So here was the final plan for the Summer:
- July 24th… Ironman Whistler
- August 24th… BBQ at home
- September 24th… Ironman Mallorca
That gave me 2 months -just over 9 weeks -between races. I’ve only done 2 IM races in a season once before. It didn’t go particularly well that time… but this time would be different🙂
So, starting from Whistler and its 5:2x marathon of doom, first up was a little more work and then some holiday time in Canada and NW USA. No running, no swimming, no biking – oh, except when I found the road climb up to Hurricane Ridge – I just had to get the bike out and try that.
Then home and some jet lag…
6.5 weeks to go.
I had a think about how to get to the Mallorca finish line.
That felt too hard, so I had a think about how to get to the Mallorca start line instead.
Whistler had been dominated by back pain. The run, especially, had been a struggle. Somehow I had to turn get a better run in Mallorca.
I wondered about doing nothing – just resting and doing a little low impact training. Better under-trained than over?
But that didn’t feel like me – so instead I settled on a plan of trying a marathon-specific buildup – trying lots of running building to some 20 milers – that should help strengthen a bad back, right?
Short story – it didn’t really work… I did manage to get 4 solid weeks in – lots of miles in the legs. But I was generally never running faster than 10 minutes per mile, I had several really slow, shuffling runs (one low point was a painful 11 miles in 2 hours 15), I had a couple which were dominated by back ache, and I never managed to get beyond 14 miles in a single run.
Some bright things happened, though:
- I managed to get a free 14 day pass to the local gym – so that meant lots of lunchtime swims🙂
- I still mixed in 3 50 mile rides – not the normal long ride preparation I do – but come race day, my legs could hopefully still rely on the memories of Whistler :)
- I managed to get away for a long weekend – almost training free (just a parkrun and a Brompton bike ride)
- The side/shoulder part of my back problems vanished completely🙂
- A coworker from Australia -Tim – surprised me by signing up for Mallorca too – that’s a long way to come for a race!
- With 2 weeks to go, I joined in to the excellent Bacchus Half Marathon – so I got to drink lots of wine🙂
1 week to go(ish)
Time to look at the weather forecast – oooh that looks hot. Sea temperature looking hot too – clearly the wetsuit doesn’t need packing.
Get everything packed – most of it stuffed into the bike bag with just pants in hand luggage🙂
Meet Tim, discover he eats as much cake as I do (impressive).
Get to the airport. Find out on facebook that wetsuits are going to be allowed. Phone Shiraz to ask her to bring one. Squeeze onto the Easyjet plane. Avoid the Hen Party. Get to Alcudia. Stand in the street for 30 minutes at 1am in the morning unable to get hold of Antoni Antoni – the man who’s renting out our apartment…
Eventually get into the apartment – discover it’s in a really good location – right near transition and 100m from the swim beach🙂
Get up early, assemble the bike – phew, it’s all there.
Laugh at Tim’s room lights (you had to be there).
Head to the supermarket to buy enough chocolate croissants for 4 days.
Head to the beach for a swim – oooh that’s lovely – really lovely. The water is clear, there’s fish to see, the water is buoyant.
Register for the race. Get my wristband. Look at the merchandise – but buy nothing!
Find a few pirates wandering around.
Ignore the abuse shouted from the Balcony of Doom.
Head back to the apartment with Tim. Eat half the stock of chocolate croissants.
Take the bike to the bike doctor. He adjusts my gears. They’re never quite the same again. He also adjusts my brakes – they’re fab now.
Head out on the bike for a trial ride. The idea is to go up the flat road by the coast… but lack of navigational skills takes us off to a small climb up to Mirador de la Victoria instead. Fortunately at the top of this climb we find ice cream.
Head back down. Get seriously dropped by Tim on the descent. Have a moment with a goat!
Head back to the apartment with Tim. Eat the other half of the chocolate croissants.
Rest a little….
Talk about how hot it is – afternoon temperatures are above 30 – doesn’t look like there’s much shade – proper Ironman marathon running weather.
Stress about whether to wear a wetsuit or not… really this is a big question and I think and talk about it a lot… if I go with a wetsuit then I’ll be much quicker, so I could set up for a quick time, but if I go without, then it could add to the epic nature of the day – it could set me up for a lovely long day out.
Realise we haven’t eaten proper food all day.
Head out for 5pm pizza and a small beer.
Join the awesome pirate massive for 7pm pasta and a large beer.
Then early to bed – after last night’s late flight in, let’s get some sleep.
Head to the supermarket to replenish stocks – buy another 20 chocolate croissants.
Also buy ice cream – important to cover the main food groups.
Head for a swim in a trial wetsuit – with neoprene on, I am really flying!
Stress about the wetsuit decision some more. If I’m racing for a time, then a wetsuit is a no-brainer… but if I’m not wearing one, then it might set it up for a more relaxed day?
Head to the race briefing – held on the beach in really hot sunshine. They’re also hosting a pasta party … scoff maybe 5 plates of the stuff, matched by Tim every fork of the way.
Most of the briefing is dull… except… Oh look, wetsuits are now not going to be allowed. Great. Decision made. Phone Nic – don’t bother bringing my wetsuit when you fly out. I’m going for an epic, relaxed day. Huzzah!
Back to the flat. Eat some croissants.
Get the bike and transition bags ready.
Check the bike and bags again.
Down to the longest transition in the world.
Rack the bike. It’s a pretty simple process, although there’s plenty of things to think, about, to forget, to faff over…
Tim keeps me amused. You should have seen his face every time we went past a bike. He looked at every frame, every wheel, every helmet with such lust… and there were a lot of bikes to look at🙂
Back to the flat. Eat some croissants.
Watch a (very bad) movie.
Head out for dinner.
Watch the txt messages come in from Nicola… (including some she amusingly double-sent to her parents). Wait up for her arrival – she gets in just before midnight.
Today’s the day
Wake the flat up by blasting out some Monty Python on my speaker🙂
Cheer up, Brian. You know what they say.
Some things in life are bad,
They can really make you mad.
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you’re chewing on life’s gristle,
Don’t grumble, give a whistle!
And this’ll help things turn out for the best
Toast with jam.
Head to transition.
Hear the update over the tannoys that wetsuits are now allowed.
Not impressed with the organisers/referees here – feels lie they jumped through hoops just to try to avoid getting the race a non-wetsuit reputation… feel sorry for the effect it may have had on people who were racing for Kona places.
IMO, the organisers did the right thing in taking an honest 25.6C measurement at 7:30am on Friday and then declaring the race as no wetsuits – but then lost all credibility by going fishing at 5am Saturday for some patch of water they could call 24.49999 C
Too late for me now any way – my wetsuits are all at home in the UK. Guess that makes my mind up – it sets my day up for a more relaxed and epic outlook, rather than a racier one🙂
Anyways… back to the day…
A nice man pumps my bike tyres up for me, I check my bags are all there, and then the marshalls chase me out of transition – apparently they want to clear out punctually for 7am. A German guy runs past me – “You are cool” he says – “why, thank you” I reply🙂
Head back to the apartment to embrace the toilet. It’s so nice having a proper loo – although it is a shame it’s 2 flights of stairs up from street level – next time I come up here is going to hurt!
The clock hits 7:30 – the Pro’s are starting… I ask Tim if he thinks it’s time we should leave the apartment?
We head to beach, by the time we get there the Age Groupers have started to enter the water using this new continuous start technique.
We share a good luck handshake and practice our finish poses.
I grab a good luck hug with Nicola, then join the back of the “1:10 to 1:20” swim pen.
But then I see it doesn’t seem to be moving yet… so I head back out of the pen to find somewhere to sit down instead :) As Jeremy in the office often reminds me, “never stand if you can sit, never sit if you can lie down”
Overhead the excitement of the race start is being captured by a drone. I bet it’s getting good footage, but it doesn’t quite cause the same adrenaline rush as the helicopters at the old IM Austria mass starts.
I sit bit and relax while watching for movement in the 1:10-20 pen… eventually people start to move, so I take a few deep breaths, get up again and head back into the pen. I get there just in time – the pen marshal shouts at me to move more quickly and threatens to pull a rope across… I smile back and try a “gracias”. He can shout all he wants…
I amble across the timing mat, and up the pace to a strong stroll towards the water – the non-competitive Mallorca leisure event is on…
We’re midway through 2000 of us walking down the beach and into the shallows, and I can feel there’s a definite current in the water pulling out to sea.
We keep walking for maybe 50m… then the water is waist deep so it’s time to try lying down and engaging the arms.
The first 1200m head out away from shore. Almost everyone around me seems to have a wetsuit on and most of them aren’t moving very quickly – maybe I should have gone for a faster pen.
It’s a bit of a crush, and I keep catching up with bodies in front. I keep as wide to the left on this course as I can, but still quite a few people give me a bash.
I mistime the occasional breath – each time I get a mouthful of seawater as a reward – it really is not the best taste.
Down below, the sea looks pretty. For quite a lot of the way you can see the floor. It’s covered in shrubbery-like weed and there’s the odd flash of silver as fishes explore the undersea bushes.
One by one the buoys pass by – each one marking roughly another 100m.
I still get the odd bash, but things do get a bit more spaced out. There are some comical moments, especially watching swimmers who face really severe directional challenges – I watch one swimmer cut pretty much at 45 degrees across the entire race. He then scores a direct hit on one of the buoys. They’re maybe 12 foot wide and 12 foot tall. How did he not see that?
I feel real lucky when we reach the 3 buoys that mark the first turn – somehow I get personal space at all of them – so there’s no bashing there.
Now just the 1200m back to the shore.
There’s less bashing… and there’s even a couple of chances to draft… although really I’m not sure I should be drafting… I’m doing long, powerful strokes, but maybe I should be upping the cadence and over-taking.
Back to the beach for the “Australian Exit”. On the way, a rescue boat seems to be drifting along nearby. I can taste and smell the fuel. It’s a horrible taste. Yuk.
I actually pick up pace and manage a quick jog up the beach. As I go I scan the crowd for pirate tee shirts – none seen, but maybe my old goggles need replacing? Then I carry the jog going back into the sea ready for the last 1400m of out and back.
On the way, standing in waist deep water, I find Seren. Clearly she’s standing there as she wants to feel part of the race. I want to help make that dream come true, so I belly-flop-dive right by her – that should help her share the feel of the Ironwater (ahem, sorry, Seren!)
Back in the water; I focus again on long easy strokes; stretch out past 7 or so buoys; get the odd mouthful of sea water again; make another fairly uncrowded turn; and then start thinking about What Comes Next (TM)
I think back to Canada. The swim today has been a lot nicer – my arm and back have been pain free – hoorah – but the view of the bay hasn’t matched those mountain views. That Whistler swim was really awesome.
Oh look, there’s the finish arch on the shore. Stop day dreaming! The arch slowly gets closer. The water slowly gets shallower. Suddenly there’s a line beneath me where the weed stops and the floor is just sand. People around me start to stand up, but I keep swimming a bit longer – it’s the arms turn to do exercise. Let’s save the legs for later.
My hands hit the bottom.
I stand up.
Well, I try to…
It wouldn’t be a swim if I didn’t get cramp somewhere… but it’s only there for a moment and it passes.
I walk towards the arch, over the timing mat, and pick the pace up to a slow plod as I move through the showers.
The crowd are cheering loud and I spot Nicola on the right. I briefly say hello, then keep moving.
Up ahead there’s a pirate on a pillar taking photos. I pose for him big time – arms up high to show off my guns. He ignores me. Not to be put down I stop and pose again, this time pulling a Lightning Bolt. The pirate continues to ignore me.
Behind me, Cheerful Dave is running in… he shouts at me to stop show-boating… sensible advice, so I head on up the short road into transition.
For once, I don’t use the loo, but head straight to my bag, pick it up and move into the crowded change tent. Once there, I find Dave again and also Swiss Bobby.
We chat a little. I give them grief about being wimps for wearing wetsuits, pointing out that the water was lovely🙂
I keep moving throughout. When I first started ironman, transition felt quite a complicated beast. Now, however, it’s pretty straight-forward. There’s not much to do really:
- On with my top.
- Helmet on after the top.
- Ooops… missed the Heart Rate belt – easy to add though.
- Now on with the socks.
- Make sure they’re straight – you don’t want them bunched up in your shoes for the next 10+ hours.
- Now on with the shoes.
- Look at my arm warmers and my buff – ignore them – we’re in Mallorca – it’s going to be HOT!
- Give some more abuse to the wetsuit twins.
- Stand up and go.
- Put my kit bag in the pile.
- Run down to my bike – it’s only 50m away
- Grab my sunglasses, put them on (what optimism!)
- Grab my gloves, put them on (so sensible!)
- Unhook the bike
- Then jog the bike down the carpet to the end of transition
- It is a looooooooooooong way – maybe another 250m away
- Along the way Swiss Bobby sprints past me – but I’m not going to be swayed by such a blatant game. I’ll get him later – I’m saving my legs🙂
- Eventually reach the bike out line.
- Swing my leg over
- Push off and start pedalling
There are a few pirate cheers to help as we get started.
The first few miles are flat and fast down the main road through town.
It’s a bit windy, and there are lots of cyclists around.
I settle into it slowly, starting by cycling on the wrong side of the road (muppet!)
I look at my heart rate, expecting to see something really high after the swim. But actually I’m easing along around 120. Maybe I should push a little harder.
Down on the aero-bars.
This is good. In Canada, I didn’t use them for the first few hours, but here my arm and back feel ok.
I am happy :)
Keep down. Keep pedalling.
Sit up for the roundabouts.
Then back down on the bars.
Lots of riders come past, but then riders always come past. Just got to get used to it. Crap swimmers!
Mentally I get in the groove. Just focus on steady pedalling, and keep watching the heart rate. I know this bike ride doesn’t really start until the climb in the second half.
The road turns away from the coast, then moves gradually up into some (very) small hills.
Just focus on steady pedalling, and keep watching the heart rate.
More riders continue to come past, and I have a few conversations – I remember a Sarah F50-54 who seemed quite pirate friendly, then there was a Jorg – he was in the M70-74 category so I tipped my helmet when he overtook me…
First aid station – I know what to do – pick up a bottle of iso and a piece of food. It’ll be the same at every station.
The route carries on, we go around a triangular part of the course – bits of fast fun sweeping downhill in this.
Then after about 2 hours – about 60km(ish), just as I’m going up a short hill, I hear a “hello” and I see my first pirate since transition. It’s a pirate called Pete on a lovely matt black Canyon. We exchange some banter about the swim… but then… just as he’s about to tell me how he got a yellow card in the swim, we hear this whistle and there’s a motorcycle referee brandishing a blue card at both of us…
I’m still now not entirely sure what the penalty is for – it can’t be for drafting as we’d only been together for a few seconds and because we both got given the card. It shouldn’t really be for blocking either for similar reasons… so maybe it’s just for talking? Regardless, there’s nothing we can do… the ref is clearly writing down our numbers and I’ve gotten my first ever penalty in a race.
Peter zooms off ahead of me and I try catching him for a while – I’m worried he might not know that he has to stop at the next penalty tent… but he’s zooming off – so no way I’m going to catch him.
What’s done is done… I think back to an appalling race briefing I heard once – can’t quite remember where it was, but it was full of advice about how to use a drafting penalty to your advantage. Time to use that advice – so I plan to grab as much food as I can at the next aid station, to cycle a bit harder for the next 30km before the penalty tent, and then when I get there I know I can sit down, rest and eat🙂
I love it when a plan comes together.
The road flows downhill for a while – lovely fast stuff. Then it shoots through a town where there’s some twists and turns then suddenly there’s a sharp right turn and the shock of a 100m of >10% uphill. This is a bit of a surprise and I’m caught in the wrong gear. I stand and grind the pedals. The rider ahead of me, an Italian called Luigi, has bigger problems. The wheels slip out from under him and over he goes. I call out to ask if he’s OK – he seems to be – no damage, just a bit embarrassed.
This town feels real different to the race villages in Austria and Switzerland. Aside from the odd traffic marshall, the whole town feels deserted. It’s shame there are no supporters here – it could be a nice place to sit down, drink beer and shout cyclists up a mini Heartbreak Hill.
The road carries on and before long I’m back approaching Alcudia where we started. Good support from crowds as we approach. Then I spot the penalty tent on the right… and standing in it is my pirate partner in crime, Pete. After collecting a bit of paper with my entry/exit time on it, I rack my bike and run up to the exit where Pete is getting a 30 second countdown before he’s allowed to leave. In the watching crowds, Nicko is shouting some suitable
abuse encouragement at us two cheats. I give Pete a hug, and he apologises for getting us penalties. Was it Pete’s fault? Don’t think it can be – I’m still not sure what the penalty is for… but I’m 100% sure that if it was for talking, then I’m more chatty than most while out on the race track🙂 Doesn’t matter – I have a bit of a laugh pretending to let Pete’s tyres down before he sets out🙂
After Pete leaves, I chat with the marshall a bit, sign the bit of paper that says I stopped, shout some banter to Nicko, then cheer on some riders I recognise from the first half as they whooosh past. I hear the marshall say “You can leave in 2 minutes”. What? No. I haven’t sat down yet. And I haven’t eaten any of my powerbars, gels or bananas. I find a bit of curb to lie down on and pull some food out. Really don’t fancy it… but stuff a bit of power bar in my mouth. “You can leave in 30 seconds”. “Do I have to?”. The marshall gives me a look of utter confusion. Reluctantly, I stand up, unrack the bike and wheel it towards the exit.
The marshall gives me a nod, and then I’m off.
Pedal past the end of transition and along the main road where most of the crowds are. Get a few pirate support cheers – give them a big aaaaarrrrrrr in response.
Make it to the amazing breasted horse roundabout. Worry that I haven’t seen Shiraz – but hopefully she’s off enjoying herself on the beach – or maybe she’s asleep in bed after last night’s late arrival.
Turn left up the incline towards old Alcudia… and there, at the top of the slope, I see a yellow-and-black tee-shirt – so that’s where Nicola is!
I look behind me, check that there’s no race referee around, and then pull over to stop for a hug and a chat. We talk and laugh about the penalty, about feeling OK, about the back being alright, and then finally end on a little chat about the weather – “it’s ok – hasn’t rained yet”… what could go wrong?
Chat over. Time to go again.
The next section goes along the coast – it’s flat, there’s great tarmac and it’s not too windy. My legs feel superb after the break. I keep watching the heart rate, keep on the aero bars and keep gradually reeling riders in.
Next we turn left towards the mountains – they’re right in front of us now… and they are covered in dark clouds.
The road starts to very gradually slope up, but it’s really smooth tarmac and the wheels keep spinning.
There are some rain drops starting… just a few… then a few more.
The gradient starts to ramp up, and we pass a sign promising us 5% for the next 7.5km.
Change down gears, come up off the aerobars and focus on spinning.
The rain turns torrential. Really torrential. Remember the biggest thunderstorm you’ve ever been in? This is how bad it gets. The rain is pounding down. Everything gets wet. Everything. There’s thunder and lightning crashing around us. Thunder in the mountains is loud. There’s a cm of water flowing down the smooth tarmac – standing water doesn’t stand on a hill. There’s also brown streams of mud crossing the road. There’s even the odd bit of hail just to add to the fun.
Fortunately, my legs still feel good. So I spin past lots of cyclists, chatting as I go. What do we talk about? Mostly I’m making jokes – especially along the lines of “Go to Mallorca, they said. Don’t go to Bolton. It’ll be lovely in Mallorca.” and “Oooh – this is nice – just like home.”
The road keeps going up – never too steep – but it’s just so wet. As I keep pushing past people, I have several conversations about the oncoming downhill – about how nasty it’ll be in this rain.
This morning’s wake up song comes back to my mind:
If life seems jolly rotten,
There’s something you’ve forgotten!
And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing,
Don’t be silly chumps,
Just purse your lips and whistle — that’s the thing!
And always look on the bright side of life
Up, up, up we go. I keep my heart rate down below 150, and really I’m quite happy despite the rain. I’m travelling much faster than everyone around me, overtaking lots of people. Up ahead I see a pirate jersey – and soon I find I’m overtaking Pete. This time, we don’t talk much – just a quick comment about the weather…
Up, up, up over the first of maybe 4 false summits, past the water station where the rain starts to ease, over a couple more little summits, then whooshing down a little past a restaurant, the rain eases and then stops… and then up a final slog before a left turn past a petrol station.
“When you get to the petrol station, that’s the top” – I can’t remember who said this, but someone did… woohoo – made it🙂
And… now suddenly it’s dry. The rain has cleared. The road is no longer a flood – it’s dry.
And so we begin the descent…
I can’t believe how lucky we are.
And here comes the first of the hairpins of the descent…
No really it is.
Normally I’m such a cautious scared person on descents. But this descent is marvellous.
The road is wide.
There aren’t many others around (I think I see 5 other riders in total in the next 10km)
And this road is fabulous.
I LOVE IT
Down we go. First one set of maybe 8 hairpins. Then a short flat and up along a cliff. Then some long sweeping right and left curves. I let an Irish guy in green come past me here – then sit 50m behind him so I can watch his line. Then a second set of maybe 6 hairpins. Then more sweeping curves. Then a final set of hairpins before we finally drop out into a town at the bottom of the descent.
That was fun!
Can we do that again?
Only little did I know that behind me the rain storm is moving – it turns out I’m real lucky to have made it through in the dry. That storm is soon soaking the descent and riders later in the race will find those floods of water cascading downhill. Feel so sorry for all those riders who’ll end up slipping, sliding and walking down the most treacherous of conditions. But I had fun … sorry!
Can’t think about the hill any more now… got 50km more in front of me to think about . Let’s roll.
Push on through some small rural towns, and on to some smaller roads.
There’s a drizzle falling now, and it quickly turns heavier. Much heavier. For the next 2 hours, it’s proper wet again. It’s not a thunderstorm – there’s not thunder like there was on the ascent, but the skies are open, the roads are covered in standing (and occasional running) water, and overall it’s the sort of weather that I would never contemplate cycling in at home.
… the road is fairly flat (and more downhill than up)
… the legs feel great
… my back feels good
… so it’s down on the aero bars and push through the rain
At about 140km there’s a small out-and-back section. On it, I see 2 pirates coming towards me – first Swiss Bobby, then Tracy. They’re both about 3km ahead of me… there’s 40km left to ride. I have 2 rabbits to chase🙂
Really the riding conditions are fowl. But I’m head down pushing forwards.
The next 40km are fun!
There’s one particular Swiss guy – Raymond – who I see every few minutes. We’re never drafting – we’re rarely closer than 100m… but we keep losing then catching each other, and between us we are tearing past everyone else on the road.
This is fun!
My legs have loads left.
I get my heart rate up into the high 130s and push.
The course comes back to the same town as we went through earlier. This time I spot that turn and sharp uphill ahead – this time I change down ahead of it.
Then… arg… I feel something hit my leg and hear a noise… drats… my sunglasses have dropped off my top-box…. ah well, suspect I won’t need them today!
This is fab!
We’re flying along…
And then the last few km into town.
And just as we get into the last few km on the main road into Alcudia, there ahead of me are my two pirate targets🙂
I overtake both in the last half kilometre into transition.
WooHoo – soaked but happy – time to get off the bike.
It’s a long way back to where I have to rack the bike.
And my feet and shoes feel so wet. Yuk.
- Rack the bike.
- Find the bag.
- Find a seat
- Bike shoes off
- Running shoes on
- Drop the helmet off
- Look at the sunhat… think better of it… I don’t think I’ll need it.
Swiss Bobby comes and sits next to me. I tell him I can’t talk though – I really, really need a pee!
Find a toilet. Avoid a huge puddle on the way. Sit down. Do my business.
This is where my day takes a bit of a leap into the unknown.
The memories of IM Canada are still fresh (and painful!)
How will my legs do today? What about my back?
Initial feelings feel good.
As I zig zag around the puddles, there’s some bounce in my legs.
The course leaves transition; goes through lots of pothole puddles along some back roads; heads back to the main road (1.5km); heads straight down to a dead turn (3.5km); heads back half a km; then uses a back road and a crazily paved canal path to get to the shore (4km); then there’s a tiny bridge to go up and over (it gets bigger each lap, but still this course is super flat!); then 2km along the blue tarmac path by the beach (6km); past the finish line party (no stopping yet); then in and out of the shopping street, along the promenade, out-and-back on the pier (more puddles), out-and-back down the road (8km); then back to transition, picking up a coloured band on the way.
Four and a half laps of that.
Four different bands to collect.
What could go wrong?
First lap … starts fast! I feel good. “Patience” I tell myself. “It’s all about patience”. I slow down to 9 minute miles. It would be fab if I can do that the whole way! Runners come past me including the green Irish one from the descent. Hopefully I’ll get him later…
Cheerful Dave flies past me – a proper runner – he looks fab!
On the road coming in I spot Tim cycling in. Great to see he’s made it down the slope! I shout him some encouragement – he’s looking great.
I see Nicola on the road. She tries to run with me. I’m not in a social mood though… “in a zone”! Sorry!
The rains easing to a light drizzle – and within an hour (or maybe more…) it clears altogether.
There are puddles everywhere, but overall it’s great running weather – much friendlier to runners than the 31C sunshine of the days before and after the race!
There are lots of supporters out – and pirates get the best cheers.Special mentions go to:
- the girls near the Reptile Zoo – such energetic cheerful chanting
- the M&M parents on the front – such dedication
- the vuvuzela girls on the front – accompanied by a family with saucepans and spoons – such noise
- the crowds in town – with lots of pirate love
- the pirate drinking cafe – so good to see them all drinking and cheering and drinking and cheering and drinking and drinking and…
Second lap… still going steady. I focus on keeping strong and steady. Let’s do another lap – let’s get to half way – let’s see how it feels.
I spot some more pirates along the way… but strangely, because of the way the course divides, there are some pirates I never see at any point.
Get a bit emotional on this lap… just as I’m passing the finish line – 15km into the run – the music and the cheering gets to me. Rein it in princess… still a long way to go. No energy to spare on sobbing. Gotta keep moving. Gotta get the t-shirt.
Along the way, I see some casualties – many runners who’ve bonked and have to sit or lie down; one volunteer who’s fainted; and one cyclist who crashed at 179km complete – they were surrounded by medics and looked in a bad way. Poor them:/
Get the medal. Get the tee-shirt.
Third lap…. still feeling ok
But pace has slipped from 9 min miles to 10 min miles now…
And there are some unspeakable stomach cramp moments.
Fart and hope.
This is supposed to hurt.
Look for a place inside myself.
A dark place I call “Screw you Southern Trains” (the original may have been ruder)
They were the ones who hurt my back… screw em.
Just got to keep chanting it myself.
Just got to keep moving.
So lap 3 is a grind.
Just keep pushing.
“Screw you Southern Trains”
The crowd interactions move down from high fives to the odd finger point.
Just keep pushing.
I see Meldy on the run – looking good.
I also see Helen (little sis) cycling in – she’s injured so is cycling in with only one leg clipped. I can’t help but admire her pirate stance.
Just keep pushing.
I get to overtake some of the people I’d seen go off earlier – sorry Irish green guy, but patience paid off!
There’s also a guy with a bright red tee – “BELIEVE IN YOURSELF” says the shirt. Good shirt. I make him a target, overtaking him two dead turns later.
And within an hour we’re on the fourth lap.
And the legs are struggling nearer 11 minute miles.
And I’m no longer zig-zagging around the puddles.
I chant again.
“Screw you Southern Trains”
“Screw you Southern Trains”
But actually… I don’t like this chant…
Let’s forget about Southern Trains
Let’s think instead about 10 miles to go.
That’s not far – that’s only just more than my normal running commute…
I can do this.
Back comes more of a smile. Back comes Monty Python
Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke, it’s true,
You’ll see it’s all a show,
Keep ’em laughing as you go.
Just remember that the last laugh is on you!
And always look on the bright side of life
Along the out and back.
Down the canal.
Over the taller-than-last-time bridge
Along the front.
Past the finish chute
That means just one lap to go – it’s 9km now.
“Anyone can blag a 10km”
I can do this.
Worse things happen at sea you know
For this last lap, I make sure to thank the supporters. Lots of “Thanks. You’ve been awesome”. And I meant it all – thanks to all – they were all fab🙂
Two last times past the pirate drinking bar. They offer a beer (thanks Rafi), but there’s no way I can drink it. The stomach is cramping badly and I’ve been on water only since half way. A pirate poo would be a pirate photo too far.
Back through town to transition.
Pick up the last band – the red one!
6km to go.
How hard can this be?
I’m struggling between 11 and 12 minute miles now.
I feel like the legs are running OK, but the GPS doesn’t lie.
It’s getting darker. I’ve never run in the dark for Ironman before – this is going to be my first night-time finish.
I watch people around me – counting how many bands they have.
Who else has a red one?
Who can I cling on to as they run past?
One last turnaround.
It’s a bit harder running as it gets darker – never thought about it before, but the change in light really makes a difference.
I come across a fellow red-bander who’s walking. I shout at him teasing him into running with me… but he drops off in a hundred metres – says his feet are gone but he’ll see me for beer soon.
Back to the canal.
Up and over that bridge.
There’s 2km to go.
I can see the finish.
Speed picks up… almost at 10 minute mile pace… I am flying🙂
And now the finish.
I look around, careful to make sure that I get the showboat chute to myself.
Turn right onto the carpet.
And, just as I agreed with Tim, my arms go up, my knees go high, I look up into the lights and run for the line!
“You are an Ironman”
Where’s my t-shirt?
Nicola comes find me in the gap between finish and athlete’s village – I like the setup of the finish area here.
Quick hug, then I go in for a quick bit of food and beer.
Then back out to watch Tim’s finish – he looks strong – woohoo!
Then back for more beer and food.
Then some chores – got to pick up the bags and bikes. Somehow we’ve got to get them up two flights of stairs. This is where Nicola is even more amazing – she carries both bikes – thanks honey!
Then showers and get changed, and head back out into the street to watch the finishers… Just as we hit the street, along comes a group of pirates surrounding Penny on her final lap.
She’s run-walking really strong – but she also appears to have Tourettes – she doesn’t seem pleased to get our cheering :)
We run-walk with the group for a while, but they’ve got 6km still to go, and they’re moving too fast for our legs… so we turn off for the finish – we’ll see them there instead.
Grab some food and beer from the athlete’s village. Watch a few more pirates finish including Meldy and Bobs, then back out to the stands for the final few minutes.
The party was at “The Final Countdown” stage… and what followed was quite incredible… Paul Kaye on the microphone was letting everyone know that there was one more competitor left, that they had 5 minutes and that their name was “Penny Pretty”. The crowd were partying… but they were also working themselves into a Penny-Pretty-frenzy. Paul started the 2 minute countdown. Some of the crowd started chanting “We want Penny”, while other’s are shouting “Stop the clock”. This crowd really wants Penny.
The pirates around me look out along the path – and we knew it was over – we could see 500m along the shore and Penny was not in sight. She wasn’t going to make it…
And then the clock struck midnight. Up go the fireworks – quite a good display lasting 5 minutes…
I imagine what it feels like to be out there, having raced for 16 hours, to be so close to the finish and to then see the fireworks. To know it’s over…😦
But then the amazing happens.
The fireworks finish.
The music doesn’t.
Paul says he’s heard news from the course. He’s heard Penny isn’t stopping. He says that if she is not stopping, then neither is the finish line party.
I’ve never seen this before.
Normally, if the finish time arrives, then that’s it… the race is over… the music turns off… the lights go off… a barrier gets pulled across the road…
…but today is different!
Penny will still get a DNF result, but everyone is going to carry on partying and everyone will remember her finish.
A few of us pirates look at each other… and we know we have to go find her.
We head out along the path.
We pass M&M’s dad along the way – he’s still out there supporting – amazing!
It’s over a km out to where the group are coming in… We reach them… there are maybe 7 of them marching quickly forwards, with Penny at the front striding strong.
We tell them the news: the party isn’t stopping. They’re waiting for you, Penny. The crowd is huge. The race winners are there. They’re waiting for you. Everyone is chanting “We want Penny”.
And now the walk back. It’s quick. I can barely keep up.
And all the way we’re picking up more people.
This finish is there… it’s loud… and then we’re there and then… oh just look at the picture and watch the video:
And if you want to experience the emotion of what that finish march felt like – read this blog – https://trilady.wordpress.com/2016/09/29/ironman-mallorca-an-accidental-race-report/ – it gets emotional🙂
The Day After…
The next day my legs are ok – they manage stairs and a swim… and then we join the gathering for the pirate drinking and prize-giving…
All very good fun! I loved hearing the race stories – e.g. hearing about someone taking 31 minutes in transition… 31 minutes? What do you do for that long?
… but then I also think maybe the “mince off” might have had its day. I know it’s not intended as homophobic, nor as male only… and I understand it’s political correctness gone mad… but I’d love to see us move on and leave the mince off behind :) The pirates dress up in lycra, get sweaty and hug each other – we should replace the mince with a competition that is open for boys and girls and that could never be confused with anything negative… We’ve got plenty to laugh at without resorting to calling each other as “mincers”… well, that’s my opinion anyway🙂
Oh… and a highlight of the afternoon was I won a prize… no, not fastest pirate – I came second in that one again…. And no, not my normal prize of smiliest pirate either! Instead I won the sandbagger prize… and, you know what, I think I deserved it. Not because I hid my training on the way into the event, but more because of the way I raced on the day. I feel a little bit guilty that my bike time here was practically the same as my bike time in Whistler, and much slower than Austria last year… The first half, especially, was way slower than I should have done… maybe I should have been less nervous about my back – maybe I should have gone harder and not saved quite so much for the run…
But then… I did enjoy my day… and I did love the event overall.
- I’ve loved the swim, bike and run.
- I’ve loved the support – from Nicola (thank you, honey!), from the fab pirate crew, and from the rest of Alcudia too!
- I’ve loved my fellow racers – heaps of respect to all of you – to those who finished and especially to those who didn’t make it to the start or finish line. You’re my heroes and my inspirations – more than every athlete and para-athlete I saw on TV at the Rio games – you guys are fantastic!
- I’m really grateful to Tim for sharing this IM journey with me. It’s been fab having him fly over from Oz to race alongside me. Back in the office, people seem fixated on which of us “won”… I hope one day they come and do some IM races too. By then I fully expect Tim to be smashing out sub-12, sub-11 and maybe even sub-10 times, but regardless I look forwards to seeing the team love the race, to understanding “it’s all about the journey” and to understanding that it really is possible for all of us to win🙂
- I do have the odd bit of ire against the race referees – for that last second change of mind on the wetsuit decision, for some very stupid swim start regulations (feel so bad for M&M on being disqualified – a ridiculous call from the referees imo), and for my own personal penalty for 5 seconds of talking…
- I do feel like we maybe cheated by not getting a 30C hot sunny run.
- But overall I remember and love that final finish – the greatest pirate finish ever? With the clock past midnight, with the race party staying open, and with the men’s and women’s winners and hundreds of others all waiting to cheer Penny home. Awesome.
So all in all, there aren’t any serious regrets, and there’s a lot of love. The pirate life is awesome.
I’m a happy sandbagger🙂
SWIM DETAILS | Division Rank: 221
|SPLIT NAME||DISTANCE||SPLIT TIME||RACE TIME||PACE||DIVISION RANK||GENDER RANK||OVERALL RANK|
|2.4 km||2.4 km||47:07||47:09||1:57/100m|
|3.8 km||1.4 km||27:56||1:15:05||1:59/100m|
BIKE DETAILS | Division Rank: 236
|SPLIT NAME||DISTANCE||SPLIT TIME||RACE TIME||PACE||DIVISION RANK||GENDER RANK||OVERALL RANK|
|31.3 km||31.3 km||1:08:00||2:29:56||27.62 km/h|
|73.8 km||42.5 km||1:25:48||3:55:44||29.72 km/h|
|121.5 km||47.7 km||2:06:06||6:01:50||22.70 km/h|
|166.2 km||44.7 km||1:27:48||7:29:38||30.55 km/h|
|178.4 km||12.2 km||22:58||7:52:36||31.87 km/h|
|Total||178.4 km||6:30:40||7:52:36||27.40 km/h||236||1138||1255|
RUN DETAILS | Division Rank: 201
|SPLIT NAME||DISTANCE||SPLIT TIME||RACE TIME||PACE||DIVISION RANK||GENDER RANK||OVERALL RANK|
|3.5 km||3.5 km||18:47||8:16:54||5:22/km|
|6.1 km||2.6 km||15:17||8:32:11||5:52/km|
|7.2 km||1.1 km||6:09||8:38:20||5:35/km|
|12.5 km||5.3 km||29:29||9:07:49||5:33/km|
|15.1 km||2.6 km||16:03||9:23:52||6:10/km|
|16.2 km||1.1 km||6:28||9:30:20||5:52/km|
|21.5 km||5.3 km||31:38||10:01:58||5:58/km|
|24.1 km||2.6 km||17:09||10:19:07||6:35/km|
|25.2 km||1.1 km||6:49||10:25:56||6:11/km|
|30.5 km||5.3 km||33:36||10:59:32||6:20/km|
|33.1 km||2.6 km||18:00||11:17:32||6:55/km|
|34.2 km||1.1 km||7:17||11:24:49||6:37/km|
|39.5 km||5.3 km||35:47||12:00:36||6:45/km|
|42.1 km||2.6 km||18:22||12:18:58||7:03/km|
|42.2 km||0.1 km||0:30||12:19:28||4:59/km|
Notes on Tim – it’s all about the journey