Short version: Swam a bit (1:27), Biked a bit (5:45) and ran a bit (4:15) for an 11:37 finish.
Longer version – Preamble: Finished work Thu PM, finished packing (and gluing tubs on new Planet X 50/50 wheels) and did last items Fri AM as I had been training to sleep and wake early ready for the big day. Left home at 0930 and drove to Holme Pierpoint (A34, M1) to register by 1230. A quick look around the expo – not on the scale of the London Marathon – and then we set off to find out hotel. We stayed in the Jury’s Inn for 3 nights using the Outlaw offer. It was really good, the room a good size for 2 and a 2 year old, a bike and countless bags!
We had a look around a very hot Nottingham and had a fruit smoothie in the sun before dinner at Ask. Very good. Kids menu can be used with Tesco Clubcard Vouchers too. Then we headed back to hotel.
Andrew didn’t sleep much choosing to jump out of his bed onto ours. We changed it for a travel cot the next day!
Saturday I was again up early and got to HPP at about 0930 to ride around lake on new tubs! Felt okay, not that I knew what I was looking for. I went to the early brief which over ran by nearly 30 min although there weren’t too many silly questions. We then had a Royal Navy Triathlon Club photo by the big scoreboard. I racked my bags in the transition tent and then got my bike before returning for some lunch.
Dinner was in Prezzo and it was frankly disappointing. I asked on arrival if vouchers could be used for everything. They said yes except drinks. Went to pay and they said the Kids menu wasn’t included. And then used both Tesco Vouchers and charged us cash… very poor. Sorted now but disappointing and a hassle.
Bed early although I kept needing the toilet. Not sure I slept much. Felt tired at 0330 and I am used to getting up early for early watches on the bridge of a ship. I made a gluten free porridge pot for breakfast with some belvita biscuits, a double shot instant coffee, Tropicana orange juice and then took a 500ml bottle of SIS Go to sip over the next hour and a half.
I dodged the drunks and got my car out of the car park luckily having removed it from the locked area the night before. I arrived at HPP for 0430 and was rewarded for my keenness with a parking space as far away from the start as possible in car park 2. I put my 2 x 750ml bottles on the bike one loaded with 10 High 5 summer fruit gels and the other High 5 Zero. I pumped my nervously pumped tyres up to 150psi hoping they wouldn’t pop as the heat took hold. I put my watch on my home made HRM holder (patent pending) and heading to the change tent.
THE RACE: I panicked as i couldn’t find my wetsuit and swore before being told the change bags were in the the other tent… aaahh that’s how it works. I found it and left my old kit there. It was now about 4:50 and many were in transition playing with the bikes so I took advantage of the short toilet queue before getting ready. A layer of factor 50 followed by baby oil and vaseline around wrists, ankles and neck would hopefully ease my extraction from the rubbery prison. My HRM on, I zipped my trisuit up and tucked my goggles and cap into my suit. I made sure that the legs were half way up my calves so the body and shoulders of the suit fitted well.
I queued again for the toilet (0520) and this time the queue was substantial. I knew I could have gone to the other side but knew I would make it and then I could enter the swim area.
Formalities out the way I zipped up my suit, first time without assistance. Goggles and Cap on I met some other Navy tri athletes and we chatted before being allowed into the water.
The Swimming Bit: It was lovely! 20 degrees vice the 12 of the Solent made a big difference to my confidence. I could put my face in and breathe as I was used to in the pool. I had a wee (again) and was ushered back into the pens. Now having read many other accounts it would appear lots of weaker or less confident swimmers lined up behind faster pens so they didn’t get kicked or punched and could swim in clear water. The result was a fairly clear 4th pen (90 min plus) which I joined at 1 min to go! A quick shout of “it’s not a knitting club” brought a titter before a disjointed echoing countdown and then the klaxon which we all knew meant go! I was fast and perhaps a little too fast for the first 5 min but it didn’t feel too bad and although I knew there were people near me I was at there pace. It seemed to come and go in waves with a faster bunch overtaking and then it was almost as if I was on my own. Approaching the turn buoys we bunched again and I guess i’d been swimming 40 min (no bikes out yet). A quick kick in the goggles didn’t cause pain but did unseat them and I struggled to get a seal throughout the remaining 1800m. I stopped 3 times to position my goggles. I had tried to do it treading water but got ploughed down so moved to the edge and stood up. They kept leaking and I struggled to get a rhythm but when I did I was moving well completely missing the 500m to go hut and only seeing the 750m and 250m marks which gave me a real boost. I was dragged out of the water in 1:26:18 and was delighted. I guess they unzipped me as when I picked my stripper it was already undone. She was clearly experienced as she peeled me out my suit quickly as I was lain flat out on my back.
The one with Swim to Bike – T1: I felt quite quick drying my feet, putting on socks and shoes before helmet and then stuffing my pockets with pitstop and sunscream. Not sure what else I did for it to take 4:49 but that wasn’t as bad as some times!
The bike (fun) bit: Everyone loves a bike ride. Don’t they? I hummed along around the lake and onto the roads settling into a rhythm whilst watching my HR which was a little high. I also wasn’t going to eat or drink much for 20 min as I read that is a good way to get cramped up inside. It appeared to work as I was quite comfortable. The loops were nice and I was going quite fast with my planet X 50mm tubs whizzing along. I almost maintained 20mph for 5hrs but eased off in last 12 miles to recover for the run. I ate bananas from aid stations and some soreen but it was too dry and sticky. My plan had been to eat so out of date olympics haribo but I discovered the day before that they melt in the heat! Doh! After training all year with them I was changing everything at the last minute. I saw lots of people go backwards, I even overtook a disc wheel!!! Very happy with that. It was a good atmosphere all round but so very hot. I saw my family during the 2nd South loop of Car Colston which gave me a lift but I couldn’t help thinking about my son out in the open sun. The last 2 miles were bumpy and I couldn’t help but wince every time my carbon tubs bumped over speed humps I saw late. I rode the last 12 miles at about 16mph which lowered my average a little but gave me some recovery for the run. 5:45 was better than I could have hoped for. I reckon I took on about 6 litres of water and high 5 on the bike and didn’t need the toilet! The first time I took a bottle I almost ripped my arm off though!
T2: I got changed… Thanks to the guy I sat next to who gave me a Powerade – I appreciated it later!
The run in the sun wan’t much fun: It was just hot. I tried to maintain 8mm ave for as long as possible (whilst walking through feed stops). I managed for about 8 miles and then it got a bit a boring and I had to walk more. After 2:30 I was at 15 miles and then sorted myself out. I got into a rhythm and paced 4:30 run, 30 sec walk. Once I reached 20 miles some 48 min later I was tired. I struggled to raise my heart rate. 120-130bpm. I never run that slow. The heat was relentless. Some aid stations ran out of water and the gels got too hot. The towpath was a horrible section with no shade. Around the lake I saw people passed out in bushes and raised help at the next aid station. Realised I would finish so just tried to make it bearable for the last 10km. Couple of blisters on the end of my toes and under big toe but at least my heel was clear – that would have hurt. I managed a 4:15 marathon which is still quite good I realise and would have beat 20000 people at last years London marathon.
Aftermath: It did look like a zombie film to be honest. Bodies everywhere. Someone puked as I went through medical. I am surprised no one was seriously injured. The race referee sat next to me whilst waiting for a massage. Oh no I said. What’s wrong she said. I told her “you’re the race referee and you’ve just found me”! Apparently it was for some feedback not anything I may or may not have done! The chicken soup and curry was not nice but the cake was worth it. I didn’t eat or sleep well that night but was dead by 2000 the next day! I lost a lot of weight and got a great tan including my iron wings (finger marks on edge of trisuit where I burnt on bits I missed).
Thanks to everyone who sponsored me. The money has gone to a great cause and you’ll be glad to know it wasn’t easy and I suffered for your fundraising.