Seeing the family really helped in T2, there were not many bikes racked so despite the time thought I was doing OK. A bit disappointed that for £400 we had to rack our own bikes! So, after a quick change I was off on the run.
I felt good on the run. The course was hillier than expected, but nothing too bad. Once up on the 3 lap loop, the support was great. A real buzz around Bolton Town Centre couldn’t fail to put a smile on your face. I went through 21k in 1:45, ahead of target, feeling fine and hopes on making up more lost time was feeling achievable.
Then, my over exuberance on the bike and missed nutrition came back to bit me on the backside. At 24k it was if someone had given me a grand piano to carry!
My form went out of the window and an old patella tendon injury in my left knee flared up. The next 10k were EXCRUCIATING. Only once I’d got back in to the town centre and managed to procure some painkillers was I able to start running again. Using the cones that marked the course. I went from run 1, walk 1 to, run 3, walk 1 and eventually up to run 9, walk 1. The run walk strategy was helping and I managed to start making some places back up, but nowhere near quick enough.
The encouragement from Crookie, Red Dog and even a man hug from Holgs was great and helped get me over the line in 4h 6m and a total time of 11h 51m, a full 51m behind my target time!
Post Race Reflection
So I didn’t have the day I wanted, some of it down to bad luck, but most of it down to not reacting in the right way when things change. But as lots of people have pointed out, I need to expect this in a 12-hour race.
In hindsight, there were some positives.
I swam a PB and averaged 3.5kmph. That is a massive improvement from the Outlaw in 2013 when I averaged 2.9kmph.
My moving time on the bike was 5h 51m, take out the punctures and that puts me 15th in the AG (up with the shaved leg brigade)
My run was 25 minutes quicker than the Outlaw.
I came 253rd, just outside the top 10%
So, I still think there is a sub 11 in my legs somewhere. The question is where, and when?
The first rolling start for an Ironman in the UK apparently. I put myself in the 1:10 group, knowing that I’d been comfortably swimming between 1:03 and 1:08 in training. I must admit, I’m not a fan of the rolling start. I think the lack of option to get in the water and acclimatise is counter intuitive. There was still some biff-age in the water so all in all I think I’d prefer the mass start.
Lap one done in 38 minutes…hmmm? I had no sighting issues and was holding a good stroke rate. Lap two in 37 minutes giving me a 1:15. What the hell? On checking, I clocked the distance at a couple of meters short of 4.5km, nearly 700m extra. Most people I’d spoke to had the same. So, some time to make up!
No big issues, other than the field had turned in to a bog and there was lots of standing water with the rain still lashing down
I’d rode the loop in training and was comfortable with it so had a target time of 6 hours. Before getting to the loop there is a long steady climb. Good to see Horse marshaling, the weather was that bad I felt sorry for him!
I was making good progress, averaging 30kmph to the first big climb at Sheephouse Lane. At the foot of the hill there was a loud bang, a very familiar sound for me given my puncture problems this year. Jumped off to check the wheels and they were fine. Very odd! Back on I was off. My legs felt good and I was confident. I’d noticed A LOT of people with punctures and mechanicals and was just thinking, “Please not me…please not me”. Well, at 60km, it was. Oh Crap Moment #1. A slow puncture in my front wheel! I pulled over to change it and focused on getting the repair right, trying not to think about all the people coming past me that I’d over taken in the last hour or so. Once I’d repaired the puncture I was off and on a mission. I felt strong and thought right, head down and make this time up. The highlight of the course was Colt Alley where there was some great support, but Sheephouse was also brilliant. The rest of lap one and most of lap two flew by. It was great to see Q, Jo, Jordy and Lou giving some great Pirate support.
Oh Crap Moment #2.I was so focused on making up my lost time I missed picking up nutrition after about 5 hours, having dropped the banana I was trying to grab. Bugger!!! That’ meant no nutrition until T2!
A first for me. I had some words with a bloke from Rochdale Tri who was drafting another competitor when I passed. He latched on to my back wheel until I told him politely to do one!
The home stretch, through Colt Alley for the third time and I hit a god almighty pothole, and I mean REALLY clattered it! Oh Crap Moment #3. I knew what was coming. That familiar sound from the back wheel. I couldn’t believe it, there was only about 10km to go. Unfortunately the tire had ripped too, so it was a real patch and hope job and a case of nursing the bike home over the last 20 minutes.
I eventually rolled over the line in 6h 15m. I was fuming with myself. Not so much about the punctures, but the missed nutrition was playing on my mind.
OK, thought I best get this done before I destroy the memory with copious amounts of wine and donuts!
Race Build Up
Training had gone reasonably well. I'd followed Don Fink's competitive plan from December to March, but a GBR qualification in Duathlon mean't I had to switch it a little, then never really picked it back up in detail. I still followed it loosely but racing every weekend in May also mean't I had to be a little creative. A 5h dead at the Outlaw Half had been a good boost to my confidence so I was in a good place.
I got to Bolton on the Friday morning. Registration was simple enough but my god the Expo was poor. There was some karma in that a lot of the over priced merchandise had been priced up wrong...and really cheap. Some people were filling their boots...literally! Final bike check, and over to Pennington Flash for a practice swim. It was really windy and choppy but did a couple of laps...and really hoped it would die down before the race day.
Saturday was spent with another choppy practice swim, racking, meeting Shas and laughing at Red Dog Chris' lack of sense of direction. We grabbed lunch together and then it was back to the hotel (separately...nothing like that) to get off my feet. Didn’t feel the need to go to briefing. Slept reasonably well and before I knew it the alarm went off at 02:30.
Thankfully the wind had died a little, but the rain had arrived in spades! It was torrential!!!! There was not much in the way of facilities so I managed to grab a spare bike cover and create my own little poncho to get ready for the swim. Come 6am, it was time for off!