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My last long distance race, Challenge Henley 2013

photo:
at the finish line, enjoying a special moment, Stephens 2nd place in the mens and my win with Stephens Dad John, Stephen and Charlie, Stephens brother Mark, his wife Lucinda, Stephens Mum Sandra and me.

On Sunday I raced Challenge Henley.  My last long distance race of my triathlon career.  The time had come where I had decided that a change in my life was needed.  The years of doing Ironman had taken its toll on my body, now a mother of a 2 year old little boy my priorities are different, I have had my time of being a selfish athlete, I think it is time to stand back, look after my little boy and support Stephen in his final few years of being a full time triathlete.  It is time for me to begin my new plan in my life, of helping others, giving others the opportunities that my coaches have given me over the years.

I had not been enjoying the days before many of my races in the past year, I had been getting so nervous that the fun part of racing was disappearing but after announcing my retirement I felt different in the days leading into the Challenge Henley race.  I was less nervous, maybe I had a sense of relief that Henley was my last long distance race and maybe I was actually enjoying the whole preparation rather than being so nervous.  We had decided whatever the result, I would just try to enjoy the whole day, smile as I went around and be happy if I came 1st or last.
I came out the swim with Julia Grant a few minutes down on Yvette.
At 15km on the bike I passed Yvette and at half way on the  bike I had a pretty good gap on the others, this was where I think I began to think about the possibility of another Iron distance win.  Another Iron distance win!!  That was something I have been trying to do since having Charlie!  I tried to be sensible and remember it was a long day ahead, still 90km on the bike and a 3 hour + run to do, so I tried not to get carried away in my dreams,
but as time went on the gap grew and I could’nt stop thinking of one more iron distance win.   Finishing my career with not 15 iron distance wins but 16.  That would be perfect and amazing.  It was at this point of the race I stopped relaxing and smiling.  The old Bella was back, the focused, determined and desperate to win Bella.
I got off the bike with a really good lead, maybe 25 minutes, I should have relaxed, but I didn’t!  I decided I would do everything I could to make sure I won.  I had been fuelling well and I felt ready to run.  I felt better on those first 25km of the run than I have felt for years!  My confidence was back.  I concentrated hard, and oh the feeling when I got to the finish line!  Such a warm welcome from the crowds.
My dream come true, my 16th iron distance win on my last race, met at the finish line with Stephen and Charlie.