Finishing the Ironman
My first ironman distance triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run) was the Outlaw in Nottingham on 1 July 2012 which I finished in 13 hours 52 minutes and 34 seconds (Click here for the race report).
I was very pleased to finish, but there was a lingering frustration that I had had to stop half way round on the run and had walked part of the second half of the marathon. I wanted to run the whole of the marathon so I returned the following year to have another go, but had ankle problems in the build up to the race and had to pull out 2 miles into the run (see Since the 2012 Ironman below).
I skipped 2014 as it was the first Channel attempt and tried again in 2015. I had completed a 50 mile run over the North Downs a couple of months before, so was fairly confident I could run the whole of the marathon. It was the Outlaw in Nottingham again on 26 July, but the weather was dreadful and more like winter than mid summer. Heavy rain was forecast and duly arrived when I was approximatley 50 mile into the bike leg. I was prepared with a rain jacket in my saddle bag, but like an idiot I decided to carry on in a thin sleeveless top and was frozen by the end of the bike ride. My hands were so cold they wouldn’t work and it was a struggle to change kit, so the bike to run transition took me 17 minutes compared with 7 minutes in 2012. It continued to rain during the run, although wasn’t so bad despite a few boggy areas and I managed a 5 hour 7 minute marathon and an overall time of 13 hours 41 minutes 20 seconds. I had hoped to break 13 hours, but given the conditions it was still a PB and most importantly I had run the whole of the marathon.
Since the 2012 Ironman
After the race, the recovery went much better than I anticipated and I did the Worthing Triathlon in August (approx a quarter of the ironman distance) and was really pleased with a PB, just over 2 hours 30 minutes. It was then on to 6 mile (10,000m) open water swim in a lake near Windsor in September which I did in just under 3 hours 30 minutes, but was just pleased to finish.
That was followed by Hellrunner Down South in November with a group from Worthing Town FC. It was a very muddy run of around 10 mile up and down hills, including wading through water and bogs up to chest high, but was great fun. To finish the year I was then persuaded to have a go at a 4 hour endurance mountain bike race round an 8 mile course, but having only managed less than an hour on my son’s mountain bike prior to the race, I soon realised that it was completely different from cycling on the road. Laps 1 and 2 were borderline enjoyable, the 3rd was hard work, but the 4th was a nightmare and I will not be rushing back to this sort of event.
2013 was a funny year with some really strong training, but a few injuries all in the run up to races. I did the Brighton Half Marathon in February and was doing really well with the training until we had the snow and rather than risk the roads I went to the gym, only to strain my knee going a bit too mad on an exercise bike. That was 3 weeks before the race and affected my build up to the race, although in the end on the day I had a good run and was pleased with a PB of just under 1 hour 41.
The main focus for 2013 was an ironman distance triathlon again and I did 2 warm up races. The first was a standard distance race at Steyning, where I managed an injury free build up and had a good race followed by a middle distance event in the New Forest (1900 metre swim, 50 miles on the bike and a 14 mile run) in early June. I have done this twice before and both times had major injury problems prior to the race, but this time training was going well and I was looking forward to doing a good time (for me). That was until 10 days before the race when I twisted my ankle. Physio helped, but there was no further running before the race and I wasn’t sure how it would hold up on the day.
A good swim and bike ride was followed by a strong start to the run with the ankle feeling ok. The target time was 5 hours 45, with a possibility of 5 hours 30 and after the first 7 mile loop on the run I was on for the 5 hours 30. But then the ankle started to hurt and I started to suffer, although I got round in 5 hours 42. I was pleased, but it felt a bit like Brighton going to Old Trafford and drawing 2-2 after being 2-0 up.
The New Forest race was 5 weeks before the ironman and I had to nurse the ankle generally restricting my runs to softer ground, but knowing on the day about half the run in the ironman was on tarmac. It was the Outlaw ironman distance triathlon in Nottingham again on Sunday 7 July which at the time happened to be the hottest day of the year. The swim was fine and I was feeling ok on the bike up to about 100 miles, but then the heat hit me, my ankle started to hurt and I knew I was not going to get round. I did start the run, trying to run on the softer grass verges, but then tweaked my ankle again and realised that I had no hope of succeeding in my aim to run the whole of the marathon part (I had to walk some in 2012) and dropped out. Very disappointing, but now with hindsight the right decision.
It was then off to the Amsterdam Marathon in October, but again I suffered a knee injury in the run up and if the flights/hotels had not been booked I would have pulled out. I managed the first half in just over 2 hours, but the knee then packed in at about 19 mile and the rest was a combination of walk/very slow run to at least finish in 5 hours 8 minutes.