First "proper" race report - may be a bit long for some! Just chucked down what I felt so here goes..........
So – why was I here?
Since getting into triathlon from a running background many years ago, I have, for the last 10 years done Ironman races (mainly Lanza) interspersed with the odd Ultra run (Compton 40 many times, Grand Union Canal Race twice). I much prefer the smaller, more personal but challenging races (the like of which Dick Kearn, the Grand Union organiser said “them that need to know, know – them that don’t, don’t care”).
In all that time, the one constant for me has been the support of Mrs EUK (Alison) and the kids (Ben and Bella - when they were younger I suppose they had no choice!). Family holidays in Lanzarote in May with the bike, weekends driving up and down the Grand Union Canal in the dark – I'm sure they enjoy it, but better not ask! Not to mention the fact that the kids end up forgetting what you look like and they think everybody’s dad should be going out regularly running 40 miles at midnight.
Lanzarote is my favourite race and over the last few years I have coached a number of people through it. Last August I let them talk me into signing up again for it this year as i was 45 and moved up an age group (how could I resist?) – with the promise to Mrs EUK that this would be my last IM for a couple of years and that as it was in May all the training would be a hard slog for me in the winter months but that it would mean I was done and dusted by the time Ben’s GCSE’s came around and we could have a quiet summer, etc, etc.
Sorted! – “You go with my blessing” say’s she (or it sounded something like that anyway) "but make sure you stick to your promise of no long race in 2009". “Of course dear – thank you” says I as I entered my credit card details on the Lanzarote web site. That’s that then – once Christmas is out of the way – the usual 20 week build to Lanza, enjoy the race and have a peaceful summer.
OH HOW WRONG I WAS!
October came along and up pops a complete surprise from leftfield! On Sat 6th October Steve Haywood (Enduroman IV) announces the inaugural Double Iron UK with only a small number of places.
Shit!, Shit!, Shit!
I have promised Mrs EUK that Lanza would be it, Ben has his GCSE’s and shit is definitely going to hit the fan if I even consider this! No – couldn’t possibly do it.
Aaagh, saved – the race filled up with the 24 places gone in a couple of days.
That was it then – now I was really p’d off because I felt that I had not accepted a challenge (thought of telling the wife – not doing the race!). I thought about this race for the next 2 or 3 days constantly and regretted not signing up.
The following weekend I was off to Newcastle tutoring for the BTF and would staying in a dodgy truck stop style “hotel”. This meant leaving Warrington at 7pm, arriving in Newcastle around 11pm for an 8:30 start on the Saturday. At 17:47 on the Friday night into my Inbox popped an email from Steve Haywood saying (you’ve guessed!)
We have decided to stage a split start enabling us to offer entries to a further 24 athletes. The entries will be available via the website at 22:59hrs tonight Friday 12th October 2007. The entries will be live for approximately 1 hour.
So that was it – fate was on my side surely. I was meant to do this race. I rang Steve telling him that I was off to Newcastle but wanted to do the race and he told me he would keep one place back until Monday to give me time to enter online when I got back late Sunday. I drove upto Newcastle that night pleased with the way things had just fell into place, but also thinking – #@?#, how do I tell Alison? Ben – his exams?
So on that Friday night when I checked in I asked if they had internet access. They did, it was an old PC on a desk in reception which also had a coffee machine and served as a taxi rank. It was £5 for 30 minutes minimum – so even though I needed a decent nights sleep after driving upto Newcastle, at 23:55 I paid my £5 and logged on to register on ActiveEvents. I was sat there signing up for a major endurance challenge surrounded by a couple of 'working ladies', a group of p’d up Scouse lads waiting for a taxi into the centre of Newcastle and two mates of the girl on reception. When the site told me my entry had been accepted I felt like jumping in the air – instead I switched off, got a coffee and went to get my stuff ready for the course the next day.
That was it – I was in! Er, explain that one then!
When I got home and checked, all the places had gone – 48 athletes signed up for the longest triathlon ever in the UK. I decided I had better not tell anybody for a while and needed to consider my plan of action to Alison.
Of course, I posted a couple of posts on TriTalk forum about signing up and before I know it my son, Ben, comes home from school one day in November and says
“Mr Wilby tells me you are doing a Double Ironman”
– Mr Wilby was one of his PE teachers (and just happens to be on TriTalk).
I realised that I had to tell Alison – and make every effort to fit the training in around the family. So I told her I was “thinking” of doing this Double IM race and started planning my training around late night Friday and all day Saturday sessions. I promised her that the list of DIY jobs - that was getting longer by the day - would be my priority after the race.
In fact my favourite saying for the last 9 months has been “After the Double……….”
We got through Christmas and the training was starting to ramp up – then on February 13th a bit of a disaster struck – life was truly put into perspective when Ben was knocked off his scooter by a d'head who went through a red light and he ended up in hospital and subsequently on crutches with knee ligament damage.
When we got the knock at the door to say he’d been knocked off me and Alison rushed to the junction where it happened in the car and just saw flashing blue lights in the distance – my heart was in my mouth. When we got there he was pretty hurt and p’d off. We went to hospital and were there all night waiting for x-rays, etc. I sat there thinking “What if?” and all the other things that flash through your head at times like this. The furthest thing from my mind was the Double for the next few weeks.
I felt selfish and all of a sudden had a bit of a guilt complex about signing up for the race – it wasn’t about the money or the weekend itself – it was about the amount of hours of training that it was going to take to get me round in a decent time – and if I couldn’t do a decent time then it wasn’t worth doing.
So here we were at the beginning of February and I was signed up to do IM Lanza on May 24th and Double IM on Aug 2nd. I decided that I needed to drastically consider how my training was going to fit in. I made it so that i did my normal shorter sessions during the week but that every Friday night would be my “ultra” session (4-5 hour bike follwed by 20 mile run or 30-40 mile run only). This way I could get to bed Sat by 4-5am then get up at dinner time and spend the Saturday afternoon/evening with the family (as a zombie!).
Then I would do a 2-3- hour run Sunday morning.
My biggest decision though was around my guilt around time with Ben as a couple of times he had commented that “I was never there – I was always out training for that race”.
So over the Easter weekend I had a real decision to make – carry on with the training and try to make the most of it or decide that the training was taking too much of a toll on us and just do IM Lanza.
I decided to sit down with Ben and have a real heart to heart with him, so in true dad-son style off we went to the pub for a shandy (couple of Magners actually) and I asked him how he really felt about the race, my training and the things he had said.
What came out was the fact that he loved the fact that I do such daft races, he likes the fact that his mates see his dad as “mad”, but obviously he is going through physiological/emotional changes that require me to be more “just there when I need you”.
This resulted in me thinking about things for a day and then making the best decision i believe I could around the race – I asked him if he would organise my support crew. Alison and the kids have always helped out; sometimes club mates have assisted and had offered to do so at the Double.
But I made the decision to put all my faith in Ben to make him see that I trusted him to make the right decisions/choices and also to make him feel part of the race - and success when I finished!
He didn’t really respond at the time and after a couple of days I thought that was it – no chance! I had started to think about other options to make things better between us.
Then one night about a week later he came in about 10pm when I was in the kitchen and said “Jim and Danny said they’ll do the race”.
I looked at him?
“They’ll be your support for the race”.
He had gone off and asked his two best mates if they wanted to come and help him support me. They had said yes and so my crew was formed – fantastic. I couldn’t believe how good it made me feel that all of a sudden he was actually looking forward to the race and all the planning that it needed, etc.
So that was it – he started asking me how my training was going and making lists, etc.
Three weekends before the race we stayed in one Saturday night when Alison went out and finalised our list of kit, etc. The next day Jim and Danny came around and I showed them how to measure the drinks and open the gels, powders I needed, etc.
Over the following week we got the tent sorted, bought a new gazebo and before you could say “GCSE RESULTS” we were set! I booked a family room at the race hotel for the Friday and made the decision to let all three come with me on the Friday – with Alsion and Bella coming on the Saturday morning.
Would I regret it?
Would they keep me awake or would they be trusted - time would tell!
On Friday I had told the lads to arrive at our house for 12 noon and we would leave around 1pm. At 9:30am there was knock at the door and it was Danny, soon followed by Jim – god, they were keen!
We spent the next couple of hours getting all my race kit into the car (Alison was bringing all the camping type gear and Lance next day in a hire van). They counted in the number of bike tops, running shorts, socks, etc I needed with the care of a father!
At about 2pm we were off – with everything that I could possibly need (and tons of stuff I wouldn’t) packed into the car. With the usual Friday afternoon woes on the M6 we arrived at the hotel at about 17:30 and it made me laugh as checked in and the guy behind the desk looked at me (5’6”), Ben and Jim (5’11”) and Danny (6’2”) and said “family room – 1 adult, 3 children?” – Er, yes, that's right!.
So they unloaded the bike from the car and brought all of my kit upto the room. We went over to Esporta for me to register and then back to the hotel where they left me to it for an hour. I was getting nervous now but managed to lie down and have an hour shut eye. At 18:40 they came upto the room and said it was time to go across to the pre-race briefing. I didn’t think they would want to come in but they were dead keen – they didn’t want to miss anything important!
At the briefing everybody was there – the hard floor wasn’t too comfortable but the atmosphere was good and Steve and Eddie were really welcoming and accommodating - It was obvious from the off that they cared that every athlete got as much out of the race as possible. (I believe it was TC who was last into the briefing – setting a standard that he kept up getting into the pool the next day!).
That was when it suddenly dawned upon me what a real personal race this was – what a journey I had come along in the previous 9 months – and each and every athlete here would have a similar fantastic tale to tell.
Ben took some pictures and then we needed to get something to eat. My choice was something in Esporta but the look on the lads faces when faced with a menu of Asparagus salad, Bean Cassouilet, etc, was a picture. Surely I wasn’t going to make them eat that – what about a pizza?
So we jumped in the car and drove into Lichfield, parked up and looked for a Pizza Hut. There isn’t one, there was nothing really suitable – it was all restaurants with wine glasses on the table – not their style!
But there was a Dominos so in we went – I ordered a "Super Duper Extra Large Massive Pizza, chicken wings, Garlic Bread, Coke" type meal for them and a large Tuna, Pineapple and Onion pizza for me. 20 mins later we were winging our way back to the hotel where we eat our Pizza in the room watching some crap on TV.
By now it was 10pm. I told them I needed an hour to do some final sorting now that we knew all of the race day procedures, etc so they could disappear and come back at 11pm. They had not moaned once when I told them that they would be having an early night (they usually spend Friday nights staying at one or others house watching DVD’s and playing on the X-box until 2/3am in the morning).
When they had disappeared I did all of my final kit checks. I had decided to use two big plastic boxes – one for the bike and one for the run. I put in each box what I thought I would need throughout the day/night and put the rest in a holdall that I would leave in the car as emergency spares. I rang Ben at 10:45pm to tell him I had nearly finished so they could come back when they were ready.
“Where are you” says me.
“In the bar watching TV” says Ben “having a pint of Stella!” – Priceless!
They came upto the room and never complained once as they got into bed (with two double beds there were all the usual teenage jokes and they did all the expected things that they do, but I was organised and ready so I ignoered it and put my ipod on to go to sleep).
I told them I was getting up at 5:30am so they all set their phones for 5:25am (though they did suggest that as breakfast was being served from 3:30am they could get up and have a breakfast then and go back to bed and have another one at 6am).
At 5:25am there were bells ringing in my ears – due mainly to the four mobile phone alarms going off at about the same time. Surprisingly, Ben jumped up out of bed and went in the bathroom and got a shower – we can hardly get him out of bed before dinnertime at home now his exams are over.
I had had some t-shirts made for them. I had managed to gain sponsorship for charity by my company – The Cooperative, so I gave each of them a t-shirt to wear over the weekend (the charities - bowelcanceruk, Action Duchenne, and Little Hearts Matter. See http://www.justgiving.com/lifeandsavings).
By 6am we were all ready so off downstairs we went to get some breakfast. Being big lads they basically demolished the breakfast bar between them with about 5 croissants and a few yoghurts each. I’m not sure that their 4 or 5 glasses of fruit juice were going to be the best idea as the day wore on though.
We finished breakfast, took all the kit out to the car where it was raining. The day did not look to be starting well and the thought of cycling all day in the rain did not really appeal to me.
Off we went to the Friary Grange and as we parked up the rain eased off – maybe it wasn’t going to be such a bad day after all. Watching all of the other entrants getting their kit out of the cars and ready made me realise what a varied bunch were doing the race. Hanno had spreadsheets of food and times all over the place, others looked like they were attempting a local sprint. Some carried a box and bike from the car park (TC), others carried the kitchen sink. I took my bike around to the tennis courts to check in and Eddie was there checking helmets, bikes and lights. He was friendly, supportive and encouraging to everybody and it was funny to see so few bikes lined up for such a race.
Once the bike was checked in the team got on with putting up the gazebo and a small tent and carting around the rest of my gear. I wandered around watching others getting ready, taking in a bit of the feeling and vibes coming from everybody – so good to feel part of such a unique and new event.
I wandered in to the pool to watch the first wave swimming and could feel the heat off the water. Eve though the water itself did not feel that warm, the generated heat in the pool was quite high. I chatted to a couple of supporters watching who told me that people were suffering a bit in their wetsuits and some had taken them off – others were just drinking lots of fluids. I watched for about 15 minutes and had a real feeling of excitement building inside – even though I am not big on swimming I could see that there were many swimming that were starting to suffer after 5k – and knew that I had covered 5k x 3, 6k x 2 and 7k x 2 in training in a wetsuit. I had no choice anyway because without a wetsuit I would take a lot longer as my training had showed. Just needed to make sure that I took in plenty of fluids.
I went outside and as I was walking through to the car park the Reverend came out of transition on his bike. I managed to get a picture of him going past as he shouted “Yes, Reverend Graham does it again!” – sympathies go to him for his bad luck later in the race.
I walked around to where my team had put up the gazebo, had a chat with the relay team and how they were to break things down, drank a 500ml bottle of High5 4:1 and lay down with my ipod on for 30 mins listening to Black Stone Cherry.
I just pictured myself going at a pace that allowed me to finish inside 30 hours.
Swim – 3 hrs
Bike – 15 hrs
Run – 12 hours
At 9:30 my watch beeped and I got up feeling strangely relaxed. 2 mins later my phone rang – it was Alison and Bella – they had just arrived in the car park. I got up and started to walk around to the pool entrance and met them on the way. It was nice to see them, especially as they had Lance, my main training partner (fittest dog in Cheshire!) with them. I gave Lance a bit of a fuss (more than the Mrs) and went poolside to get ready for the off. They found seats at the top end of the pool and I put my ‘modified’ wetsuit on (I had cut the arms to ¾ length on my old Speedo – I had already wrecked an Orca wetsuit cutting too much off so that water came in like a sinking ship). I walked down to the end of the pool at 9:59 – not sure which lane I was in and asked one of the counters. I jumped into lane 5 as Steve announced 30 seconds to go. But wait, there were only 3 of us. I introduced myself to the others and we were just working out who was missing as TC entered the pool putting on his wetsuit. The others said I could go first (#@?#! - Thanks guys!!) and seconds later we were off.
For the first 50 lengths I pushed on feeling slightly under pressure because of the occasional hand hitting my foot – but no double taps. At 50 lengths I stopped to drink some fluid (I had decided to stop every 50 from the off). This allowed the others to pass and take a bit of the intensity out. But then a couple of the others stopped and before you knew it was in front again with pressure to keep the intensity slightly higher than I was used to. At 70 lengths I stopped to fix my goggles and have a drink. I started to feel a bit warm but was okay. Off I went again and we started to fall into a sequence where every few lengths somebody would stop and you would carry on, to stop yourself 10 lengths later.
At about 120 lengths I suddenly started to feel a bit sick – I had swallowed quite a bit of water and it was definitely more chlorinated than pool I normally use. As I reached the far end I felt a bit of bile in my stomach and hung onto the wall. Next thing I just felt myself being sick and it shot out like a fountain but I managed to do it in the channel around the edge of the pool. I felt a bit of panic as I hadn’t yet got to halfway. The others lapped me twice whilst I clung there until I felt okay again. I set off and was okay for another 50 or so length until all of a sudden, mid-stroke I turned to the right to breath and more shot out. I was getting worried and definitely felt I was slowing down. I go to the end – drank a lot of water only and tried to steady the ship. With 50 lengths to go I stopped, had a Blackcurrant PowerGel and water and carried on. Fortunately I recovered okay and with about 10 lengths to go saw a couple in my lane getting out, then the red float appeared in the water telling me I had 2 lengths to go! What a feeling. Swam up the pool, floated on my back to the end and climbed out of the pool.
I was off out the pool door before I realised I didn’t have my bike kit bag! So I turned round and came back in. The guys helped me off with my wetsuit and passed me my bag. I ran out of the pool to be met by Steve who ran with me upto T1 asking me was I okay and encouraging – as he had with each athlete.
I jumped into the changing tent in T1 and put my bike kit on making sure I applied half a tub of Vaseline! – it was going to be a long day in the saddle. I drank about 250mlof water, took my bike from the rack and walked to the mount line.
That was the worst bit of the race out of the way – yahoo!
Swim = 2:49
Out on the bike I waved to my crew, left the car park and settled in for a long day. I had ridden the course the previous week and knew that it was easier out than back but knowing it felt relatively flat. However, the “flat” hill coming back upto the leisure got less flat by laps 10+.
The first couple of laps were pretty easy – apart from giving TC a shock (unintentionally). We were together on the bike at about 4 miles and the next thing he was nowhere insight. It was a coupe of laps later when he passed me telling me I had him worried for a second “but only a second mind”. He pushed on riding the yellow peril and the next few laps were just out and back maintaining steady pace. Obviously from where I was it was a case of Towel, Hanno, Gary Foord, etc pushing on and passing on the opposite side of the road. Apart from the occasional nod to each other it was just a case of getting through the first 100 miles for most and then seeing how things stood. I had done a couple of 300k rides (10 hours plus) in training and knew I would get off the bike okay.
My one bad moment was as I came into the turn around at the end of the first lap expecting to see my crew with my drink. I couldn’t see them anywhere – looked over to the gazebo and saw them sat laughing and chatting. I shouted over to them. When they looked I gave them a load of verbals and shot out again shaking my head – disappointed. 30 seconds later my phone rang – it was Ben asking what was up. I said that they had let me down as they weren’t ready. He said that I had told them each lap would take me just under an hour – I looked at my watch – it said 45 mins! I realised I had been too hard on him, apologised and just said that I didn’t know how long each lap would now take so work on 45-50 mins. To be honest, I felt I had been a bit of a git to him and it was the only thing they did wrong (and it wasn’t even their fault) all weekend.
My only concern was my nutrition at 2am. In the Grand Union Canal Race that I have done twice my main problem has been that at 2am my body shut down, I couldn’t get any energy in, I ended up shuffling and didn’t pick back up until 5/6am in the morning. For the Double I had specifically tried working on my body clock. I had done loads of sessions where I ran 30/40 miles at midnight, etc to get used to eating then. I had yet to see how much this training had benefited me. I would find out later.
The afternoon and evening on the bike was a bit surreal – big wedding at the church in Yoxall (Bentley with plate HRHII), passing athletes sat at the side of the road looking into space and one case about 5pm of a guy going past (not in the race) on his bike saying “Come on then – try harder” as he rode into the distance.
During the afternoon Brett and Sarah from my club came from Warrington to offer support and shout words of encouragement as they drank beer outside the Hedgehog. Thanks for coming down guys.
Also, later on that evening I got a nice surprise as I pulled into the Friary as I saw my sister-in- law, Jane, and her mum, Jean - who had come over to see me - really appreciate it. Jane came to the Grand Union so knew what to expect but I think Jean was a bit shocked by it all.
At about 9pm Eddie told each of us as we came into the turn around to put high viz vests and lights on. Off I went with about 7 laps to go and feeling okay. I was alternating Accel Gels with High5 Gels all day – one every 20-25 mins and upto that point it all felt okay.
As it got darker and quieter on the roads it got harder to see and I ended up just riding the white line in the middle of the road until headlights appeared in the distance. There was the occasional boy racer flying past at 80 mph but it was okay. At about 11pm as I went through Kings Bromley the pelican went red and some kid walked across the road with a group sat on the side of the road – “Sorry mate” he said with a laugh.
After turning and coming back they were still there and they did the same again. This time I rode through the red light nearly knocking him out of the way making some comment about the use of his right hand!
When I got back I jumped off the bike and went in to get changed into a fresh top. Steve asked me was I okay and looked me in the eye. He asked was I dizzy and made sure I was alright. Mrs EUK told me that a couple of people had been struggling and wobbling. I felt fine. This time I had a bowl of pasta and a cup of coffee that the crew had prepared.
20 mins later I left for my last stint on the bike – 4 laps to go. Needless to say the lads took great pleasure in telling me that Towel was already out on the run “miles ahead of everybody, and looking like a robot”.
"Great News! Thanks for that guys”.
Alison told me she was going to get her head down in the tent until the lads woke her up when I was 10 mins away. The next 4 laps went by quite quick really and although my left knee was starting to ached I was managing to keep the gels down and carried on downing them right until I got back to T2 at the end off 224 lovely miles on the bike – 40 mins inside my predicted bike time.
Bike = 14:20
Ben met me, took my bike off me and the lads shouted words of encouragement to me as I disappeared into the changing marquee to get my box. I walked over to our gazebo and emptied all my running kit out on the floor. Even though I wasn’t in a rush I felt much better than I expected and was ready to get out there and eat the 52 miles up as quickly as I could.
I had originally been planning on eating porridge at this point and walking for 20 mins but I felt that good that I told them to hold the porridge. I changed into warm gear, put on my head torch and went out on my first lap. I think I took 18 mins for that lap running easy and I decided to stick with the Energysource drink only until I had my porridge which ended up being at 9am. I felt that good running that I told the crew to have it ready when I hit halfway – but when I sat down it was not quite ready so I got up and did another 2 laps – I came into the athlete’s village with 20 laps of the run to go. I had my porridge, a 20 mins break and got changed into a vest.
At 9:23 I went back out n the run with 23 miles left to run feeling pretty pleased with how things were going. I was averaging about 13 mins a lap and knew that if I kept this up I would easily beat my predicted time. I had been considering from the off doing a 13 mins run/2 min walk. The way the laps fell I instead decided to run all the way to the turn around point and across the grass just after. When I hit the pavement I would stop and walk for exactly 90 secs whilst I either downed a gel or 300 ml of EnergySource (alternated them each lap with every 5th lap an AccelGel).
Out on the run I saw Towel coming the other way as I was leaving the turnaround a couple of times and Daz passed me a couple of times – both looked really focussed but Towel looked on another planet. The most impressive for me on the run was obviously Neil Kapoor who must have gone past me 5 or 6 times at least – flying.
I felt like I was running really strong and everything just felt so right – I was passing people and people were really saying encouraging things as I passed them. I chatted to Dave Clamp about his triple the week before and also nodded to Tony Fisher every time I saw him (lots of respect for Tony and what he has done).
I can’t put a face to most people but I said hello to everybody I could. I can now put faces to most – I think. Saw TC a few times on the run and at one point he said he thought I was about the same number of laps as him – but I knew I was 4 or 5 behind.
As I came through each time the lads had my gel or bottles ready and this really helped me keep my pace up. They worked tirelessly and put in a real effort – apparently fuelled overnight by about 15 cans of Red Bull each. When Steve told people to help themselves to Red Bull – they didn’t want to let him down.
My support crew had been great upto now and on top of this my mum, dad and sister were due to arrive. My mum has never been to any race I have ever done before (she had a stroke and then had a brain tumour removed a few years ago). My sister came to watch me finish the Grand Union last year and couldn’t believe how it made her feel so she was keen to come.
My dad came out to Lanzarote to watch me and has not stopped talking about the whole race since. I knew they were going to arrive and felt great - going well and really positive.
With 10 laps to go, as I was running up the road after leaving the woods I heard a car horn – looked to my left and it was my sister. I waved and dug in. When I got to the turn around Alison told me my mum and dad had rang but they were lost! I went back out saying she had better ring and tell them that if they didn’t get here soon they would miss me finishing.
Next time round my sister was there – I stopped, gave here a big hug and went out with 9 to go. Each time I came round the turn around Trev would shout out my name and pass some comment about how well I was going or how good I looked (naturally!). Steve and/or Eddie were also there each time giving everybody words of encouragement each time they came round.
Next time round as I came in I saw my mum and dad. Felt so good, especially with mum there and I stopped gave them both a big hug and shot out with 8 laps to go. Believe it or not, my timings for the next lap show I did it in 9 mins – talk about being motivated.
I worked throughout he next 8 laps efficiently, my crew working away and the cadets on the feed station being fantastic each time also. As I went through the far turn around each time I shouted out my number.
With 2 to go I went through with a real positive feeling and decided to run the rest of the way. As I passed Dave clamp (with his previous triple in his legs) he smiled and said “You’ve got finishing fever”. I felt I was running 10k pace. Last time through the feed station, I took off my fuel belt and hat and headed out for one last time – checking with Trev that this was indeed my last lap – he told me they would confirm it at the far end. Strangely, even though I felt fantastic that I was finishing – I felt somewhat disappointed it was all going to be coming to an end!
I ran through the far turn around and said thanks to the counters. I checked with them that I had finished and they said I had and they would ring through. Bingo.
I ran back to the finish feeling elated, disappointed, exhilarated, exhausted and basically pretty pleased with myself – all at the same time.
I entered the gate and came around the corner. I heard Trev say something about No.42 – Brian New being a Double Ironman and saw Steve and my family under the finish ahead.
I ran down the finish high-fiving everybody that was there and crossed the line with the biggest smile ever on my face – 27:14 – f‘kinel!
Steve shook my hand and said something nice about it being an honour, etc. I told him what a great race it was and to be honest – I felt a few tears as I hugged my son before I hugged anybody else – I wanted him to realise his part he had played and what it meant to me.
I told him and his mates that without them I could not have gone anywhere near as quick, and I meant it.
I hugged everybody and gave Lance and then the wife a kiss!
Run = 9:51
As we were stood there somebody tapped me on the shoulder – it was one of my clubmates – Will, with his partner Hazel. They had come over from the relays at Nottingham expecting to see me finish around 4pm. I laughed and apologised for being too quick – offering to go out and run another lap just for them. I appreciate them making the effort though.
We walked over to our gazebo and I sat down – elated. I had a cup of soup and some biscuits. My dad, being the proud dad, went over and “mithered” Trev to find out where I had come. When he came back and told me I had finished 6th I couldn’t believe him. I had thought that top 10 may achievable but 6th – Wow.
I can honestly say it was my best race at IM+ distance.
Firstly I enjoyed most of it, most things went right - but most of all I had a positive vibe about it all the way because of the feeling I had about my relationship with Ben, etc.
I had an hours sleep, went and showered and then took everybody over to The Hedgehog for tea. I ordered a meal but could only eat 1/3 of it – I had a milky coffee instead.
When we returned back to the finish at 9pm, there was only Paul left to finish. He was just going out with 4 laps left. Everybody decided they wanted to stay to cheer him through so I slept another hour in the car and Alison eventually woke me just as he came around the corner. We lined up, Steve turned the music up and we high-fived him as he crossed the line. I knew exactly what he meant when he told Steve it was all surreal.
The kids helped him pack his bike and kit into the car and he drove off to his hotel about 10:15pm.
We jumped in our cars and drove home to Warrington - me driving one car beaming, with a crew of three asleep inside - Alison, Bella and Lance in the van driving behind me to make sure I didn’t fall asleep.
Not much chance of that – I was on such a high!
We had the next day off work and stayed in bed - am now back in work and it is as if it was a week ago.
Just a few final thoughts really.
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