Becky came to Tri2 with a goal – to complete an Ironman 70.3. Previously, Becky has dabbled in a few sprint distance triathlons and an olympic but she was determined to conquer this longer distance. She achieved her goal on the HOTTEST day of the year at Staffordshire 70.3 and should be incredibly proud of her achievements. She swore she would only ever do one to tick it off her bucket-list…but I have a sneaking suspicion she will be back for more! Here is her race report…

After weeks of building anxiety and staying well away from everyone so I didn’t catch the Rona before race day, the weekend was finally nearly there. My hotel got closed 3 days before due case outbreaks, but it ended up as a blessing in disguise. I paid out for the only accommodation left which was through Nirvana – but glad I did as it came in with all the transfers, priority access to registration and racking so that was all a breeze. The only anxiety I had left to worry about was the heat. Registration day was pushing 34 degrees with little to no breeze and race day was looking the same.

I woke up after a pretty good night sleep. I’d manage to organise everything the night before so just had to focus on trying to get food and drink into me at the right time. Arriving at race start I checked the bike over, handed in the white bag and stood in the mahoosive queue for final nervous wees.

The start was rolling, so was a long wait whilst we watched the pros start. The heat of the day had already started to kick in and the air temp was around 25 at 8am and the water was 21! The swim went well enough, I had aimed to swim strong though not go full race pace as I knew as it was my first race I didn’t want to blow up. I got a little comfortable in the middle and reminded myself to kick into gear again, I remember thinking I was really glad that I got lots of open water and sighting practice in.

Transition took a little longer than planned but I had discovered I was just enjoying the race experience.

From reading the race link comments I knew the start of the cycle had lots of speed bumps, pot holes and gravel so I took my time over these to avoid a blowout. It was my first experience of a race like this and the spectators were great – everyone you passed gave a shout or clap and it really gave me an extra push. Game plan was again to cycle strong but to save some for the run as I knew this was my weakest are. The course was hilly, with a really long climb right in the middle. I just focused on picking people off one at a time as I knew I could climb hills. Fortunately the village on the hill all came out to cheer us on and a saviour of a guy got me with a water sprayer to cool me off as it was really heating up. I found that I’d almost forgot I was racing, and I was just enjoying myself. I kept an eye on my watch and pace but had kind of fallen into the fact that I was there to enjoy the experience rather than race for a position. I finished the ride in almost the exact time I had told myself I would be happy with and went into transition happy.

Toilet stop meant that transition again took longer than planned, but needs must! I started the run at the pace I was aiming for, though found 3 miles in that I was already showing signs of heat exhaustion, I had goosebumps and a headache starting. The heat from the road was bouncing back up and almost taking your breath away and I just wasn’t used to it – it was a good 10 degrees more than what I had trained in. The course was in laps so I started seeing people on their second lap looking like they were really suffering, and even past the first person who had passed out.

I took on water, gel and electrolyte tablets and vowed to walk through each water station to help break up the run. It just wasn’t enough – by mile 6 I was really struggling with the heat – I had no idea how I was going to finish but was intent that I was going to – ambulances started wizzing past me and I vowed to myself I wasn’t going to end up in one. I started army pacing the hills, was gutted when people were running past me but I just couldn’t push anymore without the fear of passing out. The rest of the run generally went like this and I crossed the line just under the time in my head that I had said I would be happy with, but not the time I was really aiming for and wanted. It was such a mixed emotion – I was relieved and happy that I had made it but also gutted that it wasn’t the time I wanted.

I’m writing this four weeks after, as it’s taken that long for me to accept the mixed emotions over the race. I was so gutted that it took half an hour longer than I wanted. I have reflected over everything – I could have pushed harder on the bike, I shouldn’t have walked so much on the run, that half an hour might have got me a roll down slot – everything has been through my head a thousand times. I couldn’t even take praise when people congratulated me for finishing and I didn’t want to post my finish time on any social media.

It’s only now I’ve started to accept that I did what I could. I’ve learned a lot from the experience. I have come to accept that I could have been faster had it not been so hot, that if I had pushed more I maybe wouldn’t have finished and that would have been worse. That I was fit enough, that the work I put in got me there and most importantly got me to a condition that I was able to enjoy the experience. Before I raced I vowed never to do another, but the thoughts of racing again have started already…maybe next time I can use everything I have learned to come in with a different mindset.

-Rebecca Skinner