A report from Teresa – Racing Holkham Half 2018

The day began at 4 am when the alarm went off and it was straight to the loo just like every race. Mark got up to make some tea and porridge for himself and Emma who was staying with us. I chose to go with a bagel and boiled egg as Kimberley Morrison had suggested which I managed to eat and keep down. We had about 45 minutes to eat and get ready to hit the road as transition was supposed to be closing at 6.15 am so didn’t want to feel rushed to set up for the race. It was a beautiful morning, not much wind and the sun was coming up. Another trip to the loo before we climbed into the car. The roads were empty apart from the wood pigeons determined to hit the van and we had to slow down for the odd deer at the side of the road. It didn’t take long before we arrived at the park and the car park was filling with nervous racers and supporters. We saw quite a few racers from our old club in Essex and stopped to have a quick catchup. We made our way to transition to place all our equipment out for the day ahead. It didn’t take long and then it was a wait for the race to begin. We had six waves ahead of us so decided to go to the start and sit quietly by ourselves to help calm my nerves. Mark as my coach assured me I would be fine reminding me that I had done the training and was ready. We had a quick chat with Amanda and Keith before finally getting our wetsuits on and being called to hit the water. Mark had suggested I start at the back and give our wave 30 seconds when the gun went off which I did and worked well for me. I couldn’t see a thing at the start as the water had been churned up from all the previous waves but it did not phase me. I managed to pick my way through the back swimmers with just the odd knock on the head following the buoys to the island before the turn around. I began to come across the wave before us which encouraged me a lot so I pushed on. I found sighting was easy as I was familiar with the lake and had no problems most of the way. Finally reaching the end of the swim helpers were there to help us get to our feet and unzip our suits. A short run into transition I managed to get the wetsuit off without too much hassle. I had decided to put my cycling shorts on over my Tri Suit for the 56 mile ride and was glad I did. Grabbing my bike I trotted out to the mount line to be greeted by Susie Towning who was marshalling at that point. She waved me on with words of encouragement and I started my climb out of the park. Mark and I had practised the route and I could hear him in my head telling me to take it easy up the hill until I reached the exit. It wasnt long before I could hear Mark shouting at me as he over took me telling me to take it easy and to make sure I drink my bottle before the first aid station. I didnt think I would see him again but after a short time I cycled past him. Unfortunately he had pulled a muscle in his back and wasnt right so he had decided to see how far he could go. From then on, we kept together passing each other often. Mark had to stop to stretch his back and would then catch me up again. I was feeling good and cycled well within myself. When we got to Sandringham on the main road, there was a lot more cyclists so it was impossible not to draft. It slowed you down as it was difficult to pass them with the fast flowing traffic and the head wind. The hills slowed the less strong riders but I found them easier because we had rode on them a few times beforehand. It is a tedious bike route but it was made bearable because of the warm sunshine. Heading back to Wells Mark told me to ride on as he wasn’t sure he could start the run but I told him we had rode this far together so we would run and walk together. With only 10 miles to go I found some extra energy and enthusiasm from somewhere to ride down the hill into the park. The faster racers were already running up the hill and I knew this would be the hardest part of my race as running is not my strong point. Having racked my bike taking off my cycling shorts and going for a quick pee I headed off for the first of my three laps with Mark. I can’t tell you how happy I was to be running with him as I knew he would make sure I was ok. We ran to the first aid station and then walked picking up wet sponges to place under our hats to keep our core temps down and I chose to drink coke as I knew from previous races that it gives me the boost I needed. We ran up the hill to the cattlegrid and then walked for a bit before descending down and back up to the next aid station. This was our routine run a bit and walk through the aid stations. I had to stop quite a few times because of the pain in my foot and walk but did not want to give up. On the first lap I saw Richard and he gave me a painkiller which helped dull the pain a little so I could go on. As we had finished the first lap to collect my first band I heard someone shout “Come on Mum” and realised it was Shauna so ran over and had a cuddle. This gave me a huge boost I needed so started off again on our second lap. We kept the same routine doing the Ironman shuffle and walking through the aid stations. I was feeling better but my foot was hurting and at times I didn’t think I could keep going. I had to keep going so many people were cheering me on and I didn’t want to let them down or myself. The second lap passed quicker than the first although my times tell a different story. Collecting my second band I knew I only had 4.5 miles to go and with Mark at my side I just had to bite the bullet and keep going. Finally the third lap drew to a close and I was now realising I would not make the time I had secretly set in my head. I pushed on and Mark started to collect my hat from me saying I should push on as he was going to walk. He had got me through all this way so there was no way I was finishing by myself so I told him we either finished together or not at all. As we ran towards the finish I suddenly felt my quads cramp up, something I had never experienced before which stopped me in my tracks. I walked to try and stretch it out. The finishing flags approached and Simon Ward called out our names as we trotted over the line together. I saw Shauna and began to cry and then Keith came over for a cuddle which just opened up the floodgates. It was a relief to finish and in all honesty I was disappointed with my time, 6.59. With my medal collected and t shirt put on I walked through the finish. I didn’t feel like celebrating so took myself out to find Shauna. We sat on the field together when Emma came over and told me not to be so hard on myself. I couldn’t get rid of the cramp in my leg for quite some time but it settled down eventually. On the journey home I had a good cry. I knew because of my foot any long distance races were realistically out of the question for the future but was happy to have completed another 70.3. Holkham is a challenging course but is well organised and very friendly. I have to thank Mark for his coaching but more for his loving support to keep me going. All my friends who cheered me along the way and for Shauna who came to support her mum. On reflexion after a day, I am pleased. I had a cracking swim, I cycled much faster than I thought I would and my run/walk well it was what it could be. I did the best I could. I would highly recommend this race to anyone for their future calendar and thank everyone for their kind encouragement.