Event 30 - The Grand Finale

A whole year since I started thirty4thirty I would be finishing the challenge. 30 endurance events in one year was something I did not even know was possible. I may only achieve one event or just handful before injury would prevail. However, it seemed that my body was holding up and although tired and progressively getting slower it was still moving forward. 

With a couple of months to push I thought I should start planning the very last event of the year. I wanted it to be on New Years Eve, I was hopeful that I would find an organized endurance event that would be suitable for the challenge. However, it seems on New Years Eve most people only fancy a 5km fun run before donning the glad-rags and drinking bubbles. I knew that I was going to have to create something epic instead. Hopefully, this would get people to come along and join in and then finish in a prominent place that a decent celebration could be had by all. Therefore thirty4thirty topsy-turvy triathlon was created. Using the Thames as a mechanism to get me into London before dark so I could see the fireworks go off. 

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It would firstly encompass a 30mile mountain bike from Caversham in Reading to Windsor. Starting at 7am with my friend Adelaide and brother-in-law, Simon we were off and the challenge had begun. The ride was not too strenuous but fun, with rolling hills, varied terrain and some urban navigation. Most of the bike ride followed Nation cycle route 4 which is the Thames valley link. The first couple of hours flew by, it is always great to have friends to ride with and chat to. The challenge didn’t seem really yet; I definitely did not feel to be on top form, a heavy cold was on its way and I could feel the tiredness already seeping onto my bones. However, out we popped into Windsor and were greeted by the view of Windsor castle. It is such a stunning location and that view really is breathtaking. A couple of miles further to ride over the river and we would be at the leisure centre and ready to swim. 

I was not looking forward to the swim; I hadn’t trained for a long distance swim since doing the Ironman in October. I especially don’t like swimming lengths up and down a pool. I find it very dull. I had set myself the challenge of swimming 4km, which is 160 lengths of the 25m pool. The cut off I gave myself was 1.5hours, if I didn’t complete the distance in that time it means I would be running into London way after it turned dark. 

I got into the pool. Up and down, up and down, up and down I swam getting hotter and hotter. It felt like I was swimming in a bath, my face was bright red, my head felt like it was going to explode and I was starting to feel sick. To say the least this swim was not a good experience for me. An hour and a half felt like an eternity. The lengths and the kilometres were slowly being ticked off. My band of merry support crew were also spectating, cheering me on and doing Mexican waves. This cheered me up immensely considering it was a public swimming session all of the other swimmers thought they were insane. Swimming is actually a very anti-social sport but it was nice to know that my friend Adelaide was also in the pool, also suffering with the heat and swimming up and down. 

Yay, the swim was done, I made the 4km just in time. A quick turn around and shower before getting into running kit and smashing down a peanut butter and banana jam (yes, banana jam…try it!) sarnie and I was off on a 22mile run to get to Bushy Park along the Thames Path. This time my husband, Will ran with me for the first Half marathon. It felt so nice to be running, running to me is very pure, it was lovely to be in the fresh air and back on my feet. The sickness quickly subsided as we ran through Windsor and up to the Castle. Suddenly everything felt very loose and bouncy, my sports bra had completely exploded! All straps seemed to come off and everything was jiggling all over the place. In a fit of giggles and strange looks on Windsor high street Will had to try and put my bra back together again whilst trying not to show everyone my boobs. After about 10minutes we managed to create some kind of makeshift bra and continue running. 

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The running section of this triathlon was meant to be 30km (18miles), I created it to run 22miles. Why! I have always wanted to run the Longwalk from Windsor Castle, it has been a little bucket list item since I saw people running along it on the Windsor half marathon. I am so glad I added the extra miles, it was just absolutely stunning addition. I had imagined the run to be tourist free and on a crisp and dry morning, however a very busy sweaty run would do just nicely. The long walk and Windsor estate were beautiful and before I realized it we were back on the Thames Path and had already covered 8miles. I was super chuffed and having a great time. It hadn’t yet clicked in that this was my very very last event, the emotions and the crying had not yet started but I warned myself that it would soon happen. 

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After about 10miles my sister-in-law, Ruth join us on the run. It was really lovely to run as a three. I don’t think I was the best company, I think the reflection had started and I was very quiet. Still having a half marathon to push at this point was also playing on my mind. I was struggling to keep at the pace but was also really determined to finish before 4pm. The Thames Path is a lovely place to run, it is well maintained, it wasn’t muddy and was a beautiful path getting me closer and closer to my final destination. With about 5miles to go I realized that I was running on part of the Thames that I had already run on the Dinosaur Dash (a 3 mile loop for 30miles!), that shows how much running I have completed this year, now that I am covering the same parts over and over! 

With 2miles to the end, Ruth got picked up to head to the finish and cheer me in and also give me a couple of miles to run by myself and reflect on the year. I was trying to hold all of my emotions in at this point, the tears were just about to fall but I wanted to send some videos of thank to all of the amazing donators and support throughout the year. With this done my pace increased, it was a lovely feeling to know I only had two miles to go and if I chose to I will never have to run again (unlikely, I know). I saw Hampton Court Palace which put a smile on my face as I was so close to Bushy park and the Diana fountain; just two more corners to turn and I was there. 

I entered Bushy Park and could see the fountain, the lump in my throat was massive, the feeling of relief was huge and the tears of joy started to flow. The traffic around the fountain was pretty heavy, however my amazing family were all there to cheer and spray champagne in celebration. One lovely vehicle stopped all of the traffic so that I could run to the fountain undisturbed and so there would be no cars in the photos (what a legend). 

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With champagne sprayed, tears shed and extra cuddles from everyone it was done. It was a lovely and perfect ending to a crazy year. An unbelievable year of ups and downs, happiness and pain, awareness and openness. 

I am still overwhelmed by the generosity of people, both for their support and motivation but also the donations to YoungMinds. It is staggering. Thank you. 

It I have raised awareness and helped one young person seeks the help and support they need it has all been worth it.

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