Headteacher’s blog 22.09.2022

Shwmae and welcome back to this week’s blog. This week looks a little different as we forgo our usual blog to celebrate the amazing achievement of our very own Mr Wheeler. Here is his account of what it is really like to take on one of the countries most gruelling sporting events. Da iawn Mr Wheeler, we are all extremely proud. 

All it takes is preparation, determination and a focus on working one minute after another after another

Mr Wheeler
What is it like to do a long-distance triathlon? Swim, Bike, and Run in that order. Well, first of all you get up really early, because you are starting at 7am. I did just that on Sunday 11th in Tenby for Ironman Wales, with nearly 2000 others from all over the world.
The sun rose slowly over the sea, as had the surf.  We that live in Pembrokeshire have such a lot to be grateful for. We can swim around the coast most times of the year. It was rough, but it was a race, and I was glad I had practiced plenty. After a minute’s silence and national anthems, we were off. I loved it. It was rough, but I was totally prepared for a tough 2.4mile swim.  When you have to race total of 140.6 miles you have to get your pace right. Keep going! Whatever happens – keep on going! I set a steady pace and 1hour 2 minutes later – I was out and running up the zig-zag ramp into the huge screaming crowds of Tenby.  
On race day – I focus on one thing? What is next? I had practiced exactly where to find my running shoes on the zig-zags, Now I could run properly, trying to get myself out of the wetsuit before arriving at the transition station, where it was time to pick the clothes for the second stage, 112 miles on the bike. For me, that is like cycling from my home in Haverfordwest to school and back a total of 9 times. 
There is a lovely feeling in getting that swim done well. There were very few people ahead of me. I knew I was faster than most, and the rest were going to catch me on the bike, which is exactly what they did. I knew I was going to get my name called out by loads of people who knew me as they sped of ahead of me. No worries – I am here for the long haul. I had not trained very well for the bike this year. It is tough, Pembrokeshire has a few hills in it. Some in the quiet of the countryside are nice and quiet, and then there is Saundersfoot. St Brides hill is known as ‘Heartbreak Hill’ because it is steep, and it is long. That’s why the crowds gather 3 deep to watch the pain on your face.
So I hammered the pedals along the seafront and carried as much momentum as possible to the hill. It got me a little way up before I had to put 100% effort into it in the lowest gear possible. I heard friends calling my name, and decided to wind up the crowd a little…
“C’mon Saundersfoot – I can’t hear you!” I screamed and shook my fist in the air. The crowd roared and it took my mind off the burning sensation building in the legs. Well – that got me a quarter of the way up and the crowds thinned.
The thing about the Ironman triathlon, is that the challenge is as much mental as physical. The bike route takes you to Angle in the west. Mostly flat, but with some nasty corners, and sand all over the road at Freshwater West. It then takes you back to Tenby, close to the finish, but no – you have to take in Templeton, Narberth and Saundersfoot, Twice.
I saw my daughter cheering me on the next hill, getting into New Hedges. a bit of family support was great.
By the time of the second lap – it was raining hard, and riding was getting very tricky. People were getting tired and the accidents were starting.
Fortunately – I know the route well having finished Ironman Wales 4 times before. I had to act early to dry the brakes out before the bends and downhills. Modern bikes with disc brakes were passing me as they are better in the wet. 
Saundersfoot came around again, the slightly damp crowd was still there so I wound them up once more – 
“C’mon Saundersfoot – I still can’t hear you!” – Cheers and laughter again.
I was starting to overtake people now, as a result of taking things steady and not being disheartened by a bit of Pembrokeshire rain.
Getting back to Tenby meant it was time to change to the next step, running.
You have to be careful to obey the rules. Dropping litter, cheating by cycling right behind another rider, or even putting your bike back in the wrong place can get you disqualified. That would be a waste after months of training and 114+ miles of serious effort. I had taken note of where my allocated bike racking place was, and hobbled there trying to look as if I was still racing.
The rain had almost stopped, the bike safely stashed and now it was time to change to running shoes. 
Ahead lay 4 laps of Tenby to New Hedges totalling 26.2 miles. I felt really sick. You can burn 6000 to 8000 calories on an event like this. Flapjack, sports drinks, bananas and all sorts. It wasn’t lying well on my stomach this time. I focussed on walk, run, walk, run, keep going, minute after minute. It is so easy to give up, go into the dry, stop the pain, but this is Ironman and there are tens of thousands in Tenby to watch. I don’t know if it was the rough sea, or the result of a spill off the bike four days earlier, but I felt dizzy and was leaning a bit to the left as I started to run.
It took 2 laps before I felt better, Let’s do this. As it got dark I saw my training buddy Simon on the other side of the road and tried harder to see if I could catch him. The competition was good for me and took my mind off things. As it was – I couldn’t catch him but finished and was happy to see my family right on the line.
13hours 46minutes 24seconds after entering the water, I was back in Tenby, sore, tired, desperately fed up of sugary calories. My race number 668 was torn, soaked in sweat and will get pinned on the wall to remind me of the day. I loved it, especially the swim. It looks as if over a hundred people did not make it. They may not have trained well enough, they may have been unlucky with breakdowns on the bike, they may have had accidents on the slippery roads, so lets hope they pick themselves up and decide whether they want to have another go. All it takes is preparation, determination and a focus on working one minute after another after another.
Pictures courtesy of Julia Barker Photography and Tracey Spivey.
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GCSE POD is a fantastic resource which Milford Haven School continues to promote amongst learners and their parents/carers.

GCSE POD holds a wealth of support for a range of subjects, with some content specific for KS3 as well as KS4. Learners are encouraged to use their MHS Google log-in to access the site and start exploring the site which could prove extremely beneficial for our KS4 learners.
Please look at the following parent site tour where you can see what is on offer: https://bit.ly/2P1hJKZ
Young person’s mental health toolkit from HWB.
Below is a link to the young person’s mental health toolkit from HWB, designed for 11 to 25-year-olds. Here you will find six playlists to direct you to a wide range of online resources to help you through the lockdown and beyond. In each of the playlists you’ll find self-help websites, apps, helplines, and more that are here to support your mental health and well-being.
Please remember: if you’re finding it difficult to cope, make sure you speak to someone you trust. Who this might be is different for everyone, but it might include family members or carers, a teacher, a helpline, or a doctor. How you feel is important and lots of people are here to help if you need them.