Eventually we were on the last 200m and in a very gentlemanly fashion both avoided the temptation for a sprint finish and went our separate ways for hugs with our families.
I then passed the pirate camp a final time, who by this stage had moved over and were right beside the entrance to the finishing chute and were in fine form as always. A moment to take this in, a few high fives and it was time to gently jog up the last 50m or so and finally cross that finish line.
It was as always a great feeling – joy, relief, pain, excitement, and at the same time a little bit of sorrow that it was all over.
After massage, post race food, then proper food (McDonalds) it was back to the finish line to join the party, congratulate those pirates who’d already finished (some of whom long enough ago to have been back to their hotels for a shower!) and cheer on those who were still out there getting their money’s worth.
The atmosphere was electric and the aches and pains were soon forgotten about, for a while anyway. Adam, who’d had a long nap during the day, was back on form and loving every minute. We stayed right to the end, saw the fireworks and then the aches and pains returned when I realised I still had the two mile walk back to the apartment, with bike and all three kit bags J.
Great meeting up for beers and awards the following day – the sunshine we’d all planned to race in had thankfully returned and it was a very enjoyable and relaxing afternoon and Adam was absolutely thrilled to receive an award for being the best Junior pirate. This was followed up by going down to the awards ceremony to see Flyaway receive her 3rd place in AG award, an absolutely amazing achievement.
All in all a fantastic weekend. The support from the pirates including of course my own little crew was as always second to none and a massive factor in dragging myself through so thanks very much to all of you. I’m working on a plan to repay the favour at the Outlaw in a few weeks time – fingers crossed I’ll pull it off.
Massive well done to everyone that came and gave it a go, whether they finished or not.
So it was:
0h12 T1 (please say the queue up the steps was included in this)
Pretty much what my training and preparation deserved I reckon Must do more next time.
Looking back I think I’d go at it a bit harder next time, knowing how much you get to recover on the downhills that were to come. I think maybe I could have cut a fair amount from my time without making my run that much worse J
That said, I was glad to finally reach the top of the biggest Col and immensely disappointed when I found an undulating section immediately after – I wanted to go down!
I found the out and back section very confusing as it seemed to be downhill both ways which was odd?
It was about this time I think that the rain started to come on and it got scary. As mentioned, I had no experience of this type of descending, let alone in the wet. I certainly hadn’t planned for this and wearing just a Monaco and shorts I quickly got cold. My hands were numb making it difficult to feel the brakes and being ultra cautious meant that having generally passed people most of the way up I was now getting steadily overtaken by people with more experience (or bigger b#/lls, or both).
The roadsides seemed to be littered with casualties in emergency blankets awaiting recovery and at one point myself and about 5 or 6 others spent about 3 miles trying to get past an ambulance on the narrow roads. All this was a constant reminder not to get carried away.
Eventually it started to level out and I was back on the fairly straight roads through the industrial areas at the bottom of the valley. At this point, although it was still raining heavily, I put my foot down and pressed on, T2 now feeling close enough to touch, and slowly picked off a few of those who’d taken me on the descent.
On the last roundabout before the underpass section that brings you back onto the promenade, by the airport, I heard a big crunching sound behind and managed to glance back to see another cyclist sliding along the tarmac – I hope he and all the others were ok.
Back on the promenade at last, it was great to see some friendly faces, first Siggy then the main pirate camp and my own supporter crew a bit further along.
I think it had stopped raining by the time I got to transition but was still cool and overcast. I didn’t have any spare socks so shoved my wet feet into my dry running shoes. I decided I wouldn’t need my hat in these condition so left it behind (schoolboy error no 2) and headed on out.
Having taken it relatively easy on the bike, I felt good on the run to start with. I had a vague idea that I could make the run in around 4 hours. I had no right to think this, given my stand alone marathon PB (well only standalone marathon) was 3h53 and I hadn’t run more than 20k in training. I think I went through the same ridiculous thought process at Outlaw.
Unsurprisingly, I ran well (for me) for the first 20k, doing two laps in about 1h50. Then the sun came out and I slowed a lot and the aid station walks got gradually longer.
I had a couple of stretches running alongside other Brits and had a good chat to pass the time, as well as waving to other pirates, both racing and supporting.
Eventually I had that last band and was on the home straight. By this stage my hope of matching my Outlaw time of 12h37 was gone (again, I had no right to hope to beat it given the much tougher course and less long distance training) and I had somehow worked out I was on for c13h15.
I ran / walked / shuffled most of the last lap with ‘Matt 1967’ who clearly thought I was called Dave and who I’m pretty sure told me he was flying back home that night and had to be in a meeting in the UK on the Monday!!!
Even later, but hopefully still better than never.....
I've got no excuse as I've spent most of the past week laid up with cellulitis from an infected insect bite which started coming on the day I got back to the UK. If you're going to pick up an 'injury' you at least hope it will be a bit more macho than that but never mind!
Nice was to be my first IM branded event, after my long distance debut at the 2012 Outlaw, followed by a year off with nothing longer than an Olympic in 2013.
Having joined a gym last October, I'd done much more winter training - mainly 1 hour swim and spin sessions, but as per last time never really ramped up the long bikes and runs as much as I'd planned and would have liked. I noticed the week before the race that the bike I bought last August had only notched up just under 700 miles - oops!
Still, I felt ok, was free of injury and looking forward to the race. That said, I had absolutely no idea what to expect - I'd never swum in the sea before or cycled in the mountains. Still I had a few days after I arrived on Thursday to try these out....but did neither.
I hung right back and to the outside at the swim start and was relieved to find how warm and buoyant the salt water was....for about 3 seconds until I got the first bash on the head. From thereon in it was a complete fight. The second lap was a little better, but my navigation system failed me completely on the home straight. I kept finding myself facing the airport and bothering the canoes marking the edge of the course. I pointed myself back in the right direction, put my head down for 10 strokes, looked up, there's the bloody airport again. Repeated this several times, always smiling and giving a thumbs up to the canoes to make sure they didn't think I was in trouble and pull me out.
Eventually I lugged myself out of the water, stumbled a few paces and joined the orderly queue for transition, secretly relieved at having a few seconds to lean on the handrail and get my breath and balance back.
Eventually made it to the bike, got my gear on and headed out. Passed and waved at Mrs and Jnr bhflyer just outside transition and I was off.
I was trying to take it easy to start with but as others have said, the flat road and good surface meant I soon picked up speed and was really enjoying the ride.
My first schoolboy error came at the first aid station when I failed to discard one of my bottles before taking another from an outstretched hand, then missed the dumping station at the end leaving me riding along with a surplus bottle in my hand. Terrified of the draconian littering sanctions promised in the race briefing (and also because I don’t like littering) I ended up stopping on someone’s drive to dump it in their wheely bin. Lesson one for the day learnt – didn’t make that mistake again J
I hit the short steep bit and went up it reasonably well – I passed the guy pushing the Boris bike at this stage although he went passed me on the run I think - and carried on into the foothills.
I went past and briefly chatted to a few pirates - RBM, Dermot, Pingu, Barley, all of whom are much more experienced than me so I eased up a little on the slowly ascending road. RBM and Dermot came back past me on the first short descent and I think that was the last I saw of them on the bike.
On the whole, I really enjoyed the ascending, none of it was that steep and the occasional look back at the incredible landscape I’d just crossed made it worthwhile.
I'll be up for a ride (should be back on my feet by next weekend at the latest) and you can borrow my old bike if you think it will fit. I've got some new tyres somewhere to put on it; once they're on it should be ok to ride.