Shock Absorber Women Only Challenge

About a month ago the opportunity to do a second triathlon arose. It was the Shock Absorber Women only challenge, at Dorney Lake again – very flat, closed off to cars etc. and I had a bit of an idea about the place so I thought it would be smooth sailing.

I roped in a friend who I swim with, Stephanie, and it was very short, which was ideal because I’m still not terribly fit and just wanted to get round the whole thing. I was meant to be getting a running blade on the Friday before the triathlon on the Sunday, so was very excited at the thought of being able to run faster, more easily, less painfully etc. than I had been running previously. But, as things often go, that plan didn’t quite work out and I didn’t get it that day. That was fine, I would just run it on the foot I’ve been running on for a while now.

However, that day I had a new socket put onto my walking leg and a new style of liner. It didn’t feel great and wasn’t quite right, because they didn’t have a certain item in stock, leaving it too long, but I took it away and had a go on it. That evening, after wearing it for about fifteen minutes, I took it off to find the back of my leg behind my knee had been rubbed quite badly. Not nice. It was weeping and had lost some of the skin.

The next morning, I couldn’t wear my leg at all because it was incredibly sore and continued to rub. So I stayed off it all day, hoping for the best. I’d heard about things like this happening to others, but had been very lucky that I hadn’t had to have any days off my leg until this point.

Sunday morning I could just about walk on it, it was scabbing up nicely, but there was no way at all I’d be able to run on it. I was a bit gutted because I couldn’t run in the Arctic ONE triathlon due to broken ribs and had been so excited to do the whole thing. I wanted to complete it, so doing the run on crutches or in a wheelchair were my two options. However as we pulled into Dorney Lake, huge grey clouds loomed over us. Running on crutches for 2.5k, when I haven’t used them for about six months, wouldn’t be safe if it was very wet. So wheelchair it was.

I sorted out my stuff in transition and was delighted to be met by someone running transition who had been at the previous one I did, so who was very clued up with what someone with one leg might need, making it all very straight forward which was a huge help.

The water was 21.8 degrees, and at 22 wetsuits would have been banned so I was pleased that they weren’t. Just as we were about to go over to the start, the rain started. Quite lightly at first. So I wheeled over instead of using crutches and popped in. The massive different to last time was that there were heaps of people in the same wave (117 according to the results). That’s a lot of people to swim with. We stayed nearish the back of the start and after a quick race brief, the klaxon went and we were off. Starting near the back was a mistake. I always think that I’m a slow swimmer, but actually I’m an alright swimmer and we were stuck behind lots of people swimming a lot slower than we wanted to. So we overtook a few and did the 200m swim (I know, short) in 4mins 13, being 26th out of the 117 which I was chuffed with.

I was helped out of the water and got over to my stuff. By this point the rain was chucking it down and everything was soaked. Including my leg, socks, liner etc. Basically everything that needed to be dry. But I chucked it all on regardless and stumbled off with my bike. Transition was pretty big and most others ran with their bike, but with my bike shoes not making running easy at all and the leg moreorless sliding off every step, that wasn’t really an option. The cycle was good, if a little wet, and it felt wonderful to overtake lots of people and my time was 28th out of 117.

I got back in and transferred to my wheelchair quickly and was out, but I haven’t used a wheelchair since I came out of hospital and it’s a normal wheelchair, not a racing wheelchair. And by this point we were in torrential rain. Without gloves I could hardly grip the rims and it was difficult. I’d left Stephanie on the cycle but she quickly caught up with me on the run and pushed me on and off throughout. It was difficult, but quite amusing and everyone else on the run was super supportive which was lovely.

We got to the finish and we were totally soaked through. Leg, clothes, wheelchair etc. – everything. But it had been great fun and was a really nicely organised and friendly event, and it is so good to see so many women out there involved in sport. I can’t wait to do more!

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