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Heartbroken!

3 May

To some people ironman is stupid. They can’t understand why you’d want to do something which takes over your life, causes so much pain and requires so many sacrifices.  To me, it’s what kept me going when I had to deal with a diagnosis of a congenital heart defect and subsequent surgery. I achieved my goal of completing an Ironman and I’m so grateful I got the chance to. It really was the best day of my life!

Today, my chances of doing another have been taken away. I’ve received the official ‘no’ to another half or full IM from my sports specialist consultant cardiologist. Over the last few weeks I’ve experienced symptoms including chest pain, breathlessness, palpitations, wheezing – all not exactly confidence building with a race next week! I made the decision to stop and get it checked.

My VO2 test revealed figures that meant enough is enough. I am fit, healthy and I want to say that way. My heart, with years under a lot of pressure per-operation, just doesn’t like ironman training.  Carrying on now would risk shorting my life and heart failure. That’s good enough for me. It’s not me giving up….

I made a deal with him that if I quit ironman, he will give me a place, support and monitor me to attempt the London marathon one more time next year! I will still love all things swim, bike and run and will never give up but I need to have a break from it for now. I think it will take time to process, giving up a total of 6 races, including my two iron distances is heart-breaking (!), I am totally devastated to miss Mallorca 70,3, Roth and IM Western Australia, amongst other races, but I know it’s the right decision.

I will be back!

2012 – Heart Surgery to Ironman Year!

8 Jan

2012 was always going to be a big year! It was the year I turned 30, had lots of life, work and situational changes and of course, continued to work towards my big goal. In the space of 2 years, I went from heart surgery to the finishline of Ironman Austria and achieved my dream. I started 2012 in a positive way, building on a good 2011 season and very keen to work hard, buidling mileage over the winter. I enjoyed the routine of ironman training, early swim sessions, meeting  for long rides with friends in all weathers, running longer and generally feeling fitter. I dedicated the first 6 months of the year to Ironman, religiously sticking to my training plan (well, nearly!), eating healthily and avoiding alcohol!!

My training took a sharp increase when I headed out to Lanzarote for a week’s hard cycling. This was a definite highlight of the year, as it really tested me to my limits. The challenge of warm temperatures, wind and the immense climbs pushed my physical ability much more than I had ever experienced. I loved each day of cycling, seeing the stunning island and learning a lot about Ironman training and nutrition (see pic!). Pizza, chips, chips and more chips. This holiday was a highlight of my year, but it was also both a low and learning point afterwards when I ended up in hospital! A humbling moment occured where I was faced with giving up my dream of ironman. More about my Lanza experience can be found here: Lanzarote 2012

Other highlights included: My first 100k ride in February – this was my longest ride at this point, involved lots of navigation as I couldn’t keep up with the group, and the conditions were less than ideal, ice everywhere! I remember the feeling of achievement when I finished though, each time I went further on the bike, I loved cycling a little bit more! By April, I was ready to take part in a New Forest Wiggle sportive. 83 miles later, I was bursting with happiness and proudly showing off my medal!

The first time I completed 100 miles, back in June, I took the below photo of my watch. I couldn’t quite believe that I had done it. I had borrowed a friend’s tri bike a couple of weeks before in preparation for Austria and this was my second time out on it.  A solo ride, around the stunning D0rset Purbecks, I actually loved every minute.

By spring, it was all about triathlon. My olympic distance race in the New Forest was cancelled due to bad weather and I was so disappointed that I went on my turbo for 90 minutes then straight into a 9.5 mile run along the beach in a sandstorm! A photographer even asked to take pictures of me because I obviously looked completely crazy on an otherwise deserted seafront! My next race was Beaver middle distance in May, and my first DNF (did not finish!). Injuries plagued me throughout the year and with only 6 weeks until Ironman Austria, I had to take the decision half way through the run of this race. A huge learning point! Being strong enough to walk away from a race took more than I thought! There was a bit of a grumpy Corinne at the finish, I saw my friends finish then sped off to work and entertained people with my pond-weed styled hair and delightful smelling wet-wipe washed body!

The highlight of July, and my whole year, was obviously Ironman. Even though this was 6 months ago, I am still buzzing with the memory of that day. The time, energy, support, commitment and dedication that it took to get to the start line, as well as the finishline, will always be my biggest achievement and what 2012 was all about for me. Here is My race report.

After Austria, I was really tired and the cumulation of a hectic and emotionally draining 6 months caught up with me. I had to learn to rest when I needed to, otherwise the dreaded multitude of injuries would be back to haunt me. Finding a balance was one of the key learning points for me in 2012. Remembering to have fun, to stop working so hard, to spend more time with those close to me and to listen to my body was what 2012 taught me.

Other milestones of the year included my first 3.8k open water swim and long training runs of up to 22 miles in preparation for the Amsterdam marathon in October. This race was definitely a learning point, as despite training hard in the months leading to the marathon, on the way, I crashed and burned in a big way! It made me appreciate what I had asked my body to do during the year and that sometimes you have to just approach an event as fun, especially when in Amsterdam! I didn’t achieve my sub 4 goal but learnt a valuable lesson about simply finishing what I set out to achieve, doing your best on the day and having a big fat rest afterwards (aka a big night out in the Dam!).

Talking of fun, 2o12 was a year of celebrations, 30th birthday style! A trip to Prague was the first stop, with 3 nights of European fun and games. Next it was on to Las Vegas for adventures partying, pole dancing, vodka, nachos, big blisters, ledge ledges, room service and a concierge named Ron (don’t ask!). Before getting back to some serious training, there was time for a few more nights out in Derby, Christchurch and Newcastle. You only turn 30 once! My friends have been a massive support to me this year and spending more time with them was one of my new year resolutions that I kept willingly! People I met on my journey through my eventful year all added to the excitement, variety and absolute craziness that is my life!

I might now stop talking about my heart surgery to Ironman journey, as I have completed my goal and my two iron distance races in 2013 are just the icing on the cake – I’m doing them because I can. My first Ironman will always be special because it took so much to get there. You don’t need to have a heart condition or to have surgery to aim high, I’d recommend it to anyone. Having a reason to get out of bed early in the morning gives you a focus, an enthusiasm and purpose that I cannot imagine not having now. Going on a journey such as this makes you truely grateful for those around you. Massive thanks to all my friends, family, my coach, 110 % Play Harder, Ironheart Racing Team and all those I have met in 2012 – you made my year!

Amsterdam Marathon – Marathon No 5!

24 Oct

The build up to Amsterdam followed on from my summer of Ironman training and recovery. It was great to have an aim for the autumn and alongside Vitruvian middle distance, I enjoyed having a focus for training.

Following a tough race at Vitruvian, my training then all appeared to be going well. The long runs I did gave me confidence and all was looking good for Amsterdam! I was really excited about running my second marathon since heart surgery and seeing what I had left in my legs after  a busy year!

Our weekend in Amsterdam was pretty epic, meeting great people and seeing the sights! We made sure got enough rest, sleep and carbs though. Got a few strange looks ordering pasta AND chips :) Compared to a triathlon, it was a whole lot less stressful with organisation!

I was running with one of my best friends and it was brilliant to share the race day experience with her. We got to the Olympic stadium on time, got our positions in the start pen and shivered in the drizzle before the start. This definitely put me off from ever running New York! Once the gun went off, I started off comfortably sitting at 9 minute miles, which was my intended marathon pace. I felt good and confident I could see this through. My head was in it! The miles soon ticked off and all was going well.

Once I got to around 12 miles, we ran along an out and back section along the canal where I could see the half way point. The wind picked up and I tried to tuck in behind other runners to shelter. I believed that I was on track to go though 21k in around 1:58. That’s when it all went a little bit wrong! My legs just couldn’t keep up the pace and I slipped down to 9:05, 9:10 then 9:15 minute miles. I decided to have a gel early in a bid to get some energy and did what I could to perk myself up. I was still determined to chase my goal time, so stuck it out for another couple of miles.

I went through halfway in 2:01 and was a bit disappointed but having run a couple of negative splits for long runs in my training, I thought it was still possible to push on.

After umming and ahhing before the marathon about taking music to listen to, I was really glad I had it for the next few miles. That horrible feeling when you are fighting the strong urge to stop, walk or even give up might just have been too much without my trance-y beats! The middle part of the race is a bit of a blur but as all my marathon photos show, there was a whole lot of pain! In all my races post surgery, there has been a time when I needed to use imagery to get me through a tough section. I usually imagine being in the doctors office being told I couldn’t exercise, or wouldn’t have made 40 or being in hospital post surgery being very frustrated – all dramatic images! None of this worked this time, I was just too far past being able to think clearly!

As I approached the 30k marker, I had a bit of a scary moment where I went really dizzy after stopping briefly to get a drink from the water station. I ran through this and it went off but it was at that point that I subconsciously gave up on 9 minute miles. To be honest, 10:30 felt like an 8:30 pace to me, I was out of breath, exhausted and just wanted it over!

I’ve never been so pleased to see the finishline! I saw the 4:15 pacer just ahead of me so gave it one last push to finish in that time. Not a pb for me, which was initially disappointing but on reflection, I gave it all I had on the day. A marathon is never going to be easy so I’m pleased to have another under my belt! No reason for things to end like they did on the day! The only reason is a whole lot of physical tiredness, which only decides to rear it’s ugly head in a race!

Amsterdam was a great city to visit, had a laugh with friends and really enjoyed the celebrations afterwards! I was pretty tired after Vitruvian but now I have tiredness on a whole new level. There’s only one thing for it, REST REST REST! – for now anyway :)