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Ironman Mallorca 2016

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.

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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🙂

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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🙂

Thursday

 

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.

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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.

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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.

Decisions, decisions…

Realise we haven’t eaten proper food all day.

Head out for 5pm pizza and a small beer.

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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.

Friday

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.

Sleep!

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
And…

Always look on the bright side of life!

Toast with jam.

Chocolate croissant.

Head to transition.

Hear the update over the tannoys that wetsuits are now allowed.

What?!

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.

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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”

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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…

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Swim

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.

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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.

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T1

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.

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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

Bike

There are a few pirate cheers to help as we get started.

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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.

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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?

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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:

Always look on the bright side of life
If life seems jolly rotten,
There’s something you’ve forgotten!
And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing,
When you’re feeling in the dumps,
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…

It’s fabulous!

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.

WooHoo.

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.

But…

… 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!

Keep pushing.

Keep spinning.

Keep overtaking.

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.

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T2

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.

Let’s run

Run

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.

WooHoo.

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.

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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:/

Keep pushing.

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.

Keep pushing.

This is supposed to hurt.

Run.

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.

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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.

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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.

Keep pushing.

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?

Keep pushing.

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.

Keep pushing.

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”

WooHoo.

Gimme medal.

Where’s my t-shirt?

🙂🙂🙂🙂🙂🙂

Party

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!

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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.

Woohoo!

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:

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Video – https://www.facebook.com/IRONMANMallorca/videos/1083284565053611/

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…

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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🙂

 

STUART LODGE

OVERALL RANK: 1056
DIV RANK: 201
GENERAL INFO
BIB 1461
Division M40-44
State Teddington GB
Country GBR
Profession
RACE SUMMARY
Swim: 1:15:05
Bike 6:30:40
Run 4:21:21
Overall 12:19:28

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
Total 3.8 km 1:15:05 1:15:05 1:58/100m 221 1050 1177

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
Total 42.2 km 4:21:21 12:19:28 6:11/km 201 960 1056

Transition Details

T1: Swim-to-bike 6:51
T2: Bike-to-run 5:31

Notes on Tim – it’s all about the journey

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Ironman Canada 2016 – Whistler!

Buildup

So I’d decided to go for low-fuss for 2016… I’d decided to go for Ironman UK to give me a minimum amount of travel… Best laid plans, eh?
Ironman Austria 2015 had gone well – really well really🙂 Although I could have done without the bike puncture…
The Autumn afterwards went OK… some trail marathons, a lot of eating, … a small amount of weight gain… a few more cakes…
Xmas arrived. We skied. A few more cakes…
Now time to train…
The early spring went good. I did a half marathon up North – the 4 villages – and it went OK. I commute-ran most days… got some good base miles in🙂 Hurrah! And weekly TT run times came down to first just over 22, and then to 21:15… hurrah!
And swimming… I got a cheap swim deal…. and I swam and swam and swam – fab stuff🙂
March arrived. Time to see an old friend… Barcelona marathon… Really didn’t know what to expect… really didn’t know what to aim for…
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Somehow I ran 3:32 – fastest for 6 years. And I only struggled a bit in the last 5km… Great stuff🙂
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Easter… some more skiing… survived again… time to get some cycling in!
Only first there was Brighton marathon. It went OK. I didn’t like the organisation much (sorry… but they annoyed me making me travel the day before and then queue for over an hour to pick up a number…)… and then wearing a spiderman gimp suit in the sunshine only rubbed and dehydrated a little bit! 3:49ish (I think).
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So now time to cycle… and I got into it… all going well… although the early Summer didn’t really deliver that well on the sunshine front….
Also managed quite a few swims in open water – love it🙂

Just over two months to go to IMUK…. 

….all going OK really🙂
But then… what if there was a work trip to Vancouver? What if? How would that effect my plans? Well… I suppose I could pull out of IMUK… I suppose I could switch to doing IMCanada in Whistler and then IM Mallorca in the winter instead?
Sounds like a plan… let’s do this!

A new target – Whistler here I come… 

Only Whistler is a tough bike course – it’s got some big long climbs… so I’d better get some more cycles in!
Then… just as June started…
DISASTER
ouch
ouch
ouch
my back
I took a train trip… not just any train… but a Southern Train… and it was heaving, packed full of people and going v v v v slow… I was squashed into the coriidor in a odd position… and suddenly the next day during 5km my lower back just gave way – suddenly it really *really* hurt. Suddenly I was in agony…. Once I’d laid down I couldn’t standup, I couldn’t sitdown, I really couldn’t do much at all…
After a day or two, it got a bit better… I could standup at least… but the pain was still there… I knew my back wasn’t too good…
So I had to readjust… I had to cancel some long runs and rides… including skipping the marvellous Ditchling Devil… and I had to think about how to rebuild some strength for my back….
And then one day… just as I started a lake swim… my neck and upper back joined in…. suddenly I had another back injury….
Pah… what the heck is happening… pah:/
I fought back a bit… and actually proved some fitness with a couple of races… windsor tri Olympic in just about 2:32…. then Cholmondeley Castle middle distance in just about 5:35… back wasn’t good in either race… but it wasn’t too bad either – I ran to the finish and I was quite happy with those times! Huzzah!
Next up… let’s pack up the bike and fly to Vancouver…
To Vancouver
Once landed, I had just over 2 weeks before the race… 2 weeks… how would I taper?
Well… jet lag made sure I was up really early… and I found that running around Stanley Park in Vancouver was a wonderful way to spend the early hours – especially with the early morning beaver action🙂
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And then I discovered some Vancouver cycling routes… first I cycled up to Whistler and back – just a little weekend trip – somewhere over 200km and perhaps 4000m of climbing.
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Then I added cycling to my morning trips around the road of Stanley Park… it’s a fab road loop – not too different to Richmond Park at home really!
Then I found a Triple Peak sportive – that took me up Mount Seymour, part way up Grouse, and finally up Cypress… It wasn’t exactly sunny – in fact it was cold and wet… but it was a fabulous cycling day – about 100km of riding with almost 3000m of climbing.
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Now what was that about tapering… oops!
So… race day approaches…. and I manage to pick up another injury – not so much my back this time – more of a ribs, shoulder and arm triple niggle… not really sure where this came from, but too late to do anything about it now… ho hum
Oh…. and I get a cold….
Nicola flies in with 36 hours to go… and we catch the bus up to Whistler for the race…
Registration is quick and easy.
Split transition with the swim/bike 2 miles from town is a small pain … especially as the shuttle busses seem really screwed…
Then a race briefing… not worth going to really… although there were a few bear pictures…
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And then that’s it… find some pasta and get some sleep…

Race day arrives

A perfect blue sky – not a cloud in sight. It looks beautiful🙂
And thank dog it’s not raining like I’ve heard it was in 2015 – a wet, cold race in Whistler would be really hard…
Get up, get some food down me, get some factor 50 on, then get to the shuttle busses…
before
Down to T1, find a pump for my bike, get my bike ready… then loop around the toilet queue… then loop around the toilet queue… then loop around… oh you get the idea🙂

Swim

The swim start is a rolling start – everyone self-assesses their likely time, then we enter the water in a very polite Canadian queue.
I wait for the start… leave the toilet… then push my way up the rolling start line until I’m roughly at 1:10… the queue seems in good spirits and soon enough I’m in the water swimming….
What the heck? Every few metres I come across people in front of me moving very slowly… some are breast stroking…. hmmm…. this self-assessment in the rolling start is not working so well… why are you in the way, why?
Eventually I find some room and get into a steady swimming rhythm… I’m really keeping wide of the course and wide of the turns… I’m really keeping it steady – no need to push anything today – save it for the bike.
As I swim, I also get a chance to look around – and it is very very very pretty – lots of blue sky and snow-topped mountains🙂 It is very very very pretty!
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Lap 1 slowly turns into lap 2… and I somehow end up on the inside of the turn rather than the outside… uh oh… there are arms and bodies… and I can’t find a way out… every 100m turns into a pounding near the buoys… and also there are people who really do the toe tapping drafting thing… I don’t enjoy this second lap at all… can’t wait for it to finish…
Almost finished… look I can see the arch… let’s get there… only it looks like I’ve gone off course a little – looks like I’ve aiming to miss a buoy… so I have to turn and angle out again….
Then the finish – onto the sand – stand up – run for the exit arch.
Time – 1:11 – oops – by far my slowest ever IM swim – not what I deserve after my winter and early Summer swim training… but I was keeping it steady knowing the day ahead that’s coming , and I’m also protecting my ribs/shoulder/arm/back… Overall, I’m happy that I’ve not exerted much energy on the swim – I’m feeling ready for the bike!

T1

The volunteers are fab – they strip the wetsuits off, help with getting dressed, and then they are on standby with heaps more suncream – all very good!
My T1 essentials are fairly small. Just socks, shoes, helmet, arm warmers and gloves. I’m very very grateful it’s going to be sunny so I won’t need a coat…
Apart from that I do also need to stop for a pee. I really wish I could learn to pee in my wetsuit!
Then over to my bike, wheel it out to the road entry, and time to start the long hilly bit.
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Bike

I’ve got some Garmin issues… somehow I’ve switched mode from Triathlon into Indoor Cycling… I’d better fix that.
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The road bends gently around the lake up to the centre of Whistler… It’s a gentle little start… within 5km we’re through town, and then it’s mainly downhill for another 10km….
It’s fab tarmac – so easy and fast riding. People are overtaking me everywhere (of course), and my ribs/shoulder/arm niggle won’t let me get down on the aerobars, but I’m happily pedalling along. The sky is blue, I know there are hills ahead, so I just let it roll…
I look down and my heart rate is reading 250… doesn’t look right… play with the chest strap and it comes down to 130 – that’s better…
25km in and we reach the turn for Callaghan Creek – I’ve practised this climb – so I know the next 12km will be gentle uphill – all good.
Up up up… keep the cadence going… keep looking around at the mountains – it’s lovely….
Reach the park gates… keep going… reach the ski jump – know it’s just a kilometre to go now… woohoo…
Reach the top, turn for the descent, let’s go….
The descent is lovely – wide road, good tarmac, never too steep, lots of crap swimmers to look at… I’m still on the brakes of course – still a wuss🙂 People are flying past me still… but maybe only 20 or so of them for the whole 12km descent. I’m almost enjoying myself🙂
There is almost a big incident with a suicide chipmunk – I almost got him…
Back to the bottom of the hill … there’s a weird bit where the 70.3 racers have their turnaround … and then it’s a turn up the hill back towards Whistler village again..
Slowly up the hill… reach the Village… through the 12:15pm 60km bike cutoff with 2 hours to spare – hurrah.
Quick wave to the Sherpa – top supporting Shiraz🙂
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So far so very good…
Now 30km of mostly downhill… again people are flying past me. Everyone else is sooooo much better going downhill, but I’m doing OK…
Lose the 70.3 racers again – they get to turn around so much earlier than s
Through Pemberton, the town at the bottom of the hill. It really really is so very nice of both Pemberton and Whistler to completely shut down their only road for this race – thank you!
Now out the back of Pemberton and along the flat valley for 30km. For the first time I actually get down on my aerobars – shoulder doesn’t hurt too much now.
30km of flat and fast – it’s almost boring… I saw a little bit of drafting going on – but nothing too blatant… just keep my head down and keep pedalling….
Watch the heart rate – in the 130s – all good.
Pass a fab group of supporters with beers and with the sign of the day –
“Ironman – almost as hard as farmin” – love it🙂
Reach the turnaround. Guess what comes next? Yup 30km back the other way…
The view coming back is amazing – for an idea, check out this view from http://www.bctravel.com/whistler/pemberton/
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Keep pedalling… up the flat valley by the river…
It’s warm and sunny and the view is epic.
Keep pedalling – it’s great. But I also know what is coming… so I keep patient… save a bit for that last stretch…
As for fuel… I’m basically on the same strategy throughout – picking up a bottle of Iso sports drink at every aid station – so roughly 9 sports drinks – so roughly 4.5L over the 6ish hours… maybe 60g of carbs per hour and 200+ calories… In addition to that I pick up the odd banana too – good for the inner Minion.
Reach Pemberton again… through the town… now just 30km to go…. how hard can it be?
So the last 35km is up… up… and up again….  I’ve known this is coming. I’ve kept something back for this. I know it’s going to hurt – but I know I’m ready for it…
I keep my spirits high for the first few ramps of the climbs… I keep going strong for the first 20km…. but then I see a 160km marker… shit – that was only the first 15km… up and up again…. my spirits aren’t quite so high…
Then the wind starts… why?
My heart rate monitor is also having a laugh – no way my heart is doing 270… readjusting the strap this time does nothing – so I have to take it off…
So just as it starts to become less uphill, then the wind is pushing us back…
Argh….
The last 10km drags
It really drags…
It’s an upflat…
And that wind…
Past Shiraz – still cheering – thanks🙂
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Now I’ve done plenty of IM races… and the bike is often short… but sadly not today! This is dragging…
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Through town… off the road… under an underpass…. around the back of some hotels… and… finally into T2.

T2

Finally off the bike… phew
Helpers grab the bike – thanks again🙂
Find my bag…
Helmet off… shoes off… shoes on… hat on… I guess that’s it, then?
Quick toilet stop.
More suncream.
Let’s go.

Run

So I knew what was coming….
I knew it was a little up, a little down and mostly long…
The sun was out. The temperature was 28C
What could go wrong?
The answer to that came quick…
First the uphill to the lovely Lost Lake.
It’s a couple of km of mostly gradual up.
I’m ok… it’s not quick….
6 minutes for the first km
6:20 for km2
but I’m ok…
Then the trail goes round the side of the Lake, and there’s a gravel track which undulates before starting to head down…
6:24 for km3
As the path heads down, I try to pick up the pace… try to move from 10 minute miles to something a bit quicker… but my back hurts… and my legs have no power… oh dear…
6:50 for km4
This hurts… this isn’t good… in the past I’ve been quite upbeat in my Ironman runs – it’s all been about steady patience and persistence… but today my head is dropping…
Let’s not talk about km splits any more….
I keep going… keep plodding… but my legs feel weak and my back is encouraging them to take shorter less bouncy steps… it’s not pretty…
After the tour of Lost Lake, the run goes down through town and then heads North and slightly down the valley along the footpath parallel to the highway and down towards Green Lake.
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It’s not too hilly – it’s long gradual slopes.
It is hot – really sunny – but I’m still grateful for this – it’s normal hot for IM for me, and I’m still very grateful it wasn’t cold and wet on the bike.
Down through the golf club by Green Lake and I find Shiraz and a friend from work – nice to see them… it’s hot here – and there’s a bar – a really lovely place to watch the race. Wish I could stop and watch🙂
Now a long stretch around Green Lake. It’s undulating and it’s hot… I’m suffering… never walking, but not even managing 7 minutes per km – so it’s a real shuffle.
Reach the turnaround… so I turnaround… 13km down, 29km to go. The path runs parallel to the bike course here and I can see lots of cyclists still coming in. Their pain cheers me up a bit… at least I’m not back with them (sorry, guys!)
Back along Green Lake, still shuffling, still suffering. Grab ice and iso at the aid stations… Not sure ice was such a good idea…
Back through the Golf Club – admit to Shiraz that this is going to be a long day…
Back up the valley into town… walk for a short stretch (uphill)… the sign of things to come…
The crowds on the paths near Whistler Village are superb – really good support… they keep telling me I’m strong and that I’m smiling. All good, but not sure I believe them….
Half way… still running🙂
But it’s taken me just over 2 hours 30 to get this far…
Now more serious uphill again – up to the Lost Lake again.
Walking sets in for the uphill…
Then it kicks in for the undulations too…
It’s hot.
This is a struggle….
Finish the Lost Lake loop – but downhill hurts. Say Hello to the guy who’s starting parkrun Canada – “Hello, nice to meet you. A bit busy right now. Can’t stop.”.
Down through town…
Find Shiraz… she gives me an excuse… so I walk with her for a few hundred metres….
Eventually I kick into a shuffle again….
Down the valley path
Past the Golf Club
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Take a quick toilet stop…
Walking.
Shuffling.
Walking.
Shuffling.

Struggling.

I’ve done 30km… I’m 3 hours 50 minutes into the run.
I look at my watch and do some sums… I start thinking about what I need to do to get sub-5… not going to happen today… then sub 5:30… doesn’t feel likely… then sub-6… if I can just run for the next 20 minutes then I’ll be in position of having to do 5 miles in 1 hour 40….
Push
I run
It’s 7:30 per kilometre (12 minutes per mile) but it’s a run
Push
Run
Just get through the next km
I reach the turnaround.
33km in 4 hours 15
Less than 2 parkruns to go
And this running only really hurts as much as the walking does…
Push
Run
Just get through the next km
37km in 4 hours 45
Just a parkrun to go
I’m not walking again
Up the path to town
There’s a bear – there! Woohoo! Just walking along maybe 50m from the course… (apparently there was also another bear and cubs who’d climbed a tree that I ran underneath… but that bear has a sad story attached – sorry, bear!)
Still running (yes, you can call it running)
I team-up with another shuffler – he’s moving better than me but I’m not letting him get ahead of me… (Feel bad I don’t know his name… can’t really remember much about him… but we talked a bit and it was really great to have him for company as we shuffled!)
40km in 5 hours 6 minutes
We’re on the edge of Whistler Village… this is almost over
It’s great having company here. Wish it was faster than 7 minutes per km…
Reach 40.5km.. can hear the finish chute. The sign says to the finish and we follow the sign.
Now I’ve done plenty of IM races… and the run is often short… but sadly not today!
The path goes gradually up… why up?… and the sound from the finish chute gets further away… where are they taking us?
My companion accelerates away from me. I tell him to party through the finish and wish him good luck….
And then the path flattens… and then it turns right towards the finish chute again… I pick up pace… can I catch my buddy again?
Slowly… very slowly… I reel in my prey… I get him – yesssss! And no stopping… let’s go…
And then we’re at the road…
41km in 5 hours 13
And I can see the finish chute – it’s there.
But…
What
The
Heck
?
I’m 300m from the finish.
It’s straight in front of me.
But there’s a marshal pointing left…
The route goes away from the finish, downhill down the road, under a bridge, then loops up to the pedestrian mall, hops up on the top of the bridge, then loops right uphill back to the road again.
Yes – it is lovely to involve the Village in the race… but really this extra loop is so very cruel.
Bits of cheering as you run through the village… just keep moving now… it can’t be far.
I get back to that same point again – 300m from the finish
And this time, the finish is mine.
My legs find a little more strength…
The stands aren’t huge, but there are plenty of crowds.
It’s time for lots of high-fives…
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Then a snog with Shiraz…
Then I let a lady run past – no point in racing her and ruining her finish photo…
And then it’s the finish line for me.
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I try a little jump – but don’t think it really shows…
Hurrah – it’s over!
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The aftermath

The medal is superb – it’s got a bear on it.
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The finisher tee and hat were nice.
The helpers in the finish area were good.
The post race food and drink were somewhat lacking… (maybe I caught them at a bad time?)
My race was done…
Swim: 1:10:43
Bike: 6:32:58
Run: 5:23:32
Total: 13:17:41
I think that might be a complete set of Personal Worsts…
bath
How do I compare to others… well using the fab stats from coach cox, roughly I was “in the middle” of things:
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Of the 1256 people who have a swim time… my positions were…
– 399
– 474
– 554
… so in the top half…
Of the 188 people in in my M40-M44 category… my positions were..
– 68
– 88
– 92
… so in the top half…

Reflection…

Had a lovely couple of days walking in Whistler after the race… but then thoughts turned to “What went wrong?”
Well, actuallly I don’t think that’s the right question!
Lots went right🙂
Despite the struggle on the long run, I actually had a blast.
  • I loved the course
  • I did the bike good (I reckon!).
  • I loved seeing a bear on the run course.
  • Apparently I smiled most of the way….
  • I’m going to remember this race as awesome.
But if we’re talking times… then the swim was slow… and in the run just never really happened… my fastest km was 5:56 and my average was way down at 7:37
Why?
  • the swim is definitely down to injuries… I’ve had a super swim year (22:30 for 1500m in Windsor!)… but my back and shoulder were worrying me throughout the swim – so I took it easy.
  • I’m happy with the bike… wish I could descend more bravely but glad to have survived and enjoyed it…
  • and for the run…
    • maybe it was the injuries – certainly my back hurt
    • maybe I overcooked training during the taper – certainly I had too much fun and did too many bike miles in the 2 weeks before the race…
    • maybe I overcooked the bike a little (not at the start, not for most of it, but maybe in that last 35km I should have eased off more)
    • maybe my head just wasn’t in it… not sure why, but somehow this run got to me really early on – everyone said I was smiling, but really this run felt hard from the start… and unlike previous races I was just surviving rather than fighting…
    • maybe the spring marathons didn’t help… yes, it was lovely to get a 3:32 marathon raced in Barcelona in March… but come July the memory of 8 minute miles didn’t help at all!

Overall… 

I had a blast.
It is a really nice race.
The swim, bike and run are all really pretty and all pretty epic – very good views and lots of challenge!
The locals are so nice letting us close their town day for a week.
I’m very glad it was a hot, sunny day – the race would have been horrid on a cold, wet day.
Thanks to Shiraz for the sherpa-ing – including very nice that she’d picked my bike and bags up before I’d even finished.
Not sure when I’ll be back – it’s a long way from home – but I’m glad I’ve done it and I’m not saying “never again”🙂

Stuart Lodge

Overall Rank: 554
Div Rank: 92
Gender Rank: 462
General Info
BIB 1099
Division 40-44
Age 44
State
Country GBR
Profession
Points 2407
Race Summary
Swim 01:10:43
Bike 06:32:58
Run 05:23:32
Overall 13:17:41

SWIM DETAILS | Division Rank: 68

SPLIT NAME DISTANCE SPLIT TIME RACE TIME PACE DIVISION RANK GENDER RANK OVERALL RANK
Total 2.4 mi 01:10:43 01:10:43 01:49/100m 68 340 399

BIKE DETAILS | Division Rank: 82

SPLIT NAME DISTANCE SPLIT TIME RACE TIME PACE DIVISION RANK GENDER RANK OVERALL RANK
Total 112 mi 06:32:58 07:50:42 17.10 mph 82 414 474

RUN DETAILS | Division Rank: 92

SPLIT NAME DISTANCE SPLIT TIME RACE TIME PACE DIVISION RANK GENDER RANK OVERALL RANK
Total 26.2 mi 05:23:32 13:17:41 12:20/mi 92 462 554

Transition Details

T1: Swim-to-bike 00:07:01
T2: Bike-to-run 00:03:27

Results originally from: http://eu.ironman.com/triathlon/events/americas/ironman/canada/results.aspx#ixzz4JJnypI9N

Results comparison….

2015

2015-08-23_15-09-54

 

2007

2015-08-23_15-12-06

 

And just for good measure…

2008 – Almere, NL

(missing for now!)

2008 – Nice, France (punctured)

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2009 – Zurich, Switz (some www problems on these results…)

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From a different site:


M35        193. Lodge Stuart           1972      -----  11:00.41,2   2:10.10,7  (1062)   ¦    29.40   75.¦   33.55   63.¦ 1:03.35   71.¦    2.24  120.¦ 2:56.14  325.¦ 2:59.34  259.¦ 5:55.49  292.¦    1.35   45.¦   55.43  266.¦   58.50  182.¦   58.53  118.¦ 1:03.49  151.¦ 3:57.16  163.¦
                GB-Middx               GBR                                               ¦               ¦ 1:03.35   71.¦ 1:03.35   71.¦ 1:05.59   64.¦ 4:02.14  225.¦ 7:01.48  240.¦ 7:01.48  240.¦ 7:03.24  237.¦ 7:59.08  236.¦ 8:57.58  226.¦ 9:56.51  205.¦11:00.41  193.¦10:26.21  195.¦

F35         30. Whitby Nicola          1972      -----  12:36.43,7   2:06.02,5   (814)   ¦    29.44    4.¦   32.31    2.¦ 1:02.15    3.¦    2.56   12.¦ 3:28.00   45.¦ 3:45.15   48.¦ 7:13.15   46.¦    1.57    5.¦   57.51   28.¦ 1:04.01   22.¦ 1:07.29   21.¦ 1:06.56   17.¦ 4:16.18   20.¦
                GB-Middx               GBR                                               ¦               ¦ 1:02.15    3.¦ 1:02.15    3.¦ 1:05.11    3.¦ 4:33.12   29.¦ 8:18.27   39.¦ 8:18.27   39.¦ 8:20.25   36.¦ 9:18.16   35.¦10:22.18   34.¦11:29.47   32.¦12:36.43   30.¦12:01.10   31.¦

2015 … The Return

Build up…

When it comes to IronMan, I’d “Been there done that” back in 2007, 8 and 9.

I’d made some great friends, I’d had a blast and I’d learnt one heck of a lot – especially about getting calories on board.

By the time 2014 came along, I’d used this “calories” knowledge to good effect:

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There was only one thing for it – time to come out of retirement – time to come back for one more hurrah…

I signed up for IMA and announced my comeback to the world:

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Then for the hard bit – some training…

July …

Let’s start with a steady month and a little cycling…

14 stone 10…

August …

Well training can wait… First things first – a holiday… through holiday tummy and despite the lobster and ice cream, I lose some weight…

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14 stone 7

September …

A great late Summer with lots of sunshine saw me out on my yellow and black “pirate” bike 2 or 3 (or 4!) times a week – good stuff…

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14 stone 1

October …

First, I persuaded Shiraz that Beachy Head marathon would be a nice day out, then I persuaded her that the best training for a marathon is another marathon – so we did Clarendon trail marathon too. The times weren’t quick… 5:15 at Clarendon, 5:45 at Beachy… there were also some stomach issues that I’d rather not talk about. But heck, we were still out there🙂

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13 stone 7

November …

Started with a bang😦 My first cycle commute in 10 years ended when a car knocked me down and then sped off. Hit-and-run – not a happy moment😦 There was a bit of damage to me, and a bit to my bike, but the real big dent was to my cycling confidence and mojo…

The super September and October of cycling is gone.

The bike and the mojo get locked away for 6 months.

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13 stone 3

December …

I discovered run commuting. It wasn’t quick – my typical speed was above 7 min/km – 12 min/mi – but it was every day and it was great base training.

13 stone 1

January …

After a quick ski trip, back to the commute – typical speed now down to 6:30 min/km, typical weekly total was 120km – I wasn’t fast but I was running the longest weekly miles I’ve ever run.

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12 stone 12

February …

Still going… seeing some km below 6 min/km – still doing 120 km a week.

Even the snow can’t stop me…

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12 stone 10

March …

Manage to persuade Shiraz that a trip to Compton 40 would be a good thing… also dig the bike out for a Saturday ride.

Thanks to a special 10 swims for 10 pounds groupon offer I also started back at some swimming.

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12 stone 3

April …

Compton 40 – how I love that race. Ran the first 20 with Shiraz, had a few stomach issues, then somehow sped up for a sub-8 finish (just under 12 min/mile). Loved it!

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Then off skiing again… Loved it🙂

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Then somehow I got sick… a snuffle turned into man flu turned into some kind of chest infection which now 5 months later is still leaving me coughing and wheezing.

It made quite a dent in my running, but I cheered myself up by buying a new hybrid for commuting🙂

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Not enjoying road biking… so find some gentle MTB action instead.

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11 stone 10

May …

The cough took its toll on my running – really down to minimal running, but swimming and cycling going well so no complaints from me🙂

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Took a long weekend off for a walking trip to Exmoor.

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11 stone 7… just over 3 stone dropped…

June …

Joined my first ever Audax ride – the excellent (really really really excellent) Ditchling Devil – ended up at 145 miles – by far my longest ever ride🙂

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Managed to get at least one 10 mile run in – not quick (and had some stomach issues) but at least it was a run…

Also got a surprise triathlon in – my first in 6 years – I turned up to spectate at Henley sprint, but then somehow I became the Religious Education relay team… the commentator looked a little surprised as he said “well done Fiona” to me at the finish line🙂

… and then suddenly I was packing my bike into a van, and then I was getting on the plane to Klagenfurt!

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Race day weight about 11 stone 10🙂

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Klagenfurt 2015

Arrived in Klagenfurt… within an hour I’d found Meldy and she’d led me to a bar and forced a beer into my hand🙂 Lots of others there – the fab Nicky, the smiling ferret, the cheerful Cougie, the bike-crippled Bobby, the Major and Flyaway. Plus there are new faces too – names like Bobs, Nursey and Podds – you all were great – really nice having such fab people to share a few non-competitive days relaxing with.

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Took the bike out for a couple of spins (top tip – if you have a 4am alarm for the plane, then turn it off before the next day dawns).

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Took a swim in the lake (what a fabulous lake!)

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Had lots of conversations with lots of great pirates.

Nicola then flew in, and together we had a nice little lake swim, and then we ate some pizza and ice cream🙂

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Transition racking was fun – super volunteers from Klagenfurt. So much bike porn on display. My poor old bike looked a little out of place… especially with the last minute red electrical tape repair to the bars. Transition bag packing was less fun… there was so little in each of my bags – I’m sure I must have forgotten things!

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Race day

Relaxed start to the day. Got up, went to transition, sorted the bike, went back for breakfast and for a long sit on the loo. This was great advice from other pirates (from “Jen”?) – it was fab to be in the hostel room still with 30 minutes left before the start.

Really was very relaxed. For a year, I’d worked hard to get to this start line. Job done. Just the easy bit left – just the glory leg to go.

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Headed to the start… could hear the camera helicopters buzzing and the cannon firing for the pro race starts… I was a little late… started to get the first butterflies… When I got to the beach, my wave was already in the start pen. Somehow I squeezed through the crowd – I just about made it in with 30 seconds to spare. Headed to the right hand side (the slow bit). There was room so I walked near the front.

Bang went the cannon. Time to go…

Swim

Oh My God.

OH MY GOD!

What a lovely swim🙂

I love wave starts. I love the Worthersee lake. I love clean, clear water and the space to swim free without bashing elbows.

It was great. I relaxed. I stretched out. I took long, slow strokes. I kept really far right. I had just a couple of other swimmers with me… I slowed a little to let them lead me. It was lovely.

First turn… I was still far right – maybe 5 metres from the buoy. Guy on the right of me was a complete idiot – turned pretty much 90 degrees and tried to cut the corner. He swam across my legs, then I saw him bash into several others, then I saw him have to stop as other’s bashed him back… what a muppet…

Second turn… I was still really wide. I was still doing long, slow strokes. It was lovely🙂

Towards the canal… heading towards the sun made sighting more than a little difficult. When I looked up I could see people to the left of me and people heading way off to the right… Just need to keep heading towards the rising sun.

Into the canal… one kilometre to go. To start with the canal wasn’t so bad… I had a stretch to myself, there was only a little sand in the water, and it was almost nice… but then I caught the group ahead and suddenly the water was all stirred up, there were lots more elbows and legs to avoid, and the swim was getting a little tired.

Under the bridge… maybe 500m still to go? Then while breathing to the left, I saw a lunatic jumping up and down in the crowd – Nicola screaming and waving. She’d cunningly made me easy to spot by switching my goggles for bright pink ones. I did some real slow strokes and waved back while swimming. She said it looked hilarious!

Can you spot the wave?

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Right turn… idiot guy tries to swim over me… for half a second I have a hand on his ankle chip and have the most evil idea… but somehow I manage to resist being evil…

Up to the beach… pulled out by lovely helpers… swim done 1:08… oops… my slowest ever Ironman swim – and my favourite ever too🙂 Feel a bit of a cheat for having such a nice relaxing swim. These non-competitive leisure events are fab🙂

T1

Really want to walk across to T1, but everyone around me is sprinting, so I break into a plod. Strip wetsuit down to my waist as I go – gotta make sure people see the kit🙂

Into T1 tent. Everyone else seems to have a nice helper, but I have to find my own bag and sort my own stuff out. Eventually one of the strippers comes over to me and offers to help. They pull my final bit of wetsuit leg off, then pack the wetsuit neatly away for me. Great job. Thanks!

I’ve got my socks and shoes on in rapid time. Much quicker than 8 years previously – although that’s partly as I didn’t have a Doozer there to talk to and to help dress🙂

Head on out of the tent, spot the loos – now there’s something I’ve never done before – use a transition toilet. This is the glamour-life!

Find my bike – plenty of others still to be collected… Head to T1 exit… Spot the supporters on the far side. Give them a wave. Fail to get my leg over my bike. Fail to get my left glove on. Fail to get my right glove on… Then finally its time to gooooooooooooooooo!

Bike

Awesome sprint out of town towards the stadium and back. Struggle with my watch which just wants to fall off. I just about hang on to it – phew.

Then it’s down to the serious business of tracking my heart rate, eating and drinking.

Heart rate target is 135 – that’s probably a bit low, but it’s higher than I normally cycle at.

I stick below 135 and zoom off along the undulations of the lake road.

Love the support in all the towns and villages.

Lots of bike bling keeps coming past me. Lots of drafting pelotons coming past too… really hate all the drafting… really hate seeing so many motorcycle refs do nothing about them.

Keep going. Keep watching the heart rate. Enjoy the hills – the memories of CRAB’s giant “As You Were” sign from 2007 make me smile🙂

I drink a 500ml Iso drinks bottle every aid station (one every 15 miles) and also grab at least a half power bar and a half banana at each station too. These stack up a little in my back pocket, but I do somehow keep eating them.

Lots of bike bling still coming past. Lots more drafting.

Catch the one-legged Javier – what a super triathlete. He then goes on to take me back again on the next downhill – he flies past me so fast – absolutely stunning. Good jawb!

A few other familiar bottoms come past me… including Elaine – keep up with her for a little while to tell her how superb she looks and to tell her that she’s the 6th “chick” I’ve seen come past so far🙂

Up Rupert-The-Bear – and there at the top is Nicola ringing her bell, screaming and taking photos. She seems also to have converted a few locals to her pirate cheer-leading – I stop for a few photos and a quick chat. It’s a lovely spot for a natter, but there we remember there’s something else I’m supposed to be doing… Time to go🙂

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Then down the long (mostly) downhill into town, around the hairpin and back out onto lap 2.

More of the same – including lots more drafting to watch.

Just keep the heart rate below 135… just keep taking one iso bottle, a half banana and a half power bar every 15 miles. Easy. Easy. Easy.

Enjoying it still – also enjoying rediscovering more about the art of peeing while cycling.

It’s during one of these rediscoveries that Laurence comes past. He said “hello” … I just smiled and peed ad smiled some more🙂 The next 20km see Laurence and I jumping back and forth, exchanging places every couple of km – I seem to catch him on the uphills, lose him on the flats and descents. Then the rain starts to fall – just a light drizzle – although up ahead the road is wet like maybe something heavier has fallen… suddenly I’m catching Laurence on the corners too – he explains he’s had a spill in the last few months – good job getting back from that!

And then… oh pah… I feel my front tyre going flat…

I get off at the top of the hill, wave as Laurence comes through and then set about changing the inner tube… while peeing of course🙂

Wheel off. Tyre off. All quick and easy. Check for tyre objects – find a tiny little flint… swear at my tyre choice… New tube out of the bag. New tube in the tyre. Tyre back on. Gas cannister loaded and armed… then on the valve… and it works🙂 Tyre is up and hard in a jiffy… Wheel goes back on the bike – looking good!

BANG!

Rude words scream out across the alpine meadows… Somehow I’ve pinched the tube and it’s caused a very loud flat…

Dammit.

Wheel off again. Tyre off again. Tube out again. Then my second (and last) new tube goes in with great care. In fact, extreme care…. If this one blows then I’ll have to resort to begging for assistance from the other cyclists who are charging past me…

This time I pump the tyre up slowly using the handpump first, then check for pinches, then pump in with gas… then wheel back on the bike, then I’m ready for the off… only something doesn’t feel right so I stop again… but everything looks ok… so I start again… but still feels wrong… so stop again… nope, can’t see anything wrong and really there is somewhere I need to be… so let’s roll….

Take it steady now. Heart rate is well below target. I’m busy just watching the tyres and avoiding damp bits of road. Really can’t afford another flat.

Up Rupert-The-Bear again. Uphill is fun. I’m feeling strong and spin past lots of others. They look miserable so I sing a little as I go. “Doe a deer… a female deer…”. Don’t know if they appreciate it or not… it’s only a little hill… “Me… a name I call myself”… I’m loving it:)

Up to the top… I can hear the DJ, see the fab high-fiving kids… and then Nicola is there too – just before the top – so I show her my punctured tubes and stop for another quick chat (after making her run up to the top of the hill, of course). We talk about the fact I’ve got 20 miles still to go, that the tyres don’t feel right, and that I’ve no tubes left if anything goes wrong. It’s not a comfortable conversation… but heck, it’s only 20 miles. What’s the worst that could happen?🙂

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Head off again – and then just around the corner I find the mechanic’s station. Oh joy. I stop. Have a chat, show him my punctured tubes, and get offered two replacements. Oh Yessssssssssssss🙂 I just resist kissing the nice man… And then I’m off – down the big long descent (with occasional upflats) into town.

The last bit of the bike is quick… it’s good… still feeling strong… still watching my heart rate… slowly trusting the tyres more with each pedal turn… whoooooosh….

Just before the end I get my feet out of my shoes. I really do this badly, having to reach through the frame with my right hand to get my left foot out of the shoe. What a doofus. One day I must learn how to take my left hand off my handlebars while I’m cycling!

Just at transition I see Oxy supporting – 7 years since I’ve last seen him, 9 years since I’ve seen Susannah… Lovely to see you both out supporting. Good jawb!

6 hours 13 for the bike – with the watch saying 6:01 of it was moving…

T2

…is fairly quick

I stop for a pee and poo – another first – don’t think I’ve ever stopped in T2 toilets before…

Then a helper finds me my run bag, I put my shoes on, then spray some suntan cream on (next time, I really must close my eyes before spraying my face), then put my hat on and I’m ready to run…

Run

Out of T2, along the lovely curved walkway around the front of the hotel, then down to the canal for 42km of discovery.

Heading into the day I knew my fitness and training would be good for swim and bike, but run… run was more of a mystery. I’ve run a lot this year, and earlier in the year I’d had a strong 12 min/mile showing at Compton, but the last 3 months have been slow, short and cough-filled. Nothing over 10 miles. Nothing really under 10 minutes per mile… yet somehow I felt like I should be able to go quicker…

What about trying for 9 min/mile? That’d be 4 hours for the marathon… How much could it hurt?

First things first, I get to pirate support corner and give Dawn and Jane a sweat-and-piss-filled hug. Oops… sorry about that. Also somehow manage to communicate enough to get Dawn to text Nicola that I’m off the bike leg OK – thanks Dawn – top jawb!

Then off on the run… and I find myself running. Oh yes!

The heat is on. The sun is out. The lake is shimmering. I fucking love Klagenfurt. Fucking love it. Down the fucking lakeside path. Along the fucking railway. There’s a heavy rock support station there – a fucking rock support station. Take me down to the Paradise City Where the grass is green and the girls are Pretty – they’re fucking awesome. Then I see the first pirates coming back the other way – Robbie, Dan(?), Laurence – each of them gets a very loud “You look Fucking Strong”, “You’re Fucking Orgasmic, Mate” or similar… ahem, sorry. I’m not sure where this Tourettes came from, but it seemed to keep me entertained at the time…

I keep moving along. The sun is still coming down hot. Through the camp ground, past the bar, then back up along the railway line towards the crowds again.

I’m feeling strong all the way through the first 10km. I just keep plodding through at approx 5:30 per km. I accept every hose and water pistol on offer for cooldown – and I offer each supporter an Ich Lieber Dich in return. I take a drink of iso at each aid station, I even try a gel, I even try a coke. Oh yuk… won’t do that again… I just keep moving. I just keeping thinking about the idea that “it’s a game of patience – just keep going. Just keep waiting for the last 10km.” And most of all I just keep swearing… you look fucking awesome. You look fucking strong. You look fucking orgasmic! Fucking ra ra ra… ahem… sorry!

Back through IronCity central, past the supporters again, then off into town along the canal where Shiraz is supporting. Still feeling fab. Still feeling strong. Into the centre of town. Really not so keen on the course in the centre of town. There are too many inclines, too many subways and lots of pavement trip hazards too. However, the crowd itself is fab – especially the Irish support shouting from the bar seats🙂

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Around the dragon (although I never actually noticed it…) then back out to IronCity again….

Half Way🙂

That wasn’t so bad… Maybe 1 hour 52 for the half marathon… that’s my first sub-2 hour half marathon in 6 years!

Even better I’m still feeling strong!

Although… my guts have started hurting a bit… so I’ve switched to water only at aid stations… I know that I need more sugar, but I figure I can make it on water alone… it’s only a half, right?

Back out past the pirate support… then I trip on a tree root and come so close to going flying… must pay more attention… then off back out on the next bunny ear loop out along the lake and around the campsite.

I think the rock support station (the fucking awesome rock support station) is playing ACDC… “I’m on the highway to hell… my friends are gonna be there too…”🙂

Just keep moving

Just keep moving

Some of the km splits start to slow now.

But I keep drinking water… and I keep moving…

I think the fucking swearing disappears a bit now… although Meldy and SwissBobby are still good for an earful🙂

I count down from 22km to 42km in parkrun’s – just 4 to go, just 3.8 to go, just 3.6 to go…

I have a stern chat with myself. I didn’t do all this training to even consider walking.

There was all that running in winter.

Remember the snow!

And then there was all that cycling.

Remember the Audax!

And the swimming… remember the 14C lake in May!

And then there was that guy who knocked me off my bike in November… I hate that man – he’s a good figure to focus on… No way am I walking when I remember how I bounced off his car…

Remember being knocked off the bike!

Just keep moving

Just keep moving

The km splits slip down closer to 6 than 5:30, but I’m still running.

Just keep moving

Just keep moving

Past pirate support. Less than 10k to go. That’s 2 parkruns…

No need for patience now – it’s time.

Just keep moving.

Just keep moving.

Say Hello to Nicola who’s supporting by the canal… not sure I say much… I’ve got to focus on running.

Just keep moving.

Just keep moving.

Into town. How those inclines hurt now.

Look at those hills!

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Around the dragon. Just one parkrun. How hard can it be?

Back out along the canal towards the lake.

I see the last “hill” ahead of me – that ramp up from the lockside – no way am I walking. I think of that car hitting me in November and run and run and run…

Some of the km splits are heading North of 6 (a long way North) but that’s OK…

Then I start to feel strong… I think I can run a lot faster…

So I go for it – I pick up the heels, stretch the quads and kick..

Oh yes!

I’m running

Oh yes!

I’m racing

Oh yes!

I feel fucking fantastic!

Oh yes!

Fucking Fantast————owwwwwww!

Cramp engulfs my right thigh… so I have to pull up… and for 10 steps I’m walking… but that’s it… just 10 steps, then I’m back plodding on again… but I decide maybe not to try that fast running thing again…

And so it carries on…

0.6 parkruns

Just keep moving

0.4 parkruns

Just keep moving

0.2 parkruns

Then a cruel twist… the previous km markers have all been well short… but the 42km one is much further off…

I see my watch tick over towards 4 hours… I know I’m not going to make it… so I enjoy myself thanking the supporters and thinking about beer….

Just keep moving

There’s the finish turn

It’s fab

IronMan Austria is such a great finish line!

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I pick up the pace for the final run in – get myself some clear track to make sure my finish line photo is just of me…

Then I see Nicola in the crowd on the right. So I stop for a hug and a chat. She’s great🙂

Only then I see other people approaching the finishing chute… and so (for some idiotic reason) I decide to race them… Why? Why? Why? What a muppet… I should have waited and made sure I got the finish photo to myself… what a muppet…🙂

Over the line. Hands in the air. Smile to the cameras. Fab🙂

4:01 for the run….

It’s over!

Then to the finishers tent… via the shop…let’s get a beer🙂

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Get a beer

Get a very cold shower

Eat some rubbish pizza

Get another beer

Go wait for Nicola – she’s in a restaurant… she keeps texting me that she’ll be out as soon as she’s got the bill… and finished her wine… and finished dessert🙂

Then bike out of transition, bags back to the hostel, then back out to the finish line to cheer in the heros… including Helen, Nicky, and Penny – fab stuff – fab fireworks. Love it.

Finally get to go home… get some sleep… zzzzzz

Then up early for a day at the beach and a great awards ceremony.

Sad I missed the finisher tee photo… but honoured to have sailed with such a great pirate party! So many awesome performances – with special mentions for the ever-present Barley and the awesome risen-from-the-dead Symes – loved your “IronMan day is my New Year” explanation – hope you have a really happy new year!

Conclusions…

I loved it!

Loved it!

The clock at the end said 11:35 – happy with that.

Could have gone quicker – especially without the puncture… and without the cough… but then I suspect I could have gone slower too…

Really happy how all the training went – and really happy how I enjoyed the day :)

Thanks for all the support – especially to Shiraz for putting up with me for the last year🙂

Now back to the eating… got some weight to put back on…

Post race

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!

42.2km Run

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

T2

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!