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LifeofRiley's DIMUK DNF self-indulgent race report
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LifeofRiley




Joined: 13 Apr 2007
Posts: 2459
Location: Not sure but it's very dark in here...

PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 2:58 pm    Post subject: LifeofRiley's DIMUK DNF self-indulgent race report Reply with quote

Don’t start reading this unless you have some time on your hands – it’s a massive one!

The start of the journey

I had promised my wife Mandy after Ironman France that I would take a year off from Ironman racing in 2011, due to the ever-increasing difficulties of balancing training with the family life involved in bringing two kids, especially with Riley being severely disabled and Freddie rapidly approaching two years old.

Fair enough...or so I thought until I found myself drunk in charge of a credit card at the Enduroman website one night last August. I awoke the next morning with a thick head and a nagging feeling that I had done something stupid. I went downstairs and sure enough there was the confirmation email from the guys at Enduroman, welcoming me to the start line of the Enduroman Double Iron race, taking place in the New Forest in June 2011.

Me: “I have just entered a Double Ironman race”.
Mandy: “But you said you weren’t going to do an Ironman next year”
Me: “Well, technically I’m not”
Mandy: “&%$ **$%%*”

Anyway, the subject was kind of glossed over and there was a general assumption in the Runciman household that it wouldn’t happen. But it was always there in the back of my mind, whether it was mentioned or not. I even approached Steve Pallett, a member of East Essex Triathlon club, an ex-Marine and an Ironman, with a wealth of experience in both competing in and supporting endurance sport challenges. Steve was the perfect candidate for a support crew and immediately accepted - I told him that I would confirm nearer the time.

Not long afterwards (on another drunken night), Joe Giggins, Danny Mann and I decided we would organise a Land’s End to John O’Groats cycle ride to raise money for Riley’s stem cell treatment. Taking place in April, this would see me log over 1,000 miles on the bike just six weeks before the event. As I had already been granted a place in the Virgin London Marathon, I raised the subject again with Mandy because, as I explained, the training would have already been done. Again, there was no real agreement and the subject went to ground again. But it was always there in my mind.

Roll on 2011 and I developed an Achilles injury in January, which scuppered my running completely and I had to pull out of the London Marathon due to a work trip in any case. I tried to have a little run of 4 miles in April, but the Achilles throbbed and my knee seized up, remaining painful for days. Not wanting to risk LEJOG, I decided not to run again until after 1st May, when we would have completed the LEJOG ride.
After LEJOG was done, I decided that I wanted to give the Double a shot. Amazingly, Mandy agreed, the accommodation was booked and Steve was contacted to let him know the challenge was on!

I tried to run again in early May, but the knee was again aggravated for several days. I knew that if I was to succeed, it would have to be without any run training.

The Night Before

Mandy, her parents, the boys and I travelled down to the New Forest in two cars and arrived at the cottage we were to spend the weekend in, which was much better than expected and there was even an upstairs area (that we hadn’t paid for) in which Steve could sleep in privacy.
I dashed down to the race venue to register and there I met up with the legendary Big Ted (who wasn’t allowed to start day 8 of the Deca due to his core body temperature being only 35.2 – almost hypothermic. Ted was very morose when we arrived as he felt that the decision was taken out of his hands way too early and they should have at least let him swim before assessing him again. This man has a goal to discover his limits, but I don’t think he has any.

When I was there, I saw the leader of the Deca run past several times like a metronome. Gerry Duffy (who went on to win the race) was an absolute gentleman, who despite the obvious pain and discomfort he felt found the time to say thank you and to wave at everyone who gave him some encouragement.

TC ran past a few times as well in his disgraceful denim shorts! Steve finally turned up having had terrible issues travelling down by train from London and we decamped to the pub to *ahem* discuss strategy. After probably too many pints of Stella and Guiness flavoured strategy, we went back to the cottage for a brief rest before an early start for race day.

The Swim

The Double was scheduled to start at 9am on Saturday 11th June. Mandy, Steve and I got up early, ate some breakfast and headed off to the race venue, where Mandy left us to go home and take care of the little fellas. We racked the bike up at AT just after the start of the Deca and Quin Day 9 swim start. We then faffed around for hours until it was time to get the wetsuit on and head down to the start. Unfortunately, this coincided with an unmissable moment – Monique was the only lady Deca entrant and having left the lake to go and warm up close to the end of her Day 9 swim, had re-emerged and plunged back in – beating the swim cut off time by minutes. She came out of the lake shaking like a leaf, asked “what the f*ck we were all looking at” and then headed off to get changed for the bike. This lady is an absolute legend!

The swim for the Double was to be 26 laps of a 300m lake and I was not looking forward to it a bit, as I felt there was a decent chance that I wouldn’t even be able to complete it given the fact that I had only swum three times in the previous few months, nothing in open water and nothing of anything like that distance.

I needn’t have worried though. The start gun went off and so did all the other swimmers – I let them all go to avoid any of the usual punch ups. I’m a slow swimmer anyway and I knew that if I started at the back it would be a while before anyone lapped me (actually it was the second lap)! Strangely enough, I actually quite enjoyed the swim – 26 laps of 7 – 8 minutes each was quite easy to breakdown into manageable chunks, i.e. 5 laps and then a gel, 10 laps and then a drink, 13 laps and b*gger me I’m half way already, 20 laps and nearly home etc.

My shoulder went pop a little after about 20 laps and I felt like I lost some power in my left arm’s stroke, but there was no pain so it wasn’t a problem. The only other thing that worried me a little about the swim was seeing the Rev’s look of disgust at my swimming “style” every time I went past him!

Either way, it didn’t feel like I’d been in there 3hr 5mins when I stepped out and I felt as fresh as a daisy as Steve put a towel around my shoulders and we walked up to meet Mandy, Riley, Freddie and the in-laws. We stood around chatting and eating biscuits for a while before I realised that I hadn’t crossed the timing mat yet!

So, we did just that, had a quick change then went up the hill to collect my bike.

The Bike

This was the bit that I was most confident of, with all the bike miles in my legs from LEJOG. Wearing my brand new Pink cycle jersey, I set off on the first lap (of 20) having asked Steve to have some soup waiting for me on my return.

I had driven most of the course the day before and despite the reports I had heard , I actually didn’t find it that bad the first time I rode it. I stayed down on the TT-bars a lot and didn’t need to get out of the saddle at all. I concentrated on not going too hard and making sure I didn’t get out of breath, which I didn’t really succeed with. I got back after only 36 minutes and decided that was a bit too quick to be sustainable. Thereafter, I settled into nice and steady 45 - 50 minute circuits, which generally included a chat or two along the way with a fellow competitor, plus a food / wee stop at the turning circle.

Before long, I found myself stopping for a wee two or three times a lap and this pretty much continued all the way through to the end of the race for me. I remember being really concerned about this but Steve kept me relaxed about it and I put all my faith in his judgement so went with it. It’s irritating to know how much time this loses you though! Almost every lap I stopped and ate some food. Steve prepared me pasta, chilli, soup and even a bacon sandwich at one point in the morning! Support crews are invaluable in this type of race to keep you focused on moving forwards and I had picked me a great one in Steve.

Before long, I had gone about half way and it was time to put some lights on the bike and don a high-viz jacket, even though there were a couple of hours before nightfall. It started to get really chilly once the sun went down and I had packed no long cycling gear so had to improvise. As I was prepared for injuries of all types, I asked Steve to cut me up some tubigrip and I wore this over my legs for the rest of the bike leg. I looked a prat but at least I was warm enough to keep my legs moving.
Whilst the bike leg is not overly physically demanding in relative terms, it is very tough mentally especially in those hours of darkness. At one point, I was cycling along and my front light went out without warning and I was plummeted into pitch darkness. Luckily I had a head torch in my pocket, which was just about bright enough to get me to the end of the lap.

Unfortunately, I had four continuous laps when I had similar problems with the lights and had to keep stopping to change batteries or re-site the light as the Velcro / tape had come loose (at one point the elasticated band snapped the head torch into the bridge of my nose – I doubt whether rural Hampshire has ever heard a word similar to “Canute” shouted quite so loudly at 3:00am). The frequent stops became particularly annoying when I found myself overtaking the same people time after time.

Eventually it started to get light again but by this time I was on lap 18, the sleep deprivation was starting to kick in and I kept finding my head nodding as I was fighting to stay awake. Worse, I started seeing things and even jerked my handlebars at one point to avoid a jogger that I had imagined had run across my path. (Talking to someone later on during the run, he told me that he had hallucinated someone moving house! I told him he’d probably witnessed a burglary)! I came to the turn-around spot, handed in my bike, told Steve I needed a 10 minute kip and sat down.

Steve threw a sleeping bag over me and I was out like a light. Ten minutes later, I was up and had a massive slurp of flat coke before climbing back on for the last two laps.

It was a relief to get off the bike, but not for long because by now the rain had set in and I had the small matter of a 52 mile run to face.

The Run

I got changed in the tent and set off on the run. No problem – except that that I couldn’t run. My strategy for the run (which seemed to have been mirrored by everyone else that I saw) was to run the downhills and the flats and walk the uphills. But I just couldn’t run at first – not even a shuffle - it was really weird. After three laps and the best part of an hour, uber support guy Steve saw me weaving about a bit on a flat section and we agreed that I needed some sleep. I lay down in the sleeping bag and he asked me how long I wanted. I told him thirty minutes and closed my eyes, only to be woken up again immediately. Irritated I asked what was wrong and was mortified when he told me that the 30 minutes were up – I literally thought I had been asleep less than a few seconds!

Anyway, Steve had managed to find some corn flakes, which I ate along with a cup of tea and I set off on the run again. This time everything seemed to work and I settled into a really good rhythm and even started to enjoy myself. I started knocking off the miles – 5 miles was 10% of the way there, 6.5 miles was ¼ of the first marathon etc. and before I knew it I was still moving really easily at around 18 miles and was only really slowing my pace when I chatted with one of the other guys (for example, I recognised Phil Wilson by his calves), Steve or my wife Mandy. I was drinking plenty, eating plenty, peeing loads and all was good, although my Achilles had a very slight ache, there was nothing to worry about.

OK, so the weather was absolutely horrific, the course had by now turned into muddy swamp or marshland (a branch of a tree fell onto the steepest section at one point) and it was horrible being wet and cold constantly, but overall I was in good spirits. I was feeling so good when I went through the 25 mile marker, I was actually thinking about my victorious race report, so confident was I that I would finish. Then I jogged up the little incline to turn around for the flat part and I couldn’t run any more! My Achilles had suddenly become so painful that I couldn’t bend forwards at all. I tried a few steps of jogging, but there was absolutely no way I would be able to cope through that pain. So I walked but even then I couldn’t walk more than half a step and when I got to the uphill bit I had to walk up backwards.

I eventually got back to Steve at the top of the hill, sat down under the gazebo and explained what had happened to him. We took the sock off and I could immediately see the lump where the tendon was inflamed. He called the medic and she said she would be there as soon as she could but I already knew that this was a DNF. There was no way I could walk around 27 miles on that course with such an injury without causing a lot more damage, even if I could have handled the pain (no chance). Steve and I agreed that we didn’t need to waste the medic’s time and that my day was over.

I cried. I think what made me so upset was because literally one minute before it was over, I was so utterly confident of completing the race. There was no doubt. Everyone had been telling me how well I was looking, I was smiling and all was rosy and then *BAM* I was a complete and utter failure. All I could think was “almost 29 hours and not so much as a t-shirt”. Eventually, Steve helped me back to the tent, where I called Mandy, cried some more as I explained what had happened, got changed into some warm clothes and sat shivering waiting for Mandy to arrive.

Steve once more was immense. He was so supportive of my DNF and quickly went about packing up so I could get home quickly, he bagged up the gazebo, all my kit, the tent and everything else in double quick time and soon I was on my way back to the rental cottage in the car, for a massive feast and huge amounts of beer, wine and brandy. I sat there for the rest of the evening wondering how everyone else had fared, catching up on the forum a bit but mostly feeling sorry for myself.

The Aftermath

The next day, I woke up still feeling gutted, but before long I started to develop the usual post-Ironman euphoria. I do feel proud of what I achieved, despite not finishing. Running a marathon on that course in those conditions with no training, having completed the swim and bike is no mean feat and although I didn’t finish I am sort of OK with that. It wasn’t my mind that went, it was my body and there’s little I could have done about that.

It was great to meet everyone from the forum that I hadn’t already met and the camaraderie of the event was amazing. There were so many amazing people there, who had become legends in my eyes before I met them but were actually just normal people who do amazing things...chapeau to Gerry Duffy, the Rev, Pink Sally, TC, Davem, PSF, Repo, Starry, MartinP, Veggie and so many others.

Mrs LoR loved that camaraderie and was also very proud of me, despite the DNF. She even encouraged me to have another go, so I will definitely be back in AT next year for some unfinished business.
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Polish Special Forces




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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice report Lee, and shame about the DNF.

Steve was a great guy, helped me a few time on the Sunday as well!

At least next time you're up in Edinburgh we wont have to ponce about doing that running stuff, we can head straight to the curry house Smile
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The Iain




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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lee,

Good to meet you, you did look like you were going fantastically until I saw you hobbling to the car, now I understand what had happened.

A great achievement to have got so far, just a pity your tendons weren't playing for the completion. Hope it's improved now?I

Thanks for the gavison we nicked from Steve too, and the smell of that bacon sandwich was enough to drive all of the crews to distraction Twisted Evil

Good luck for next year.

Iain (Crewing for Paul, laterly seen running around the run course in jeans and a red climbing jacket)
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LifeofRiley




Joined: 13 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Polish Special Forces wrote:

At least next time you're up in Edinburgh we wont have to ponce about doing that running stuff, we can head straight to the curry house Smile


You know it mate! I should be there the week after next - I'll text you.
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aaronb1985




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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

great report. it was a shame to see you dnf looking so good and being so strong on the bike. when i saw you, me on my way out and you too, it was a real sh1tter. see you next year to end your unfinished business

steve was a real star too, exactly the type of crew everyone wants
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Doonhamer




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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 3:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent effort Lee, I'm sure you'll be back.

Have you stopped smoking Surprised ?
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veggieboy




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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 3:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lee

Great report -didn't realise that you'd been on the lash the night before - respect

Hope you are recovering well and enjoying plenty of family time
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arthur itictoe




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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gutted for you but you can still be very proud of what you achieved given the lack of run training
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Big Ted




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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

was steve the guy with the glasses and the beard? - had a few good chats with him - top man, top crew.

was good to meet you, impressed that you didnt back out of the event post lejog when you had every excuse to (pootly achilles, knee op up and coming etc etc)

look forward to racing with you some day mate
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LifeofRiley




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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Big Ted wrote:
was steve the guy with the glasses and the beard? - had a few good chats with him - top man, top crew.


That's the fella - my current hero (I hope he's available next year).
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LifeofRiley




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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Veggieboy wrote:

Hope you are recovering well and enjoying plenty of family time


Yes and yes mate...you too - I hope the knees are recovering OK.
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LifeofRiley




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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 5:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Doonhamer wrote:
Excellent effort Lee, I'm sure you'll be back.

Have you stopped smoking Surprised ?


Yep... 8 weeks and counting mate! Laughing
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knightlancer




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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 5:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since when did you get to start a new thread for a DNF?






Wink

Seriously, well done for what you achieved, sorry we didn't really get to talk much on the course. Don't leave unfinished business, get it right next time.
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Toyota_Crown




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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pink-tastic. well done to you, and steve Cool

LifeofRiley wrote:
I was feeling so good when I went through the 25 mile marker, I was actually thinking about my victorious race report, so confident was I that I would finish. Then I jogged up the little incline to turn around for the flat part and I couldn’t run any more! My Achilles had suddenly become so painful that I couldn’t bend forwards at all.
that was cruel luck to be struck down so badly just when you were starting to believe.

sort that achilles and nail it next time Very Happy
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Doonhamer




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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

LifeofRiley wrote:
Doonhamer wrote:
Excellent effort Lee, I'm sure you'll be back.

Have you stopped smoking Surprised ?


Yep... 8 weeks and counting mate! Laughing


Fucking ace buddy. You now need another addiction to take your mind off of them.....try a sport or something.

11 years since my last ciggy.
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