Wednesday, 16 October 2013

I’m an Ironman!

Blog 11 – 15th October 2013

By blogger standards, being that my last post was back in June, means that I’m pretty bad this but like a cliff hanger in the TV drama ‘Homeland’ I’m sure this has been eagerly awaiting and for that I’m sorry.  Although in my defence, the definition of a blogger is to write, maintain or update a blog, well here it is. Or maybe I could use training as my excuse, saying that with every free moment I was either, splashing around in the lake, turning the tired legs on the bike, or pounding the streets. Whatever the excuse, all I can say is, I did it and I’m an Ironman!

Before I bore you with how the race went, talking about my ups and downs, my nutrition strategy and discussing the finer points of exercising all day. Please check out this awesome video that my friend put together, it shows both mine and Dan’s (my good mate’s) race. 

Looks cool huh? Love watching my swim start. I’ve never seen a beach swim start from the spectator side, just been in them. This one, I must say was fun! Well fun, in weird, you’re nuts sense. As soon as the horn went and I headed for the waves, my first hurdle was emptying the water from my right goggle, great start I thought. Then to pour ‘salt’ in the wounds, well in to the eyes, some fellow competitor knocked my goggles off, fortunately not completely but enough to cause a brief stop to sort them out. Ok, I thought, I’m here in the race, bring it... and bring it the sea did.

I don’t mean that the sea was really choppy and tough going, don’t get me wrong it was no lake, but I didn’t find it too bad, except of course for the distance. The swim course was arranged in such a way that meant we had a long straight for 2350m, which ‘luckily’ for us was ‘against’ the current (thumbs up). After what seemed an age of wind milling, having people swim over me, heading in the wrong direction and swallowing more salt than the average monthly order of Harry Ramsdens Chip shop, the beach was in sight. Oh the excitement, now please don’t take this out of context but it felt a bit like a soldier at the beaches of Normandy, not that I would know of course, but getting through the swim was just phase 1, I still had the 112 miles on the bike and then a marathon left. Oh well, before shaking my mermaid legs off, I remember people telling to kick a little more to prepare my legs for the bike. Huh, ironically this was almost the first time I used my legs, well that and for kicking other competitors that were trying to get a bit cosy with me during the swim.

I looked up and gratefully received a hand from one of the race volunteers that were helping people stand and turn back into a humans again as we emerged from the sea. It was then off and with a suit change like superman, I was racing out towards my bike and ready for phase 2 in my Ironman conquest – the bike. 

Flat and fast this course is, well that’s what the race organisers said and I’m sure for any ‘cyclist’ that’s true but for me I have always found the bike a bit tough going. A further level of difficulty which wasn’t really anticipated, were the gifts from Mother Nature, a bit of wind, torrential rain and lightening. Yes!! At one point I remember cycling through a huge puddle across the road and my pedals were under water. I just remember laughing and thinking, this was never going to be easy.

The bike course was a three loop circuit that took us off towards Barcelona twice and then a shorter loop on the third lap. My start and the first loop was going well but as usual by mile 50, my legs were starting to get twitchy and want to do something else. This was the first real test of wills, the little person in one ear telling me to stop and give up and the more helpful supporter in the other pushing you forward, needless to say I listened to the supporter.

Not to take you through a mile by mile account but the only other thing to say is that I’m really grateful to all my friends and relatives that made the trip to support us on the route, even if I didn’t seem all that appreciative at the time. You guys kept me going! Speaking of going and as a result of keeping a very regimented nutritional regime, I was forced to take two pits stops whilst on the bike, just for the old number 1, but despite reading the works of legends like Chrissie Wellington, urinating on the bike, just isn’t right. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Maybe it was the throbbing ear reminder that my Gran gave me when I had a little accident all those years ago – yes years.

Anyway I couldn’t have been happy to get off the bike. I was a little worried as my back, left hip flexor and right calf were giving me a bit of jip, however to my amazement, as soon as I started running all of those issues seemed to disappear. Perhaps it was just the overwhelming thought the only thing between me and success was the mere prospect of a marathon. Just a marathon!

The run was a four lap route along the beach front, which although a bit boring was awesome to have all the spectators there pushing us on. It was a flat course although unlike the bike there was nothing fast happening here. Everyone seemed to be doing the ironman shuffle. Just a case of putting one foot in front of the other for 42.2 Km, and that’s exactly what I did. To be honest, the run itself is a bit of a blur now, I can just remember the feeling I had when approaching the finish line. The sense of achievement, the constant thought of I’ve done it, I was so happy. It’s amazing how all that pain suffered in the last 13 hours 28 minutes and 59 seconds just disappeared and all that remained was 1 second of pure fulfilment. 

Seeing my friends and parents at the end just topped it off. I maybe an Ironman but the support from everyone has been nothing less than sterling silver. Thank you so much!

So what’s next, well I really don’t know as yet. I need to take stock and see what’s what and the put something in for 2014. Well, I have gone on long enough but in the next couple of weeks I will post something on my nutritional strategy, my ironman learnings and the next steps. Thanks for reading and I’ll be back soon, promise!

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