Kathryn, my daughter, has had an aptitude for sport all her life. She learned to ride a two wheeler at a very young age. In her early years she was winning local fun runs and starred at school sports days. She had swimming lessons throughout her childhood and had great front crawl technique by the age of 7 – though it must be said she never really loved swimming.
Kathryn grew up being taken around various races to support Mummy so I suppose it was a natural progression that when eventually she grew out of the ‘cool’ teenage years she returned to sport and particularly running. A bike came along as a means of transport – a hybrid known as Donkey.
In 2013 Kathryn was doing a PGCE and became involved in her local triathlon club BADTri, coaching youngsters in order to get some experience. She was already a very good runner and she started to do a little bit of swimming and then in July 2013 she bought a carbon road bike.
So Kathryn became a triathlete. Not overly enthusiastic but with plenty of natural talent. Her first event was the Bristol Harbourside Triathlon in June 2014 which she completed successfully. In September 2014 Kathryn started her first teaching job and in order to have a focus in her life outside school – which can be all encompassing –she entered Ironman UK Bolton. The date – July 19th – 2 days after the end of her first year of teaching. Madness!!!!
The autumn term was a write off as far as training went. Kathryn only just managed to keep her head above water at school and was constantly ill with viruses from her 31 5 and 6 year olds. We had some lovely runs together over the Christmas holidays. Being 27 years old Kathryn was soon back to fitness. Cycling was limited to a 2 mile commute (uphill there, downhill back) although we did spend 6 days touring Sardinia together in February – quite slowly on Donkey bikes. Kathryn invested in some rollers and did some great sessions indoors. At Easter Kathryn did the Audax Glastonbury 100 mile ride with me. Her first 100 miler.
We both did the Bristol Harbourside Triathlon in June.
I was training really hard and Kathryn had done very little. She wasn’t 100% well on the day (normal for teachers I think) but she seemed to just manage on her natural ability, inherent fitness and youth. (Kicking me firmly into touch!)
So by this time Bolton Ironman was only 5 weeks away. Of course – so was the end of term and although Kathryn did manage a couple of 100 mile rides, a trail marathon and one open water swim – her training was scant to say the least.
The end of term happened – the NQT year was passed with flying colours and off to Bolton she went. Ironman Bolton is a well organised, huge event and a very exciting race to be part of – participating or spectating.
The swim is at a lake called Pennington Flash. The weather at 6am at the swim start was appalling – torrential rain and also windy.
The heavens opened during the swim and the spectators were as wet as the athletes. Kathryn had a great swim – especially considering she had never swam that far before – and exited the water after 3.9 km in 1hour 17minutes.
We were relieved to see Kathryn emerge from transition sensibly dressed for the weather in a waterproof jacket but more importantly with a smile on her face.
So off she went on the 180km bike course – up hill, down dale, across moors and on very wet roads.
We were able to catch sight of Kathryn several times on the bike course and she was cheerful and doing very well. A little slower than expected due to the horrendous weather conditions and the hills.
Kathryn hadn’t had time to recce the course and in any case she actually preferred not to know what she was in for!
Unfortunately both my phone and camera ran out of battery before the run element, partly due to the cold, wet conditions.
Kathryn completed the bike element in 7 hours 53 minutes and came into transition looking really solid. By now the rain had stopped and the sun had come out. Kathryn set off on the marathon run looking very strong and still very cheerful. It was all going well. We were able to see her at 12k, 22k and 32k and with only 10k left we were feeling very relieved as it seemed to be in the bag!!!
How wrong we were. As we waited at the red carpet hoping for a sub 14 hour finish we became increasingly concerned as the time passed by and no sign of Kathryn. Then the phone rang. Kathryn had collapsed about 3km from the finish. It seemed her body had just decided it had had enough. (Kathryn had written her emergency contact number on the back of her running number). She was initially taken care of by members of the public and then the Police and medics took over. She had a rest and was checked over thoroughly and was then allowed to continue. We reached her just as she had started to walk towards the finish accompanied by 4 local lads who were spectating the race dressed as Superheroes. They were the guys who had initially cared for her and who had phoned us to tell us what the delay was.
We walked with her towards the finish and with about 400m to go she picked up into a decent pace and was able to run up the red carpet to the finish in a fantastic time of 14 hours 45 minutes and 58 seconds.
It was quite an emotional day!