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Laura’s Story

Well, what a series this is developing into – another inspirational and motivational story, this time from Laura Homer, who is about to embark upon another remarkable year of challenges.

Thank you Laura – this is an excellent blog...

Please read, enjoy and share:

So I was asked to write a summary of 2015, Facebook recently reminded me of my New Year post in which I stated that 2015 was to be the scariest year yet!! And that was due to the challenge I had set myself of the Outlaw – my first full distance.

I came to Triathlon from a swimming background and more recently running – early morning swims and training have been part of my DNA from a young age and running started through a drunken bet that I would run the London Marathon the following year. I completed my first marathon in 2009 (London Marathon) going on to complete 13 marathons over the next 4 years. Then in 2013 after attending an Embrace training camp with both Triathletes and runners – I realised that having a good base ability in 2/3 tri disciplines meant that I really should give Triathlon a go! I procrastinated for another few months because this meant learning how to ride a bike. My sister recently reminded me about my first time on the bike in late 2013 in which I struggled to get around Redbridge cycling centre it was bad, it was really bad. I seriously questioned if it would ever be possible to actually complete a triathlon “never say never”. I met Kay and Mark (Havering Tri) at the Aquathlon in 2013 and by the end of 2014 I had completed 2 sprints, 2 Olympic distance triathlons and signed up for the Outlaw!

I started 2015 in complete and utter disbelief that I would be able to finish the Outlaw. During Jan / Feb I was going out on the bike struggling with 40-50 mile rides. How was I ever going to complete 112miles and still have the legs or time for a marathon?

In March I contacted the organisers of The Outlaw to ask about pulling out and knew that as long as I pulled out before April I would be able to get 75% of my fee back and my mind was 60% made up that I would be pulling out. Why I had ever thought I would be able to achieve the distance haunted me, I did not want to give up but I just did not think I was capable of doing something that seemed so impossible. I carried on training focusing mainly on the swimming and running, my comfort zone. I had confided in a couple of people about my fears and they were ever supportive, trusting that whatever decision I made was the right one. The HT training camp came and went; I had 4months until the event and 1 month to decide if I was going to pull out. I was still only riding about 60miles and I was finding that hard. My confidence on the bike was going backwards as I was becoming more nervous, I don’t give up easily but I am a realist and setting myself up to fail was not something I wanted to do. I was looking at the others who had completed the distance Les, Danny and Mark – I was nowhere near their ability so how was I ever going to do something so big?

I am not sure what it was exactly that meant I did not pull out, pride maybe stubbornness. I know that when I eventually confessed my fears to Les (my mentor) he was not prepared to accept that I would pull out. When someone has that much confidence in you, you begin to question your fears rather than your ability. It was May when I completed my first 100 mile ride on my own at the Essex Redbridge ride, I remember getting off the bike and still being able to walk – I started to believe that maybe, just maybe I could do this as long as I completed the bike in around 8 hours I could walk the marathon. I started to believe that I could at least make the cut off and now it was just the fear of how the challenge ahead of me would bloody hurt!

The next few weeks went by in a blur – training, sleeping and then life. Ironman 70.3 Staffs arrived on June 14th – this was my first real test to see if this was really achievable. On the morning of the event waking at 4am, travelling to the start and waiting to get in the lake was torture – why was I doing this.

I did it; I remember getting off the bike after 56 miles and the grin from ear to ear was so big. The feeling of going over the line at Staffs, I could not have been any happier if I had won the whole event. That was the most amazing feeling I have ever had at a triathlon. I was on top of the world.

It was now only 4 weeks until the big one and the last few weeks and days were a blur. There is nothing more you can do by that point and I walked around in a daze as the event got closer and closer. My head was lost and I just needed to get it over and done with, now there was no going back. Every so often I would catch myself and would tear-up at the immense task that I had before me.

The Day

I have never felt as much fear as I did that morning waiting to start the outlaw; I could not be around any of the others – Graham whilst helping me in transition grabbed hold of me and told me to stop shaking!! I could feel the adrenaline, the world felt heavy and I just wanted to cry. I wanted a hug; I wanted to be told it was ok. Getting in the water was an out of body experience lots of people around me, someone on a megaphone pumping people up – everyone chanting outlaw, outlaw… I took a deep breath and lowered myself into the water about a minute before the gun went off – BANG – I started to swim and for the first few moments of the race you concentrate on getting space but in my head going over and over was, ‘I am doing this race – I am doing it’. I loved the swim and getting out literally just behind Danny in 1hr 5mins I was ecstatic, we shouted good luck in Transition and he was gone. I had some real lows on the bike at about 80 miles, it had been raining for hours and I had a moment of ‘how was I ever going to finish the last 30 miles’ it was relentless (this is where those distraction techniques are needed). There was someone for the last few miles who I rode near and we took it in turns to overtake, drop back. Then before I knew it – I was finishing the bike ride it had taken me 7 hours 10 minutes. I was over the moon as I knew that I would be able to finish and I would get inside the cut off of 17 hours. During that run I had some of the darkest moments of that race. At about 9miles I remember having a conversation with myself as you do!! I was convinced that I had hyperthermia and that I was going to die! I was running but my body was so cold, I could not stop to drink as my body would shake uncontrollably so all the drink in the cup would spill. I did not understand how I was running but my body would not warm up… I sobbed and sobbed; I was not in pain I was just so cold. I continued like this until about the 21st mile in which I stopped at an aid station and begged to have one of their ponchos they gave me a black bin bag. Suddenly the world was ok again, I remember running past the clock that I had seen as I got out from my swim which had read 1.05 now read 13.02. I only had 5km left and suddenly I realised that I was going to break my own secret target of 14hrs… I finished in 13hrs 34mins… I was an Outlaw, I had managed to get through the race, and I had blown my own target of not only completing it but also of 14hrs… I was invincible at that moment… I had done it; I had finished with time to spare. Graham, Nikki, Danny and Les made the experience something I will never forget. Due to my own self-doubt there had been people who didn’t think I would be able to do it and I had proved to these people that I was capable of being an OUTLAW. A lifetime of bragging rights, I am an OUTLAW.

I am reminded occasionally by Danny and Mark about that first club ride in my cleats, it took me about 10mins to gain the courage to push off from the pavement and cycle – both of those Ironmen looking at me like I was mad in utter disbelief. This was the start of a love story in which I could not help but fall in love – like any relationship I hate it at times but I am not sure that I could live without it. I have 2 full distances booked for this year and now I have a time to beat. I still have a long way to go on my bike – if you ever ride behind me indicting is still a problem, I still feel the fear before any race that I start and avoid open water as much as possible but what I hope you can learn from me is that obstacles are what we see when take our eyes off the goal, it is human nature to place them there but you measure the size of your accomplishments by the personal obstacles you overcome. We all have our own obstacles and we all have our own goals. But whatever your goal, your first tri, your first open water swim – everything is possible, don’t give up especially when you are part of a team like we are at Havering Tri. They are friends who will be with you for every step of the Journey for every obstacle whatever it may be that you need to overcome for you to be able to achieve your goal.

Let’s all SMASH IT in 2016.

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