I won’t bore you for too long with the pre-amble. The usual fuss and stress of loading the car, kids, wife’s giant suitcase (2 nights stay mind) and Triathlon gubbins. Got to our room, bunked down, leisurely rise Saturday a.m. off to find registration etc.
Parking for site was a 1.3 mile walk to T2 and registration. Ta for that Ironman! Then a 40 minute drive from there to T1, after walking back 1.3 miles to the car park. Logistical ball ache with two kids, one a 7 year old with the attention span of Dory from ‘Finding Nemo.’ Not a major gyp just a little hassle. I rang my mates to tell them not to go to the car park and park as close as possible to Transition. I dropped the family back at the hotel before going down to T1. Despite the running about it went smooth, too smooth to be fair. Began to think I’d forgotten something, everything, but knew I had my main stuff so “everything else is just faff” was my mantra.
Usual shite nights’ sleep and it was 4am in the morning and the standard “Why the fucking hell am I doing this again?” moment. Tracey was great as usual got up and got the kids sorted. We used the shuttle bus facility which worked out great and got us to the water nice and early, threw my nutrition on the bike and job done. Good. To. Go. …Or not. At that point a thick fog rolled in and within minutes you couldn’t even see the water. It was soon announced the swim start would be delayed for safety reasons. Which was a relief for the hundreds of people still in the enormous porta-loo queue! It was almost an hour before we finally got under way with the fog lifting as quickly as it rolled in.
Once in the pen we started walking towards the pontoon, for some reason I decided to give the inside of my goggles one last wipe.. with fucking glide on my hands!! I literally couldn’t see out of my goggles! I tried to pull my top out from under my wetsuit but couldn’t get much so barely got any of it out. In hindsight, it is all chip timed so I should have stepped out of the queue and just wiped them properly, but I panicked a little and before I knew was crossing the timing matt and into the water. For a rolling start it was hectic! A guy in front immediately started breaststroking and kicked me straight in the quad. I tried to find a bit of water to get a flow but there seemed to be bodies everywhere, coupled with not being able to see anything, it was a bit of a hellish start. I just followed the masses, rounded the turn buoy at the top end and couldn’t see a thing. Had to stop, lift goggles pick a line then go, this process repeated a few times. It was frustrating but my own stupid fault so I just owned it and laughed at what a dickhead I had been. There seemed to be buoys everywhere and not having a clear view meant a bit of zig and a lot of zag. As we turned left the last time the water got very choppy and having to keep my head up so long when sighting, I was gulping down weedy lake water like a Friday night Corona! Not optimal. I got out and glanced at my watch to see 35 and was gutted, I should be around 31 at least based on training. I soon shook that off and reminded myself I was here to enjoy the day. Got in the change tent to see my mate Leigh, we always swim around the same time and his first words to me were, “that was fucking gross!” I felt slightly better it wasn’t just me, sat down near club mate Rob Stroud and had a chat while I got my kit together and then out onto the roads. I spotted the kids and Trace with Rayanne (Leighs wife) on the way out which lifted the spirits.
Time 35:21 That went badly.
I haven’t rode my bike half as much as I should’ve this year. Mostly because, well …I hate the bloody thing hahaha. I thought I’d find the love for cycling again but I can’t. It’s just miserable. I’m fairly sure once the Outlaw is over I’ll be back to only riding to commute on my CX down the canal and cycle path. This event would be my longest ride of the year but I have a good base and thought sub 3 was achievable, so set my targets around that. It’s a scenic course with a few sketchy lane sections near the beginning but you can get aero fairly regularly. Couple of nice climbs which I seem to pass a lot of people on, only for them to catch me on their TT’s on the flats. Usually find the bigger riders huffing and puffing on the hills then absolutely dust me on the descents (although I PR’d all the descents today, go me!) but I know I’m fairly tentative on those nowadays. Also having the build of a Tesco Extra Small Christmas Turkey isn’t advantageous when using gravity to hammer downhill at breakneck speeds. Some of the road surfaces were quite poor in places but there were some really good pockets of support and as usual I waved and smiled as much as I could, especially to the kids out there watching. High fives accepted wherever offered. I think unless you are really going for a win, interacting with people who have been decent enough to give up access to their street and offer you a round of applause is essential. At mile 35, I actually found myself enjoying the bike, weird, but I’ll take it. I felt strong all the way through and knew I had measured my effort well as when we came off Cannock chase I was still passing plenty of people, putting out the same power and maintaining pace through the last ten miles. I rolled into T2 happy with my effort and bumped straight into Leigh again. Had a chat, and off I set. ..after a quick comfort stop.
Time 2:54. That went well.
I love running. It’s just pure. I’m not particularly good at it, but I wouldn’t say I’m bad at it either, but I love it. So I am always happy to get to the run leg on a Tri. I felt really good. For once I had drunk plenty on the bike, as usual the pace was maybe a little bit hot to start with but nothing too bad and I felt ok. I saw the kids, Trace and Ray at mile two, loads of high fives which is a big morale boost at the start of a run. HR wasn’t doing anything crazy but I made a conscious decision to slow mile three down. It was absolutely boiling by now but I was bouncing along. There was great support around the course too and although lots of twist and turns that didn’t allow much rythmn, it wasn’t a bad run course. There was very little shade from the sun though, so from the start I was tipping water over myself every opportunity. Then Wham mile 4 I just had no energy, I didn’t stop running, I just couldn’t run any faster, the more effort I put in the slower I seemed to go. I started chucking everything I could down my neck gel, cola, water (not Redbull, although partial to the odd can personally I can’t think of anything worse to drink whilst running!) and checking off the miles. But by lap three it was pretty much a 10 minute mile shuffle, I got to the finish chute and tried to look for Trace and the kids but had tunnel vision pretty much, I crossed the line, wobbled, and next thing I know I’m sat in a wheelchair lol. I really don’t know what happened on today’s run, I had all my nutrition on the bike, it was very warm but I kept hydrated and soaked myself. My only conclusion is I just payed for a lack of cycling late on in my run. If that is a ‘thing’? Or maybe with a half marathon PB of 1:34 (when I was training specifically for that) maybe todays result was exactly what it should be. At the finish in the tent I felt completely satisfied with my day overall.
Time 1:58 That went ..ok really.
So all in all I enjoyed Staffs 70.3. It was good to do it with a bunch of mates and all finish in close proximity. Leigh, Richie A and Lloyd. They all did superb! It was good to see all the Cr@ptri around the course. Cath, Lowri, Sam, Rob, Stuart and Sarah. They were all awesome too and their support that gave me a “Go Cr@p”. And. Yes I’m aware I owe you all a beer!
I signed up for this 3 months ago to have a craic with the boys and that’s what it was. So mission accomplished. I will have to get some bike miles in before Outlaw that’s for certain but next up I am running in a pair at the ‘Brutal Midnight Mountain Marathon’ which is a Marathon, up Pen-Y-Fan, at night, and it’s brutal.
Last but definitely not least. As always a massive thank you to my long suffering wife Tracey, she was awesome as usual and although I complain about her over packing she really does think of absolutely everything! xxx And the kids who are such a lift to see around the course, they do seem genuinely proud and hopefully inspired to live active lives, which is why I do it all really.
Total including transitions 5h39mins and some change. 100th 40-45 year old man from 267, 602nd overall from 1904 finishers.