Sunday, August 11, 2013

First Ironman achieved...

This time last week It was just hours after finishing my first Ironman, a week on here are my race day thoughts.
Leading up to the race I had a few injury niggles which had a big effect on run training, I was concerned about how my body would cope with the marathon. Mentally I was in a good place and looking forward to lining up race morning.

I travelled up to Bolton on Monday, giving me a good few days to check out the course and prepare.  These few days sped by with a bit of taper training and visiting the team at Hydraquip, my main sponsor for this race.

Ironman UK has a split transition so Saturday was spent driving round Bolton, dropping of the bike, bags, etc. A great atmosphere amongst the athletes was building as race day drew ever nearer.

Race day arrives, 3am alarm goes off, feels like I haven't sleep a wink all night! Time to get to Pennington Flash, check the bike and get to swim start. I was quite relaxed, although it was my biggest race in triathlon so far, I knew I had a year of training behind me and was ready as I'd ever be.

The weather wasn't looking great, a few rain showers whilst getting ready and the sun not yet risen. You could feel the buzz in transition between 1800 athletes, pros, Age groupers and even some first time triathletes!

After a quick good bye to Sarah and her parents, I started to make way to the swim start. This is where the unknown began, never before swimming 3.8k in race conditions. I decided to position myself at the front of the pack to hopefully hang on to the first group of swimmers. When the national anthem finished at the gun went, the washing machine was underway. My start was great and I didn't get caught up in the under water rugby, soon settling to my own pace.

Words of my coach, Ben, in my head, 'stay calm, concentrate on stroke and hang on to the group', before long the first lap was done and I exited the water ready for the second. Glancing at my watch i realised id swum a sub 30 minute first lap Jumping back in to the water, I again quickly settled in to my pace.

With the sun coming up it made sighting almost impossible so was a case of follow the feet in front of you.

Second lap done, I was out and running to transition. Feeling very strong and confident that the swim had gone to plan. Time to switch into bike mode, taking the time in transition to get prepared and comfortable for the next 180k, not knowing what the good old British weather had in store!

The first part of the bike course is a point to point of 16k and then a three loop course. It takes you through a number of villages surrounding Bolton and then out to the famous Sheephouse Lane climb, which is a killer after the third loop.

I had been given a set wattage to try and ride to which my coach calculated for me,the first 100km passed very quickly and I was bang on target power.

As I got closer to the Sheep House Lane climb my legs began to fade and fast, I took the decision to ride the last lap slightly below target power and more on feel as my main concern was the 42.2km marathon, this really was going into the unknown for me as I'd been unable to run more than 10km in the months leading up to the race due to injury.

The final few km's of the bike were a real struggle and my legs were beginning to burn, as I approached T2 I began the flying dismount routine to make sure I was ready for a speedy transition and a long run.

T2 was in the tennis court of Rivington school as I dismounted the bike my feet met the gravelly floor and instantly I knew this was going to be an uncomfortable start to a long run. I made my way into the school hall ditched my bike kit and got ready for the run, I needed to get my socks and trainers on and get my gel bottles from my transition bag before I could leave the hall and embark on the marathon.

The run started well and straight out of T2 I was met by my partner Sarah and her family who travelled up to support me, I decided to give her a flying kiss on my way past as she has been there for my every need during this past few years with all my triathlon training.

The run had a similar format to the bike the first part being a point to point run of 10km then a 3 loop course up and down Chorley New Road and around Victoria square in Bolton town centre.

I aimed to hold a steady pace for the first half of the marathon which started well until the first hill and I saw almost everybody walking up it..... I asked a guy how long is the hill and he replied walk the hills as they will soon break you, as I was already concerned about my leg I decided to play safe and walk until the course flattened out.

Once on the main course my legs began to tighten up and gradually I slowed until the pain eased, it was a game of run, jog, walk for the whole second half deciding it could be a long slow walk to the finish if my legs gave in.


I played it safe and opted for a finish instead of a serious injury and I'm glad I did, I was aiming to run a 4 hour marathon and finished in 4-19 so was happy after everything that had happened.

My splits were as follows.

Swim 1-02.

Bike.  5-58.

Run.  4-19.

With a finish time of 11-26.

I'm extremely pleased with my result especially the swim, as only 3 years ago I could not swim, I've spent the past year swimming 4-5 times a week and it has certainly paid off.

I would like to thank all my sponsors which can be found on my Blog especially Hydraquip hoses for their extra help with everything in Bolton.