Wow, quite a day. I actually completed an ironman- and almost enjoyed it all!
I knew it was going to be a long old day when we were still up at 11pm seeing in Tuesday’s competitors stumble into the rugby club! I took a bit of comfort after meeting Justin as he too had never done a triathlon before or cycled or swam anywhere near the distances we would be attempting! A fellow optimist and a kayaker in turns out!
The first few miles of the cycle were cold, hilly and very serial as a struggled to settle in and find my cycle legs. Thankfully it wasn’t long before I was able to enjoy the banter and camaraderie that was being thrown around between old friends as we swept through the country side. ‘Single’ Jim was doing this on a single speed bike. Duncan had been doing this for the last 11 days all around the UK.
I felt strong cruising the familiar Surrey roads where I grew up which was a good opportunity to get my head around the quite unfamiliar thought of jumping in a river and swimming 4km. Whilst getting my head around it I decided that it would get rather cold in the river so last-minute phone calls were made to arrange a neoprene hat and gloves whilst cycling. After a cool 130km cycle we suited up in Sainsburies Godalming car park, took on some caramel shortcake and slipped into the chilly River Wey. I soon learnt that any major movement in my legs during the swim would result in cramp so I let them drag in the water as much as possible and gave them a rest for the miles that lay ahead. The first lock took Justin down for a few mins as he seized up with cramp. I made very sure to keep my legs as straight as possible whilst climbing the ladder and walking around the lock. Very stylish and I just managed to avoid cramp thanks to my magic anti-cramp pills I was popping regally!
Getting back on the bike after the swim was very tough. We cooled down incredibly quickly and I was shivering as I put my cycle gear back on and consumed some much need energy bars and gels.
After a number of miles we stopped off at Holy Trinity school that had done their own ironman challenge and they organised an impromptu motivational assembly for us which much appreciated! We entered to 100′s of screaming kids to the tune of Chariots of Fire!
After 180km in total on the bike we reached Bushy Park and the start of the marathon length run to the Olympic Stadium. After the first few steps I realised that this was going to a struggle. It had been 8 years since I had run longer than 13 miles. The hustle and bustle of London, several anti cramp tablets and the support from the group kept me going. I was delighted to be joined by 2 old school friends on bikes from Buckingham palace to South Bank which was a real pick up. From here in my legs were running off nothing. Shins and knees were aching and I began to dwell too much on them. Luckily Justin, Duncan and the others still had a spring in their steps and wouldn’t let me get too far behind. Duncan arranged Big Mac for us at 24 miles which was just about enough to see me make it to the Olympic Stadium just before 10pm! An absolutely incredible sight despite feeling quite delirious.
It’s been a great experience to have this challenge set over the past few months. One that I had no idea that I could complete. One that lots of people said at best I would damage myself! One that I had no idea how my body would react. One that nearly brought me to tears and one that I shall never forget.
For more information about the event bigsocietyrelay.org/
It’s great to hear that the Huckleberry Foundation have 7 disadvantaged young people lined up to take out to South Africa this summer so a huge thank you to all of you who have donated. If you would like to keep up-to-date with the foundation you can follow them on Facebook here And if you would like to make a donation then please see my page charitygiving.co.uk/grahammilton
-Note there are 2 pages!
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