Ironman UK 2022 – Part 2 – Narrative


Part 2 (Part 3 will follow in time)


Past me made a great decision to book Thursday to Monday off work which meant I could leave most of my prep until Thursday. I had most stuff ready anyway. I bought the last bits of nutrition and packed.

As soon as the school run was over, I started north from Pompey collecting my brother in Stafford and on to Bolton. Despite setting off before 1000 we didn’t get to Bolton until 1600. Check in was simple and we were with the IM Staff and IM preferred travel partner Nirvana so must have been a good choice and guaranteed early race day food! We registered and had dinner at a pizza place.

On Friday we set off early to get to Pennington Flash, rack and set up. I discovered and issue with my rear tube valve. The answer should have been replacing the valve core but my tekkers isn’t that advanced and the mechanic didn’t suggest it. I decided to risk it. There was enough air in the tyre and kept faff to a minimum. I don’t regret this based on my knowledge and information at the time. Because of this I didn’t ride on Sat AM. 

Racked we ran for 15 min and let the queue of cars die down. It’s not a great venue.

We parked back at the hotel and walked to T2 to put out bike bags in before heading to the Northern Monkey pub for a bit of lunch and IPA sampling. 

We relaxed in the hotel with tennis before Prezzo dinner which was full of Ironman athletes. 

Race day

Alarms went off at 0315, I turned the kettle on and put some clothes on and got the lift to get the breakfast grab bags. As it happened hot food was already available but just got some pastries to snack on while we changed and had our room coffee. Once ready we headed down and had some porridge. We took some Imodium and set off to the buses at 0415 arriving in Pennington Flash by 0500. I check my tyre and all was good. Water bottle on. GPS on and a few other bits of race day faff completed I got lucky with a toilet queue. There was some still in the pipe obviously before I took the Imodium but was glad I’d done that early to avoid a repeat of Staffs.

I met a few Navy folk who helped squeeze me into my wetsuit! Very pleased that I fit in the Huub 3:5 Aerious hoping it’d give me free speed and floaty legs.

I found my brother and we joined the queue between 1:40 and 1:50 – I’d done 52min at Stafford so hoped I’d be more comfortable stating with people closer to my inability (sic). 

The start area is rubbish. The trees and lorries hide the Flash so you can’t see the swimmers that have started, you can’t hear the music further back and it was raining! Sadly, there was no atmosphere unlike Staffs. 

Just before we got in the first swimmers had completed a loop. Great. Sub 60 minute swimmers swimming over the top of us – just what we needed for nerves and keeping calm. We entered the water and melee. The water was warm! “O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!” About 2 minutes later we got proper swam over and I felt my watch go tight, pushed up tight against my hand. Next thing I’m alongside Ryan and he tells me his watch was ripped off. Ouch. I settle into a rhythm of sorts and finally get to the turn buoy which I know is meant to be 750m, my watch shows 22 min. The return leg feels quicker with the wind behind us. I get out the Aussie swim in 47 min but am cautious after feeling a slight twinge of cramp as I stand up. It’s a long day for that kind of thing! 

Lap two has much less traffic and I even draft some legs. I do start to tire and my wetsuit definitely helps me stay calm as I try to keep the cramp at bay. I remember at the Outlaw in 2013 thinking how much I was glad when each sport was over! This was opinion hasn’t changed. Out the water in 1:36 – a great time I must have beaten Ryan with that swim. 

I am tentatively jogging to transition not wanting to trigger any cramp issues. I collect my bike bag. Damn. His peg is empty tight next to mine. I get to the benches and there he is! (23 seconds ahead!) We spun some dits said some words of remembrance for the Garmin of Pennington Flash. I was away first getting a 4-minute head start on the bike. 

That lasted until about mile 10 when I got junkyard dogged as he sped away from me at 23mph! I kept to my plan keeping my power and HR in check. For the first hour I really struggled. Like Staffs I’d gulped too much air. My stomach felt terrible until it had passed through me. I felt quite good most of the way managing nutrition and effort quite well. I finally saw my mum and sister after they missed me on lap 2. I told them about the rain! They couldn’t hear me. 

As detailed in part one, at 97 miles I punctured. Got it changed but lost half an hour after a valve extender issue. The tyre was flat when I collected the bike from T2 so I was lucky to have nursed it home. I soft peddled home, nervous of the leaking extender and also knowing that I’d likely blown any time-based goals.  I completed the hilly, windy and rainy bike in 8:00. Ryan 07:23. I had been slowly catching him as my equal power approach meant I felt strong. It is resigned to what if and who knows. 

I gained another 4 minutes in the international clothing changing competition and set off on my jog. The plan was 9 minutes on, 1 minute walk – walking is walking, marching with purpose – it is not a bimble to the shops. I couldn’t believe how bad I felt starting again at 97 miles compared to how well I was moving. Now though the game was mental as well as physical. A marathon is a long way at the best of times. The oft quoted phrase is that the Ironman is swimming the Bristol Channel, cycling Bristol to London then doing the London marathon! I also knew I had walked and not been strong in 2013 on the marathon taking 4:20 despite a 2:55 London that year. I was cognisant that even though I felt good at 10km or 20km would I feel good at 30km. I hadn’t run over 10 miles in months although regularly ran for 90 minutes at easy pace. 

I felt good enough most of the way. I was tired but not in pain. My HR was low for the pace 05:00-05:30 per km when running giving a sub 6:00 average. I was managing the sloshing of Gatorade, coke, gels, water and banana in my belly. 

“Don’t try anything new on race day” I nearly vomited when I tried the Maurten CAF 100 gel. It had a very strong caffeine taste. I’d tried not to take too much caffeine late on to help me sleep post-race – it didn’t work. 

About half way despite faltering GPS signal I worked out I could somehow make it under 14hrs. 

And so, it came to pass. I made up the M symbol on the spot – my mum thought I was pointing at my shoes (lol).

13:53:09 after a 4:00:57 marathon (Ryan 13:22:48 – 4:00:50 marathon) A puncture of difference. 

DOMS are just starting… great.

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