I fought for space over 1,2 miles of sea with 500 other girls and again as the 18-29 year old men caught me in the last 0.2 miles. I avoided chest and face kicks and managed, like a pro, to unzip my wetsuit and correctly lower it to its permitted hip height as I exited the water in 41 minutes - ahead of the 1:10hr cut off.
I rode 55 miles without falling off at the mount and the dismount. I rode up 7.7km of incline without ever putting a foot down and even overtaking a few other women. I took more than a dozen hairpin corners and descended (at the fastest point I would take my eyes off the road) at around 41kph and confidently kept a tight right line while more than 6 other cyclists attacked the same corners at double the speed. I crushed the insect that got stuck in my cycling top and kept stinging me! I pushed hard to reach 30kph in relentless headwinds in the final 30kms as other female competitors began to drop. I took 1:15hrs off my expected finish time.
And I ran 13.1 miles of loops in the sun while my arches got pins and needles and at the finish my hamstrings started to cramp. I completed the run only 10 mins slower than I have done on fresh legs.
I was cheered by the best support crew ever: my mum and her 5 closest friends, Jon who had a might of logistics and maths to track me. And the men on the bike who passed me, reading my shirt and my name and calling it out to offer encouragement, humour, camraderie and respect.
And I smiled. A lot. Out of the water with a mouth numb with salt, coming off the bike, though with a forehead full of dismount concentration. Past locals sitting in their driveways calling "Vamos chica" and at small children on the run willing to high five a hand sticky with salt, sweat, gel, and snot.
That day, I reached a milestone in my journey of learning what I can do with my body, how training can dramatically change its shape and abilities. And how strong the mind is to make a physical effort possible but also to prepare for success.
I learned that no man is an island ' that I could not have done this without the practical financial support of my mum, as well as her love, that of Jon´s and of the sacrifices he made too. I learned that I needed the belief of my supporters that enveloped me 24-7 - some of my closest friends and some who are friends I have not yet met!
Most of all I learned how all of this can come together to creare an amazing fundraising opportunity for a cause I have been long associated with. How together we can spread the word about Freedom from Torture, how together we were able to put at least one life back together. Their dedication to torture survivors affects me to inspire you to support them too.
I return to the UK on the 21 May where I will attend the Freedom from Torture meeting that evening to report back on success. I know what we have already achieved - can we do more? Thank you for your support. If you know someone who would like to be part of this journey please share this email, my blog, or tell them about what we have achieved. Tell them what inspires you, and see if we can spread it just a little further.
Half Iron Woman
Freedrom from Torture fundraiser