Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire June 12th 2016
It’s hard to put into words the nerves I felt as Katie, the kids and I pulled up to the registration for the Ironman. The event village was excellent and full of tempting ‘treats’ (basically anything I could buy to show off later that I had competed in the event!). We met with Martin, Sian and Nia and registered, getting our Ironman backpack into the bargain! This has been used plenty of times and is my go to bag for races (what a total show off!).
Staying in a pub 15 minutes away may not have been the best decision. The heating had been left on in our room and I spent the night sweating my actual arse off! Not sure I would have slept anyway though and I’d not thought enough about nutrition before the event (I had worked out exactly what I felt I needed through the race but had failed to think about the before food). A Jacket potato the night before seemed fine, a wonderful breakfast from the pub – toast, cereal, fruit, COFFEE – seemed ok and at about 445am Martin and I headed to the start, parking at the finish and getting ferried to the start Lake by bus. The nerves were horrendous. Bowel issues tend to obsess me through all activities in life and it wasn’t any different here! Nuff said!
We checked our bikes (they were outside and had got drenched), had yet another wee behind the transition tent, got our wetsuits and number tattoos on (Martin taking a ridiculous amount of time which seemed to calm his nerves and heighten mine) and approached the start. I can’t quite describe this feeling accurately. However, it was a mix of nerves, excitement, trepidation and obsession with the toilet! I had trained well and enough but it was my first triathlon and a half Ironman!
Finally our start wave were called forward. Many around me were first time too and many were more nervous than us. I felt quite emotional – especially when Martin and I reminded ourselves why we were doing this – in memory of Elin.
At the start you run down a temporary slope into the water and then it hits you – THIS IS BRILLIANT! The swim was amazing. Open water swimming is superb as you don’t have to keep stopping to turn around. Yes its freezing but that doesn’t last. I did feel my foot connect with someone’s face in the melee at the start and turned round to see a woman gasping for breath and re-adjusting her goggles!
Leaving the lake after 39minutes of swimming was one of the best feelings ever. Running up to transition with crowds on either side is wonderful. I arrived in transition just after Martin and we got changed next to each other (Martin taking a ridiculous amount of time!) and then onto the bikes for 56 miles of countryside, hills and RAIN!.
The cycling is definitely my weak point but I’d worked really hard at it and been out loads. It went well, even in the torrential rain. Martin could have done this in a quicker time but he stayed in sight of me which I was grateful for – especially as he has the emergency ibuprofen on him! The atmosphere, with amazing support around the course was wonderful. A mile long hill about 5 miles from the end nearly finished me but Martin and I stayed together and we arrived in transition desperate to see family but it wasn’t to be so a quick transition (slow for Martin!) and off on the run we went!
It was awesome to start with. This is where I expected to be stronger. My training had gone well and I felt great. It was muddy but after about a mile we saw my Mum and Dad who’d travelled to watch us. It gave us both a huge boost. At about mile 4 we were cheered on by our kids, high-fiving us and screaming support to everyone. What an amazing moment that was. A huge boost too.
Then at about 9 miles, disaster! My, oh so temperamental stomach, quit on me! Cramps like I’ve never had made it hard to move. Legs felt fine but I was struggling not to throw up or pass out! We had to keep slowing to a walk and by the time we reached the finish (in my worst half marathon time) I was done for! I hugged my wife, kids and parents and cried! Martin then forced me to eat some solid food and within 10 minutes I felt loads better – how bloody annoying is that? Total time 6hr 14m. But over £3000 raised for Team Inspiration.
What did I learn – I have a dodgy stomach (it was repeated at Manchester Marathon). I loved the swim. I want to do a full Ironman.
That last point is the reason I now run so much – I wanted to do a marathon – if I was ever going to do a full Ironman I’d need to have run a marathon before. That and I REALLY want the M dot tattoo on the back of my calf!
However, this is what brought me to running as an obsessive. For nearly a year now I have been running 4 times a week, talking about nothing else, tweeting constantly and boring anyone who’d listen. It is totally addictive. I love it. If I don’t go for two days I’m irritable and a pain to live with! I actually NEED it now. As a teacher my stress levels seem to have spiked these last few years and running is my relief and release.