I’d had to look over my shoulder before Saturday’s swim practice when one of the organisers said “Athletes this way” surely they couldn’t mean me? I still think of myself as the fat bloke who returned to running 2 years ago when my doctor told me I was obese. Maybe I now need to find a slimmer pig for my avatar.
I had been feeling confident leading into the race as training had gone well apart from some knee trouble which had reduced but not stopped my running, I had learned to do front crawl only just over a year ago but have completed the swim distance many times in training. Road cycling I was even newer to, but I’d built up to do 3 century rides. The nerves only really hit me during the briefing, it was hot in that hall and the heat was what I was worried about.
Surprisingly I had a great night’s sleep, woken up by my alarm, rather than the night of clockwatching I had been expecting. Relieved to find my tyres hadn’t exploded in Saturday’s heat and still felt hard, so I left them as was, minimal faffing for me. Said good bye to my family, dropped off my glasses then staggered / felt my way round to the swim start. I wear prescription goggles but I still don’t see too well in them.
I started at back of pen 1 with the fast guys the idea being that they would be off leaving me clear water, I could use the left bank for sighting and would also get to draft off the people from pen 2. Others must have had the same idea though as there were a lot of slower swimmers in front of me. I was getting clobbered a lot and didn’t really find clear water until past the 750m mark. I was relieved to keep my breakfast down as the duck shit soup in the lake didn’t really agree with me . I picked up some good drafts after that and had an enjoyable and relaxed swim, conserving my energy for later. Swim time 1:18:42, fantastic!
Coming out of T2 I spotted my family perched up on the boatshed, above where my bike was racked, quick wave and I was off on the longest bike ride of my life. I had read some advice about treating the start of the bike ride as if you were cycling to the event so that is what I tried to do, again conserving energy for the rest of the day. Despite that, the roads were fast and I was going at a decent speed, much faster than I ever managed in training, food and drinks were going down well and I had a great time Aaaarghing back at all the supporters who cheered me on. Was glad to get to the finish but hadn’t really experienced any bad patches and arrived back in transition after a 6:43:36 cycle ride. Excellent for me!
Bolted down a rice pudding in transition and out for a run still feeling good. It was hot out there but I felt as long as I could keep eating and drinking then I could keep on running. I had always planned to walk the feed points and any hills and run the rest. I’ve faded towards the end of marathons before and wanted to see if the short walk breaks would delay the point where I started feeling bad and was forced to walk. This worked great, I passed loads of people on the run and felt strong all the way to the end. I was relieved to spot my family just before the finish as we had missed each other on my earlier laps, crossed the line with my daughter Emma and youngest son Jason in an overall time of 13:21:26.
(my pre race optimistic target had been 14 hours).
Got cleaned up and something to eat then it was back to the finish to watch others still coming in, great fun drinking chatting, dancing and cheering.
It was great seeing so many Pirates out there on the course. Thank you to everyone who gave up there time to support the race or cheered and Arrghed me on.
Thanks to my wife and family too for supporting and giving me the time to train, for what has been a secret ambition of mine for years. I didn’t think I would ever complete an Ironman distance tri. Maybe I’m an athlete now after all.
You are an athlete and an Outlaw
Great race reports. Still chuckling at Cake dancing around his handbag whilst waiting to start the bike leg and then having a fag.
Great reports guys.
Where do you get whole dried bananas?
K9!!!! Dos sorry I didn't get to meet you
that guy and his friend with the sponges were great weren't they first time I wiped my face with it, then spent too long worrying where it had already been
didnt even think of where it had been - think i want to puke now thank you
Little M.iss Happy wrote (see)
Great reports guys. Where do you get whole dried bananas?
Googled "Whole dried bananas"
as the cheapest including postage. Might have to try some.....
Just read the review; might try some more expensive ones:
I am undecided about these.They are not too bad.The smell is off putting,but it is the taste that counts and it is okay - a bit funky.I would imagine these are very hit and miss amongst consumers and I am not too sure if I would order these again.Also,I am not too keen on them coming from Vietnam, as far as quality standards are concerned. Try them, they are pretty cheap but I personally was a bit disappointed by them.
K9, you taught yourself to swim from YouTube videos and did a 1hr 5! Amazing, am very impressed.
These race reports are fantastic! Congratulations to you all.
Hi Major, long time no hear, hope you are keeping well.
Taught myself crawl Darkness - I could swim breast stroke before!
Taught myself tumble turns from you-tube - it's an amzing resource!!
Those bananas look dodgy.
Like the towel-pee idea
Excellent report everyone, nice one Honk, good to meet you
Here it is ...
We camped all weekend, and renting a caravan that was conveniently delivered to our pitch. Good job we did, I hadn’t expected to have a son with a broken leg to add to the mix! Friday was spent eating at the pub down the road with guys from DIY HIM. Saturday was busier than I expected – registration, race briefing – “its going to be hot, real hot”, they said, don’t over inflate your tyres, take salt tablets, drink loads, but not just water. So off to the expo to buy electrolytes, because I hadn’t brought any and mistakenly thought they’d be in the energy drink.
When I got back to the caravan, both tyres were flat ... back to the expo to buy more inner tubes. Getting a bit stressed now – time’s getting on, and I’m not resting very much. Tyres on, wheels on, back to the centre to rack my bike and hang up my transition bags, packed more quickly than I wanted.
Very little sleep, but that’s ok, because I’d banked some hours the week before to make up for this. I’d fretted about my tyres so got up at 3.30, and after sweeping up my spilt porridge from the floor I forced it down, in between picking bits of grass and fluff out of it (yes, minging, I know, but food is fuel, grass or no grass), I went off to transition to check the tyres and pump them up ready. The lake was awesome – I knew I would feel overwhelmed by the size of it, but I was calm and enjoyed the time to get ready slowly
The count down started, and a voice behind me said, “cr*p, my goggles have just snapped”, sorry mate, I’m in the zone ... the hooter sounded and I was off. Not too much pushing and shoving, but I was in the slowest pen – just concentrate on following the guys in front. The water was not pretty – I’d been warned about the duck poo, but, well – I didn’t swallow even the tiniest bit in this open water swim!! I settled into the best rhythm I could find, using all my letters from my pool sessions F=feel the water, G= glide, H=hips high, not sure I made it through the full alphabet. What joy to get to the big orange buoy – the swimmers bunched up a bit here, which made me feel part of the race again. On the way back I started drafting a bit more. One was swimming all over the place, so I left him to it and hitched a lift with another swimmer almost the entire way back. Thanks, mate – and I’m sorry if I put you off your stroke keep catching your feet.
Out in 1:35 and thrilled with my 6 min PB. Great too to my friends and family cheering me on with such enthusiasm.
Quick change and out, I thought – until I found my bike with a flat tyre. Grrrr – get it together, get it sorted. With some help from a marshal it wasn’t too long before I was back on my way, but frustrated to have lost that good swimming time.
Once round the lake and then its time for second breakfast – cinnamon and raisin bagel with peanut butter, then off onto the main business of the day. 16 miles and its the pirate feed station. The signs really made me smile, especially, “Tritalk, Pirates do” – this is for me what sport is all about, take on the challenges but remember to enjoy yourself along the way.
A few more miles along the way, and puncture number two. Now my day took a downward turn. The tyre came off ok, and I checked it all over for debris, put the new tube in, but couldn’t get the CO2 pump to work. It looked as though the top of presta valve had broken off inside the pump. It was my last spare and it was broken. Game over. I sat on the side of the road whilst the rest of the field passed by, some making meaningless comments like “Have you got what you need?” hoping my answer would be “yes”, because no one had any intention of stopping, and I didn’t expect them to.
I wondered if my little hand pump might be any good. I didn’t have the strength to pump it up to full pressure, but it might get me a bit further. Success – off once again. Not only that, but the marshal at the next junction had a spare tube – my luck was turning ...
20 more miles down the road and my luck ran out, as did the air in my tyre ... this time the marshal at the junction claimed he couldn’t help and watched as I struggled to get the tyre back on the rim. He relented and helped me get it back on saying the feed station was a mile down the road where they’d have a track pump, so I limped on. Luckily for me there were a couple of pirates lending a hand at this feed station who felt my pain, gave me yet another spare tube, but after noticing the tyre wasn’t on the rim properly turned to plan B and swapped the wheel over for one of Slagiatt's (thank you so, so much – you saved my race).
I was off – again, but this time at the back of the field, cycling strong but battling my mental challenge of seeing everyone finishing the north loop while I hadn’t even started it. My maths was telling me I had time, but it was a lonely ride, and even my food became a chore, not a pleasure. I kept to my eating schedule, though – I was determined to do what I’d planned for as long as I could.
Returning to the south loop for the second time meant another visit to the pirate feed station, and this time my family were there – but Carol’s arm was in a sling, I’ll get that story later. Meeting my friend on the way back was a real boost too, especially when she poured water down my back! This was followed by a fall on a tight gravelly bend, but I was ok so jumped straight back on, knowing I was cycing strong enough and fast enough to beat the cut off with at least 15 minutes to spare. I prepared my “don’t stop me, I’m going to do it” speech every time I saw a race official ... but no need, the miles went by, I stayed strong and positive and made it back to base.
Quick change and a banana, but a steady walk out of the change tent, wondering what the next stage would bring.
Ha – ‘run’, well it was optimistic at best to plan to run between feed stations (1.3-1.9 miles apart). I ran to the first feed station, but then fell apart – I couldn’t even stand upright, and I couldn’t face anything other than water, and yet I knew I needed to eat ... I didn’t even know what to ask for, so had a few crisps and then hobbled on a bit further. It was all going very, very wrong. I wasn’t well and this wasn’t going to be remotely fast enough, even with 7 hours to play with ... I found a few lady pirates (thanks Mrs SA and others) and confided my worries. Fraggle gave me a hug and they all said I had loads of time. I thought “its not time, I need, its strength and energy and a belief that I can even get round the lake again.”
I knew I was finished, but just wasn’t sure what would happen next. Every time a medic went by I longed to be spotted as suffering from heat exhaustion, or something and get pulled, but they all seemed to be heading off to see someone else. I couldn’t work out when to quit. I decided I wasn’t going to quit, but wondered how long before they’d realise I wasn’t going to make the cut off and pull me from the race. How far could I run and not feel bad about collecting my sponsor money? More than 4 miles, definitely, so keep going ...
I changed my strategy to run a mile, walk a minute, take whatever time is needed at the feed stations, and see I could average 15 min/miles. This would be enough to beat the cut off, with a buffer at the end for falling apart even more. This seemed to be manageable., so I kept going a bit more, aiming this time to at least do 10 miles, this, would be enough to collapse, but still collect my sponsor money with a bit of respect. I changed this plan to a half marathon ...
... I was doing better than 15 min/miles so each mile was creating a more of a buffer later on. I was doing lots of sums and starting to wonder whether a finish might be possible. Then I met my friend at the feed station, and after a hug and cold drink continued on, with a bit more confidence.
Passing the pirate posse near the finish chute as I passed it by for yet another lap more than made up for the drain of hearing “You are an Outlaw” time after time for those already finishing. Loads of cheers were for me – I punched the air and kept going.
On the second long lap I met my good friend again, and chatting about this and that made the miles drift by until my maths was telling me I could now actually walk the remaining 6 miles and still finish in time. The pressure was off, I was going to finish. I ran a bit more ... and then a bit more ...
... and then Flot Footed and Slag came to meet me to bring me in ... what a wonderful bunch these people are!
And so to the finish line – 16 hours and 21 minutes later I had a quick hug from Carol and my dad, and then pushed my son across the finish line. As the last pirate home it was a hero’s welcome – I felt like I’d won, and I guess in a way, I had.
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