I did it - 2.4 mile swim, 116 mile bike & 26 mile run. I’m an Ironman, well a double steelman as it wasn’t an official Ironman (TM) event but I’m not bothered about that as I still did the full ironman distance and saved £315 in the process. There was a saving in my pocket but there was no savings made on support, atmosphere or food and drink on the course. What a great event and a massive success for everyone involved. I’d like to thank each and every one of the organisers, marshals, helpers, supports involved in that day that made it possible for us ironmen to do it.
A special thanks to Amanda who fed, clothed, bathed and supported me during my training for it, wait a minute that was Billy who she clothed and bathed. As well as organising a lot of the double steelman and running around during the day on feed stations and seeing if everyone was alright and that everything was going smoothly she also came out onto the course to give me support. Thank you Amanda.
The race went well, very well now I can look back on it and I’ve forgotten the pain I was going through on the run. It was a long day but I’ve done it and I got under 12 hours – 11hr48 so that was a bonus.
Swim - nice and easy, I was pretty much on my own the whole way round until the last 300 metres when I caught and passed a group of 4. (where had these 4 been? did they slow down or did I all of a sudden get faster) I got out the water comfortably and walked to my bike; I don’t think running here is going to make that much of a difference.
T1 – took my time. I had cycling shorts on under my wetsuit and added a cycling top so I didn’t burn my shoulders on the bike.
Bike – this was generally steady away but I’ll admit that I felt it towards the end and was freewheeling where possible. I took on a full water bottle and some food at the feed station. Laps 1 and 2 I realised I was finishing my bottles well before the feed station so I started getting 2 bottles and ditched an empty one at Northallerton industrial estate, thanks marshals for picking it up. The food was good, malt loaf was nice after so many energy gel. Sometimes I’d forget id put a banana in my back pocket and carry it all the way round the lap. I’d also cycle past a marshal from the club and completely forget their name. I’d only been swimming or talking to them the week before. It’d turn into a little game for me to take my mind off the long bike ride, guess the name of the marshal – it took 1 ½ laps to get Kris Wadrop’s name back to the forefront of my mind. Towards the end it was good to see the Garmin on 105 miles as I knew I only had single figures to go. Strava said 19.2 mph average (after it took off my food stops) which isn’t too bad for 116 mile bike. I was planning on 18 to 18.6 mph average but I felt comfortable enough and was also holding something back for the run.
I never thought about it but Brian Roberts pointed it out to me that the feed station was on a 22 to 25 mph stretch of road (slight tailwind) so you had to brake, take on food and a new bottle and then get going again. He had his son change his bottles at a 5 mph 90 degree turn so it didn’t cost him as much time, good thinking and noted.
T2 – again took my time and used the tent next to the transition area to change from my cycling kit to running kit and into my most comfortably trainers. There’s no point in wearing race trainers.
Run – It was painful, very painful in the middle. Again like the swim and bike it was 4 laps of 6.5 miles each. I started OK on the run but my splits say it all – 56min, 1hr06min, 1hr20min for the first 3 laps. The 2nd and 3rd laps I slowed down a lot even walking for a minute here or a minute there. I started suffering with cramp and it really hit me on the Brompton main road in my hamstring half way which made me stop dead, eventually getting going slowly again. I had an electrolyte tablet at the feed station (thanks Kath) and it fortunately relieved the cramping with 3 miles to go. Knowing I was heading for home and the finish line I could somehow pick it up and I was able to run fairly hard from there. I did my last lap in 1hr02min so I was really pleased with that and it was that pick up that got me under 12 hours.
To be honest I wasn’t aiming for any time just to finish as I know far too well what it’s like to put yourself under too much pressure and how things can crumble. So to see I could possible get under 12 hours if I put in a good effort on the last lap spurred me on.
Will I do it all again? I doubt it but never say never. I did an official Half Ironman back in 2003 at Sherbourne (what they now call a 70.3) and a full distance ironman in 2013 so I’m planning on a full distance ironman again in 2023 or maybe I’ll do an Arthur and take the next step and do a double or triple ironman!!
Congratulations to all my fellow competitors especially Cleveland tri club members. Well done.
Foot notes about training for the ironman:
I looked on the internet for an ironman training plan and one stood out (and it was free) which was a super simple 20 week training plan (Copies on request) which I changed slightly to a 24 week plan by repeating weeks 14 to 18. It didn’t make any difference as I barely used the program. It included one rest day which was on a Monday – that didn’t suit me. It had a few morning training activities before work which I simply couldn’t or be bothered to do. It had me doing a short run after a long bike ride which I also didn’t do apart from in the triathlons I entered prior to the ironman.
Swimming: this is probably the only sessions I took from the plan but the most important thing was actually going swimming. I didn’t quite make both the club sessions every week apart from a period at the start of the year. It took a few months of persevering but I had some good form around April / May time. This slightly dropped off recently but I wasn’t worried. Come the summer I did more open water swimming at Bishopton Lake completing the full 2.4 mile distance on one occasion and a few other long swims.
Biking: this is what I concentrated on the most as it had me the most worried. 116 miles, wow, how do you do that? You train for it. I never did the race distance but my longest ride was at the Richmond sportive in May which was 99.9 miles and very very hilly. This was on my road bike. Also I did approx 2 x 80 miles, 2 x 70 miles and 2 x 60 miles, the majority being on my TT bike as well as some short fairly high intensity rides. Didn’t really practice or experiment with nutrition on the ride.
Running: hit and miss really. I went to the running club sessions a few times but stopped doing that after a while as I didn’t see the point in doing fast track sessions when I was going to plod round a marathon. Earlier in the year did the London marathon and it showed there that I hadn’t done a great deal of running. Well I didn’t do a great deal of running after it certainly not as much as I usually do.
My longest run was 13 miles which was the Day in the Lakes triathlon. I was more likely to do a 5K tees trail race than a long run as long as they didn’t get in the way of a bike ride.
Weight control or loss: Nah, I had Cadbury’s chocolate, Malteesers or ice cream (sometimes all 3) every night for the 2 weeks before the event. I stayed the same weight so therefore controlled it!
Prep races: Keswick triathlon, Short course triathlon and the day in the lakes triathlon 3 weeks before the ironman. The Day in the Lakes triathlon worked out very well as I went nice and steady (ironman pace) until the last 5 miles of the run. Note that they’re all open water swims.