Having entered for Stafford Half Ironman for June 2020, I’d got lulled into thinking this race was never going to happen. As race day neared I developed extreme anxiety about certain things, nearly all around registration/set up but also the rolling entry to the swim off a pier.
Saturday running round the Stafford area on a very hot day finding various transitions etc. was tiring but that was most of my issues dealt with and bumping into other team members throughout the afternoon was a great boost. Lovely meal in Stafford (thanks for organising Steve), and then for an early night. Or maybe not. Not only was the hotel room like a furnace but next door partied well into the night. Although they turned the music off around midnight they then proceeded to sing – the music was preferable.
Up at 5 and it was such a relief to get into the open air. Jon dropped me near the event and then it was into T1 for inflating tyres, setting up nutrition, packing the white bag and heading to the swim. It was lovely to have OTCF friends to chat to as we waited for our self-seeded time slots. The moment of truth was here – entry to the swim. I found I really liked the rolling entry and was confident diving in thanks to some practice in the pool earlier in the week. I enjoyed the swim and was happy with how it went.
Out on the bike I had been warned that there were some rough bits early on and took it easy. Claire passed me pretty much straight away and then I saw no-one else I knew until Stafford – except for my husband who popped up in the middle of nowhere at the highest point of the course. I stopped at both feed stations and got water and bananas. The cycle was lovely but testing with hills and a few tricky spots. I had expected to finish around 3:40:00 hours so I was pleased with 3:19:17.
So to the run. I took my time in T2 using the loo and changing my top. I knew the run was going to be hard in the heat and it would be my first half marathon for years. As I set out I did have severe doubts but told myself just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you will get to the end. And I did. The good citizens of Stafford were a fantastic support and some came out with hoses and water guns – thank you SO much. There were frequent feed stations and I used them all. I walked quite a bit too. Before we swam the announcers were saying walk on the run if you need to. This was great as it sort of gave you permission to walk from outside yourself.
The finish up the red carpet was wonderful with team members and the public cheering you in. I was so glad to see Jon when I got through the finish labyrinth and out into the real world. After some recuperation we joined the OTCF team and cheered in the last couple of team mates.
It was a gruelling run but a great day. Congratulations to everyone who took part and a million thankyous to all the supporters who cheered us on. The encouragement from seeing someone you know willing you on is fantastic. Well done to the super stars who got podium places and Steve – what an amazing performance as always! I was extremely proud that my points counted towards the club 3rd place.