Well, probably more the shuffle. I've done a bit of running in rain, but not when I was already that tired and wasn't able to put the work in to stay warm. I'd also never done anything longer than a half marathon before, so I'd already decided to walk the feedstations - particularly since I'd lost the nutrition plot on the bike, and needed to get some more food into me. So that became the plan - shuffle between the stations, walk through them, and get shuffling again before I got too cold. That was working fairly well for the first 18 miles or so, aarghing pirates and thanking marshals, round the lake and the first big loop, and then back to the lake. My son, who had been told to be ready for running down the finish chute with me, asked "is that the last lap?". I wish. I tried to smile when the other person in my running club who had entered shouted "keep going" from the car park having long since finished as I came round, but was really thinking "you lucky b*********"!
Second long lap was harder - we'd had a bit of a rain break on the first long lap, but it was back stronger than ever, or it felt like it. Every time I stopped to walk, I was shivering, which left me wondering whether I dared stop even for the feedstations - except that if I didn't, I wouldn't have the sugar to get to the end. I'm afraid at that point I was pretty unresponsive to anyone, pirate or anyone else - tunnel vision was in and it was just a case of one foot in front of the other. I made it to the turn and back over the bridge, and had to switch to walking for a bit - which at least gave me slightly more chance of avoiding the deeper puddles on the path, which was now a small river.
Somewhere on the way back from the second long lap I realised that it had actually stopped raining, and slowly started to dry out a bit. About the point I hit the lake, I started thinking this was going to be possible after all, and got round to checking my Garmin for the first time in about 3 hours - just past 14 hours. OK, this was going to happen. I still walked a chunk of the last lap, but I made myself run the last kilometre from the sign, and my son joined me down the finish chute. Made it. 14:52, which was better than I'd expected and which I was perfectly happy with.
I got very confused after that. I was expecting the med tent, but then someone asked me "do you want to get your bags now" and I wasn't thinking straight enough to realise I didn't have to. So I missed the climb up the steps and the Erdinger pint, which I could seriously have done with, and before I really knew what I was doing I was pushing a bike with three bags over my shoulders round to try and meet up with my family, which was about the last thing I needed. Once I'd finally found them, I'm afraid I just wanted to get home, so I apologise for not joining everyone afterwards - the cold had finished me and I shivered most of the way home, even in the car.
Many congratulations to everyone who competed despite the conditions, finishers or not. And thanks once again to the pirate support team - you may have got me into this mess, but you certainly helped me through it and out the other side!
Oh, and I still owe someone about 12 quid for 4 High 5 bottles...
I knew before I started that the only target for the swim was to make the 2-hour cutoff, so I picked the slow pen (pen 4) but eased towards the front of it. When the siren went, I took a fairly wide line almost down the centre of the lake, which seemed to keep me well clear of most of the melee. For a while, I was pacing a couple of breaststrokers who seemed to be swimming together, and that helped my sighting a bit. It obviously felt a long way (I'd only done the distance once before) but I was feeling fairly OK as I turned at the bottom of the lake. Sighting went badly wrong on the way back, though, and I got guided off the edge by a canoe a couple of times when I was heading for the jetty outside the main building. I still thought I'd done fairly well, though, and it was a big shock when I made it out and looked at my Garmin to see 1:55. It least it was 5 minutes the right way, and I found a couple of other pirates in T1 who must have had similar times. Changed as planned - my bum doesn't do that distance on a bike without bike shorts, so that meant a complete change - and went out to find my bike, which wasn't difficult to spot!
Bike ride to start with was great. I was riding against a cadence meter, which had worked well for me during the year, and passed quite a few people. My main plan was to try and take advantage of the dry period on the bike and get well ahead of the clock so that I would be able to slow down if required when it cam down. I got a great buzz hitting the pirate feedstation for the first time - loved the signs - and was managing to feed and drink well on the bike. Car Colston was great as well. Loop one done, headed north and it was still dry. I caught up Sid the BMX lunatic at feedstation 3, and pushed on past. It was somewhere after feedstation four, on my way back from the northern loop, that the rain landed. Jacket went on immediately, so at least that much of the planning worked - but it was still cold. Was seriously glad of my gloves - I passed one guy on a TT bike who had stopped and had his hands under his armpits trying to warm them up. The busy road back south wasn't a lot of fun in the rain, and even holding a bottle was difficult, so my drinking and eating went downhill.
Pirate feedstation was a rare cheerup in those few hours - I passed the sign saying "bike sale 3pm" and managed a laugh. After that, though, it was just plain slog - still trying to thank supporters and marshals, but more concentrating on just keeping going and not chilling off completely. My jelly babies in my bike box had drowned, and I didn't have fingers working enough to do anything but eat gels, so I hammered through a few of those gripped in a fist. The little cog was coming out for even the most minor hills by then, but at last I was passed Car Colston for the fourth time (with a couple of nutters still out there in the rain supporting, for which they did get thanked!) and on the last stretch to home. No mechanicals (unlike my final training ride, where I had three) and home in 7:08, which I was happy enough with.
Race report - first iron distance (or should I say Outlaw distance) triathlon.
Like everyone else, I was getting more and more worried by the weather as the day approached - I ended up waking up the wife three time on Friday night by getting up and switching the light on so that I could add more items to my bag. Which, of course, just moved the problem of exactly what to wear to survive the weather to the Saturday.
Up early on Saturday to get our son there for the Future Outlaw - which was a great race. Particularly good for him, because although he's a strong triathlete in his age group, his only previous open water tri had resulted in a DNF due to cold - he made it out of the water, but just couldn't get going fast enough on the bike to warm up. Saturday was no problem, and he nailed his way round it. Good start to the weekend!
Rest of Saturday was spent in the sun trying to work out what to wear in the rain the following day - the only pirate kit I have is a monaco, whch left me no way of carrying a jacket if I needed one - which it looked as if I was going to. In the end, I strapped a light one round the saddlepost, which looked rough but worked. The expo was useful in two ways - the BlueSeventy guy had a look at the mended rip in my wetsuit and reckoned it would be fine, but offered to shove another load of BlackWitch on for me, and didn't even try and sell me a replacement, and I also picked up a pair of Outlaw bike gloves, which I was very grateful for the following day.
Out with the pirates at the Pint and Poppy on the Saturday night was great - we met loads of people, some of whose names I can still remember, and Mr. Stoat ensured that whatever level of triathlete my son will be in a few years time he'll be a champion beermat-flipper. Which probably gets you more cred in the average student bar, anyway!
Back to the campsite, I did actually manage to get some sleep, to my surprise - despite what sounded like a music festival going on in the background.
Pirate feedstation made my day on the second lap particularly. I needed that "bike sale 3pm" sign on my way back out - sense of humour was fading by then. Many thanks to all for welcoming the wife and son and for supporting me out on the course!