Right well, here’s mine!
The bit before…
Having nailed the Welsh one in September I was quite keen to sail with the big Pirate Ship this summer and hoped to build on the fitness I had gained on all those bloody Welsh hills.
Training has gone well this year I think, despite me not having a coach or mentor I muddled through with a heavily adapted Fink plan.
I enjoy training and have got in the routine of getting my sessions done early in the day which I enjoy. I did suffer a lot with tiredness when the double sessions kicked in. Juggling a full time job, a family and peak training is an art I’ve yet to perfect and I often found myself VERY tired. But I got through it and a good performance (for me) at the Long course Weekend in Tenby put me in appositive mood for taper.
The race seemed to come around very quickly this time…. I must be getting old!
The wet bit…
I’m not a good swimmer. I learnt to swim for my first Ironman in 2009, Zurich. I can do the distance but it’s a slow affair.
The course made me wibble from the outset because, being an out and back meant it looked a bloody long way and there weren’t the land marking turnaround buoys I was used to and find psychologically reassuring.
Anyway, in I got and settled down to battle with the icky weed until it was time to go. The horn blasted, I took a deep breath and got on with it. I got bashed about more in this swim than ever before but I kept at it.
It wasn’t a fun time to be honest, both legs cramped badly and frequently. I’ve never experienced cramp as bad as this in a swim ever and it caused me to stop and tread water, breast stroke a bit, jiggle my legs in peculiar fashion, all sorts of things really to try and break the cramps.
Much lake water was consumed! It was really quite unpleasant and I was VERY happy to make it to the finish!
It’s ages isn’t it??? What was I doing in there?
My Favourite bit…
By this time the repeated episodes of cramp had left my calf muscles feeling as though they had been kicked, many times and quite hard, so at least there was no danger of me setting off too hard on the bike.
I kept a fairly light gear and just kept my legs turning hoping the tightness would disappear, which it eventually did at around 20 miles in.
Then, I just got on with it really. The course was pretty unexciting, but the wind certainly made it interesting!
The Pirate feed station was fantastic! The moment I saw the sign ‘Pirate Booty Ahead’ I had a big grin on my face. Such was my excitement at seeing Min I almost took a guy out lobbing my water bottle at the goal (whoops).
A big Aaaarrrghhh and off I went.
It was all going perfectly well until about 80 miles when my stomach first let me know it wasn’t happy. From that moment on I had one thought on my mind and that was getting to a loo as soon as possible.
I decided to hoof it a bit. It was at this point I was unable to chat to fellow pirates on the course fearing that if my concentration lapsed for a moment, I would have a very unhappy accident. So I just powered to the finish, handed my bike to the lovely Fat Buddha who informed me I’d just done a great bike time.
I just wanted to know where the bog was!
Where the feck are the fecking toilets
The Grumpy bit…
When on the first loop you have to stop at every portaloo you just know you’re not going to be in for a fun marathon.
It just wasn’t very nice to be honest and I really wasn’t enjoying myself. I honestly thought I was looking at my first DNF but the fact my son was there supporting pushed me on. I really didn’t want him to see me fail.
So I kept at it. I was only able to really run when there was a portaloo actually in sight. I could only run at any decent speed if I could see someone else was going for the same poratloo and I needed to beat them to it! The rest of the time I did the ‘Holly march’ and tried not to cry.
I threw away my gels at the end of the first lap because I knew I wouldn’t be able to tolerate them and I managed with the mainly water and the salted crisps…. Not quite my planned nutrition strategy I have to say! I had a few sips of coke but that just made me feel sick.
So yeah, I earned my Grumpiest Pirate prize good and proper.
Garr stayed with me for the last loop and I sobbed most of the way round. BUT!!! I got there! And waiting at the finish shute was Thomas, who ran the last bit with me, holding my hand and we crossed the finish line together. It was absolutely worth every second of pain for that moment!
My first ever spell in the medical tent followed as did lots of tears!
I can’t pretend it was the race I hoped for but I am very VERY pleased with my bike time and I am very pleased to have a new PB!!!
Ironman is an incredible beast to try and tame. You can prepare, train, plan and organise to the best of your abilitly but race day can throw the unepected at you and all the best laid plans can go out of the window.
Still, I had a great bike, and throughout training it’s the bike I wanted to see the improvement on and so I’m a very happy Pirate after all!
Thanks to everyone who supported me. The Pirate support means so much especially through tough times.
I really wouldn't want to do it without you! xx
@ Saffers: I had physio this morning Saffers, calf was a bit knotty although not sore. Had acupuncture and rub out and it felt ok. Went for a 6 mile recovery jog tonight and it felt good enough to lift my pace for the middle miles, although it isn't right just yet. How you feeling?
@ STIL: Great to meet you and IronMT and sorry you both had to shoot off. Have you changed your avatar? lol
@ MrZ: Meeting you was a highlight of the whole weekend for me. You are such an open, genuine and friendly person, and there are actually very few like you. You had a superb race IMO, but your true endurance shone through on Monday. My wallet!! How many times did I say the F-word?
@ Siggy: I really relaxed in your company Siggy, a decent sort and your lad is a credit to you. I hope he works at his dream and someday he'll follow his old nutter of a dad into IM distance.
@KK: I'm still annoyed that my car battery could not sustain my portable beer fridge for 72 hours without the need to turn the engine over . LOL @ DK who couldn't believe that as an engineer I didn't have have scooby about my car.
@ SA: Great to meet you and your family SA, the mexican wave was perfect by the time I came past.
@ Lee and Seren: We passed that chance to have our celtic tri-some. I'm a single guy now, so give it some thought . I loved both your company all weekend and on the few times when I looked lost, one of you appeared to cheer me up. Enjoyed the hugs and kisses, hope I didn't sweat on you too much.
great reports folks, excellent reading.
VT'd - if it makes you feel better, I too had to wait for the wonders of the AA man's battery charger before I could head home!! Although I did have my wallet!!Looking forward to a few beers with you in Dublin in October mate !
We all know I have had a few wibbles, as have lots of others but maybe I’m a little more vocal about mine on here, FB, twitter and anyone who will listen to me. I was seriously doubting my ability to get through the run the Thursday before the race and worrying about that just filled my head with questions and after posting on here, I got a lovely message to give FF a call to ease any worries and answer any questions. That was the phone call that set my mind at ease, FF talked and answered all my questions, made suggestions about my run and once off the phone I knew how I was going to tackle the run. FF, I cannot put into words what a difference you made to my race. You are full of that Pirate spirit and I thank you for that.
Set off Saturday morning with hubby, mum, Niall my training partner and his wife. Nerves not really kicked in yet but apprehensive. We weren’t camping, I really don’t know how you lot manage to camp before a race, I know I am not going to get much sleep but the little sleep I do get I need a bit of comfort. We went arrived at HPP at about 10am and went to register, seeing Pirate colours all the way but not recognising anyone. Once in the registration tent I saw Barley and Trogs registering, Schmunks was there and introduced me to Mr Zuvai (I think) as I was modelling the new cycling jacket. Got my race envelope and chip and then had a hug with Trogs who was full of encouragement and full of smiles, her smiles were there to cheer me on that run too. Went straight to the briefing and saw an area of yellow and black so we headed over to sit with Ditchy, HH and many I didn’t know. Got a text from Dustboy saying “Hi Fatty”…..so I knew he was behind me, the cheeky bugger. As the briefing started, my mouth started to dry out and I started taking deep breaths with Niall grinning every time I did and me thinking, “Sheesh….WTF am I doing.” As the bike briefing came to an end I very nearly starting rocking in my chair!! Headed back to the cars to transfer kit into the race bags and get the bikes into transition. Simple but alas nuffink is simple when I am involved. At this point I realised that I had lost my chip timer, must have dropped it in the tent….a little bit of panic started to rise but everyone told me to calm myself and we can get it sorted once we had done the bags. Decided to ride the bike up and down the car park to check ok as had had some gearing issues but uhoh…..gears were jumping and again the tummy started churning!! Thankfully Niall managed to get it sorted for me but it played on my mind all night. Thankfully my chip had been handed in, along with a little pile of others so seems it’s easy done. Racked my bike next to Meldy’s and then went into put my bags on my pegs. As I did so, an arm went around my shoulder and a voice said, “Sorry love you can’t put those there, this is the male section.” Flat.Footed you are a bugger. Had a hug and a quick chat. Off then to find my little support crew and head to the hotel…..took a while to get to the car as there were Pirates everywhere. Hugs and chats with Viking, who is the friendliest Pirate every, quick hug with Waffa, LTP, Purple, HollyG and too many too mention but it was lovely to see sooooo many friendly faces. Pasta dinner and bed early.
Alarm set for 3am, not a lot of sleep had but woke feeling not too nerves, apprehensive but not at the throwing up stage. Shower, managed to get the porridge down, coffee then set off to HPP. Arrived about 4.30am and by the time we had walked to the transition tents I was cold but think that was the nerves. Kit bag put on the peg, said goodbye to my phone and hoped I wouldn’t have withdrawal symptoms, wetsuit on up to my waist when I heard a voice shouting…’Would you make your way to the start?’ What??? Already?? I hadn’t said goodbye to my mum and hubby and all of a sudden we were starting but we had loads of time. That shocked me and I started to feel flustered, even more so when the voice kept shouting. Quickly headed out to say bye and get hugs then Niall and myself headed to the water!!! Breath Saffers.
I had planned on going to bay 3 at the back but had taken a brave pill and Niall suggested we stick in bay 2 at the back, aim to stay calm, not hyperventilate and get to the end of the swim. Seemed they wanted us in the water far sooner than I wanted to get in so I hung back until 5mins to go, had a hug and a kiss with the fella that puts up with my wobbles the most, made him stand to my right cos that’s how he swims when we train and felt it would be good luck. Felt nervous but excited at this point and was just hoping that I didn’t panic as I had at the Vit. Clapping started, countdown and off we went…….actually managed to swim alongside Niall for a fair few minutes, breathing stayed even and then the mashing started. Bloody hell!!! It seemed sooooo ferocious to me. I got bashed on the head too many times to mention, thought my goggles were about to go but they stayed put (leak free and fog free the whole swim). No panic set in, Saffers was swimming an Ironman swim and not hyperventilating. I waited for the swim to thin out abit and to find my own bit of water but it seemed that every other bugger wanted the bit I was in. Everytime I looked up to sight, all I could see was splashing and arms but what an amazing sight it was. I think I actually enjoyed the forcefulness of the swim start (yea, yea, I know, all that wibbling for nothing). It seemed to be going on a bit but eventually came to the turn and was only about two swimmers from the bouy and was hoping I didn’t get bashed as we went round, a little bit of heave ho ing but not too bad. The swim back though felt harder, very choppy, got cramp in my left leg and felt like I was pulling a plank of wood behind me, kept the leg still and it faded off, only to return in the other leg and then swapped back. Poxy cramp!!! Then I could see the end of the swim and what a great feeling that was. I hadn’t drowned, I hadn’t been swum over and I wasn’t last. I then started to run through in my head T1. FF had warned me to keep swimming til I felt the ground which I did, got hauled out and as I did so I thought, ‘Noooo, my wetsuit has ripped!’ No one told me they unzip you….phew, that was a relief. Garmin stopped and sheer delight to see I had swum that faster than I had in training.
Obviously drafting helps even though I have no idea how to draft but with so many bodies around you, you can be clueless. Wetsuit off smoothly to my waist, shouted at to sit down to which I replied, ‘I won’t get up again if I do.’ But thankfully I was heaved to my feet by Di, a club mates wife who had volunteered to help in the transition tents and I got a hug and a kiss each time she saw me which was lovely. Wetsuit in hand, grabbed my bag, headed to a bench and calmly put on my bike gear. Hennie coming in at that point telling me what a good swim I had had and that we are having a chat whilst doing Ironman, brilliant. Couldn’t believe how calm it was in transition, I had visions of pushing and shoving and not enough room. As I left T1, I saw Niall (training bud) running in, such a relief as he has had a shoulder injury and not swum for two months.
Swim time : hoped 1.30 managed 1.14
I did warn you it was long.
Plan was to ride to cadence as this is how I train. Keep cadence at 90 and spin the legs as much as I could and when I could and not to push hard gears. Keep my breathing steady. I knew to slow down if my breathing started to become heavier. I wanted to ride hard but comfortable so that I would get through the dreaded run. I knew my run would be rubbish and the bike is my strongest discipline. It was hard not to go off really fast but I stuck with the plan and the ride went really well. All my concerns about getting lost on route, missing signs etc… were all unfounded. The route was clear as clear as can be. Had pirates passing me and past a few myself and loved the support everyone gave each other. The ride seems to have blurred and don’t know when I saw who but remember seeing Siggy and having a quick hello. The hill came up fairly quickly but managed that no trouble. Always had lots of other riders about along the route and at about mile 40 I heard a little click clicking and my training buddy’s voice saying, ‘Recognise that noise?’ brilliant the bugger was gonna beat me on the bike!!! He shouldn’t have been there if following his own plan but said when he saw me heading out he just had to catch me up, soooo competitive. Off he went and I had to really control myself not to push that little bit extra and go faster as I knew I could but that run was still worrying me. I was determined to stick with my own plan and race my own race though and that’s what I did. Ended up playing leapfrog with Niall during the bike as he bonked at one point and I went past him. Tried to ask as many pirates as I could what their pirate names were as we past each other. Saw VT’d at some point along the windy route and had a quick chat about our Achilles trouble before he went on by. At about 70m I seemed to slow down and it became a bit harder, was feeling uncomfortable and should have peed at the last feed station but didn’t want to stop. Tried peeing on the bike but having not practised, this seems not an easy thing to be doing. Then I got some good advice from PirateFlyaway to have a pee and take the time as I would be quicker and she was right, stopped at the next feed station, hated that I was having to wait to get in there…..especially when I saw my training buddy go by, albeit it slowly but once I had peed I was flying again. I could managed to get back on the tribars and get back to it. Caught up with FF, think he had passed me way earlier and chatted for a bit as we came up to Niall who was struggling, told him to have gels, eat, drink and keep at it. Hated going past him but knew I had to keep going. (He later said that he thought he was going to pass out and actually stopped, got off the bike, sat and ate until he felt he could carry on, felt a bit bad then). The wind was a killer and sections that I should have been flying, I wasn’t. Remember a nice zoomy bit after that so on the tri bars and away I went, FF went past looking strong. Barley went by with lots of encouragement. Loved going through the pirate feed station and loved the signage, made me chuckle. Lots of smiles on the bike from me and whoop whooping until the rain started and found that tough going. Such a boost racing in pirate colours.
Saw hubby, mum and crew as I came into T2 which was brilliant…..handed over my bike and into the tent. Grabbed my bag, on the bench……faffed a bit with what to wear as I was cold from the rain so on with arm warmers then thought I would be hot, so off with arm warmers….faff, double faff…
Bike : hoped 6.30 managed 6.39 (now thinking I could have pushed harder maybe/possibly but then would I have got through the run?!)
The bit I was the most worried about!!! The aim, after chatting with FF, was to stick to 10mins run/1min walk as long as I could and then aim for small goals and that’s exactly how it went. I have worried so much about the Achilles and as I set off I felt it and I felt it for the first 5miles. I started to think that this was going to go horribly wrong as the pain in my ankle was reminding me that I had not been able to run train. Then the pain just disappeared! As I collected my first band, I double checked how many I needed (another worry had to be eased) and on I went around the first lap of the lake. As I turned at the other end to head back the wind was a killer and I thought to myself OMFG this is going to do me in every time. I then heard the loudest wolf whistle ever, glanced across the other side of the lake to see my long suffering training buddy, Niall waving frantically at me. That brought the biggest grin of relief to my face as I had been so worried after passing him on the bike but knowing he was behind me and would no doubt catch me, helped my plodding. The pirate supporters along the route were amazing, Waffa with her pompoms and offer of a cartwheel if I smiled was great. Don’t know who the pirate with the black cap on and the big gob was but he must have been the loudest pirate ever. Brilliant. I walked through every feed station and alternated with water/hi 5 and crisps even if I didn’t really want a drink I had one.
Stuck with hi 5 gels every 30mins (FF my hero) . Loved seeing pirates all over the place with their encouragement, Hennie you were one of those that always smiled and told me I was looking strong evening though I felt shite. Flat.Footed, thanks for your encouragement each time you passed me. Trogs with her smile that said, I knew you would be okay, thank you Trogs. Saw Dustboy on my second loop and had a hug, pleased to see him as knew the bike was an issue for him. (Thought he was piddling about when I text him the next morning only to find he had been whisked off, gutted for you DB) Mile 13 came along fairly quickly and it started to sink in that I was actually doing this and still run/walking albeit slowing down. The wind around the lake did me in each time and found it demoralising as I was running on the spot so tended to walk more that side and safe energy. Mum and hubby were at this point and urging me on with smiles and encouragement. Flagging majorly now and hit the caffeine gels at mile 16 as advised, tried the coke which seemed to hit the spot. 3 bands on my arm now and although I knew I just had one loop to go, going down the windy lakeside I struggled and felt a bit teary eyed…….past the pirate support at this stage and apologies to Mr SA and Jordy as I was a bit weak and woolly with my Mexican wave moment. Thought of my Dad at this point which is probably why I was teary eyed and knew he was up there grinning down at me. So many pirates on that route, too many to mention but thank you Viking for your lovely smile and encouragement at every turn, Barley for your loud shout of go on Saffers every time you saw me and making me smile……smiling and running just don’t go together for me. Low point for me was rounding a corner and seeing my training buddy sat on a bench, still cracking jokes at me but looking shite! We had played leapfrog throughout this race and now he looked like he was going to flake out on me. Stopped to check on him, he was struggling to walk, feeling faint and had been there a while…….told him to sit for a while as he had plenty of time to compose himself then walk to the next feed station for water/gels/crisps….anything but just don’t give up. He told me to get on with it which I found hard to do, how do you leave someone who has been with you every step of the way and helped each other so much? We had already said we had to race our own race but it was blinking hard……off I trotted and decided that if he were still there I would have to get a medic but there he was walking towards me. Phew. He caught me up and we did my run to that tree walk to that sign strategy. Saw Ironholgs who managed a smile and words of encouragement exchanged. Told Niall to get going as I couldn’t go any faster and off he plodded and we both knew we were going to do this. Last time through Schmunkees support crew to be told I was beating Barley….LOL. 4th band on yayyyyyyyyy.
And there's more.
Headed along the lake, walking more than running, quads were screaming at me as was Barley from behind, “Come on Saffers, move it. You’re not gonna let me beat you are you?” Whatever…LOL… I couldn’t give a fudge at that moment in time. Turned towards home and thankfully the wind had dropped…..Barley by my side yakking at this point. “You do realise that you have 18minutes to get under 14hours don’t you Saffers?” Course I blinking didn’t, I had no idea what the time was, I just knew I was going to finish….. “You’re going to have to run the whole way Saffers, come on….keep going, that’s it…..I’m going on cos I’m not doing any of that hand holding over the finish line.” Said Barley. So run I did, every last step I plodded til I could hear the music, see the crowds and hoping I was still under 14 as all of a sudden it mattered. 2 minutes to get under 14 I could hear everyone shouting as I heading down the finish shute…..loads of pirates clapping and shouting and mum and hubby going nuts as I crossed the line with training buddy stood there with medal already on. Fantastic! I had done it, I was an Outlaw.
A fantastic day. I am still emotional, one minute grinning and writing this I’m crying. Thanks so much Barley for shouting that at me or I wouldn’t have got sub 14. Thanks to all the pirates for their support, not just on the day but through these forums/FB/twitter and giving such great advice and encouragement. Cheers Plum for putting up with a lot of texts through the early stages, you’re a star. Flat.Footed, the advice you gave me really got me through that run without a doubt. Every step of the way I was thanking you. I am proud to be a pirate, you are a fantastic group of people. Oh and Meldy, you were right of course, I was absolutely fine.
That must be the longest report ever!!!!! Sorryyyyyyyyyyyy
My daughter is sat here saying you lot will look at that report and not bother reading it it's sooooo long. I love a long race report myself but must admit, I did go on.
I read it Saffers *sniff*Well done!
I knew someone would read it
Visit the official Triathlete's World page
Follow Triathlete's World on Twitter
Other Natmag-Rodale Sites
About Triathlete's World