So after 6 months of talking and training it had finally arrived, Race weekend!
Get a cup of tea :)
Alot of the below is in such detail as a note to myself ahead of future races :)
The race started at 7am Sunday morning so we (me and Kay) drove down to somerset on the Friday morning, some 3/4 hours later we arrived at our new home for the next 3 nights.. Dunkery Beacon, a small B+B which I had stayed at during the training day around 6 weeks ago. We ventured to the lake to get registered of which I was one of the first there, they were setting up all of the venue and it was raining and miserable. I received my 3 transition bags/ race bracelet/timing chip and all important IM 70.3 Tattoo (well transfer) to put on my arm :)
Back to the B+B all settled in we went out and found a nice restaurant next to Minehead seafront which I had garlic bread with gammon and pineapple and chips, very nice! and a great price also!.
A good nights sleep saw Saturday morning, weather check... Terrible (even worse than Friday) pouring with rain. I went through my stuff and separated it into my transition bags checking and triple checking everything to ensure it was all there as once submitted I could not get back to them. We drove down to the lake to give my bags in and rack my bike but the traffic was atrocious, 2 hours of queuing we finally arrived at the muddiest car park of all time in which the car seemed to try and get stuck at every given opportunity. I handed in the 3 bags, pumped up tyres and racked my bike, there were thousands of nice bikes and for once I felt that my bike fitted in a treat!.
Bike racked and transition bags in, that was it, no going back now, a quick browse around the stash shop and then back to the B+B for a very chilled out evening. We decided not to opt for the £22 a head 2 course meal in the B+B and decided to find a restaurant in Minehead, it used to be called Pinocchio's and can recommend to anyone for great food and very very cheap. I had Garlic bread with Cheese, Onion soup and Spaghetti bolognaise which was fab. We went back to the room and chilled for the rest of the evening. I was very relaxed considering what Sunday would bring and didnt seem nervous at all, in bed by 10.. early start in the morning.
Race Day -
Woke up at 4am as planned and had a porridge pot and banana for breakfast with a powerade on the side. Weather check ... Lovely, not raining, little wind and looking good!. We left around 5am and drove down to the event, a good atmosphere but everyone looking nervous / excited about the day to come. I went over and fitted my water bottles / nutrition to the bike and my Garmin GPS. All was set, I stood in the toilet queue and then got into my wetsuit around 6.30, the race was scheduled for a 7am start however it was announced that there was a delay by 15mins soon to be 30mins. Everyone was getting anxious as the delay and then finally with the sun beaming we heard the call, "Can everyone start to make your way down to the water please"
This was it, still not nervous I said my goodbyes to Kay and proceeded to walk down to the lake with 1000 others as it would be split into 2 waves and I was in the first. I got into the water and remembered how in all my previous races I had started at the back and instantly regretted it as I am slowed up by everyone in front, I decided to go around 5 people back from the front which seemed to be a good idea. We seemed to be in the water for ages and then all of a sudden people started singing, I couldn't actually hear what they were singing as I had 2 swim caps on so I just kept warming up on my own ready to go, the singing stopped and everyone started swimming, this was it. Still very calm I kind of felt like I was about to start a rugby game, maybe abit to calm? anyway I started swimming and jostling for position trying to find some clear water to swim into, its certainly not for the faint hearted with people kicking and hitting you from all angles and trying not to get wacked in the face. The swim was going great and I told myself to slow down and just pace steady as I knew the bike was coming after, I found my own bit and just kept going, I managed to get a smack in the face towards the end by the girl next to me, Keeping the temper in check I ignored my conscious and decided against drowning her for it. I saw the Ironman Sign getting closer and closer until I was out
Swim done - 00:32:26 (must admit it did`nt feel that fast)(for those who work in local thats 76 lengths of a 25m pool)
T1- The run up from the lake is around 400 meters uphill and I was trying hard not to run to save my strength and keep my heart rate down but this is so tough with the tunnel of supporters either side cheering you on and shouting your name. I ran into the change tent and found my bag, the volunteers are brilliant and are running around like ants picking bits up and offering help to you at every opportunity, I took my time here, took wetsuit off, got dried off properly and put my bike shoes on with overshoes (great decision here). I ran out to my bike and then began the bike ride.
T1 - 8:00 - very leisurely
The Bike - The bike course is notoriously one of the toughest Ironman 70.3 courses in the world boasting 52 hills in 56 miles. The course was a 2 lap 28 miles route that took us through Devon. As I had already done the course on the training day I kind of knew what to expect and that the biggest hills were towards the end of the route so I knew to save energy for them. My eating strategy consisted of half a power bar every 30 mins and I ensured I had a drink every 15 minutes or so to stay hydrated throughout the race. As the weather had been dreadful the previous days I opted to gamble on my overshoes (neoprene waterproof covers) incase of rain so my feet were kept dry and warm, the game being that my feet would overheat and that the neoprene would start to squeak while rubbing on the crank arm! very annoying!. The first lap I managed to maintain 16.3mph meaning my overall time would be just under 3 hours 30mins, things were looking good. The course is great, lots of downhill fast bits and rolling hills throughout and coming into the start of lap 2 I almost ended my race with my back wheel skipping into a pot hole, I dreaded looking down and seeing a rip in my carbon wheel so I just carried on and hoped for the best.On the second lap those hills really took their toll. there are 3 major hills that I decided to walk up rather then waste my energy on the final lap, it was funny watching people wrecking themselves to power up these hills yet I was walking past them using next to no energy! = Win!.
After two laps and my legs feeling very exhausted we came into T2.
Bike - 03:33:56
As I had a knee issue on the training day I opted out of doing 1 lap of the course so everything was new to me. The run course consisted of 3 laps over different terrains and some very uphill bits to it also. The first lap I decided just to enjoy it the bike was done so I just took in the scenery and enjoy it, there was a fantastic part where we get to run over a dam and the views are great, certainly helps take things off your mind!. I cruised round lap 1 and started lap 2, I began to get knee pain so decided to walk / run which was a decent strategy for me, I was trying to walk the hills and then run a few hundred meters then walk for a minute run for 5. As we had started the race with a delay which I had forgotten about I had worked out that my time was going to be 7 hours + which made me lose all motivation. On the start of the 3rd and final lap I took a glance at the finish line to read 6 hours?!! 6 Hours!! I knew I could get round quicker than an hour so I blasted round giving everything I had into that final lap knowing that my time depended on it! On the final hill I passed a guy really struggling and offered some encouragement and he said "if we can get there in 2 minutes we will break 6 hours 30mins... I said Really?!? Lets go! and with every ounce of strength left in my body I sprinted as fast as I could up the hill and into the finishing tunnel! I saw the clock read 6.43 and thought he must had got it wrong (he hadn't as he was 40+ who started 15 mins after us in the second wave). That run up the red carpet is one of the best feelings I had every had, nothing hurts anymore, the crowds cheering and that huge sense of achievement. I crossed the line and had finished my goal! I was given my medal and finishers tshirt that I will now treasure forever!.
Run - 2:22.50
Overall Time - 06:43:55
So what have I learnt?
Training is important and needs to be taken seriously, I didn't really train that hard and did leave alot of things to chance.
Anything is possible when you put your mind to it, 6 months ago when I signed up for this I did it on a whim, I didnt have a clue what I had let myself in for but still finished the race and have the medal to prove it.
One of these