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Middle-aged, middle-weight, mother of 3 on mad marathon mission
Middle-aged, middle-weight, mother of 3 on mad marathon mission
When I started this blog, it was to track my progress from an occasional kayaker to taking on the Devizes to Westminster non stop 125 race. Little did I know that would start me on a long distance obsession which has resulted in my completing the 30th Marathon des Sables. It has been a strange and sometimes painful ... but always wonderfully challenging journey

This is my occasional account of a middle-age mother's attempt to take on things which are really quite beyond her.

One weekend, 2 races, a 1st, a 6th and a promotion

crawlingkiwiby crawlingkiwiApr 3rd 2011
To appreciate my level of smugness fully, you have to realise I have NEVER won a race. In any sport. I was a good dancer, played basketball and tennis to a high standard, but have never been anything other than a back of the field plodder. One of the things I like most about canoeing, is that generally, races are held in divisions - each division is ranked purely by ability and regardless of age; when you get fast enough times, you are promoted to the next division. It means that instead of always languishing at the back of the field, I can take part in a race and be competitive, which in turn spurs me on to try for a further promotion.

Saturday's 20 miler was in a K2 and wasn't a divisional race and although we were spectacularly shocking on the first few portages (where you get out of the boat and run with it), we worked together really well on the water. Others in the race were flying - entrants included the current Men's World Champion Ben Brown and around 5 of the GB Olympic squad and GB U23 squad -but we weren't phased! We had spotted our true competitors, another couple of K2s with 'similarly aged' women. While the front runners put their heads down and missed the beauty of the river between Windsor and Teddington, we plodded on happily. My partner's knee (which was dislocated in a race 3 weeks ago) was not good and made for very difficult exit and entry to the boat. But we were pleased with the time (2hr 54min) and stunned to find we had won the senior women's K2. I am now particularly proud of my thermal mug - and the box it came in, with 1st place written on it.

I was very keen to go for back to back races this weekend in preparation for the 'big one' in 3 week's time and I had found a really short hasler divisional race in Cambridge (a couple of hours away). I have been desperate to get promoted out of the bottom division and have twice been 30 seconds off promotion in the last year, so I was keen to race. It felt tough, the muscles were still tired from yesterday, but I could really feel the benefit of all the long training I've been doing. I had a poor start and just before my second turn i was knocked onto the wrong side of the buoy, so had to manouvre my way back round, losing several places and a minute or so. But unlike the races last year, I was strong to the end, kept up a good stroke rate and for once, didn't get passed by anyone in the last 1000m. I was 6th out of 23, all five finishers in front of me were promoted to Division 6 or 7 and I finally made it to div 8. What's more, I was only 20 seconds off the next division. It feels so good to be able to see the benefits of the miles I've put in since Christmas.

In the past my only 'claim to fame' was to say I'd won an Ironman competition (that and a USA tap dancing title - but more on that another time). Ok, so it was an 'answers on a postcard' competition in 220 magazine, where I won a load of kit. But now I can hold my head up high. I have finally won a sporting race. And I am damned pleased with myself.
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