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Another (very) long Norseman report
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mrchopsaloty




Joined: 06 Sep 2005
Posts: 5313
Location: Guildford - Surrey

PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 3:50 pm    Post subject: Another (very) long Norseman report Reply with quote

Made it through security at Stanstead at silly-o-clock Thursday morning with a kilo or more of white powder (Maltodextrin) in clear plastic bags. Got to Eidfjord, the start town, late that evening after a long drive and no proper stops. Went for a swim as not been open water for a week and worried about water temp. Freezing! Barely able to stay in the water more than a few seconds, unable to breathe out properly with face in water and bi-lateral breathing was completely out. Got some much needed sleep on the sports hall floor where they have a tri-camp.

Friday, went for swim with couple british guys got chatting to at the tri-camp. They wore shorts only and I forgot to take my goggles so waited for one of them to finish and then joined the other one. Still freezing but bit better, I lasted more than a few minutes. Breathing still not good. I was only breathing out propely once I'd turned my face out of the water so it was slow, doubly so as bi-lateral was still too much of a push.

After swim put bike back together but found a gear cable had frayed. Major pain to sort and took ages. But got gears working again and a quick test ride was fine and the bike felt good (not ridden it since late last year). Race briefing Friday afternoon. A few weeks before the race there had been a warning that due to unstable rocks on the first climb, the bike course might have to follow the new road up the first mountain. This would involve several long tunnels open to motor traffic, lights would be needed and fumes could be nasty. Luckily the old road was passed as safe so it was buisness as usual. With that confirmed Jo drove me up the first climb so I could figure out the best place to grab a first drink. We picked a spot where the old and new roads were close together and there was plenty of parking space. Also saw two amazing waterfalls. Big dollop of pasta Friday night and to bed quite late; mixing up enough drink and homemade gels for such a long race takes a while, final plans with Jo for places to grab food drink etc etc. Simply couldn't sleep. Was never going to be a good nights sleep, but just a bit would have been nice.

Saturday morning and people in the tri-camp started getting ready at 2am. As I'd given up trying to get to sleep by then I also started final preperations. Jo was sound asleep but couldn't let her lie in too much as only the first 100ish support crew would be able to join the racers on the ferry. Got set up in transition and got Jo in the que for the ferry before getting on myself. Went onto the deck and had a quick count, she was around 75th so looking good. She did make it on. Due to my ankle not being 100% I'd decided not to jump from the deck but to take the "chicken door". It would prob have been fine but wasn't worth the risk and I had done the jump last year. I slid into the water and was very surprised to feel that it was much warmer than it had been in Eidfjord the two previous days. It was pretty choppy though. I looked up at the deck and thought I saw Jo. I shouted out a few times and got her attention, she took a photo but sadly it didn't come out. I swam to the "start line" and positioned myself close to the shore so I wouldn't have to work against the strongest of the currents further out.

The ferry horn started us off and the choppy conditions made it hard work. I rarely get the chance to swim in the sea so have little experience with rough conditions. I swallowed quite a lot of water but was carrying on ok regardless. It calmed down as we progressed and I started to catch people slowly. There were alot of jellyfish, mostly a fair way under the surface but a few very close. I had a few near misses and then a direct hit. It stung me quite badly on the throat and I panicked a little envisaging my throat closing up as I was still a km or more from the swim finish. Was this the end of my race? I carried on trying to stay possitive but the pain of the sting made it hard to forget. After what felt like ages I spotted a bonfire on the shore ahead and the boat with a light on it that we had to swim round before turning left and following the shoreline for 700ish metres to the swim exit. The water close to Eidfjord was notably colder than further out in the fjord but by this time I was warmed up and had a good breathing rhythm so it wasn't a problem. As I swam alongside the pier I heard a voice shout my name which was great and gave me a littel boost for the final little bit. I exited the water and after a less than gracefull stumble, made my way to transition. I was grabbed shortly after exiting the water by two crew members who checked my number for the swim time.

I managed to run past Jo and my bike but didn't loose much time and in traditional Norseman fashion simply stripped off in transition and was quickly out of wetsuit and thermal vest. I pulled on my trisuit and then sat down to pull on my knee high compression socks. Although still dusky, I put on sunglasses and then my aero helmet and started to run the wrong way out of T1. Jo pointed me in the right direction and off I ran pushing my bike. At the mount line I heard my name again, thanks again for the support.

Jo had said I was 13th out of the water and my time was a little over an hour, both good improvements on last year. This was at least partly due to the tide being weaker but also I have improved my swimming, clocking just under an hour for race distance in the lake. The first few km of the bike are fairly flat. I settled down onto the aero bars and set a reasonable pace. I soon had other competitors in my sights and it wasn't long before I overtook the first. 12th place! If I could finish the bike in 12th I'd be over the moon as I would expect the run to be my strongest discipline provided my ankle held up.

The road slowly started to climb now. Still very gentle at this point and I remained on the aero bars. The route passes through the first tunnel on the new/ main road and then crosses onto the old road just before the long second tunnel. The old road is, well, old. The surface is pretty poor and although the tunnels here are shorter than on the new road, they are unlit. Although punctures are a particular worry here, it is great to only have other competitors on the road, with the support crew following the new road. It is not long before the gradient kicks up and I catch another racer. I have to come off the aero bars now and maintain a fast but, hopefully, sustainable pace. One more competitor caught and I'm into 10th place, feeling good and have the next in my sights. But then I am caught by someone else. Disapointing but not a problem. I gain the place back before long and then lose it again. At one point I am up to 9th, I've been passed by a handfull of people but have caught more than that. As I climb, I realise that I forgot to take a caffeine pill on the ferry. I get my phone out and call Jo but it goes to answer phone.

The place we arranged for the first re-fueling approaches. I see Jo and as I'm a few metres away shout for her to get a caffeine pill for me at the next available point. As I reach her, I slow down and grab the bottle from her. She hasn't taken the top off so I have to sqeeze it into my handlebar mounted bottle and this takes a while. I throw it to the side of the path for her to collect. The next point where the new and old roads cross is not far away so I am not too surprised that Jo hasn't made it there with my caffeine pill before me. But then she still isn't there at the next one, or the next. I figure she thought I meant at the next planned stop which is a pain because it's at Dyranut, the top of this first long climb and will take a while yet to reach.

When I do make it to the top Jo is waiting for me. She has an opened bar for me and another bottle but with the lid still on again. I remind her to take the lids off and check with her if she has put a caffeine pill in the drink. I make to start off again but Jo reminds me I need to put on more clothes for the next stage of the ride as it's at a fairly high altitude and is flat or slightly down hill so is fast and wind chill will be high. I pull on a windproof gillet and rolled down arm warmers which I will roll up on the move. I set off again, the time was still looking good and I was still feeling good.

Having chosen to use a Time Trial bike and aero wheels, it was going to save energy/time here compared to most of the other competitors who were riding less aerodynamic road bikes. I took a gulp of drink to get some caffeine into my system and realised my mistake. Concentrated caffeine is very strong and very bitter when disolved in a liquid and it tasted disgusting. It was going to hard to stomach but I had to continue to drink it as I needed the energy and the water. Before long I was sick and continued to vomit at intervals for some considerable time. Despite this, I made good time on this section and took the opportuity to coast for sections of downhill. Trying to ride 112 very hilly miles without easing off is not the best way to prepare for a very hilly marathon.

It was on this roughly 50km stretch to the half way point that my gears started to play up. It started with just a bit of rubbing on the front derailleur and then progressed so I had to held the shifter in place to keep it on the big ring. Not ideal, clearly, but not a huge problem.

I made the half way point, and the first turn, on the bike in good time. Soon after are three significant climbs in quick succession. I felt good for the first two and started to suffer a little on the third. Not too bad though and nothing to worry about too much. Gears continued to give me grief and my chain came off a couple of times. Eased up a bit on the descent of the third so I would have something left for the final climb, Imingfell, which is the steapest and at this late stage of the bike guaranteed to be tough.

Soon after taking on more drink at the bottom of the climb, I was down to my easiest gear. Except I wasn't. It just wouldn't shift into the last cog so I shouted to Jo to get the tools ready as soon as possible. Pulling over soon after I had a play with the gears but couldn't get that bottom gear. Briefly I considered quitting, it was going to be a very tough climb without the right gear. With a naughty word or two, I carried on, struggling to get going again from a standing start on a reasonably steep climb. I had to stop another couple of times on what seemed like a never ending ascent and I was losing alot of places. After what seemed like hours I made it to the top and took on some food.

The next 10k is fairly flat and fast, and then the final 30k is nearly all down hill and by far the fastest section. The headwind made the 10k far from easy going though. After battling across the plateu, the descent started. After a short straight section there is the first of two very sharp turns. With no warning signs or crash barrier, these have the potential for serious damage if you take them too fast. I'm not the best bike handler by a long way and didn't take any big risks here so was amazed to find me catching someone and even more surprised to see it was the 10th seed. Despite not being able to get the big chainring at all now, I don't think I lost any places on the rest of the descent.

I came into transition feeling ok and with just over 7hrs ride time I was still on for a reasonable time if I could manage a strong marathon. Jo said she thought I was in 31st. I was a bit gutted by this considering how well I'd been going on the bike. I was never going to hold onto the top 10 without seriously damaging my run but top 20 might not have been too much of a stretch. A quick transition was scuppered by having to run back and drop off my multitool which I left in my pocket.

I was planning on holding back a bit on the first fairly flat 25km so that I could run Zombie Hill (the first 12km of the mountain at approx 10%). The early stages of the run were ok and I was soon making up places. I kept an eye on my time through each 2km marker. The first couple were about where I wanted to be but then I slowed. I was still feeling good though and still making up places so didn't panic, plenty of miles left to make up time.

The second 12km or so were quite tough. I wasn't meeting up with Jo often enough to keep my energy intake high and the temperature was pretty high now so I needed to keep hydrated as well. At one point I filled my bottle from a waterfall in order to stop dehydrating too much. At around 23km Jo caught up with me and I was able to take on more sugar. We agreed to meet at the bottom of the mountain, only another couple of km's.

I got to bottom still feeling ok but there was no sign of Jo so I stopped at the aid station station and downed a worryingly green glass of energy drink. They had me in 17th place which was encouraging. I was confident I had saved enough energy to be able to run Zombie Hill and make up another few places, indeed there were a few people visible walking a short way up the climb.

I started off running and although it was very hard work and wasn't fast, I managed to keep moving at above walking pace. I soon caught the first person and noticed they were in Full-on Tri team kit. This gave me a bit of a boost as I knew it must be James Deane, a strong South Aftrican who has a couple of well sub 10hr Ironmans to his name. It also put me in 16th and 15th wasn't far off.

With still no sign of Jo I was starting to struggle for energy and liquid again. Before much longer I had to stop and ask another crew if I could have some water. They happily helped me and I set off again chasing down Morten, the big Danish guy 15th. I caught him but was getting very tired now. I dropped down to a run-walk strategy. Keeping the walk breaks at around 30 seconds in every 5 minutes I was keeping a small . Several more times I had to ask his support for a drink and by now I was starting to worry that something had happened to Jo so incase I beat her to the offroad section I asked if they could try to get a mountain safety bag together for me.

At the 32km point there is a checkpoint. I told the race crew that I hadn't seen my support for ages and they said they would try to get hold of her and that I was ok to carry on to the 37km checkpoint. The next 5km went quite well and I arrived with a reasonable gap over Morten. Again I spoke to a member of race crew and said I'd lost me support. He gave e the wonderfull news that Jo was there and after a bit of faffing with mountain bags and changing shoes, we set off on the final 5km which is all offroad and at times completely impossible to run.

The early stages are runable and I was feeling ok. It wasn't long before I was struggling though. Jo was keeping ahead of me and encouraged me to keep going. Before long I was caught again by Morten. I was gutted to lose a place so late in the race but 16th was still good. A minute later another few people came past me. Where did they come from? This was a real blow and although a top 20 was still something to be proud of, it was quite a drop from 15th.

I got a second wind a while later, passed Jo and pressed on to the finish at the top. A short distance from the top and I crashed again. The last minute or two were a huge effort but I crossed the line a respectable 13 and a bit hours. At the top I took advantage of the most gorgous tomato soup I've ever eaten and shared a seat and blanket with Morten for a while before heading into the little cafe for a bit of warmth and more food. A while later Jo made it up and joined me.

The next day at breakfast, I was delighted to hear that I'd actually come 16th (and 1st Brit!). It seems obvious now that the three guys who came past me shortly after Morten were his support but clearly I didn't have enough oxygen for both muscles and brain at the time. Black t-shirt number two and as finish writing this just over a week after the race I'm sure I'll be back for a third in 2010.
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Last edited by mrchopsaloty on Tue Aug 18, 2009 4:26 pm; edited 2 times in total
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mrchopsaloty




Joined: 06 Sep 2005
Posts: 5313
Location: Guildford - Surrey

PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 4:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Edited to make it clear the white powder was sugar not anything dodgey.

And another one after Cleo's post. How did I miss that out?!
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Last edited by mrchopsaloty on Tue Aug 18, 2009 4:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Cleo




Joined: 15 Aug 2006
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Location: at the top of a hill shaking my pom poms

PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's probably the best opening line for a race report I've seen so far!
16th overall, but don't forget first Brit, too. Well done, Chopsy!!!
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MrsTricky




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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Top report Chopsy - very good going there despite numerous problems Very Happy I think I'd have pulled out if I had lost my crew!

I love the way you and everyone else have mentioned the tomato soup - it is certainly one of my key memories. I wonder if it would taste that nice at any other time Confused
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Toyota_Crown




Joined: 07 Mar 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

really rooting for you as i read it, gave me a good feel as if was racing it myself. great report from that competitive perspective, and like reading a good book wondering if its gonna get a happy ending. Cool

sounds like you did REALLY well. chapeau. in order to gauge it, and your ability, how do some of your IM/HIM times compare? (venue and year ideally)

and i bite - wtf does chopsaloty come from Confused
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donttrithisathome




Joined: 23 Sep 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it was my support crew who helped you out on Zombie hill - I had seen you pass me fairly close to the start of the climb. Really felt for you when they told me you were running out of liquid - I was struggling enough with it on tap!!

Top result though, awesome effort.
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mrchopsaloty




Joined: 06 Sep 2005
Posts: 5313
Location: Guildford - Surrey

PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

donttrithisathome wrote:
I think it was my support crew who helped you out on Zombie hill - I had seen you pass me fairly close to the start of the climb. Really felt for you when they told me you were running out of liquid - I was struggling enough with it on tap!!

Top result though, awesome effort.


I think I must have taken drink off three or four crews but mostly from Morten's Danish bunch and a lady who I kept bumping into on Zombie Hill. I did get the impression she was working with another support member so might well have been one of your girls. Infact looking at your finish pic again, the one the right rings a bell. Was she driving and loading up the other one? Think a massive thank you is in order. She and the Danes really did save my race.
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Bluepoolshark




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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good report that, well done on a such a great performance, especially with those troubles Clap

Would be great to be at the pointy end of this race Cool
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mrchopsaloty




Joined: 06 Sep 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 8:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Toyota_Crown wrote:
really rooting for you as i read it, gave me a good feel as if was racing it myself. great report from that competitive perspective, and like reading a good book wondering if its gonna get a happy ending. Cool

sounds like you did REALLY well. chapeau. in order to gauge it, and your ability, how do some of your IM/HIM times compare? (venue and year ideally)

and i bite - wtf does chopsaloty come from Confused


No half or other long distance races to compare. Longest other race I've done is the Ballbuster.

Used to have very big sideburns (chops). Bit more streamlined these days.
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FatPom




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PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 1:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great report mate, and well done one your race. I'm alsways checking my postion in race but unlike you I'm usually making sure I'm not last. Very Happy

Really does sound like a great event.
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Poet




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PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 6:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice report, well done fella!
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Xavier




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PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cool Cool
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Cobbie




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PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice report Dave, good to see another view from the sharper end of the field.
Hadn't realised that you had so many problems on the day - an even better result when you take those into account
Smile
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Toyota_Crown




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PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mrchopsaloty wrote:
Toyota_Crown wrote:
really rooting for you as i read it, gave me a good feel as if was racing it myself. great report from that competitive perspective, and like reading a good book wondering if its gonna get a happy ending. Cool

sounds like you did REALLY well. chapeau. in order to gauge it, and your ability, how do some of your IM/HIM times compare? (venue and year ideally)

and i bite - wtf does chopsaloty come from Confused


No half or other long distance races to compare. Longest other race I've done is the Ballbuster.

Used to have very big sideburns (chops). Bit more streamlined these days.
i figured it might be chinboards (as i call em).
sooo, dont you think you should give some regular IM's a go. You are good at hills, and the UK is blessed with at least 3 pretty tough uns (by normal standards). In fact.......you still have plenty of time to enter Big Woody in 2 weeks Twisted Evil
ForestMan is late June in 2010, so plenty of time to recover for NX 2010. In case you hadnt heard, FM is brilliant. Cool Only 175 ish too.
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Cleo




Joined: 15 Aug 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 12:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Toyota_Crown wrote:
mrchopsaloty wrote:
Toyota_Crown wrote:
really rooting for you as i read it, gave me a good feel as if was racing it myself. great report from that competitive perspective, and like reading a good book wondering if its gonna get a happy ending. Cool

sounds like you did REALLY well. chapeau. in order to gauge it, and your ability, how do some of your IM/HIM times compare? (venue and year ideally)

and i bite - wtf does chopsaloty come from Confused


No half or other long distance races to compare. Longest other race I've done is the Ballbuster.

Used to have very big sideburns (chops). Bit more streamlined these days.
i figured it might be chinboards (as i call em).
sooo, dont you think you should give some regular IM's a go. You are good at hills, and the UK is blessed with at least 3 pretty tough uns (by normal standards). In fact.......you still have plenty of time to enter Big Woody in 2 weeks Twisted Evil
ForestMan is late June in 2010, so plenty of time to recover for NX 2010. In case you hadnt heard, FM is brilliant. Cool Only 175 ish too.


Why so keen, T-C? He'd whip your *ss in a smackdown............ Wink
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