gather from the title I did manage to set a new world record at the Bridgwater half marathon. Guiness world records set me a time of 2:30 for the half marathon, and I did it in 2:12:02. 18 minutes under the time set. So I broke and set a new world record for the fastest female using a non-sport wheelchair to complete a half marathon. This is, of course still pending official guiness adjudication. I broke the time, now its the paperwork, that I just hope I filled in correctly. I will know if there’s any problems in 2 days, and know if all is perfect in 5, so wish me luck. This wait is more nerve racking than the record itself.

After the record!

I arrived at Bridgewater rugby club nice and early. Then followed an amazing official announcement to all the runners and spectators of my challenge ahead. Then Phil form Pinnacle photo agency arrived, which I knew about, bit honestly didn’t expect him to come. He was there with cameras, and helped with making the day so special. The course itself was so well organised. Everyone was so friendly and encouraging. I don’t think one runner diddnt say words of encouragement when passing me. I really couldn’t have asked for a better environment. The course itself is advertised as flat. Lots of courses are! But to a person in a wheelchair, this is not the case. It is almost completely up hill. This was rather daunting, and left me pushing harder than I have ever done before. I had no idea if I could do it when the hills kept coming. There were 2 down hills but these led into a 90 degree turn, so I couldn’t get up any descent speed. But I put my head down and went for it, and coming over that line… well I had to hold back the tears! Not sure how I did that! It was an amazing feeling. All that training, and sleepless nights. Now the wait to see that it is all real! It is so difficult. But I have to trust in the system, and that I studied the guidelines thoroughly enough.

So where from here. Well on Saturday I will be off to Goodwood for the 2nd to last event. Then home for a couple of days before traveling to London for the last event and the biggest of all. The London marathon and another world record attempt. Where I hope also to become the fastest female using a non-sport wheelchair to complete a marathon. I have achieved this twice in training. But the marathon is a little tricky. Lots of people to fight my way through, so I only hope that I can navigate these as quickly as possible. I have 5 hours to do it. I have completed it in 4 hours 20, and that wasn’t at full pelt. So fingers crossed for the day. It will be very difficult. But all I can do is my very best. So it is here where I ask anyone who can to please donate to the charity which I am doing all of this for. A charity who have helped me so very much. Blesma limbless veterans. Thankyou ❤️

https://blesma.enthuse.com/pf/lexi-chambers-799fb-d79f9-9e2a2

World record confirmation

Things have been a bit crazy over the past few weeks. With increasing distances, and juggling training with half marathon and Triathlon. Then the rest of my time is spent on fundraising. Sending hundreds of emails to hundreds of companies. But it is starting to pay off. I now have 2 official sponsors. Amazing companies as well. Rebel hr which is a small company run by an incredible lady who helps to make people’s workplaces better places, and Bar Venezia on Exeter quay where I live. We have been going in there for years. I was so extatic when the owner recognised me as a customer, and got behind me straight away. There is another on the horizon, but I’m yet to hear the official stance, and a possible other.

Training with the sponsorship logos

My training is always dependent upon how I am feeling that day. If my CRPS or fibromyalgia are flaring, then I have no choice but to listen. I am still learning how to judge things, but they are so unpredictable that it will never be possible to be accurate. But when all goes well, I wheel twice a week. I’m up to 15 miles now. Then the other session is usually around 16km of pure hills. The bigger the better. I am constantly making world record pace at the moment, but I am hoping to keep improving. Guiness have accepted me for the world record fornthe fastest female using a non-sport wheelchair to complete a half marathon. The time is set for 2 hours. Which is fast for a normal wheelchair. But I like a challenge.

I am also having swimming lessons, so that I can improve my technique with a great instructor. Then I use my handbike once a week, and the next Triathlon has rowing in it, so I’ve been doing that as well. I am lookong forward to concentrating on the wheeling after the next event, and trying to get my speed up further.

New tattoo for my 1st Triathlon

So, above is a new tattoo. I have dreamt of the day that I could complete a triathlon, and when it happened, I wanted to commemorate it, so chose this tattoo. I have my next one in under 2 weeks. Then another half marathon a week later. These are going to be tricky events for me. They sit at the point where I often have flares, so I am just going to have to see how I get on. Hopefully all will be well. The pain, I will push through if I have to, but the fibro flares render me almost comatose for a day or more. So I’m just hoping none of these rear their ugly heads.

If you want to keep an eye on progress or even sponsor me (no amount is too small) please pop a follow on my Instagram Lexi.alyx.chambers and follow my linktree in my bio for updates and articles etc.

2 down, 5 to go…

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.

Some photos from the Triathlon

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.

Someone took a photo for me, wifey is on  the left.

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!

Official photos of event 2.

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.

My 1st official sponsor.

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.

Exeter chiefs v Bristol Bears

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!

Two weeks to go…

Yes, I’m nearly there. Nearly at the start line of my first event. 2 exactly yesterday in fact is event number 1, the Exmouth triathlon, then exactly a week later, the Great West run half marathon, which I hope to complete using my normal everyday wheelchair. So, a few weeks have passed since my last post. My wife and I drove the great West run route. Shocked doesn’t even cover it. It was said to be relatively flat! It definitely is not. But I’m glad I knew in advance to get some hill work in. There are 5 very long, very steep hills, that would require standing if cycling up… (gives you an idea of how steep they are!). The worst being University hill past Exeter University. It scared me… But since then I’ve managed to get up an equally long and difficult hill, without too much trouble, so my confidence is not too bad!

Hill training (photos never do justice to the angle!!)

Along with this, I’ve been getting out there on my handbike and of course, swimming. This has been rather tricky, I must say, as I’ve had to relearn how to swim with one leg. I’ve found that I can’t kick at all, as this sets stumpey off in a shivering tangent, which closely follows my sinking, coughing and spluttering!! (Rather embarrassing). So, I’ve had to learn to swim with just arms, and tbh, I’m still learning. So the Triathlon will be a very hard event for me. But I’m super excited.

Getting out on the handbike.

Last week, and this weekend has probably been the most difficult in terms of training, and acceptance when I can’t. I’ve been suffering a huge increase in pain in my stump. Thus followed an appointment with my amazing consultant Miss Tania Cubison. The result being that she thinks there is a problem with another nerve in my leg, and I need to go to East Grinstead again, for an ultrasound and nerve block. So, the pain has been hindering training for a few days. Then I managed to get in a good long wheel, in my fastest time ever, but then my body decided to have a fibro flare, which I’m in day 2 of now! Blooming bad timing as always! If only we could predict these things! I’m hoping that because it’s now, it won’t be when the event is?!

My fibromyalgia, like many other people’s is triggers by a few specific things. Hormone changes is a big one, so being female is a pain. Then there’s smells, hair spray, and cigarette smoke are the worst. Also, stress, so again specific times of the month are against me. For almost 2 weeks straight or sometimes longer, I battle against pmdd, fibro and crps simultaneously! (My poor wife is a Saint!). I train every day that I can, and every opportunity I can. It is hard. It is annoying. But I can’t give in. I met a man out the other day, who asked if I was training for something. I told him what I was doing, and immediately he told me it wasn’t possible (apparently because he hadn’t done it, and he had done EVERYTHING!) And that I was stupid to be event trying to do a half marathon using a normal wheelchair, let alone a full marathon. Well, I was left firstly annoyed, then upset, but now it just makes me want to push through stronger. I told him that not many women have done what I’m doing and I’m hoping to set a world record. His answer was that no one has done it because its stupid! (Thanks for the support!!) But then I suppose you have to expect some people not being supportive. I have the support of blesma, my wife and a couple of online friends. They really carry me through.

Medals collected so far during training and my last good wheel.

So, as for the time being, I’m stuck convalescing on the sofa. Better than yesterday where I barely woke all day (typical fibro!). I’m hoping that I may be able to swim later, but if not, I have to accept that these days happen, and the more I fight, the longer they last. This is the most difficult part for me. Not the training, or the agony of training. It’s my body not letting me train when I want to. Or the looming possibility of more treatment, which could get in the way of it all. The negative people I have encountered are annoying, but I try (now) not to let them get to me. Just prove them wrong! 😉

So, fingers crossed 🤞 and toes! I hope to be fighting fit for my first event, and hope that all goes to plan. That’s all I can do… hope, and keep listening to my body.

Progress…

So, in the past couple of weeks I have been making some good progress in training. I have also added another 2 events to the calendar. The Cardiff summer half marathon on the 3rd of July and The Rehabilitation Triathlon for amputee veterans in Plymouth on 23rd June. Both great events, and right in between the others. This brings the official total to 7 events, although there will be a number of virtual ones as well. On theat subject, I managed to complete the niagra falls conquer challenge yesterday, 113km in 29 days. I was very happy with this, as I’ve had to have almost 2 weeks off from training with various flares.

Out an about training.

So, I have had some questions about the gloves which I wear for wheeling. I purchase work gloves from ebay, which retail from £2-7 per pair depending on the thickness. The orange ones in the photo below are warm lined and waterproof, which is brilliant for the winter. The red ones come in various types, and you can bulk buy. They are great for warmer weather, and when it is very warm, I lop off the fingers and hey presto, perfect summer wheeling gloves which virtually eliminate blisters. They are all gripped with a form of latex which is perfect for wheeling.

As for post workout nutrition, I use a sports drink to replace lost electrolytes. Very important if you want to avoid cramp, or other more potential serious health problems caused by an imbalance of electrolytes. I use High 5 as it is gluten and sugar free. Food wise, I’m a bit of a sucker for midget gems, so normally have 50g of them, and some form of protein and carbs, such as a protein bar.

As mentioned, I have now finished my 4th challenge with #theconquerchallenges. They are great fun to do, and really keep that motivation up. I have also now included handcycling, swimming and weights at the gym to my weekly program. I do have a day off a week, and sometimes more when my body dictates it so. Probably the most annoying part of CRPS (next to the pain) is the how unpredictable it is. Also Fibromyalgia follows the same trend = completely unpredictable. Although I have found a couple of triggers, which are so important to identify. I have discovered that cigarette smoke, and pungent hair spray, as well as post menstrual hormone changes are a big trigger for me. These three put me out of training for a week at a time. With CRPS, my biggest trigger is sugar and stress. Also anything touching my leg. So I have to almost wrap myself in cotton wool, and behave, just so I can train. I have had to give up alot of other pursuits to complete this year’s challenges, but it will be worth it, and I’m hoping Blesma will reap the benefits of my labour.

Yesterdays wheel (above), & medals so far 😊

It’s 6 weeks before my first event. My lovely wife will be doing the first 2 with me (running), which will be wonderful. It will be the first time we have both started on the same start line, and her first ever events. I am so happy to be able to share this with her. So, off to do some more training today. Wish me luck!