Ironman UK, Bolton 2012

July 27th, 2012 by

Happy – proud even, to reach the finish line in second place at Bolton on Sunday. Ironman is a long, tough day for one and all … me included. This was my longest one yet – all 9 hours, 7 minutes of it, and therefore continuing an upwards trend in my finish times – note to self; something to work on for the future!

Bolton was a relatively long term goal for me this year, and as a result I haven’t raced a great deal this season, so it was good to finally have race week arrive. Having raced the event two years ago I had a good sense of how the day would unfold and was quite relaxed about the various different sections of the race – what with there being two transitions and a seperate finish area there is a little bit more than your average race course to take in and digest.

Ali and I travelled down with good friends Graham & Gillian which made for a fun road trip from Stirling. Graham was validating his Kona legacy slot and so we had a fun and relaxed time with a Big Island undercurrent of banter throughout. – Little did we realise we would have a race day temperature approaching one similar to that expected on Ali’i Drive!!

So to the race itself … I have found that as the distance I have raced over the years gets longer – and Ironman is as long as I am going to be going! – the less nervous and worried I get. There is no beating around the bush; it’s a (very) long time from start to finish, and if things don’t quite go to plan along the way you can’t panic, rather just deal with it as best as possible and remember that anything can happen to turn things around if need be. So I generally don’t feel the same nervous tension or experience the ‘butterfly tummy’ whilst getting ready to go.

We had to wait a little while in the water prior to the horn being sounded as there was a little bit of a bottle neck getting the entire field in and ready to go but once swimming I felt fine. We had a small Pro field assembled however it was as quick a swim as you will find at any Ironman aroun the world. – With Harry Wiltshire and Dan Hawskworth also pushing the pace we clipped round reasonably fast – indeed Amanda Stevens stayed with is as well, such is her swimming ability. I dropped off the pace actually during the final 3/400m and lost 20 seconds to the boys in front, which is not something I had planned on doing. I just didn’t feel too great to be honest, and just got to the finish ramp as best I could. These things happen and I guess it’s something for me to go back and look into – my endurance on the back end of a long swim.

Having lost time through T1 I had to put my head down to catch Dan back up at the head of the race. That took me longer than I had hoped – about 20k, and was again something I hadn’t factored into my race plan. The first 90 minutes of the race had been more like an olympic distance event in intensity! For the remainder of the bike ride Dan and I took our fair share of the pace setting at the front of affairs, exchanged words a couple times, but by and large, its a pretty quiet and lonely 5 hours in the saddle. I pushed on a little towards the final 10k and ended up in T2 solo with just under a minute buffer starting the marathon.

The run, I am always apprehensive about it  as I imagine many people are when racing Ironman. It’s just such a long way. My training leading in had been reasonable but nonetheless I was cautious of going out at a pace that was too fast which would ultimately bite me during the latter stages. – I felt pretty comfortable heading into Bolton town centre as this section was largely flat and a little downhill and passed through the first 10k just off my goal pace at a around 40 and half minutes. Once into Bolton town centre at around the 10 mile marker there remainded 3 loops to run and I started to feel rather tired and sore all of a sudden! Such is the Ironman game. Dan passed me for the lead at 18ks and despite trying to pick up my pace, it was all over red rover in terms of competing for the win. Indeed I had some fairly substantial walking stints thereafter but thankfully had some great encouragement from Blair and that helped far more than the frantic gulps of coke and energy gel! Other than dad managing to get politely asked to leave the run course after mistakingly riding onto it with his mtb!! the remainder of the run went pretty much as best as it could in my state. – I finally reached the finish area where there was much applause and a fantastic home crowd cheering us over the line.

The support for us out on the course was quite amazing, and what with such good summer weather finally arriving, there was surely a lot more spectators as a result which was awesome. It makes all the differnence and indeed I can’t thank everyone enough who gave me cheers whilst out on the bike and the run course. – Whether it was from fellow athletes whilst concetrating on their own races or spectators out on the streets, it was brilliant and certainly picked up my mood during the final few run miles especially. Thank you again, it makes racing at home so much fun and getting to the finish chute all the more rewarding.

As always real thanks go out to my sponsors and everyone who helps me when at home or away; family and friends alike; I can be a grumpy so and so at times but I know you understand why! It’s now Friday morning and my legs are finally starting to allow me to go up and crucially down the stairs! I am looking forward to getting back into a training routine soon and preparing for the next target; Ironman Wales on September 16th.

Full results are here and congratulations to Dan and Eimear on their well deserved wins.