140.6 reasons to race
After racing Ironman last year and finishing in a respectable 12hrs 34 mins i knew a faster time was possible but as the enormity of race day approached the nerves and doubts set in.
To say I was a bag of nerves on the start line would be an understatement! Knowing I was putting myself in the water with 1600 other people for a mass start and having experienced this before any chance of getting any space went out of the window.
So after the national anthem the gun went off turning Pennington Flash into a washing machine. The route was a two lap triangle with an Australian exit crossing a timing mat before the second lap. Straight away I had a good couple of mouthfuls of “aqua du flash” combined with the inevitable elbows and kicks. The first lap was by far the roughest swim I’ve ever been in, and on the way back as the sun rose sighting was all the more difficult. Half way through the second lap i thought a decent swim time was out of the window so as i exited on my second lap to see 1hr5 on the clock was a great surprise.
The crowds, as ever, at ironman events are fantastic and I knew the pressure was on not to totally spaz up my bike mount as I had done on every race previous. I purposely crossed the mount line and like a total idiot threw my leg over the seat knocking off one my bottles. With my watch still not on my wrist i set off on 112miles with a trail of talc behind me that even Keith Moon would be proud of.
If I was going to crack the 12hrs i’d set myself the key would be biking strong. The route was a point to point, then three laps of 32 miles including three climbs of Sheep House lane. I was confident i could knock out three laps at 1 hr 45 each and sticking to my nutrition plan i could start the marathon in good shape. After the first ten miles i knew that the involantary hydration taken onboard in the swim was playing havoc with my stomach, as there was nothing I could do about it i pressed on towards Rivington. It was great to see a few familiar faces at the top of Sheep House Lane with a few choice words of ….motivation? I pushed the bike as hard as i could on every lap whilst constantly eating, drinking and monitoring my HR. The constant battle to push on whilst not burning out is a discipline in itself and letting the faster lads go without giving chase goes against our normal weekend ride behaviour. The conditions on the bike were almost perfect and i was pleased to knock out the 3 laps in good shape. On the road into T2 for some reason i had the bright idea of leaving my shoes attached to the bike for a quick dismount. Be it fatigue or too much caffeine gels to this day i have no idea. The feet came out of the shoes, and i carried on pedalling feet on shoes (just like the pros do)….and that’s where it all went wrong the Velcro straps got caught in the chain as i pedalled; one shoe got ripped out of the cleat and by the powers of Velcro alone attached to my sock. So i rode into T2 one shoe in the cleat and the other on my tri bars!
After a quick (ish) change I was out onto the run course. Another point to point affair with three 10k loop round Bolton town centre past the finish line for extra mental torture. Carrying two handfuls of gels and salt tablets my plan as last year was to run tough and walk the aid stations taking one gel at each. It took longer than i thought to shake off the jelly legs from the bike and after an hour i was on my first loop. The support was great with a few JMCers out shouting encouragement to which I tried a thumbs up and a grin.
On the second lap into Bolton things were looking good and I knew the next time I’d be heading into the finish chute. After about 35k on my last lap things were going downhill massively, I knew I was under 10k to go looking at the Garmin my pace had dropped off until a guy told me it was 11hrs22. Until that point I had no idea of my overall time this was all the motivation i needed, trying to open my pace up as much as I could pushed on into Bolton high fiving people all the way. The finishing line is one of the greatest I’ve ever been down, so I tried to savour every second. Finishing time a shade under 11hrs 45 I’d surpassed the goal I set myself, fuelled by support from great friends and family (and copious amounts of caffeine and cola) i’d nothing left over the finish line. As with many endurance events the mental battle is as tough as the physical one, and the toughest competition comes from within. But pain is temporary victory is forever.
Rankings – Details
|overall rank||274 / 1602|
|category rank||61 / 247|