I don't care how many of these things you do, cramming porridge in at 3 in the morning never gets any easier
I have a few days off work after Ironman UK so I thought I'd better write the blog while I have a bit of time, so here goes.
A dodgy buildup yes, completely prepared, possibly not. Ready to bury myself, ALWAYS. That was the best way to describe the way I felt on Sunday morning, as Joe picked me up I think he could tell I wasn't my normal self. For once I really didn't know how I was going to attack the race simply because I really wasn't to sure how the old body would hold up. Now I know a lot of you will be saying rubbish but just to elaborate, I hadn't run more than 13 miles or cycled more than 80 miles since the London marathon. But, as they say at the race briefing, if you turn up at the start line you are declaring yourself fit to race. So at 6 AM me and 2200 other triathletes took to the murky waters of Pennington flash via the rolling start, a new experience for me and one I thoroughly enjoyed. The swim was a pretty uneventful one for me, except for being passed by a lot of athletes, but there is nothing new there. One thing I will say is I will be addressing this in the next 12 months and I will be getting better!!
Jumping out of the lake in a time of 1:08:32 I felt pretty fresh, probably because I only swam 1:08:32. T1 was steady away, but as always there were people loosing bottles and falling off on the speed humps on the way out of the flash, quick tip, SSSSLLLLOOOOWWWWWWW DDOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!! it never ceases to amaze me, all that training time, effort and sacrifice could be wasted within 800m of the bike start. Here is another tip for the bike if you are planning on doing UK. I Fasten my bottles into the housing at the rear of my seat with a couple of elastic bands, very similarly to fastening in an aero bottle, these snap when I first go for the bottle and I never loose them.
As always loads of guys flew off on the bike leg. You can deal with this in one of two ways in my experience. 1. Accept they are quicker, stick to your own game plan and let them go, who knows maybe you'll see them later (don't forget to smile) or 2. Struggle with the ego and chase them, ruin your race and walk the marathon, me, I stuck to my game plan for the first half of the bike and rode to 70% of my functional threshold power (FTP). The idea being to look at this at half way and push on if possible. I found myself in a bit of a train in the first half of the bike with three other guys all in my category, which was a little unusual, one of them being Matt Nuttall, one of the guys I thought I would need to beat to have any chance of getting to Kona as there were only 4 slots to go for this year. As always the support on the bike was brilliant;
Sheephouse Ln Matt Elliston, Manny, Adam
Houghton Arms the FITT Crew
Moss Lane my girls
Tony, Jane The Pines
Rawlinson Ln Anna Marie and Ian Crabtree
Babblon Ln COLT and the Babylon Babes
Hubsters on Hunters Hill
TRI Preston Hunters Hill
See. I am taking notice, lots of love to you all and hopefully I will return the favor at some point. xxx
The bike was simply a battle with the wind, keeping an eye on the power meter and staying in the group, Mr Nuttall however had a different plan and decided to churn a gear and make a break for freedom never to be seen again on the bike, another decision to be made, follow or stay. I stayed knowing full well that following Matt at that pace would potentially ruin my run legs. On the second climb of Hunters the bike felt a little strange. Every bump in the road seemed to be amplified through the front wheel. Additionally I seemed to be putting a lot of watts out for very little return. This was confirmed by the front wheel sliding and the tyre trying its best to roll off on a right hander. Great, puncture, my first one in an Ironman event, first job, don't panic, so as about 10 guy flew passed I was sidelined with a can of Pitstop, praying it would work. Thankfully it did, and after about 4 minutes or so I was back at it. The rest of the lap was pretty uneventful until I decided to go into rookie mode in T2. I got the feet out of the shoes no worries, racked the bike in the correct place, no worries, steady run to the T2 changing tent, no worries, no Garmin WORRY. Decision 3, carry on without the Garmin and run to feel, or go back for the Garmin, waste time in T2, but have all the info I rely on during the marathon. I'll leave that one with you for now, what would you lot do?
Run kit on an onto the tough marathon course. The first 2 miles of the marathon at Bolton are wrong on every level, all up hill, thankfully after that you get a bit of downhill prior to the turn round where you can get the legs to turnover a bit. At this point I saw Mr Nuttall again only a couple of minutes up. Normally I would think target, but that isn't so easy with Mr Nuttal as he can run a bit. Additionally I was having real issues with my feet. I couldn't feel my left foot and had serious hot foot in my right which basically felt as though someone was stabbing me every time my foot planted. I put up with this till about 6 miles and was getting passed, which is something that generally doesn't happen to me on the marathon. AT this point it was off with the shoes, a bit of stretching and loosen the timing chip off. I started to run again and it eased a bit, additionally I saw Matt as we approached the start of the loops. As we hit the first loop and the first sustained bit of downhill I passed Matt wishing him all the best. Additionally the feet were getting better, soon I came across Ian Cox and the FITT lads who informed me that Foggy was smashing it in 9th position overall, fantastic!!! Now I was running like I the old Joe, the issue was for how long. As I hit town Neil Mercer, Nosser and Murph were all out cheering me and everyone else on, I came across Foggy coming in the opposite direction, 'Joe go and get that Kona slot mate' simple instructions from a top athlete, but I had no idea where I was in the age cat and that is how it remained for the rest of the run. This simplified things, because all I could do was hunt people down and not get passed!! Supporters in town numbered many but here goes
MY girls, Marlon, Andy, Charlene, Joe, Gill, Steve, Jan, Tony & Dave Cullen (and pals) Rob Wilby, The Hancocks, Matt, Manny Chris, Adam, Dave, Laura Casey. My coach Ian Murphy, Emily and all the TRI Preston lot, some of the babylon babes the Crabtrees and the FITT lot. I'm sure there is more and I'm sure I have missed some, but again massive thanks and much love.
I had a bit of fun with my pal Marc Laithwaite who was well up on me to be honest, but I know he's got a great sense of humor even when he is in a world of pain. So as he was coming up Chorley Street hill and I was coming down I simply let him know I was about.
'I'm coming for you mate, don't look behind'. I'm not 100% sure but there was a grin, and the TRI Preston lot liked it at well!!
The third and final lap was as always a bit of a battle, the coke highs were getting less and less effective as were the gels and I was struggling the hold the 7:30 average pace I had been clinging on to. Thankfully as I turned for the last time the realization of 3 more miles hit home, I had a quick word with myself and picked up the pace back into town. On my way back down Chorley street I passed my final target and tried to push on so as to not give him a reason to hang onto me. Lets be honest who needs a sprint finish at the end of an Ironman. Into town the crowds were as always amazing, and the finishing area was packed. I didn't really stick around simply because I didn't know how the guy I passed had reacted, thankfully he wasn't around. And with that I collapsed, literally in a heap over the line. When I eventually stood up I looked at Paul Kay and said; "Please tell me 10:16 is good enough for a Kona slot", he looked at my age cat and just smiled and nodded
And that was it. All the guys confirmed I had finished 2nd in cat and booked a return trip to the Big Island, much to the delight of Johanna!!
So would you have got the Garmin or left it. I went back for it so T2 was a total of 6:17 which you just can't do at the pointy end of the race, so nobody to blame only myself. You could say I was unlucky with the puncture, maybe so, but I fixed it and didn't fall off on the right hand bend so no dramas there really.
Finally a big well done to the winner of my age category Nick Rose who is coached by Rob wilby (the Oxygen Addict) who is a top bloke so well done to Rob too. And after meeting Nick at the awards today is was nice to know that I scared the crap out of him with my running.
A massive well done to all of you who took on this years Ironman UK It was a privilege sharing the course with you and I sincerely hope you all got the results you dreamed of. Additionally thanks my coach Ian Murphy to Dave Tomlinson and the team at Lantec, Graham Bilsborough at GB3, First Rate Credit Union and of course all the physios at Summit Physiotherapy for thier continued support. Without you guy none of this would be possible XX
All that is left now is the Sundowner 70.3 and the Virtruvian 70.3 and a small race in Hawaii!!!, one more thing
Till then Take it easy