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:
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:
Then for the hard bit – some training…
Let’s start with a steady month and a little cycling…
14 stone 10…
Well training can wait… First things first – a holiday… through holiday tummy and despite the lobster and ice cream, I lose some weight…
14 stone 7
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…
14 stone 1
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🙂
13 stone 7
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.
13 stone 3
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
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.
12 stone 12
Still going… seeing some km below 6 min/km – still doing 120 km a week.
Even the snow can’t stop me…
12 stone 10
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.
12 stone 3
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!
Then off skiing again… Loved it🙂
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🙂
Not enjoying road biking… so find some gentle MTB action instead.
11 stone 10
The cough took its toll on my running – really down to minimal running, but swimming and cycling going well so no complaints from me🙂
Took a long weekend off for a walking trip to Exmoor.
11 stone 7… just over 3 stone dropped…
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🙂
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!
Race day weight about 11 stone 10🙂
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.
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).
Took a swim in the lake (what a fabulous lake!)
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🙂
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!
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.
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…
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?
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🙂
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!
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🙂
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!
Rude words scream out across the alpine meadows… Somehow I’ve pinched the tube and it’s caused a very loud flat…
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?🙂
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…
…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…
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🙂
Around the dragon (although I never actually noticed it…) then back out to IronCity again….
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!
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..
I feel fucking fantastic!
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…
Just keep moving
Just keep moving
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
IronMan Austria is such a great finish line!
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….
Then to the finishers tent… via the shop…let’s get a beer🙂
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!
I 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…