Ironman UK, Sherbourne 2005

Time: 10:11:35

Swim: 50:45 (15)

T1: 3:32 (142)

Bike: 5:44:34 (62)

T2: 1:47 (19)

Run: 3:30:52 (1st half: 1:38:49 (40), 2nd Half: 1:52:12 (54))

27th overall, 3rd in age group. Got a Hawaii slot !

Long Report (be warned this is long):

At the saturday race briefing the race referee explained how they were going to enforce the no drafting rule. He said that they weren’t going to be measuring 10m etc…, we all know what drafting means and if you are caught making an intentional move to get onto someone’s wheel then your number would be noted. First time nothing would happened, if noted a second time then some marker tape would be put on your run bag and after you are ready for the run you would be held in transition for 8 minutes ! If you number is noted a 3rd time your run bag will be removed and marker tape put in it’s place. You will be free to complete the run but a red cross will be placed across your race number and your championship chip will be removed – so you won’t get a time, won’t get a finishers medal etc… This got a massive round of applause.

Roll on a fair race…

The forecast was for a clear night and a cold morning. I feared the worst for a delayed start due to mist. After checking our bikes Neal and I returned to my car to warm up and the mist fell. We were convinced the start would be delayed but not sure enough to stay in the car beyond 5.15am. The 6am start ended up being a 8.10am start due to the mist and then a false start !

I had clear water on the swim from the off and was going really well. Felt so strong and was cruising, by the second lap I and could see very few people in front of me and knew I was going well. At the end of the second lap (about 3.5k) I had a Wednesday night Cally moment … yes my right calf cramped massively – as I tried to stretch it out in the water my left cramped as well. I had to swim to the side with cramped legs and stretch them out. They soon eased and after that brief breather I motored to the swim exit worrying about how this cramp would affect the rest of my race.

Exited the swim in 51 minutes in 15th place.

I got out on the bike and started to focus on getting onto my target average speed. I’d calculated the averages needed to get a 6 hour bike and a 5hour bike and various spits in between (5 hours proved insanely optimistic as only the winner got sub 5 hours) but my target was about 20 mph to come in in about 5.40.

I motored out to Dorchester and got the average to 20.7mph – I was cycling well but also started feeling a little concerned as it felt I was pushing it like I would on an Olympic distance. Despite this I didn’t ease off… may as well find out how I’ll cope. I was also being hugely encouraged by the fact that so far only a few people had passed me and all of them had been pros. I was also tussling with the lead lady – she’d pass me on the level sections and then I would pass her on any hills. Into the second of the Dorset laps I finally broke free of her and didn’t see her again till the run.

I’d been practicing in training with Gatorade what I hadn’t done was practice with their bottles – it wasn’t till the final 20 miles I realised that you had to suck to get them to work – you couldn’t just squeeze them. THis meant emptying them into my tri bar bottle resulted in about half their contents coming out around the lid and all over me and my bike – resulting in alot of stickiness ! This was made even worse when I lost the sponge bung for the bottle ;o(

Towards the end of the second lap some age groupers finally went by – not drafting but certainly ‘pacing’ – ie all going same speed about 6m apart. A couple were my age group. Coming back to Sherborne the new lead lady motored by – she looked very strong. I kept her in sight for about 10 miles.

Through to Sherborne (about 68 miles) my speed was averaging 20.3 mph. My legs were starting to complain but I was feeling great as I was on target for the upper end of my expectations (ie creeping under 10 hours).

The Somerset laps felt tougher (could just be because you’re 70 miles in at this point) but I did managed to keep above 20 mph. On the second lap the lead guy came by. Awesome ! He was on a Carbon P3 and he was shifting.

The final 8 miles or so back to Sherborne are tough, my average crept down to 19.7 and my legs were screaming at me on every hill. I was starting to get concerned that I’d over cooked it on the bike and was about to pay for it big time. I completed the bike in about 5.45 – I’d had a great bike.

Coming into transition was awesome – I was so far up the field that hardly anyone had come in yet and the support was out of this world. I’d got my nutrition right. In the final few miles I finished off the last of my marzipan and the last of my dolly mixtures. On the bike I’d only taken water and gaterade from the feed stations not wanting to take on gels / powerbars at this point.

Dismounting the bike at speed may not have been sensible after so many miles – my legs just weren’t ready for running. Headed out on the first mile of the course — jeez this already felt like the 24th mile in London this year. By mile 2 I was doubting the sense of doing Ironman. By the end of mile two (the markers were every 2 miles) I hit my watch to start a split for the next two miles. 7.5 minute miles would bring me in just under 10 hours. Come on I thought – 7.5 minute miles is easy / recovery run pace – you can do this. End of mile 4 see my split – just under 15 minutes. Despite feeling like this was hard work I was keeping a decent pace. By now I’d passed someone in my age group who was already walking and I was very slowly clawing in the guy ahead.

At this point I realised I couldn’t cope with thinking about the whole distance involved, instead I focussed on each 2 mile chunk and getting to halfway. I also took Richards advice and promised myself not to touch Pepsi before halfway. By mile 8 a french guy had caught me but he clearly wanted to run with someone as he didn’t go by but ran with me. For much of the remainder of the race we ran together.

At mile 10 I started to feel strong, I dropped the french guy and was cruising, feeling great. I could now see the lead runners coming back and started counting to see what position I was in. I’d reckoned on about 27th and 3rd in my age. Now I had an incentive to push along – a Hawaii spot seemed to be there for the taking.

As I approached the halfway point I was clawing in another guy. As I got closer what a morale booster – it was a pro ! Hit halfway in 1.38 on target for sub 10hours in fact if I continued at this pace I’d be a couple of minutes under ! Just after halfway the second lady caught me and went by, I tried to keep as close to her as possible … luckily she got a good 50m or so ahead before she had her Paula moment (enough said!).

I still felt strong and even held off the Pepsi at the next few feed stations. Between mile 16 and 18 I started to really feel it, the french guy re-caught me and we ran together. We both soon started walking through the feed stations to make sure we got a proper feed. I arrived at one and shouted ‘Pepsi’ and I heard a reply ‘THE MAN NEEDS PEPSI !!’ It was delicious.

The final part of the course is brutal – there is a big long climb throughout mile 23 which is followed by 2 more shorted climbs through mile 24. This was a pure mental challenge. The french guy pulled away on the hills but would ease up and look round wanting me to get back on. For the final climb we ran together and ran back into Sherborne. Now I started thinking “Enjoy these last 2 miles” and “I don’t want my finishers photo with this guy” – I don’t want to finish this far up the field and end up crossing the line with someone else.  I started to push the pace and dropped the french guy but after about 500m he clawed me back and went passed. He pulled away and ahead we could see another pro (Paul Mountford) we were catching quick and then another guy a little further ahead. I got within about 5m of the pro and he started to push (perhaps he couldn’t face another age grouper going past him). I had nothing more so accepted my position (there was no one anywhere near behind me) and enjoyed the crowd support through that final mile.

I even remembered to raise both arms as I crossed the line for that classic finishers photo.

The second half had taken 1.52 – although that was a major drop off it combined for a 3.30 marathon which had been my target. I briefly wondered whether this was the result of missing my final couple of weeks hard run training through injury but cast the thought aside as I’ll never know and who cares as i was bouncing off the walls in delight at the time I’d achieved.

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