Helen Graham…..You Are An Ironman !!!!!!
Helen's 3rd attempt at completing 140.6 miles of triathlon
was a great success. All the sweeter following the missed bike
cut-off in Florida 2015 and the retirement during the Florida 2016
swim due to breathing difficulties.
Helen entered Ironman Louisville 2017 at the beginning of
the year but injury and ill health prevented her from following a
conventional training plan.
Preparation consisted of regaining the ability to run long
distances, swimming as much as possible in Ardingly reservoir and
learning to enjoy cycling fast down hills.
Helen attempted to change her swim style from
breast-stroke to freestyle in 2017 but progress was slow and for
Louisville she reverted back to breast-stroke.
In summer 2107 Helen completed the Prudential London
Ride-46 and the Penticton Long Distance Triathlon (3km,120km,30km).
However, just a few weeks before Louisville she missed the bike
cut-off at Weymouth 70.3 having struggled with hypothermia and
sea-sickness during the swim.
The volunteers and local athletes at Louisville were very
friendly and encouraging with lots of positive advice.
The 3.8km wet-suit swim in the Ohio River was moderately
challenging and busy despite the rolling-start with around 2,500
athletes. The first third of the swim is against the current then
the rest of the swim has the current in your favour but then the
water is more choppy. Overall this is a relatively fast Ironman
swim course and Helen's 1:35:02 ranked her 2,201st coming out of
the swim. This was the first time that Helen had ever managed to
draft off another swimmer for a substantial time during a
The 112mile bike course is relatively benign with rolling
hills, good surface and picturesque scenery. However, a storm hit
during the second half of the cycle with heavy rain and high winds.
Leaves, twigs, branches and fruit blown from the trees made
sections of the road hazardous for cycling but the race continued.
Helen completed the cycle in 7:58:02 and was placed 2,208th overall
at that time.
The Louisville 26.2mile run has a pleasant mostly flat
course with good crowd support and a wonderful finish line
atmosphere. The run is a big challenge even for triathletes who are
good runners because there is so much fatigue by the final stages
of an Ironman race. However, Helen knew that she would complete the
race within the cut-off times having completed both the swim and
cycle faster than expected. Plenty of time to do a comfortably
paced run whilst enjoying every moment of this much anticipated
experience. The Louisville finish is one of the best on the Ironman
circuit with lots of bright lights, music and enthusiastic
supporters as runners hit the red carpet that takes them to the
arch that is located in the centre of the vibrant "Fourth Street
Live" entertainment and retail complex.
Helen's 5:38:48 run allowed her to overtake 459 athletes
so that she finished 1,749th overall. Finish time
There were 2,271 finishers from the 2,750 athletes
registered and it appears that around 2,500 started the
Helen arose early next day to get in the queue for
finishers kit and purchased everything available in her size.
Apparently these trinkets will be needed for the lifetime of
bragging to come.
Helen is hugely grateful for all the support from family
and friends, especially those at Mid Sussex Triathlon Club and We