The run is usually the point where all basic mathematics become rocket science and trying to work out minute miles v finish times is virtually impossible but having for the first time actually mastered the multi sport option on my garmin this became slightly easier and I realised that if I actually got my finger out I could squeeze a pb out of the day, looking back at the stats the last 3 miles were actually my quickest! I passed the leper pair for the last time (even tho they thought I had another lap to go) and tootled on up to the top end of the lake for the last time and it was then that I allowed myself to look at the overall time and knew that I was on for a pb. Usain Bolt would have struggled to keep up on that last stretch.
I flashed my 3 bands at the lady at the finish chute and entered the red carpet. Such a wonderful feeling finishing these events made even more special by the very very mad people in black and yellow without whom a finish line party would be a very quiet affair indeed. A lot of handslapping and under the clock in 14.26. a pb by 3 mins. Not something I anticipated or expected at the start of the day, yes it could have been quicker I think but may be I will save that for next year!
Big big hugs and thanks to Flyaway for looking after me and being a very good volunteer Sherpa, for the very lovely Mousicles for being an exceptional friend and a whizz with a spreadsheet, to the Misfits for doing a sterling job at the relay even tho they disobeyed orders and beat me, to Kanga for coming all the way from the other side of the world to drink warm beer with friends. To each and every one of the pirates, present and virtual on the day, truly without you lot I wouldn’t be doing this, I read a report or a tweet of somebodys the other day which said, having experienced pirate support for the first time, ‘NOW I get it’. Seren for cooking breakfast for the starving hundreds, Barlos for being an ace training partner and letting me be Queen of the Mountains at least once this year, to the whole Twitter, RW and FB crew whichever category you fall into these days. Long may it continue. Pirates ROCK.
I am not entirely sure if I am a Commander or an Admiral now but either way, ma’am will do.
and no, I still haven’t heard from British Airways !!
The best bit was approaching the pirate feed station, clearly the best on the day by a mile .. ran with the precision of an F1 pit stop and better stocked than Aldi’s on a Saturday morning. The northern loop as predicted was tough going, not as hard as I remembered from 2012 and Oxton molehill was just that. By the time I got back to the pirate feed station at 80 miles I had worked out that a sub 7hr bike could be possible and even factoring in a much needed portaloo stop, I was away and on my way home ... I caught up with Ghostess and we played cat n mouse for a good few miles which was good, the last 12 miles or so were probably the hardest there was a good headwind but not as bad as the wind and rain of previous years and the sub 7 was still within reach, we then turned off down the farm track that was the lane to the posh house that we have to pay homage to for some reason and I clung to my fillings for dear life. I literally screeched in to T2 within a whisker of 7hrs and it was some time later that I realised my bike computer had stopped when I stopped and so the 7.05 given by the chip was the actual time, then with the catchers wheeling the bike around to the racking I will never be 100% sure I broke 7hrs but it was still the quickest 112 I have ever done so I am happy with that.
Strangely in the preceding 12 months the run has been the one discipline that I had significantly improved at but with one thing and another I was not very run fit so again I had a very non specific race plan with regards my usual Run/Walk strategy, I felt quite fresh coming off the bike (yes, should have tried harder) and once I had zoomed through the change tents I emerged like a gazelle on to the first lap of the lake. Oh the lake. If I never see that lake again it will be too soon. Lap of the lake, out and back and repeat and then finish with 2 laps of the lake and each time going past the massive pirate support at the finish and with the pockets of pirates out on the course and the leper pirates at the top end of the course, Cougs and Mrs Cougs J
I felt again strangely fresh on the run but was very aware it wouldn’t last, I had adopted a run when you feel like it approach but I was only allowed to walk for 10 seconds and then I had to get going again, it was lovely to count all the pirates in as I passed them on the out and back loops, lots of high fives and lies (‘looking good’ my arse) It was exceptionally warm and the forecast rain never did materialise, my tummy was swimming from all the gels and fluids on the bike as always and I reverted to flat coke and water on the run with the occasional bananananna which has seen me through in the past. I was especially glad to see Nicky on the run, I know how much that meant and we had a lovely sweaty hug in the middle of the track !! Tipped a cup of water over my head at one aid station only to find it was High 5 and spent the next few hours trying to dilute it with water and fending off wasps. Didnt like the wobbly bridge much and didn’t like the adverse camber out by the river!
Fairly uneventful for me which is always a bonus, first objective is always not to die and I achieved that one. Sadly I am a fairly good swimmer but I am not a very good crowd swimmer so I am not sure I will ever reach my potential in OW, My garmin reckoned I swap over 4 miles, I know the 310 is unreliable in that respect but I doubt it was that far off ...!! The water quality was questionable, following the buoy ropes was impossible and the smell was awful. I was soon picking people off but at the turn around point it got quite busy and I struggled to find clear water and that was how it was all the way to the end, I was a minute slower than the last time but given the lack of training I am ok with that.
I *cough* quick transition and then on to the bike, I had been notified by my team of mechanics the day before that the gears were a bit dodgy, likely due to being used as a punch bag in Heathrow for a few weeks and it didn’t take long for me to realise that this was indeed true, didn’t affect my race too badly and in fact it probably helped as I had to stay in the current gear for longer that I probably would have done and it didn’t kill me. I made sure on that first lap of the bike I had a gel and a drink and a mini soreen bar and then got on with the work. I actually felt very good on the bike for the duration of the course, the first lap my average was the highest it had ever been and I grew in confidence, I had no expectations of the day but decided to take it all as it comes and I would work hard on the northern loop and hopefully reap the speed on the southern loops, even after 70 miles my average was 16.4 and I have never cycled that quick (I remember being delighted with 16mph over 43 miles). Nutrition strategy, 1 gel every 30 minutes and a soreen mini bar when I remembered. Drink lots and replenish every aid station regardless.
Ironman France was to be my ‘A’ race this year, in fact it was probably my only race in terms of long distance events ... moving house a few weeks before was probably not the best idea I have had but these things are not totally controllable and I found myself driving back from Bala and moving house the next day. I felt I had a good race at Bala although I was not entirely happy with the time. As has been well documented British Airways decided to play the Joker and kept my bike for 2 weeks which meant that i enjoyed a long weekend (mainly sat under an umbrella) in the south of france watching everybody else knacker their bodies prematurely instead of me. I made good use of the Ironman expo and submitted my receipts to BA.
Fast forward a few weeks and with thanks to my PR agent the lovely Mousicles and the excellent relationship that PSOF have with OSB and I was able to secure a place in The Outlaw. This was a definite case of ‘be careful what you wish for’ as I was very clearly over stressed and undertrained for Nice let alone a race a month later where I had not really done much else, Bala had been my last good training and that was almost last year. I convinced myself I was nicely rested and I would have a good social day out (no change there then) and see what happens. Ruby, the errant bike had been returned to me the previous week and seemed to have survived her world cruise or wherever she had been and was duly stuffed in to Flyaways car and we headed towards the North via all the scenic lanes her satnav could find in North Bucks. By this time I was on day 2 of penicillin with thanks to my moggy who decided to puncture my arm when he disagreed with is curfew time, this left me with a few holes and a very sore forearm and a good excuse not to use my dusty aero bars.
We duly located the pirate massive and some massive pirates and moved the strategically placed cars so that tents could be erected and then tootled off to watch the Saturday swims, tales of weed attacks were plenty so I went to buy a zipped hoodie.
Fast forward again through the dumph dumph music, the rain, the slamming portaloo doors, the many zips going up and down (fnaar fnarrr) and after a fairly good snooze (I couldn’t call it a sleep) it was time to force the contact lenses in, down a coffee or two and a pain au chocolate and mosey on down to the lake, Flyaway came with me to fulfil her Sherpa duties and ensured nothing was forgotten and very soon I was with Nursey standing in goose poo and murky water.