Date posted 28 Jun 2021

Karen is a Pilates a Spinning ®Group Cycle fitness instructor at Cockermouth Leisure Centre and has in the past complete a number or short sprint triathlons. During Covid lockdowns she entered and completed two virtual half Ironmans ( 70.3) organised by the Lakesman team. She completed both of these virtual events in the day (56mile bike ride & 13.1 mile run).

As a result of completing the 1st virtual Lakesman in lockdown she decided to enter the real event in 2021. She followed a 14 week training plan consisting of weekend long bike rides and long runs as well as midweek swim training and shorter bike and run sessions. Although the gyms and swimming pools were closed in the initial phase of her training she managed to fit in the training in the beautiful surroundings within Allerdale where she lives.

Karen said that the training for the event (2021 Lakesman Triathlon 70.3) gave her focus during the most recent lockdown  as it did for many other people training for this event.  At 55 this was Karen’s first non-virtual half Ironman 70.3 attempt.

Her swim training started at GLL’s Cockermouth Centre having not swam for a number of years and Karen found it great to be back in the pool. She hadn’t swam in a lake since she was a child, but with the encouragement of a group of friends, 8 weeks prior to the event, started swimming in the Scenic Bassenthwaite Lake, only a 5minute drive from Cockermouth.  Karen says “it was 2 degrees outside that 1 st morning and the water temperature was 10 degrees, but this didn’t put me off, but I must admit I was glad of my hot water bottle and flask of coffee when I got out!.’

On the day of the event Karen said she was both excited and very nervous, on arrival at the event she realised she had left her ankle tag at home, but the fantastic Lakesman volunteers and staff quickly got her a replacement but this resulted in  her transition set up was “unique” and a little rushed! Once the new timing tag from the marshals was securely on her ankle, she stood in the queue for the swim with her mask on all nerves disappeared and she focused on the race ahead.

“As soon as I got into the water for the Swim, all my nerves disappeared. I started passing people and could see the marker buoys and the water support canoes, I had good clear vision of the end of the swim. The views of Catbells and Causey Pike in the distance is a memory I will never forget”

She exited the water in a good time and was ready for the 56mile bike ride.

Karen told us “The bike transition went well and I was off. I felt strong and the weather was kind light winds and sunshine. But at around mile 35 into the bike ride, at one feed station, I reached for a banana, but disaster struck! The bike slid from under me and I ended up landing on my wrist. My gears were bent, but I got back up, got my big girl pants on and got back on my bike. One of the marshals straightened my gears and I carried on, unable to change gears with my left hand! Karen says one of her mottos has always been ‘never, ever, ever, give up’!

Karen told us “On the run transition I shouted for some ice and the onsite medics immediately strapped an ice pack to my wrist. The support of the volunteers on the feed stations and the crowds made it an easy run, along with the warm weather and the beautiful backdrop of the Siddaw in the distance I felt I was getting more energised and faster with each lap.”

Karen finished the race, despite having fracturing her wrist. She said “the sense of achievement seeing the finish carpet, hearing the crowds cheer, and coming 3rd in my age group, was such a fantastic sense of achievement for my first half ironman 70.3 Triathlon! This inspired me to enter again for 2022 within 24 hrs of finishing!”

She told us that if anyone out there is thinking of trying out the sport of Triathlon look for your local club they can provide lots of training support and advice or local GLL gym is a great place to start your training.

Finally,she told us ‘remember you can always achieve more than you think, you just have to give it a go and remember never, ever, ever, give up’

Well done Karen and we wish you a speedy recovery!