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Pegasus IMUK Race Report
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Joined: 24 Apr 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 6:08 pm    Post subject: Pegasus IMUK Race Report Reply with quote

I'm afraid this is really long! I can do two page race reports for a sprint... so you might want to make yourselfs a cup of tea! This report has been written for non tri people too... so I've written some stuff that's probably obvious to you lot!

Ironman UK Race Report

Ironman was always a distant dream to me. I watched ‘YouTube’ videos and read race reports about Ironman races from around the world which brought tears to my eyes, I could see and feel how much competing in and finishing these races meant to people and it stirred up deep emotions inside of me. I wanted to experience that too, but the distances were crazy. 2.4mile swim, 112mile bike and a marathon 26.2miles run to finish within 17hrs. It was something I’d do ‘one day’ although the thought of giving the recommended minimum of 8 months of my life to training I have to admit always left me cold.

I’ve been what I like to call a ‘summer triathlete’ for the last 2-3 years. Competing in nothing much longer than sprint distance triathlons. Basically this meant that my month off after the London Triathlon Sprint each year would turn into 8 months, before a panic in April where I realized I only had 8 weeks to prepare for the first tri of the season. Training this way would typically give me mid pack performances in the mass appeal events. Namely the Blenheim and London triathlons. I was happy enough though and enjoyed them racing against my mate (who always beat me) and against myself.

This year was no exception. I had trained hard for London Sprint in 2006 (for 3 months) achieving a PB for the course of 1hr 26. Happy, I signed up for Blenheim and London again the next year. Promising myself I’d train through the winter to do myself proud for the next year. As I should have predicted, it never happened and I went into hibernation! Doing no more exercise than a handful of slow short runs with someone training for the race for life fun 5km. By March I had put on almost 2 stone in weight and my main worry was how bad I was going to look in my one piece lycra tri suit! I’m not sure what happened this year. But the normal motivational kick that comes from… well… fear basically… never happened. And I found myself going into Blenheim triathlon having done no more than one 20km bike ride and one 750m swim since August the year before. I had managed to lose a stone by that point but was in terrible shape and I knew it. But I wanted to do it anyway… It would be fun!

And it was! However – obviously my endurance was non existent. I got through the swim ok. The bike was reasonable… 44 mins… but it had taken everything out of me on that hilly bike course. I fell apart on the run taking 38 mins to complete the 5km! I’d normally expect around 26mins. Everything hurt. I was a mess. But I had at least completed it. This was 3rd June 2007. about 10 weeks from the Ironman UK start… but at this stage I didn’t even know what date IM UK was that year… let alone having any intention at all of entering. (Obviously! It was less than 3 months away!)

However, my shocking performance at Blenheim had at least reminded me why I love tri, I had also made a new triathlon friend who had beaten me by 24mins at Blenheim and also happened to be a girl! I couldn’t let myself be humiliated like that again! I launched myself with new vigor into training for London sprint. I spent 2 weeks training reasonably hard for it. You know… maybe 2 or 3 hrs a week. Wink It was now about 7 weeks away from IM UK and I was still finding 20km on a bike a challenge, a 1000m swim would be about as much as I could handle and a 5km was still a run/walk affair. But I only had to do one more sprint tri that year. My training would see me though that no problem.

Then came the fateful day. 25th June 2007. Less than 7 weeks from IM. The new tri friend (who shall remain nameless!) who planned to race it and who had been training properly for many many months told me that apparently there were still spaces available and I should sign up! “Looooaddddsss of time!” She told me! It was meant as a joke… and I knew it. But something inside me clicked… I wanted to do it! Yes, I know you need a year to prepare. I know that you need months of base work before building up to the distances and I also knew I had no chance of being able to finish it. But ohhhhh did I want to try!!! I wanted to try so much that after spending almost 2 hrs looking at my completed entry form… I finally sent it! 3 days later I was told my entry had been accepted and I was in. I had less than 7 weeks to get ready. What had I done?! You CAN’T train for an Ironman in 7 weeks. 7 months maybe, but not 7 weeks. It’s not possible.

I quickly worked out a training plan. It looked really scary! But I had to build distances… and fast! That night I went out and did a 40km bike, which hurt. The next day a 2500m swim… which surprised me by actually being not as tough as I thought it would be! By the end of the week a 60km bike ride was under my belt. I knew that I had to take the running a bit more carefully as I have always been plagued with knee problems and didn’t want to aggravate that. But I was building distances slowly and carefully here too.
I’m afraid the ‘no more than 10% increase in milage per week’ rule was completely ignored. I was doubling, even tripling mileages on a week by week basis! My training hours per week had gone something like 0hrs, 2 hrs, 2 hrs, 8 hrs, 10 hrs 12hrs… you get the idea! Amazingly my body was soaking up these massive increases, seemingly without argument… I was always waiting for an injury to hit.. for exhaustion, whatever! But it never came. Less than a month after starting, I was doing big enough distances in the pool and on the bike with high enough average speeds that left me confident I would at least get to the run well inside the cut offs. But from there on it was anyone’s guess really. Would I have enough left in the tank or in my legs for the marathon? I suppose the smart answer was no, probably not. But I was strangely confident…My peak 8 days of training, I covered 265 miles on the bike and my 3 week taper (easing down to make sure my body is fresh for the race) started 4 weeks after my training started! I was ahead of schedule!!!

In the week before the race, I went to Switzerland, arriving back late Friday evening before going off to a birthday party I had promised to attend. I got to sleep at 2.30am… and the alarm went off at 7am to get down to Register! Perfect final preparation!

The weather the day before the race was horrible. Constant rain, turning the camping field into one big muddy puddle! I prayed for it to stop and it must of worked… because it did for race day! Although the wind had picked up some what.

I was awake at 3am and surprisingly didn’t feel too nervous and I gobbled down my breakfast of champions (3 peanut butter sandwiches and a McVities Hobknob flapjack!) before getting up and heading over to Transition in the dark. It was like being herded like sheep. Baaaa! We got body marked with our numbers and then made our final checks with our bikes. A guy next to me asked to borrow my pump and then a few seconds later worriedly showed me the valve that had just broken off in his hand! “That’s sods law that is.” I said helpfully before putting on my wetsuit and lining up for the swim!

1200 competitors making their way down to the lake was an amazing sight. I could see people getting into the lake, then a queue about 4 wide coming back to where I was 50m or so back and then carrying on behind me all the way back to transition over 100m away! Incredible!

After scraping my Achilles tendon getting into the lake… great start I thought… I swam out to the swim start thinking how cold the lake was. It took a little while to get used to that and I was also surprised at just how murky the water was having been swimming in crystal clear mountain streams in Switzerland just a few days earlier! I had to tread water for quite some time waiting for everyone to get into position. I found a large lily pad floating past and decided to wear it like a hat thinking it might inspire some kind of Hawaii world championship qualification performance from me!

Anyway – after all this tomfoolery the claxon went off and the race had started! I set off nice and steady although people kept hitting me! And after maybe only 50m I received a blow to my face that knocked my goggles sideways. No big deal. It’s happened before; I emptied the water out of them and tried to carry on. But now they were leaking! After several attempts to get them to stop, I had to stop, pull the goggle strap from under the swim cap and then reposition them so they would stop leaking! By this point the water safety canonists were catching up with me! Eventually I set off and could get into a nice rhythm, mainly because I was now more or less by myself at the back! I seemed to be having trouble going in a straight line though because I soon found myself swimming though more lily’s by the bank! I got out of them and was soon catching people and after that I had a pretty uneventful swim coming out of the 2.4 mile course in about 1hr 27mins, a little slower than I had hoped… but with the goggle problems… probably about right.

Transition 1 was a bit on the slow side at 10 mins But I wanted to make sure that everything was right before heading out on a 112mile bike ride!

I needed to keep a nice easy pace on the bike I had in mind 15mph. But keeping an eye on the heart rate too. Annoyingly at the first hill I got to the chain fell off as I changed down into the small chain ring at the front… So I had to stop and sort that out getting nice oily hands for the rest of my ride! As I got to the top of Lyons Gate It was great to see my name on the banners and there were Tritalkers up there shouting my name too. They knew it was me as I had PEGASUS across my chest and bum! There were also people with punctures everywhere! I feel pretty lucky as I’ve only had one puncture in the last 3 years and that was when I rode over some glass from a car accident! On the second lap I saw my mum in the crowd at the point nearest Sherborne Castle and I later came across my friends with a large banner saying ‘Go IronMan E!!’ about 2/3rds of the way around. It was so great to see as it was just around the time that I was starting to feel tired and it gave me a real boost! 5 mins later I was thinking to myself… that’s just what I needed to get me going again and then immediately almost burst into tears! I just about caught it in time though! Emotional already?! I wasn’t even half way! As I made my way up Lyons Gate for the 3rd and last time my friends were there again. (They were popping up everywhere with their banner!) A new friend I had made on the bike joined in with their chants and I claimed not to know them! Lol I crossed the road to give them high fives and just at that moment a landrover came around the corner and we nearly collided! I had forgotten the road was only closed in one direction! Anyway, we managed to miss each other and I soldiered on! As I approached the top of the very very long hill coming up out of Dorchester I came up alongside a gentleman who shall we say was a little ‘larger’ than myself and we had a chat for a few mins before we started on the downhill. He said… ‘This is the bit where I’ll be better than you’ (I assumed he meant due to his greater gravitational pull!) And he peddled off hard down the hill. I started freewheeling knowing that it got very steep and didn’t need to put in any extra work. Shortly afterwards (not having turned the peddles once) I shot past him like he was standing still! Me in full aero tuck at 50mph and him on the brakes I think! I didn’t see him again!
Later on in the lap I saw my Dad too somewhere where I really hadn’t expected him to be so that was great to see him too. The last few miles of the bike happened to be uphill into the most soul destroying head wind you can imagine. I was going only about half the speed that I would have had expected otherwise. You really don’t need that after 100miles! Eventually though, after what seemed like forever I turned to go back down a hill to the castle. Again I whizzed off down the hill only to come up behind a car that in turn was stuck behind two other competitors on their brakes. Great driver though, he’d obviously seen me and stuck his hand out his window to wave me past. So I came up close alongside him and then in front of the two cyclists before leading them into transition 2 peddling strongly down the final straight! 112miles – 7Hrs 40 mins.

Transition 2 was another 10min slow affair as I stuck on precautionary blister pads and had a nice chat with a helpful female volunteer who bossed me about with her no nonsense approach… exactly how I like to be treated! She pointed me in the direction of the ‘run’ (I’m so glad she didn’t say marathon) and I was off! Immediately after exiting Transition there was my mother again with a handy update via text regarding my place coming off the bike! (over 1000th position I seem to remember it being!) My chances of a win were looking slim! Wink

I immediately got into my plan of 4mins running and 1 min walking. I hadn’t run any further than 9 miles in training… so I had to seriously pace myself to get through the 26 miles! The first 9 miles were in the castle grounds and there seemed to be a lot of other runners around! I started thinking about getting some more calories in and tried a carbohydrate gel which I had been using all the way through the bike. As soon as I ate it, I wanted to puke! I thought… right, I can’t eat them, I’ll have to go to backup plan B. Unfortunately there was no back up plan B so I had to test one… Race day being the ideal time for testing! I’d read that a lot of people find flat coke great for the run. So picked some up at the next aid station. It seemed to go down quite well. So I decided to stick with that. So I got through the 9 miles ok, the legs even felt pretty good. I could feel my small toes rubbing though… and wondered if it was going to cause me problems later… I exited the castle grounds around the 9 mile mark and headed out to do two loops of the duel carriageway still feeling quite strong. As I was heading through Sherborne the legs all of a sudden started to feel really tired. It was almost like they were saying. If you keep going at this pace… we’re going to resign! I thought… Ok, You need to look after them, and I started to walk. The problem was the toes that had been rubbing were also getting pretty painful. In fact when I tried to run again it was sort of giving me pins and needles personified in the ball of my foot making it really painful to run on. I did keep running on the down hills though mostly on my heals which must of looked odd! My lowest point of the whole race was on this first lap of the Duel carriageway. It was a hilly windy road and you couldn’t see where the turn around point was. At every brow of the hill I got to, I expected it to be the other side. But it never was! After about 45mins of running/ walking finally I got to it… and headed back again! I had to do that 4 times! The increased walking though did give me more of a chance for spectator interaction! There were about 5 or 6 people standing in a group on the edge of the duel carriageway shouting and whooping whenever I walked past. It seemed a bit silly to have such an enthusiastic cheer when I was basically strolling past! However I said. “C’mon! The pace I’m going deserves more of a cheer than that!” So they gave me an even louder cheer! I felt like a thorough bred race horse and they had all put money on me to win at 20to1! Lol This was quite near the turn around, so when I came back I broke into a little run for them as I came past to really give them something to cheer for! Which they obliged me with! Then stopped another 10m further on and looked back as if to say.. that’s enough! They all had a good laugh! So onwards I power walked, noticing that my power walk was the same speed as the guy in front of me’ stroll and the guy in front of him’ run! At the 3rd turnaround on the duel carriageway I noticed that the aid station table seemed to me like I was looking at it though a magnifying glass that I was moving it closer and further away from me as it was getting bigger and smaller in front of my eyes! That’s not great I thought! Also by this point both my arms and my face had pins and needles in them! I think I was beginning to fall apart but at least I was finally heading for home. I had about 5 miles left. There were a lot of people still on that route, mostly walking like I was and some looking in a bad way. But all with a determination on their face to keep going. I think I had that same look.

I still had half an eye on the clock and thought that maybe a sub 15hr would be possible. I couldn’t really remember how far from the duel carriageway the finish line was but was walking as fast as I could anyway. Running was almost pointless by now. It wasn’t any faster than a walk and left me in a great deal of pain! I said my goodbyes to each group of supporters as I past them for the last time (Special thanks to the lady in the Tritalk top who was sitting near the aid station at the Sherborne end turnaround. Nice to have a friendly smile waiting for you when you come back each time!) and made my way through Sherborne’s by now very dark streets to the finish. It had become apparent that I wasn’t going to make 15 hrs and to be honest I was still waiting for the wheels to come off at any moment although the legs still seemed to be going quite well. Even if my feet weren’t co-operating! By now I was very very focused and had a steely gaze on my face! I had to stop and pee twice in the last 3 miles though, the last one more to make sure that I wouldn’t cross the line and run straight into a toilet! The guys at the gate were great he ran up to me shouting encouragement… telling me I only had 400m to go and walking alongside me telling me I was going to be an Ironman! I STILL wasn’t sure whether to believe him! But by now I could even hear the music at the finish! I kept on going though and about 200m from the finish line someone came running past me and the marshals were telling me to catch them up! But no, I wanted them to have their moment across the line, and then I would get mine! I was 100m away when they crossed the line and had a big smile on my face thinking how great that must be for them and how I was about to get my moment too! I finally believed it! I broke into a jog down the final finishing straight arms held out lapping up the glory and the cheers! 15 Hrs 8 mins and 40 seconds. You Are An IRONMAN!

I got given my medal by an official and he had to support me as I nearly fell over backwards being somewhat unsteady on my feet by this point!

FreddieS (tritalker, friend and now Ironman!) was there with me immediately, “Welcome to the Ironman club E!” and we had a massive hug, by this point my legs were shaking uncontrollably from the emotions of the finish straight! Oh wow!!

I got myself a massage and some food etc and had some pics taken with my parents. I then stayed back to watch the last few people come home. One guy really got to me. About my age. He was already in tears before it got to the finish line. Tears were streaming down his face. I thought about him in the car on the way back the next morning and burst into tears. I think the emotions are kicking in now because when I finished I was so drained that the only emotion I really felt was relief!

So that’s it. I’ve achieved what I set out to do only 7 short weeks ago. I’m not sure I really believed it was possible back then, but as the training came together I began to believe more and more than I could in fact do it and amazingly I was right!

So coming up for 24hrs later and I’m REALLY sore and moving around very slowly and carefully! I expect it to get worse before it gets better!

It was great to see so many Tritalkers out on the course. It was really good to have some of you recognize me as I haven’t been posting for very long and it was nice to be recognized. Was pleased to see Pookie finishing so strongly at the end after we first said hello near the beginning of the run! Thanks for all the TT supporters too! Apparently it was really cold… but have to say for most of the day I wasn’t cold at all! I even took back off my extra T-shirt at the end to improve my photo finish!

Ok… maybe I should keep going with this whole training lark and see what I can do next year eh?!

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Sir Velo

Joined: 02 Feb 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 6:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great post, well worth the read and an inspiration.

Congratualtions, well done.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great read and well done ... and all on 7 weeks training ... much respect
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

great report and effort
bad back and much for being an Ironman
Can't sleep the clowns will eat me
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dr dre

Joined: 03 Jun 2003
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 6:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ncie report - and starting training 7 weeks before (with a 3 week taper) is fantastic !
Racing triathlons with both direction and magnitude
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Nick B

Joined: 23 Jun 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

an insperational read. wish i had the courage to do this.
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Joined: 14 Aug 2004
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Location: Lincolnshire, UK

PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 7:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Epic report. Well done on a great achievement.

Nick B wrote:
an insperational read. wish i had the courage to do this.

Just what I was thinking, although it seems mental instability plays an important part in these things Wink
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a great report, very moving, and on only 7 weeks training, this IronMan lark is supposed to be hard. Very well done!
".... and still stand on the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 8:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Drifting wrote:
What a great report, very moving, and on only 7 weeks training, this IronMan lark is supposed to be hard. Very well done!

Well - it was quite hard! I know I skimmed over the training weeks in that report, but make no mistake! I really beat myself up over those 4 or 5 weeks! Going from 12 miles a week to 265miles a week bike training in a little over a month isn't that easy!

I also used to do 100miles a week on a moutain bike when I was 15 -16 but that was 12 years ago now. How good is muscle memory?!

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nice one, i did give you a shout out on the run.
was fat then thin, then fat again then thin, then huge. on me way back from huge hopefully to normal.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 8:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fantastic effort Pegasus and an admirably cavalier attitude to the usual training norms.

Great write up too: what you stint on in training you more than make up for with your luxurious and profligate use of exclamation marks.
Walk like The Clash, sing like The Supremes...
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2007 12:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great stuff, E! You brought back so much stuff that I'd forgotten already, so thank you for that! Superb effort! Wink Cool
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2007 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hey, you are bonkers! I cant believe you entered with so little training time. Well done, you did brilliantly.

I think the lady in the TT top was me. I am glad i could help cheer you on. You were making the crowd at the turn around laugh Smile

Who knows what you could do with some training!

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 12:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well done E - that's one crazy ramp-up of training! It is a lark, and it can be dead fun and easy!

All my emotion that was hidden from last year seems to have reappeared.

Congrats on being an Ironman!

B Cool
Focus on easy, because if that's all you get, that ain't so bad. - Caballo Blanco
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. - Native American proverb
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One guy really got to me. About my age. He was already in tears before it got to the finish line. Tears were streaming down his face. I thought about him in the car on the way back the next morning and burst into tears

That just had me choking them back!
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