It’s been just over three weeks since Hawaii, and I think I am the slowest I have ever been – at posting my blog! I can’t believe it has taken me so long to put fingers to keyboard.

Much of what I am writing here will be a repeat of the long winded speech I gave at the Awards Dinner….apologies, but I guess that best summed up how I was feeling at the time, and it still holds true now.

I was so proud and pleased just to been on the start line at Kona – to have the chance to pit myself against some of the best and most experienced triathletes in the world is one thing I have dreamed of since I took up the sport, but never thought it would happen this quickly! I went to Kona hoping for a top ten – to win was something I hadn’t really even considered, so to cross the line as Iron Man World Champion was bonkers, amazing and incredibly overwhelming.

I arrived in Hawaii from Thailand on 4 October. It was a long flight with very crap food and no free socks or toothbrushes. It felt a bit like ground-hog day as the 4th seemed to last about 48 hours. This wouldn’t normally be a problem, but I hadn’t packed a toothbrush in my hand luggage. Two days without any dental hygiene did not make me the most pleasant of passengers..:)

Anyway, at Kona airport there were a group of musicans with hawaiian outfits (no shirts for the guys = very good dress sense), with flowers round their necks strumming away on guitars. Very cool – and epitomises everything that is great about Hawaii. The hospitality, warmth and great energy.

I stayed in a wee apartment with Scott Neyedli (this year’s IMUK winner, and fellow Brit) and a smiley Spanish guy called Eneko, who put up with my snoring and all other nocturnal noises! We were about 5miles from the centre of town, away from everything and up a 20% hill. I had a minor heart attack every day trying to climb it. I only really went down to Kona to register and go to the pro brief, where I came face-to-face for the first time with all the famous names. Many of whom i didnt know.

In terms of pre race prep, I was pretty much training as normal, with slightly reduced volume – and on Thursday and Friday I just ticked over with a 30min swim and a small run: instead concentrating on consuming vast quantities of tuna pasta and drinking enough water to float a large vessel. I had a wonderful deep tissue massage (that fine line between pleasure and pain) the week before and then a light rub down on the Thursday.

The night before the race was spent listening to the neighbours having a high volume domestic, the sound of wailing police sirens investigating the domestic, and the noise of a baby crying about the domestic. I was quite tired when the alarm went off at 4am – although I wasn’t actually that nervous, and certainly no more so than any other race. My nails told a different story though, and are still recovering from my mad munching.

The swim was pretty average – I guess it was about 3minutes down on what I wanted – but the water was warm and, as I said at the awards dinner, it was great to be able to watch all the little wee fishes and see the cameramen deep sea diving. It took me about 30km to find my rhythm on the bike, but as the sun climbed higher in the sky I felt stronger, and actually enjoyed the hill and headwind coming up to the turnaround at Havi. The boss had told me before the race – ‘don’t defer to anybody’. So when I caught the leading girls at around 130km or so I had his words ringing in my ears. I couldn’t really believe that I was leading the IM World Championships, and yes, – I didn’t even have a cool looking aero helmet on. Image is clearly not everything…:)

I felt strong going out on the run – and purposely didn’t wear a hat or a visor (so that I can maximise heat loss from my blast furnace head and make sure I get a good tan). There were a few niggles in various parts of my legs, but they came and went, and I tried to focus on other things. Like my chocolate gels and the news that England had won the rugby. I guess I never really thought I was going to win until the last 10km. I knew then that I still had enough left to finish strongly, although yes, map reading isn’t my strong point, and I had to run about 1km more than I was expecting, whilst clutching hold of the Union Jack and smiling like a mad woman. To cross the line first, and more importantly to stand there until midnight watching people achieve their dreams, is a memory that will never fade and one which I will treasure forever.

Anyone that knows me has probably been on the receiving end of one of my rants. Like a stuck record I ramble on about development to anyone that will (pretend to) listen. It is my passion, and has been for a long time. Poverty, conflict, violence, crime, exclusion and so forth are not givens. They happen for a reason. We have the power to change things. And sport is one vehicle for doing so. It has the power to build bridges, to empower, to teach, to heal – this is what triathlon and every other sport should be about. I hope that I – together with the rest of TeamTBB – can, in a small way, help to inspire people to take up sport, realise their own dreams and their full potential.

For anyone that’s interested, the following to websites are great starting points for more information – there are of course, many many more:

www.sportanddev.org
www.sportdevelopment.org.uk/
www.uksport.gov.uk/pages/international_development

I want to sign of by saying a huge thanks and congratulations to Becks, Belinda and Hilary. Thanks – for being such awesome training partners, for pushing me, for making me hurt and for teaching me so much about this crazy sport. To have 4 girls in the top 20 in Hawaii, 3 of those in the top 10, is an amazing result for the team, and proof (if ever it was needed) of the effectiveness of the Boss’ coaching.

Thanks also go out to Blue Seventy and Powerbar for all the pre-race freebies, and of course to Cervelo for the ride of my life.

It has been such an amazing year for me. I feel like I have grown up both physically and mentally – but there is still a long way to go. You only get one chance at life and the most important thing is for me to know that I have given it everything and been the best that I can be. I don’t know whether I have reached my full potential yet, and I am certainly not going to stop striving for more. But first, there is still some partying to be done!