Latest News

Archive for August, 2009

IRONMAN UK 2009

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

August 2nd 2009, Bolton, England

August 2nd 2009, Bolton, England

 

3 weeks on from completing Ironman UK 2009, and having now had time to reflect on the event, I figured it’s time to give you a short report on how the race went. In a nut shell,  it sure as hell wasn’t easy! But then again, few things worth accomplishing generally are. So here is the timeline of how the day panned out . . .

 

11pm (day before): Finally managed to get to sleep! I wasn’t feeling nervous, but despite getting to bed at 9.30pm, just couldnt sleep. Not what you want before a long race!

 

Race Day

 

2.30am: Alarm went off. I’d actually set 5 on my phone, as well as a couple on my girlfriends phone just in case! There was no way I wasn’t getting up! I found myself suprisingly wide awake for this time in the morning, and was massively excited about the day ahdead. I was less excited by the prospect of what I knew i was going to be having for breakfast!

 

Because I was staying in a hotel, which wasn’t providing an early breakfast for competitors, I had to work round this. So brought a steamer and a load of food ready to cook and eat. As I was eating a pretty low fibre, no wheat, no dairy diet in order to reduce risk of digestive problems, but still needed to get on board a good few calories, my breakfast consisted of the following: 1 x  steamed sweet potato, 1 x small steamed baking potato, handful of steamed green beans, 1/4 an avocado, 150g cooked chicken breast, butter, sea salt, 2 x bananas. I can safely say, that this will not go down in history as my favourite ever meal, and in fact, despite usually being able to eat anything, anytime, with a few bits of sweet potato and some dry chicken left, I called time on my breakfast and conceded defeat to the early start.

 

4am: Left the hotel, and drove down to the Reebok Stadium, where shuttle buses were running competitors to the start at Rivington Reservoir. On the bus, I chatted to a fair few people, and realised that there were a lot of first timers there like myself. A few nerves started to creep in on the way to the Reservoir, but mostly I was excited about starting, and finishing the race.

 

4.30am: Transition was open, so I got myself down to my bike to pump the tires up, and do a last minute check, as well as affix my fluids and food for the bike leg of the race. Because the weather had been so horrendous for the last few days, with loads of rain, the grassy area in which the transition was located was nothing more than a muddy pool, and despite the mats that had been layed down, it was very boggy underfoot, which meant that running from the transition tent to my bike was going to mean my cleats were full of mud, so clipping in could be a pain.

 

5.30am: By now, I’m in my wetsuit, all prepared, with hat and goggles in one hand, and my dry clothes bag in the other, ready to drop off before the swim. The man comes on over the speakers and gives the call for everyone to line up ready for the 400m walk down the steep concrete path to the swim start.

 

6am: The race was due to start by now, but not everyone was in the water as yet, so we had to wait. I positioned myself about 50m away from the line of buoys we had to follow, and right at the front of the start line. A few more nerves set in about now, as I’d not yet done a swim with so many people in such a small space, and it was going to be pretty nasty for sure!

 

6.10am: 3…2….1….GO! Swim begins, and I get a reasonable start, managing to avoid getting kicked in the face more than a couple of times, and after 400m or so I find myself in a little bit of space. I get to the first turn, and everything slows down, as so m,any people are turing 180 degrees at the same time, and at this point there’s a few more arms and legs flying in faces which makes it interesting! I ended up pretty wide on the turn, and had to cut back in, and in fact, I ended up zig-zagging pretty much the whole of that straight until the next turn. Within 30 minutes of starting, I felt my hips and calves cramping, and had to keep trying to stretch out while swimming. Eventually this subsided luckily. Lap 1 complete, and just one more to go. After about 2 miles of the swim my shoulders were beginning to tire, and I felt my technique and speed both go downhill, but as soon as I got to the home straight, got a burst of energy and hammered home. After about 1h11m of swimming, I was out of the water, and began the steep 400m run to transition.

 

Out of the water. Leg 1 complete.

Out of the water. Leg 1 complete.

7.20am (ish): Got up to T1 and took my time getting myself sorted out for the bike leg. I necked a bottle of Gatorade while running to my bike, then picked it up, ran down the muddy path, and jumped on. As predicted, my cleats were full of mud so it took a bit of time to actually clip myself in, but once in there, I was feeling strong and ready to go.

Over the mud and onto the bike

Over the mud and onto the bike

After a short downhill section from the start, the course then leads you 2-3 miles up a nasty hill, which at one point gets pretty steep around a hairpin bend, before starting a winding decent, before another hill.

Tough climb at the first hill

Tough climb at the first hill

The first lap on the bike was fast. i was feeling strong and averaged 19.3mph, a little faster than predicted. Lap 2 was slightly slower, as the head wind picked up. When it came to lap three, that first hill seemed twice as long, although I was able to overtake a lot of competitors during the climb which felt good! The final 20 miles of this lap were pretty slow, with fatigue setting into my legs, as well as some cramps coming and going in my hips. I was finding myself needing to feed more often, and that seemed to help.

 

Nice flat bit to make up some time, at last!

Nice flat bit to make up some time, at last!

1.30pm (ish): At the end of lap 3, with my legs feeling prety ruined and energy levels getting lower, I thought to myself, what a time to do my first marathon! When at T2, I again took my time to get sorted out, and when ready, began the initial climb past the spectators, including some family and friends who had made the journey to watch this event.

Out of T2 and up a hill at the start of the marathon. Easy!

Out of T2 and up a hill at the start of the marathon. Easy!

The encouragement was amazing from everyone, with the croud shouting to competitors ’well done, keep going, you’re looking really strong’. Tell us that in 26 miles time! I actually started the run pretty quick, and felt suprisingly good, but 6 miles in it hit me. Another 20 to go.

 

Running technique starting to suffer

Running technique starting to suffer

I managed to stay pretty strong for the majority of the run, although frequent cramps in my calves, hips, quads, hamstrings, groin and at one stage even my right forearm made running pretty hard going at times. After 16 miles, stomach problems began to hold me back, requiring me to walk and even stop every now and again, which disappointed me. Feeding was hard, so I stuck to Gatorade and energy gels, although did manage to sneak in 3 bananas on the route too which were a great boost. With 3 miles to go my stomach was in bits, and hurting more than I had ever felt before, but knowing that there was less than 30 minutes of running left for me, I put it aside and pushed through.

 

With the home straight in sight, emotion started creeping in, with the enormity of what I was about to achieve actually sinking in. The feeling was amazing. The croud was cheering, the finish line was in sight, and all I had to do was finish the final 100m and that would be mission accomplished.

 

10 months of training, all worthwhile. Job done!

10 months of training, all worthwhile. Job done!

5.45pm (ish): Crossing that line was the best feeling I have ever had, and after being given my finishers medal, and t-shirt, and a cap for coming inside the top 250 finishers, I found my family, who were beaming with pride, and most probably, relief that after 11h45m28s of hanging around the course, waiting for me to swim, cycle or run past them every couple of hours, they could finally go home!

 

Mission accomplished, all smiles!

Mission accomplished, all smiles!

My split times for the race were 1h11m30s for 2.4 mile swim, 6h9m39s for 112m mile bike, and 4h10m47s for 26.2 mile run. This placed my 222nd overall and 12th in my age group of 18-24. All the sacrifice and hours of training have been worth while, and having loved every minute of the race, I have now set some targets for next year, where I’ll be competing at Ironman France in Nice. Bring it on!

 

Yours in success

 

Andy ;-)

Tags: , , ,
Posted in Articles, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »