Last 2 boxes ticked

Whilst I’m strangely confident about completing IMUK, there were two little clouds that I wanted to sort before the event, and they were both blown away this week.

The first was to do with the bike. As I’ve already mentioned, I’m not the most confident on the bike, I’m beginning to enjoy it more but I’m not quick and its more a case of getting round than anything else. Last Sunday, I drove around quite alot of the course, including the famous Sheep House Lane and even my wife said “You’ll never get up here” as we drove past the struggling cyclists. I must admit, I did have my doubts so decided that rather than do my usual big Wednesday ride, I’d do a shorter ride in distance, but practice on Sheep House.

So Wednesday morning came, kids off to school and I drove up to Rivington. Parked up and there were already a few cyclists preparing to presumably go up Sheep House. I got myself sorted and off I went. Before I knew it, I was at the start of the ascent and approaching the first obstacle, the cattle grid. By coasting and bouncing over that, I lost some momentum but soon picked it back up. Yes I was in a low gear but I didn’t care, I was climbing up it reasonably easily and making good time. Sheep House lasts for about 4 km and can probably be broken into 3 uphill sections, with a couple of little straights and downhills to try and gain some momentum. As it was quite early still, I seemed to have the road to myself so I just kept talking away, giving myself some encouragement and before long, was nearing the summit. The hardest bit in my opinion was at the top of a particularly steep climb where there is a sharp left turn but it is still uphill, so any momentum you may have in the legs is lost in the turn.

Have to say, getting to the top, I was really pleased with myself as I hadn’t stopped once. It might have been done on fresh legs but for a not too good a cyclist, it was an achievement. I hadn’t really got a plan after getting to the top other than I wanted to do it a couple of times, so I just kept going down the hill. This is where I found out I’m a complete girl at descending as it was steep and I wasn’t particularly comfy at the speed I could have got up to.

I stopped before the left turn onto the main road and came back up the hill. I have to say, I found this probably more difficult than the other side but again, no stopping up to the top, and back down the other side to the bottom of Sheep House. Then it was turn around, and back up to the summit. Obviously a little more difficult on legs that had some climbing in them but I still did it. Had a couple of guys come past me, one asking if I’d was doing IMUK but I didn’t care. I’m not at the pointy end of the race, my first aim is to finish, I’ll worry about a time after that.

In the end, I went up to the summit a total of five times, including the one from the other side. I might have only done about thirty odd miles but I’d done 2605 feet of climbing and never stopped once, which in my book was a success, so box number one ticked.

My second worry was the open water swim. I’m a confident swimmer, not particularly quick but confident. I’ve been doing the full IM distance and more since the start of the year in the pool but not actually done an openwater swim. It was one of those “get round to doing” type things but with family commitments and other bits and bobs, I haven’t done it and now suddenly, IMUK is only a couple of weeks away and I have to try it to make sure I’m ok with it. Dont want my first openwater swim to be at 6 in the morning on 20th July, and then discover that I just cant do it.

With this in mind, I made sure I had last Thursday as my first session at Pennington Flash, which is where IMUK swim is. Traffic wasn’t great so got there a little later than I wanted so once I registered, I started squeezing into the wetsuit. Have to say, the changing rooms at a triathlon makes me laugh as its full of blokes having to zip other blokes outfits up, not sure how that would go down in any other changing room, but for triathlon, its the norm. Tonight was no exception, and once I’d get a helpful chap to zip up my wetsuit, I wandered out.

There quite a few already in and a few more wandering behind me so I just went for it. Started walking down the ramp into the water, waiting for the initial shock and it never happened. Granted it was a nice, mild evening but it was surprisingly warm so I just wandered in up to my waist and got myself acclimatised to the water. Dipped my head in a couple of times so there was no big shock and off I went. Was worrying about swallowing half the lake, what it would taste like and if it would upset me but it was fine. Tried to follow a couple of other swimmers in front of me to help my sighting on the first lap. There are a few different distance laps, I chose the 750 metre one and soon found my rhythm. Soon I was on the inbound leg, back towards the clubhouse and it became quite choppy. Not sure if that is the norm, or what caused it as it wasn’t particularly windy but it made sighting and breathing a little bit more difficult, and there was a guy at the end who made the same comment.

On my second lap, I managed to get a little disorientated and turned at the wrong buoy. As I got halfway across, I saw there was a boat heading towards me so I knew I must have been on the wrong course. Couple of friendly words and I was back on the right lap. Finished that and thought I’d just keep on going. Was conscious of the time so tried to press on but keep an eye on where I was meant to be. I had a little shock at one point when a foot swam straight past me but other than that, was fine, didn’t get in anybody’s way and managed to sight ok, even though the swim back to the clubhouse was always a little choppy.

Did 80 minutes and thought I wasn’t going to get another lap in so started to make my way back to the exit. I was a little wary of the stories about being wobbly getting out as being horizontal for so long can affect the blood flow so I took it quite easy not wanting to fall over in front of anyone, but I felt fine.

So, thats it. The last two boxes ticked, and all ready for it. One last big bike ride this week then its taper time. Bring it on!!!

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