Ironman Austria 2007
The pirate life for me…

Jul
15

I collect a medal . Shiraz gets offered one but turns it down (the plonker!). BrianTheSnail takes lots of photos – thanks again, Brian. Then I grab some water. Then we try to head back round to the course to welcome home Jim, Melli and a few others. But I’m in serious need of toilet time…. so I only catch Melli before it’s time to head to the Iron Dome where the Athlete’s Garden provides queues, t-shirts, some dodgy pizza, some goulash and some fresh clothes (note for next time – best not leave a rotten banana in with my change of clothes).

The next few hours contain some pain as I continually try to rehydrate, then rush for the loo, then try to rehydrate, then rush for the loo,… but the athletes in the tent are buzzing and on the big screen you can follow a continual stream of finishers including lots of pirates (including top effort of the day by GOM – a truely classy finish!)

Also bump into Dangerous Dave and Firestar who’ve been pulled off the bike course by the medics, into Petal who’s been pulled in T2 and I hear about Gumps who’s apparently set the new pirate record for number of drips – superb effort by all, it’s heart breaking that you didn’t make it, but shows such guts that you all tried so hard in the first place. No doubt at all that all of you can and will be back.

Time ticks away. I do a few beer runs for the spectators. I see Squishy head for the finish. Top marks for style. Then there’s the wait for Meldy… There’s talk that it’ll be close… But when we see her approaching there’s no doubting the result. A superfast finish, she sprints past the pirate supporters, runs down to the grandstand, charges though the finish arena, and zooms over the timing mat – really it takes a full rugby tackle from Fat Buddha to stop her. And 12 months on from IMDE the big screen smile says it all :-)

And so the cheeseeeee-DJ moves on to “the final countdown”, the crowd welcome home the last few finishers and then at the stroke of midnight the fireworks start and M-People’s “What have you done today?” booms out over the grandstands.

What a lot of europop hype! What a lot of M-dot marketting! What a superb party and a great way to celebrate :-)

I’m still wearing my athlete wristband now 7 days on from the race and I fully intend to make everyone who knows me sick of my “ironman” wardrobe… I’m proud to have competed, I loved racing alongside so many pirates, my heart goes out to those who didn’t finish – I look forward to your future victories! And my final thoughts are with the supporters – to my own sherpa, Shiraz, who put up with so much through training and who really knows what speial needs are all about; to Strike Force Alpha for the super soaking; to the tadpoles for the smiles and cheers; and to the virtual crew back on the forum – it meant a lot to know you were watching. Without a doubt the pirates have the best support team in the world – thanks!

Protest

Go pirates!

Jul
15

I quickly passed Doozer, then the Garmin told me I was running 4:20 per kilometer pace… so I forced myself to slow down… then I hit the pirate supporters with their spray cannons – particularly cunning that the first cannon launched a fine mist while the second directed a strong jet… then on to the heat… it was sunny… it was hot… maybe 30C?… and there wasn’t much shade… 8:01 for my first mile… force myself to slow down… grab sponges… then I notice two roadside casualties – both covered in blankets with drips attached – don’t need a much stronger hint to slow down than that… 8.44 for the next mile, then 8.41 then 8.58 then 9.27… a kid with a power hose soaks my left foot – why, you little… 9.12, 9.22, 8.16, past the pirate supporters again, 9.31, 9.11, 14.31 (a false reading in town where there are lots of buildings and some underpasses). See an ex-work colleague, Jim, for the first time – he’s only 2 or 3 minutes behind me, then see Melli – she’s maybe 20 minutes behind and there’s still plenty of tarmac left before the finish – I give her a “marine corps” chant and tell her I’ll see her soon… 9.58, 9.56 … I ask for the pirate supporters not to soak me… I get soaked… then Candy says “oh sorry” :-)

On the run

Half marathon is 2 hours 2 minutes which is cool, but I know my running is now just in survival mode and I’m waiting for Jim and Melli to catch me up… 10.21, 10.20, 10.20, I’m determined I’m not going to stop running – at every aid station I grab some ISO and some water and down it… I see Jim and Melli at the 25k turnaround… can’t work out how far behind me they are… so I just assume it’s close… 10.10, 10.36, the legs hurt, the mind isn’t thinking straight, and my stomach is in pain and producing so much gas… 10.27, past the pirate support again – there’s some cloud cover now so I throw rodiogirl my hat… 10.32, stomach really hurts… I’m aware I’ve not peed in 5 hours, I’ve not eaten solids in 3 hours, and I’ve been drinking gallons…

On the run

12.50, 13.23 (both these are false – both back through the town square again with GPS issues)… turning for home the last time – still I’ve not once stopped running… I work out I have 30 minutes to get a sub-11:30 time… 12.01, I pass Melli and Jim again, then Mr RodioGirl – they are all still at least 20 minutes behind me – so none of them has caught me… 10.37, I can hear the finishing chute from so far away…. but the course loops cruelly long – past the pirate supersoakers, I grab a pirate flag (the small print is superb!), and then finally the route cuts back towards the lakeside… 10.08….

Rude tongue!

Into the last few hundred meters and my stomach does something unspeakable – thank god for lycra hems…. the crowds are cheering, the cameras are flashing, I’m slowing, looking for pirate yellow, turn now into the last 50m long finish straight, grandstands either side, a thousand people shouting, waving, applauding and there’s Shiraz on the left… I’ve run 42.19km…. and finally I stop… Shiraz climbs over the barrier, there’s plenty of time for a snog, then there’s time to applaud the crowd, then somehow there’s a beer in my hand – thanks to whoever I stole it from… then Shiraz points out that it’s time to run up the ramp and cross the line. We charge, we hug, we pose for photos… 2.32 for the last 0.2 miles and I’ve done it – the marathon is completed and Ironman achieved.

Cross The Line

 

Run Time – 4:18:50

Jul
15

Off the bike and someone eventually took the bike off me… then I stopped to take my shoes off and discovered that my legs were keen to cramp – ouch…. then I ran off and found my carrier bag…. went into the tent… and there was Doozer again – hello! Then someone else joined us – Pebble?

I put on my shoes, then a baseball cap, then suncream… then more suncream…. the back of my neck was really sore – already very very burnt – oops!

Then just as I’d found in T1, I discovered I’d done everything I needed to do… so I left T2 ready for a marathon…

T2 Time – 4:55 – could have been a bit faster – also wish I’d put my new socks on – they were still in the bag when I left – doh!

Jul
15

First down a narrow bike path with lots of support, then out onto a big road – Shiraz is there to shout at me – hi honey!

Then on to the first group of pirate supporters – excellent supporting! Then I saw my first crash – you plonkers – don’t you realise that this is a non-competitive leisure event?

And then it was time to look at my heart rate… Now the last time I’d worn a heart rate monitor was Bala in 2006. And I had no idea what values to expect or what values to aim for…. This was my big something new on race day… I did know from one of the turbo reports that someone had aimed for a heart rate of under 130 for the flat and under 150 for the hills… so I thought I’d try that too. Only my heart rate was already 140… So I decided instead to do under 140 for the flat and under 160 for the hills…

And so it went… lots of “zuper zuper hup hup” from spectators. Lots of bling bikes passing me very quickly. Some very slow hill climbs from me (160 – yeah right?!) Then I saw Brian – well done on getting all those photos, BtS! Then I saw Firestar and Meldy coming the other way after the switchback… And overall I thought the bike course was really very pretty….

Then Mr RodioGirl came past me, then CRAB came past me (“as you were” emblazoned across his arse) then the big hill, Rupert-The-Bear, wasn’t that bad! Really – it was honestly quite short and not at all steep. And the DJ near the top was excellent – I think I got YMCA first time – cool!

H On The Bike

 

Some things that did go wrong:
- I had lots of chain trouble – I think it fell off 5 times in total (I blame the idiot who fiddled with the gears on Thursday!), although I only had to stop once to get it back on the hard way…
- I had one muppet cut across me and hit my front wheel with his rear – thanks.
- I did need a few pee stops – someone shouted “amateur” on the first of these, and on the second my aim was off so I ended up peeing on my flapjack – what a waste.
- The supplied ISO drink was lemon (YUK!), the alternative was coke (YUK!) and what I picked up seemed pretty random at each drinks station.

Then back into town… where the pirate supporters were so loud and superb (it turns out they did later get stopped and asked by the police if they were a protest – lol!)

Support on the bike

Then the turnaround… half way in 2:55 – superb! …Then back out for lap 2… although I did stop for 2 minutes at “special needs” where I found Shiraz for a snog and for a mars bar donated by Hannabelle (thanks H – MWAH!)

The second lap was like the first really. My speed was definitely flagging a bit. My heart rate was a bit higher too. And it was sunnier and hotter – I did start to wonder where I’d left my sunglasses…

Somewhere on RupertTheBear I was amazed to catch up with Mr RodioGirl – he’d decided to slow down to enjoy Falco’s Rock Me Amadeus from the DJ… although as we approached this became Queen, We Will Rock You – good hand pumping music…

I then worked out I had to push on if I wanted to get sub-6 for the bike…. so for the first time I forgot “non-competitive” and I tried to cut my way through the crowds…

One final swing past the pirate support post on the way into town – discovered only Shiraz was left – hi honey – 2 down :-)

Bike Time – 5:55:38 – my GPS measured the course a bit short but I’m *not* going to ask for any extra distance!

Jul
15

ATO is a genius – he’d taught me to mark my T1 bag with a pirate buff so finding my bag was dead easy – thanks ATO.

DSC05469

This is me getting out of the water – on the bottom right!

Then I went indoors and found Doozer… we had a little chat about the swim, then I noticed that Doozer was struggling to get dressed. I guess this was because CRAB was still making himself at home in the water… Poor Doozer… so I helped him put his clothes on before I worried about getting my own stuff ready…

First I put my bike shoes on, then I took them off, then I put my socks on, then my shoes on again, then I looked for my race number, then I found out I already had it on somehow, then I messed about with my heart rate monitor, then I did my helmet, then I pumped some suncream on (note for next time – the pump doesn’t work upside down), then I put the bike gloves on…. and then somewhat disappointingly I really couldn’t think of any other reason to stay in transition… so I decided it was time to go for a cycle…

I found my bike, pushed it to the “bike out”, got on top…. then realised my sunglasses weren’t on… oh good… do i go back? Too late now I guess… so I tried to get my cleat in the pedal… then I tried again… and again… and then I was off!

T1 Time – 7:18 – a teeny weeny bit of room for improvement here.

Jul
15

Calmly I walked in for 10 steps, then pushed myself forwards and tried a few strokes. Then I tried a few more. Then I stretched a little. And so I steadily made my way towards the yellow start line. Then I was over the start line – maybe I’d misunderstood? Maybe the end of the piers was the start line? Nope – within another 30 seconds I was past those too… but up ahead I could see some boats – maybe we’d form a line there to start the race? Nope… slowly (ridiculously slowly) I worked out I was in the race! This was it! It had started!

Swim Start

Now my plan for the swim was simple – stay out of trouble for 1km, swim hard for 1.9km, then stay out of trouble again for the last 900m in the canal. But that plan was now defunct. There were now heaps of swimmers all around me and it was more a case of stay out of trouble for the whole 3.8km… Well I did my best… I focussed on Meldy’s “non-competitive leisure event” mantra and did my best to swim in harmony with everyone around me… and by and large I managed this, although there was one pillock at the first turn who grabbed hold of my ankles with both hands expecting me to tow him along – thanks for that.

By the time we made the second turn I was getting a bit more tired. My right arm especially was feeling it a bit, not helped by some guy who kept swimming on top of it – thanks again.

But eventually I made it to the canal section and my hands hit the shallow canal bottom, and then I was in the flow of the last 900m and really there was nothing to do except follow the feet in front and watch the people on the bank fly by…

And then we were there… I could see the boats on my left and then there was the ramp and then I was hauled out of the water – yippee!

And as I started to jog for transition I could hear and see Shiraz bouncing up and down on the other side of the canal – so I gave her a little wave – hi honey, 1 down, 2 to go :o)

Swim Time – 1:02:42 – nowhere near as fast as I can manage, but I’m very happy with it.

Jul
15

I lay in bed but couldn’t sleep. I think I finally dropped off around 3:50… The alarm went at 4.

Breakfast was coffee, cornflakes and more coffee. I also had some sports drink and a little flapjack. Good to see the new streamlined CRAB Don arrive – extremely good effort on the moustache!

Then down to transition to pump up my bike tyres with G-Sport’s comedy pump (I think there must be a knack to it), to faff some more and to queue repeatedly for the loo.

Ten minutes to go to the start and I finally remembered to put my Garmin on my bike (14 hours of battery life left – would it be enough?) then I headed towards the start. Sadly I’d missed the “special needs” lorries by this stage so that messed up my food and drink plan a little (but then I didn’t reallly have a plan so that was OK).

Then off to the beach… where I arrived to find a priest praying for us… it was all very sombre and serious and there were a few people crossing themselves – wibble!

I bumped into some old work colleagues. Then I bumped into Lizzy from TripeTalk who I’d met in Almere last year.

Then I heard something about two minutes to go and people started heading into the water.

Jul
15

Crashie and Squishy were first to land on Klaggy beach. They quickly setup an intelligence gathering system and though careful use of pigeons, coded messages and <bouncing> started to generate the excitement for the week to come – thanks team hamster!

Shiraz dropped me off at the airport at 4:30am on Thursday. 6 hours later I was in Klaggy checking into the YHA and getting a pirate warm welcome from the Melliferas. That afternoon I got my “athlete” wristband, then I wandered around the expo to scared to tempt fate by buying any clothing with Ironman written on it, and then pirate peer pressure forced me to drink beer!

One funny thing that did happen at registration, though, was that somewhere the Ironman organisation dug up a bit of my past… on their registration forms for “beruf/occupation” they listed “one length without stopping, 1982″ – I think my mum might still have the certificate somewhere – maybe she told them about this?

Friday came and first we got a swim in – the water was really gorgeous and it was good to be doing some exercise. Then we got accosted by an old man – basically he wanted to tell us how much he liked our t-shirts. His message was something to do with the skull and crossbones – he explained that his dad had been in the SS and that he had worn the same type of shirt; he told us that it was a sign that his dad was among the greatest of the nazis… it wasn’t exactly a warm welcome so we wished him a good day and walked away.

The rest of Friday was then spent hanging around, expo shopping, and relaxing. Foolishly I read some IMCH race reports that Becky from Thames Turbo had emailed to me. I think these race reports were supposed to inspire, but instead they terrified me. With 48 hours to go and a weather forecast for hot sunshine, the last thing I wanted to do was read about the pain that these guys had lived through, even if they did all have happy endings… To help me recover, I tried attaching the race stickers to my bike. As I did so, the nerves started to pick up…

That night Shiraz arrived – yippee – my Sherpa, partner and best friend had made it :-)

Saturday I learnt that Mrs Foggy isn’t necessarily the best person to get to do a quiet job, then we had a little swim (which included watching Shiraz swimming up to the wrong pier and then looking very lost), then we went to the comedy race briefing (for your first offence you’ll get a purple card, then two oranges and finally a pink???), and then it was time to rack. Really racking was easy – all I had to do was park a bike – but still somehow I managed to faff for almost an hour! Then it was off to town for a nice meal (pizza for me) and then into bed by around 9:30.

Jul
15

Candy’s thread in July 2006 said that if anyone was going to enter then they had better “get a wriggle on”… so I entered. Then I got an “Ironman In Training” t-shirt made. And then I got a fleece. I had a lovely autumn wearing my new clothes and eating like an ironman – if it contained protein, sugar or fat it was mine. Then I followed my plan of having a month off of exercise for Xmas, and then I had a little ski trip…. This ironman thing was the life….

January came and my ski trip left me feeling fat and slow. Worse still, my achilles was really unhappy – so I held back from training….

February came and I was still enjoying wearing my “Ironman in Training” clothing, but actually work and other hobbies were consuming far more time than training. My achilles, though, was at least beginning to feel stronger and thanks to adiruns I did at least get one slow longish plod in a week….

March came and work took me to Taiwan where I put in some long hours and ate a lot of food. As I flew home, I sat there on the plane reading an emergency guide to marathon training. As I read I worked out that I was over 13 stone, that I had not been out on a bike ride since 2006, and that I had done a total of an hour’s exercise in the previous 7 days. I wasn’t really that close to athlete status… As I asked for another beer from the stewardess, I calculated that I had 16 weeks left until Austria (I was wrong – it was actually 17) and that it was time to stop posing in the kit and to start training in it instead.

The main challenges for me were building the bike miles (have I mentioned that I hate the bike?) and then in generally just getting fit… The only way I could see forwards was to get out there and put in some hours.

As luck would have it March and April brought gorgeous weather – there was lots of sunshine, and a particularly hot Easter. My bike saw action each and every Saturday in Spring, with consecutive weekends bringing long rides in miles of 18, 18, 50, 20, 50, 70, 80, a 52-and-61 Easter double whammy, 20, 81 and 76. I wasn’t quick – I think my average speed was around 14mph, but I cycled further than I’d ever cycled before, and hitherto-daunting distances were now the norm. One hiccup, though, was that the bike really made my back ache. From about 2 hours into any ride, I would find my lower back in pain and really from then on, each bike ride was a nasty chore… Have I mentioned that I hate the bike?

One remedy was (surprise to surprise) to spend some cash :-) As May approached I found myself in the mysterious world of road bike shopping… among the items listed on ebay was a little pirate – a yellow and black Giant with an Ultegra heart and a carbon shell. My credit card was decided – this was definitely the cure to my backache.

May progressed and with the pirate bike still in cyberspace, I made a burst for race length bike miles – I went out one morning, headed over to the Windsor triathlon course and went round the loop again and again and again… I didn’t come back until the computer said 113 miles completed. Excellent. I’d done it. I’d mastered the bike distance… And it had only taken 7 hours… And how my back ached… I came onto the forum to celebrate and someone (I forget who) immediately said well done but then started telling me that Austria would of course be much hillier – thanks for that! Two weeks later to prove it hadn’t been a fluke I went out once more… this time I took in some of the North Downs on my ride… this time I flew through 112 miles… this time took just 7 hours 40… and how my back hurt… where was that new bike?

The answer was in the post – with perfect timing my new carbon pirate baby arrived and she was gorgeous… I set her up and immediately took her to Bala for the middle distance race. My first experience on carbon was one of wobbliness. Yes I’d shaved some grams off my frame, but there was still quite a lot of weight above saddle level. Going downhill, in particular, was quite an unnerving experience. Bala itself though was superb. With a very lucky break in the weather, with superb pirate camaderie and with the world’s best supporters cheering us along, both Shiraz and I had excellent races – so huge thanks to all :-)

Following Bala, I got home and did one last century ride – back on the Windsor flat and this time managing 6 hours 45 – faster than before, but actually (ssshhh – don’t tell anyone) my back still hurt!

Next up was Windsor – an Oly length tri I’d done the year before – and where I’d found the run really tough. This time was different. This time I flew. This time the run felt so short and I managed it in style. Suddenly I was seeing the benefit of all the IM training – a finish just outside 2:20 – a 7 minute improvement on last year – so I had fish and chips to celebrate :-)

From Windsor onwards was the tapir… but I didn’t tapir very hard – I just reduced some of the run and bike miles and actually might even have upped the swim. This isn’t necessarily what I’d recommend to others, but for me it seemed OK.

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