2010 Ironman UK: 3 from 3!

August 5th, 2010 by

Ironman was something I have always been in awe of since I started to race triathlon – the distances alone are pretty crazy when you sit down and actually think about them! – but from the start of the year Ironman UK has been a firm target for me and that ensured I was always looking forward to it and thinking about it positively.  The outcome couldn’t have been better, I mean I still can’t quite believe it and that has made all the hard work worthwhile.

1st place at Ironman UK 2010 - I'm an Ironman winner!

 Once we worked out my season plans earlier in the year after I decided that I would really focus on three UK events, with Bolton being the final hit out after the Kent TriGrandPrix and UK Ironman 70.3 – I made it 3 from 3 on Sunday and that is something that brings a lot of satisfaction indeed.

 So … to the race. I was glad that race w/e finally rolled around and we could get in the car on Friday morning. I had pretty much reached my limit in terms of the training/tapering/thinking here in Stirling and simply wanted to get on with it all. I’m always better once I get into race mode, with things to do and focus on.

Ali and I arrived on Friday afternoon, we found the swim venue and T1, I got registered and then we collected Mum and Abbie (little sister) from the train station. We negotiated Bolton traffic in the pouring rain, got lost, asked directions from locals(?) who didn’t speak English too well before finally finding the sanctuary that is Pizza Express!

Saturday consisted of racking the bike early in the morning, which is not something I usually do, but given the logistics of the venues, it made sense to get it out of the way early. We then got a quick swim in the lake, which is something I like to do more and more now pre race, just to get a feel for the water (and how murky: rather! and cold it is: not too bad). Blue 70 came down to take some pictures too, which was good fun and nice to catch up. A quick jog, sneaky stolen breaky from the race hotel!, an interview with the Channel 4 crew and a recce of the bike course loop and dropping off my gear bag in T2 took up the rest of the day really … leaving, yup you guessed it, time for dinner at Pizza Express!

I swear that I didn’t sleep very much the night before the race, but I think thats always the way when you have to get up at 2.45am! I did my best to force more Special K, Crunchy nut and coffee down than I might normally manage, was glad to see Blair and Kerry, who arrived late the night before and we left at just after 4am to swing by and pick up Gordo and fan no.1 Matty on the way to race start. Some cold sweats started to kick in if I am honest … “did I really not sleep a wink last night?, did I bring spare tires/tubes/pump” etc etc … all last minute worries that seem to flood my mind for a minute or two, but then fade away thankfully as quickly as they appeared.

All that being said race start loomed, but I felt really relaxed getting my wetsuit on. I hung out with everyone over in a quite spot we found away from the crowds and other athletes, and that helped me a lot. I got in to the water with just a few minutes to spare as we started about 200m from the edge and I didn’t want to be treading water for too long and risk getting cold out there.  The horn went (I don’t remember hearing a national anthem a la Wimbleball) and my swim went fine; I pretty much led from the get go, which I like to do, although I realise I am giving my competitors an all too easy draft behind for 40 odd minutes … other than a slightly tight hip flexor during the last 10minutes I quite enjoyed the swim and got out feeling pretty good and not as tired as I expected.

T1 flew by and I remember deciding to leave my arm warmers in the gear bag (I soon wondered if that was a bad idea on the bike) … but Stephen was charging out fast and I wanted catch him. We headed out on the bike together, Axel joined us after 10K or so and I suddenly didn’t feel too great. The legs were doing nothing special and it looked as if there was a lot of rain about to fall! (Wishing I had taken the arm warmers at this starge) After probably an hour of riding I had begun to feel a litte more confident in my riding (I had also warmed up and the rain wasnt falling), so I made one big concerted effort to get out in front solo. I didn’t want to get sucked into riding at the tempo set by the other guys, leading to a running race, so thankfully I got a good gap really quickly. The second half of the bike loop (which we completed 3 times) was twisty and essentially one lane after another. Perfect for getting ‘out of sight, out of mind’ … this I did and built up a 7 minute advantage going into the run. Nutrition was something I was struggling with at times – just the constant nagging in the back of my mind to keep eating, keep drinking, keep eating, especially after feeling a bit too hungry aroung halfway!

midway through the marathon

I would say I was really looking forward to getting the run, mostly as I was sick to the back teeth of being on the bike (and I love my Trek Speed Concept!). T2 was nice as I was able to see mum and abbie cheering and get some good useful reminders from Ali and Gordo as I headed off for my ‘long Wednesday run’ – this was how I was going to rationalise it in order to get through the race. It worked. For an hour I ran well, enjoying the pace my watch was giving me and feeling happy I was in good shape. Blair popped up periodically on his bike along the course giving me confirmation that the gap wasn’t really changing and reminding me that they were hurting just the same. Other than struggling during the headwind section from 25 to 32ks, I kept going pretty consistently. Sure I had lows but I did my best to ‘suck it up’ and as the finish started to approach the sensation that I was going to win finally hit home – I wasn’t going to be caught and I was going to be an Ironman Champion! The final mile or so was a strange mix of emotions – happy, teary, exhausted all at once. It’s a strange beast the Ironman I can safely confirm that.

Crossing the line was such a good feeling, I promise that. I wanted to be able to really enjoy the finish – as after all you can only win your first Ironman once! As I have said, lots of and lots of hard work has gone into this result – and I can happily say I am very proud of myself.  However I absolutely couldn’t have done it without the help of ‘my team’ – Ali, Gordo, Blair especially (you all drive me on so much more than I can explain at times) but to see mum there too was lovely (especially when I found out afterwards that she, abbie and matty almost missed the finish due to the logistics of getting there without a bike or being able to run into town centre from 5 miles out!) … having them all there at the finish to share in the experience meant so much and I am still thinking fondly of it all today.

Next stop Kona! Yeeha 🙂