Ironman Austria 2007
Just driving to Klagenfurt was an ordeal what, with the Germans rebuilding their Autobahns and with lots of rain, but what a fantastic place it turned out to be – just a beautiful setting with the lake and hills – and one of the best campsites around. For anyone contemplating IMA, use the campsite as it’s excellent and everything you want at the event is 5 minutes walk away so no pfaffing with buses or taxis. We spent the couple of days before the event just chilling out, having a ride up the side of the lake with Pebble and Podro, and getting bikes and kit prepped – trying not to be nervous I guess!
After a shite night’s sleep – too warm/too cold/too nervous – me and Petal dropped the bags in transition, went back to the campsite for a final pre-race dump – as you do – and got into our wetties and walked to the Strandbad. Finally found all the pirates for a nervous few moments – Petal burst into tears with pent-up emotion – and then headed into the lake for the start.
A quick kiss and we started swimming to the start as instructed – except I didn’t stop swimming. I wear ear plugs so didn’t hear any cannon go off so I assumed that everyone was still swimming to the start line before it dawned on me that we were “orff”. Oh well – best carry on! For the first few hundred metres I had clear water mostly and swam alongside one of our Oriental cousins – he was a right side breather; I’m a left side and we were so close with our strokes in harmony that we kept eyeballing each other. It was like swimming next to a mirror – most odd! As the first buoy approached the fighting started so I gave as good as I got – dog, I love swimming in a pack! After the turnaround my sighting went way off as we swum back into the sun – at one point I wondered what the hell a support canoe was doing in the middle of the race line, only to find he was as way to the right as was I. He steered me away from colliding with a yacht. Oops – not good, and I zigzagged my way to the canal – at one point walking in very shallow water. Then into the canal and yet another full blooded scrap half way up as 2 guys – one on either side – tried to swim over me. A couple of sharp elbows and kicks sorted them out. That canal seemed a bloody long way but at least you know the swim is nearly over.
Have a look at the finisher videos too:
Out of the swim in 1:22 – yay, best yet – and into T1 where I saw Debbo ahead and Kanga came in immediately behind. A quick change and off to the bike. I knew Petal was going to be at least 10 mins ahead of me so my focus was to catch her – I just didn’t realise how long it would take.
I started the bike well, caught and past Debbo within a few hundred metres, and then just rode my usual IM bike – eyeballs out! Overtook Ergo and G-Sport somewhere on the first loop, only for G-Sport to retake me just before Rupert the Bear. I could have killed that DJ on the Rupert – shut up with your fecking noise, it’s a Sunday!! I was glad to get past him and get back to the peace and quiet of a beautiful country ride. But I dunno – I was finding this bike harder than I expected and my thighs started to cramp up at times – I was taking plenty of fluid and fuel, adding Nuun to the water in the bar bottle, and taking Coke from aid stations – I just didn’t expect the cramps so early.
Past Das Piraten supporters and onto Lap 2 feeling quite good and looking at a sub-6hr ride. I overtook G-Sport again, and caught Petal at last – we rode together for a little while, passing GOM with his puncture (sorry mate – only saw you at the last mo so couldn’t shout encouragements) – and then I headed away from P. As the distance increased, the cramps were getting worse and more frequent – at times my quads, hams, adductors were all cramping at different times, same time, both legs, one leg – I just couldn’t seem to get rid of them. Standing up, or unclipping and shaking the legs, would reduce the problems but they kept coming back until at the aid station 20k out (on the uphill), I just had to get off. I unclipped and both legs just locked solid – I couldn’t even swing my leg over the bar so had to drop the bike and gently swing one leg over. Jeezus, I was AGONY. I took the chance to swallow a bottle of coke and fuel and walked to the top of the hill and the cramps lessened slowly and went away. So, I got back onto the bike and headed off again – the cramps kept coming back but sod it, I was nearly there now so rode my way back to transition as hard as I could. Handed my bike over in T2 and walked like John Wayne with a bad dose of piles into the changing tent. 6:21 for the bike – those cramps cost me more time than I wanted.
Das Helfer asked if I was OK so I explained about the cramps as I got ready for the run. A massage was suggested – I took a nanosecond to agree and had a masseur to each leg. They had those muscles twanging like bowstrings. After 5 minutes of massage they could do no more so I waddled out onto the run with trepidation – would the legs hold up? A 10 minute transition – rubbish!
Ha! Run?? – my arse. This was going to be a war of attrition – who would win?? Body or mind?? Let’s see eh? My original “plan” was to run the first ½ and run/walk the 2nd ½ but after 1km my brain said “ferk orf, you ain’t running anywhere my fat son”. So I walked the next 4km or so feeling like shite, with the cramps were still firing off until I eventually plucked up some strength to run again. So the run/walk scenario had started much earlier than planned. I hadn’t seen Petal after I passed her on the bike which wouldn’t have been an issue as the paths on that first loop veered away from each other, so she might have been not far behind me and could have easily missed each other. I kept thinking “she’s going to catch me!”.
As I got back towards the start Petal startled me as she shouted to me from the sidelines – I nearly missed her as I was “in the zone” – or on another planet more like! It was then I found out she’d been DNF’d by the medics after her blood pressure dropped through the floor in T2 and she’d had to have a drip inserted. The drip had worked wonders with her and she felt as right as rain so she joined me on the leg into Klaggers and back – it was great to “run” alongside my best friend despite her problems. In hindsight she would have made that IM finish, but I guess if the medics say no and she had carried on, then the consequences could have been grave for her and the medics. Probably DQ’ed for receiving outside assistance? I dunno – I’ll let her give her thoughts on this. It makes her even more determined to finish IM Florida.
We agreed I would carry on alone to the finish, so P left me to get on with it and she would get me a beer to drink on the finish line. So, after lots of walking, some running, some chatting with other pirates, some laughing at the pissheads at the bars, the end was getting thankfully closer. My fanciful idea of a sub 12:30 was well behind; my sub 13 had also gone; my hope of beating my IM Switzerland time was rapidly slipping away; sod it – a finish would have to do. But by now I wouldn’t have cared if I hadn’t finished, I’d had enough – I was hurting physically and mentally. I was hurting for me and Petal – I felt selfish for carrying on.
With 2km to go, I decided to dig in and run as hard as I could. As the finish loomed I was running well – and I “shot” into the finishing chute looking for Petal and my beer – but she was nowhere to be seen. Bugger it – where was she?? Had I missed her in the crowds??? There seemed little point in continuing to look for her so I ran across the line with the semblance of a smile. I’d finished. It wasn’t a joyful finish for me – my plans had gone west as had Petal’s and I felt bad that I’d finished and she hadn’t. 13:26:56.
It would seem that I’d gone quicker than expected over the final stages and Petal had seen Pebble finish, thinking I was going to be about 20 mins behind him – in reality he’d got slower as I’d got quicker and there was only a couple of minutes between us. Petal screamed at me from the stand behind the finish line not expecting me to be there – she’d not had time to get me the beer!! We hugged and cried – goddamn it girl, I’ll drag your arse around Florida to make SURE you finish that IM.
But hey – after my medical issues of 2006 – what the fuck eh?? I was an Ironman again.
My cramps did for my time – but why did I get them so badly?? I think now that the humidity caught me (and many others) out as so many suffered with cramp – we just probably didn’t take enough salts on board for the volume of liquid consumed and sweated. It felt by the end as if I’d drunk the contents of a medium sized Coke bottling plant and a lot of water but I only had one pee all day so I was obviously dehydrated. I had Nuun on the bike but probably sub-optimal concentrations for the heat thinking back – and no significant salt on the run. Some thoughts there that need mulling over.
The ride is devious – the road surface is fast which lulls you into a false sense of security but the hills keep coming and blowing your legs away – you probably push harder than you should with that surface. But I’ll say one thing – it’s a cracking ride!
I should have also said – thanks to all the supporters out there on the bike and run – it bloody well helps to see smiling faces when you are bolloxed – and I did deserve a drenching from the Pirate mob when I flashed V-signs at them……….
I’ll start in the morning. Before the start I stood around trying to remember how to swim, going through the stroke and what I should be doing. I think others thought I was psyching myself up. I went almost to the extreme left of the rubbish people start – ie at the rubbish side of the rubbish people start and soon the race was underway (did anyone else think the tannoy guy said 2 mins to go about 10 secs before it started?) I was as ever worried about the swim and whilst everyone dashed in I strolled down and stopped to whack my head a couple of times. I kept to the far left to the extent I had to swim at almost 90 degrees to go around the first buoy but at least I was swimming in clear water. I was swimming so easily with no pull and my shoulder was holding up, and I wasn’t quite at the back. Around the top end my shoulder started to hurt and I was glad of the quick walk so I could properly stretch it rather than my previous treading water attempts. Into the canal still swimming very easily, sub warm-up effort – if someone got in my way I just slowed down. Really quite surprised by the swim time.
Bizarrely I bumped into a friend in the changing tent and we had a quick chat before setting off. I wasn’t really sure what my bike fitness was this year so I decided to split it into 3 sections keeping the hr below 135, 140 then 145 for them. I’ve had myself tested and *should* be riding at 147 thorough out so this was a conservative approach. I even sat up on the hills and went at the pace of a snail to keep it down. I saw quite a few pirates and others I know on the first sections of the bike and all was going well and very easily, just waiting for the final section and pushing on. I was looking forward to steaming past people who had paced wrongly. Then I started to be sick which was a bit worrying and I got a bit dizzy so much so I missed a couple of corners and rode off the road. If anyone knows how to get chunder out of headsets please let me know. It may begin to smell. I was a bit worried but just thought I would stick in there and being a long day it would sort itself out. I throttled the hr back down to below 125 just to be safe.
Onto the run I found I could walk, but if I ran I was sick. I also couldn’t take any fuel on, or when I could it came out again. There was no way on this earth I was going to stop. I was going to finish. I saw lots of people and had a few lies down. One time I was woken up by a nice medical team who said something like “you’re out” and stuck a needle in me. Then I got my first ever ride in an ambulance and they kindly put the blue flashing lights on and everything, they even arranged for me to have a lie down wrapped in lots of blankets whilst they gave me more things from bags and lots of blonde stunners attended to me. After a while I was able to think and was certain they were going to charge me 50 euros or so for each bag so I asked them how many I’d had. This was going to amount to quite a lot so I told them I was completely fine and wanted to go. They let me go. Heatstroke. The end.
Training had gone reasonably well and I was looking forward to the race. I was having trouble with my piriformis/glutes which was causing some concern and it got particularly achey on the 385km car journey from Munich but I hoped some diligent stretching would sort it. After a five and half hours in the car, punctuated by traffic jams and marvelling at Austrian service stations which featured revolving toilet seats, we arrived at the Jugendherberge. We met CRAB then Doozer then Slummo and Jan at reception; the former couple headed out for a run whilst the rest of us went to the pub. This means I probably missed the first installment of how essential expensive bike and wheels coupled with an aero helmet are to a good time
The days before the race were great fun – meeting new pirates and seeing old ones again. I especially enjoyed watching the supporters smoking pipes and assembling reams of yellow paper, cellotape and sticks into flags having responded to Candy’s summons to appear at the Jugendherberge um zwei Uhr ACHTUNG!!…Arbeit macht Sie durstig für Bier.
The day of the Ironman started at 4am when I covered every inch of myself in P20 and did some naked jiggling for DrM whilst it dried, then had breakfast downstairs (I got dressed in the meantime). I can remember almost nothing about the walk to the start – I think I asked Kryten to stop deafening me with his incessant chatting but other than that it’s blank.
DrM and I were a little late on to the beach and failed to find other pirates just before the start. I blubbed as we headed towards the water! We kissed, and hugged and said goodbye – DrM was planning on getting near the front whiclst my only plan was to be well away from the front. Like everyone else I was confused by the swim start (I’m not sure the pre-race prayer helped as it took a while for my anti-religeous apoplexy to subside). I was on the beach when the announcment to swim to the start came because we had just a few minutes to go. Once in the water I thought I was swimming to the start but when I got there it seemed that everyone was actually racing. I had no idea when we actually started nor any clue as to the direction I should be heading in. It was ages before I worked out where the buoy was! After the buoy it took me a long time to work out where the canal was but once I spotted it I realised I should have been able to locate it using the adjacent Hotel. I had to stop a few times with calf cramp which slowed me down for a while but didn’t worry me – it feels horrendous at the time but I have found I don’t have any problems with it after the swim so I just kept putting in a few breast strokes to stretch my calves. I was looking forward to getting into the canal as I thought it would be fast easy swimming with the draft. The reality was a little different! I hear it wasn’t too crowded for the sub-65 minute folk but it was a mass of body parts when I was in there and seemed to go on forever. I was pretty pleased with 1:18 – I thought I would manage that if everything went well so was expecting to be nearer 1:30.
The bike course was gorgeous – harder than I expected but beautiful scenery. I was riding to heartrate but I had trouble keeping it down at several points over the first lap. I really enjoyed most of the bike, as I had done at Germany – the support is amazing and I did lots of waving, high-fiving and chatting. I expected to see quite a few pirates on the course as my swimming is not so good but I was surprised to see Swoosh hooning past me like he was on fire only a couple of miles in – I shouted ‘I’ll be seeing you again!” Lindi also came past me early on after a long transition in which tried to get a replacement chip for the one she lost in the swim. I caught Gom, G-Sport, Crashie, Ergo, Slummo and Foggy that I remember. And I did see Swoosh again. At the end of the first lap I got a helmet sticker on my front wheel – tcker-tcker-tcker-tcker-tcker. I managed to catch Lindi at the beginning of the second lap tcker-tcker-tcker-tcker-tcker but she wasn’t far behind me in to T2. I also met up with tri-talker tcker-tcker-tcker-tcker-tcker that I’d cat-and-moused with at Bala tcker-tcker-tcker-tcker-tcker and an NYP chap I know. tcker-tcker-tcker-tcker-tcker tcker-tcker-tcker-tcker-tcker. ‘Your bike is kaput’, ‘No it isn’t', tcker-tcker-tcker-tcker-tcker. I eventually stopped to take the sticker off because I couldn’t stand it any longer! I got a bit dehydrated on the bike. I missed getting some water at one of the aid stations and had to wait far to long for the next one – I even felt pretty thirsty and didn’t pee for the whole bike. I found the last 30 miles hard work and was pretty worried I my repeated heartrate spikes had done some damage. I was delighted to see the 150km sign as it meant I had 2miles fewer to travel than my computer thought – then disappointed to see the 100m aid station where I thought we should be at 102 miles. I was in T2 before I realised the sign had meant 100metres to the aid station.
Got off the bike and felt terrible! I was out of T2 after about 7.5hours. Was really worried I had overcooked it on the bike despite my efforts to keep my heart rate under control – was I going to manage a 4.5hr marathon to come in ynder 12hours? It certainly didn’t look like it at first. I had to run for 2 minutes walked for 20seconds for several k. I felt quite low a times and told Crashie I felt crap when I saw him. I saw DrM at some point and shouted ‘I love you’ as we came close – the crowd went ‘Hooray!’ and we stopped for a kiss. Or I did, DrM tried to kiss me without actually stopping, which spun me round and gave me calf cramp. The crowd went ‘ooohhh’ and grimaced with me.
Gradually I began to pick up until I was running pretty well and feeling a whole lot better – also started to see lots more pirates which always provides a boost. Pebble’s warm-hearted ‘Come on Melli, you can catch me’ as he hobbled with terrible cramp was especially generous but the support from all was great. MrW looked as if he he was out for a sunday jog. I did give Carl the opportunity to overtake me as I took half a gel. I was gutted that the last three aid stations on the way out to the last turn were out of coke and gels then elated that they had restocked on my way back. I felt great at the final turn around and think the last 5km were my fastest. Marathon was 4:15 which I am really pleased with because I felt so rough at the start and so strong at the end.
Finished in 11:45 and happy. Huge thanks to CRAB who got me a drink and a sandwhich while I queued for my T-shirt.
More huge thanks for all the support – both from racers and non-racers. It was amazing! Thank you. It’s really something to be part of such a big team.
Disappointed for those that didn’t make it. In an Ironman, DNF can happen to anyone. It’s not the end of the world but it is a big anticlimax after months of training and it must be hard to be with everyone celebrating the next day in their finishers’ t-shirts.
When GOM said he wanted to say something after he won the ‘Finish Line antics’ Award I was expecting something like ‘I just want to say thanks to Sharon for supporting me yesterday and putting up with all my training, etc’ Instead his proposal was yet another emotional moment and there was some welling up for more than just GOM and MrsGOM.
kk and brian – thank you so much for taking so many photos. There are some great pics – can;’t wait for the dvd
Well it’s taken a little time! But here goes this is my race report for Ironman Austria 8th July 2007.
But before I start I just have to say the biggest thank you to everyone, that has given and shown support to each and everyone of us taking part in this event. This goes to the people that were there, family, friends and the people that got caught up in the whole pirate ship of fools in Austria. Too the people back at home following on the forums sending the vibes of support to each and everyone one of us, willing for us to achieve our goals on the day.
For some strange and unknown reason, I managed to sleep really quite well for a condemned man and was surprised to find my alarm waking me at 3:25am on Sunday morning. I awoke, managed to drag my backside from the nice warm bed and started my plan for that morning.
First things first, covered myself in P20 allow this to dry and then head for breakfast. Eat breakfast of bread rolls and jam and a couple of cups of coffee. Back to room, one last check that I had everything then head back downstairs to get the bus to the race start.
I think more then at anytime during the day this was the point, I suddenly realised what I had let myself in for. I started to feel sick, and I had to do my best not to go running back into the hotel to lose my breakfast into the nearest toilet! I shut my eyes, and tried to blank everything else and the bus pulled away from the hotel.
A short journey later and the bus doors were opening and we were at the Ironman City once again.
In the mayhem that was race morning managed to find my bike, give it a quick check over, walked the where the bags were hanging and made sure I knew where my were.
On exiting the bike racking area I ran into Symes and Mrs Symes who were chatting with my OH. We talked and chatted for a while and I started to feel a little better.
Then it was time to head to the swim start.
My plan was to start at the back on the right with the faster swimmers, and if I couldn’t keep the pace I would still be in front of the group on the left giving me a little breathing space. Well that was the plan. In truth, this went out of the widow, and I just stood at the back on the left in a bit of a daze. This was until the guy on the microphone, told everyone, ‘two minutes too the start, please get into the water’. Right no turning back now! I slowly walked into the water, just feeling really numb, and not sure what quite was happening. I got to a point where I could start to start and so just started to turn my arms over slowly and thinking about getting to the start point. The like others, it dawned on me. People weren’t stopping, they were still going. ‘Sh*t’, it’s started nothing for it now, get on with it. So the plan was to swim steady try and not get into trouble and just do complete the swim in one piece. Wasn’t too sure where I was heading to start with as I couldn’t see the turn around bouy! So, like everyone else I spotted a big yellow powerbar bottle floating out in the lake so headed for that! In this time I had managed to be swam over, had my legs grab and punched in the head at one point. ‘Oh well, it is an Ironman’, I thought to myself! I felt like I was swimming ok and was sighting every now and again an it seemed to be going ok. Then I looked up and for the first time saw the bouy that I should have been heading for just off to the right slightly to the direction I had been swimming too. ‘Made it!’, first bouy reached and I was around it heading to the second. For the rest of the swim in the lake on the whole I mamanged to stay out of the way of most of the other swimmers. Apart from one point where a friendly Austrian in a canoe pointed out that I was swimming in the wrong direction, and maybe I would like to join the others heading for the cannel!
The cannel, now some people have said how, they really enjoyed swimming down this part, some have said that it wasn’t that great. For me, I just knew at that point of reaching the cannel I had completed the swim and I was on my way.
Out of water and started the process of getting the wetsuit off. Grab bag, find some where to sort myself out. At this point I was feeling good, happy and was smiling. Managed to say hi and had a quick chat with some other pirates. Then it was off to find the bike.
Again the plan was simple, ride within myself, eat and drink and make sure that I get round to the run.
Headed out on the bike and not long after came across the pirate support station for the first time. I can’t come to think how many times throughout the day, that some one said to me how great the support was. You guys are great, and it always puts a smile on my face when I think about the support that you gave on the day.
Then it was head down again and get on with riding the 180km. The first loop on the bike wasn’t that bad, I felt the first real in my legs. But it wasn’t that bad, and the support at the top was brilliant (but not as good as the pirates). Then it was just about turning the legs over until the next big climb! The climb was, for me long and hard, and I just kepted on pushing, as I wanted to get it over and down with. I think this is where I started to pay the price, I have a feeling that instead of just getting the legs to carry on turning over, I started to push a little too hard, but it was only later that I discovered this.
As I cam towards the turn-a-round point, once again there was the pirate support crew cheering clapping and making more noise then anyone else around. Just before the turn point, I saw for the first time the Future Mrs GOM, and Mrs Symes, cheering clapping and once again making noise.
The second lap started very much like the first lap, eat drink and get on with it. This was until just before the round-a-bout where you headed out on the small loop.
I thought for a moment that I had been shoot! But no such luck, the rear wheel had blown. For all the training rides I had done. This was the first time I had had a puncture! Pulled over, got tyre levers out, new tube and CO2. Start to lever tyre off, hang on! Tyre is already half off. When the tube had blown it had pushed the tyre off the rim. Ok, great. Get the tube out, put the old tube on the floor. Next, think, check the inside of the tyre just in case, clear, new tube in. Time to inflate, CO2 into adaptor, push onto value. CO2 everywhere, apart from going into the tyre! Now, even I know that isn’t quite right! ‘You put the old tube back in’ a voice comes from the crowd. Thanks, why the fu*k didn’t you tell me that as I was doing it! Old tube out, throw away from new tube, new tube in, change CO2, inflate. Tyre back up, refit to bike. Pick up tools, and back into bottle, onto bike and away.
For the rest of the second loop, I did pray that I didn’t get a second puncture, I just didn’t want to have to do that again.
Back onto the third climb, and now I could start to feel my legs, they were getting tried and there was still away to go. But on I went, this was not going to beat me. Then I was there the last big long climb of this course. At one point I thought I would have to get off and walk part of it. Maybe thinking back, I should have and saved my legs a little. But that isn’t me, it wasn’t going to beat me and I was going to ride to the top! Within in a little while I was heading back downhill and heading to T2.
Back into T2, and feeling ok. Got rid of the bike, and head to get my bag, into the tent and chat chatting me a guy who had just come in at the same time as me while we changed. I felt good and I was happy.
Plan for the run, was to try and run the first half, then see how I feel and maybe run/walk the rest.
Well as most of you know, that plan was soon to be thrown right out of the widow.
I left T2 feeling good and happy, and knowing in my heart I was going to cross the finishing line.
I started the run slowly, but soon felt my heart rate raising, my legs started to hurt and my breathing was all over the place. I think I knew from this point, that my plan to run to half way wasn’t going to happen. I slowed and started to walk, my heart rate slowed, I sorted my breathing. But my legs were still in pain, but this isn’t a knitting club, so pushed on.
Over the cause of the next 26.2 miles I did try to run a couple of times, but had the same problems again. Heart rate up, breathing laboured it really wasn’t working for me. So I just kept my head down and walked.
I know during this time I did have a sense of humour failure a couple of times, and would like now to say sorry to anyone that I wasn’t my happiest with. But I have to say a thank you to the people that spent a little time with me on the day walking Debbo, CRAB, Swiss Bobby, Eccentric and C1 POL plus any other pirates I may have forgotten about.
Then it was my time, I remember seeing Barley a few minutes before I was due to go down the finishers chute. His words to me were ‘Milk it, it’s your first one enjoy it and remember every moment’.
I remember looking though the arch and seeing the crowds, I started into a slow jog to come up the chute with the biggest smile on my face. I then stopped, thought to myself why am I jogging! Then I started to clap the crowd, smile and started to try and take it all in. Walking down that chute, I have never felt happier. (Apart from Monday when I asked the OH to marry me). In my past I have competed at quite a high level in full contact karate (in my younger days). But the feeling of crossing that line on Sunday is something that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Once again I just want to say thank you to everyone for the support and friendship of each and everyone one of you, it is a real pleasure to sail with you all in The Pirate Ship of Fools.
Done it! It was great day and went something like this.
My alarm went off at 4am and I jumped straight into the shower to wake myself up. I’d had some sleep but not much. I didn’t feel too bad but had some pre race nerves. The shower nevertheless woke me up. Stuck my Serpie kit on and got the porridge on the go. A quick breakfast and it was off on the bus to the start.
Arrived a 6am. I checked my bike and my transition bags. Everything was going well. I put my wetsuit on and made my way to the swim start. Waiting on the beach I bumped into John a guy staying in my hotel. We had a chat to pass the time and calm nerves.
Swim and T1
With 5 minutes to go we were allowed into the water. I hung back as I am not a strong swimmer. I heard 4 minutes to go and got in. Shortly after I heard the cannon go and that was it the race was underway even though there were loads of people still on the beach.
The swim start was mental. Never again will I complain about being knocked in the pool. It was like swimming in a washing machine! After 800m people spread out a bit and it wasn’t so bad. Got to the turn and headed right, course knowledge given to the Wednesday before the race by a Serpentine friend. Took it a bit too literate and ended up too far right near the shore swimming between boats! Got back on track and then it was into the canal where it became a scrap again. I got smacked in the back of the head a few times. Not hard but it wasn’t in my race plan. Then I had someone trying to get over the top of me. A few hard kicks later and he stopped that, but I also cramped up. Not the best way to finish the swim. I could see the exit so just eased back a little.
Out of the water and I had a quick look at the watch, 1.15. Fantastic I thought, target was 1.30, so I was well up on that. Jogged down to transition and dumped the wetsuit. I covered myself in suncream, stuck my gloves and helmet on and ran into the racking area to get my bike. Looking around it seemed about half the bike had already gone!
Bike and T2
Got out of T1 and managed to get the feet into the shoes which I had decided to put on the bike. Not bad considering it’s the first time I’ve done that in a race. I started taking on water straight away as I knew it was going to be a long and warm day in the saddle. Out on to the road and it started straight away, packs of cyclists passing me. I just kept saying to myself hold back, calm down, you’ll see them later. Plan was to ride first 60km with max HR of 144. Continued drinking water and also started eating.
About 10km into the bike I decided to move up to the big ring as I kept spinning out on the downhills. I tried to move the shifter but the chain wouldn’t move up. Pushed a bit harder and oh bugger disaster! The shifter snapped. It had gone into the big ring but if I dropped to the small ring I had no way of going back to the big ring.
Right I though, you’ll have to ride the whole thing in the big ring. This was definitely not in the plan. For about the next 20km I rode in the big ring but every hill, even the tiniest ones, caused my HR to climb into the mid 150’s. I kept thinking of the big hills to come and realised I wouldn’t be able to do the whole ride in the big ring. I asked a couple of marshals where the mechanics car was and was told it was about but I never saw it the whole day. Anyway at 30km dropped it in the little ring and set about spinning the whole race.
It actually wasn’t that bad. I was fine on the flat and uphill. I only really lost time on the downhill as I kept spinning out. Still because I wasn’t pushing on the downhills I was able to have a rest and let my heart rate drop. Reached the turn in 2.53 7 minutes up on plan. I had consumed 3 flapjacks, 4 gels, 3 power drink bottles and 4 water bottles. I grabbed the special needs bag at start of lap 2 containing flapjacks.
Everything seemed to be going well. Resisted the temptation to push from 90km to 120km on the flat as I knew I’d need the energy for the later hills. Into the hills on lap 2 and it was tough going but I started to catch people especially on the hills. I knew I was slower on lap 2 but I knew I was having a good day. Crested Rupitenburg on lap 2 in the heat of the day knowing it was virtually downhill all the way to the end of the bike. Continued eating and drinking though I only managed to eat 1 of the planned 3 flapjacks. I hoped that this would not come back to bite me.
I pulled into T2 2.55 for lap 2 for a total bike of 5.48 vs plan of 6 hours. I put more suncream on. Put on my shoes and hat and off I went consuming 2 gels straight away. Left T2 with exactly 7.10 race time on watch
I was targeting a sub 4 marathon and knew on leaving T2 if I did it I’d finish in around 11.10 vs target of 11.30. Through the first couple of kms in 11 minutes and was keeping a nice steady pace. At that pace I was on for a 3.52 marathon but figured it’d be around 4 hours due to slowing. I was walking through each aid station long enough to have gel + water or Isotonic drink. Around the first turn I suddenly got desperate for the toilet but had to wait until about 11km before I found a cubicle!
I went through 10km in 55.30 still keeping the same steady pace. It was great coming back through the Ironcity and seeing all the supporters. Reached the city centre turn and headed back to the Ironcity. This next 5 km was the toughest mentally for me as I knew I still had a long way to go and I was also getting passed by people finishing.
I reached the half way point on the run in 1.56.43 feeling good. I figured I had a minute or so to spare to go under 4 hours for the run. Mentally it began to get a bit easier too as each point I passed I knew I would not have to do again. I just kept thinking you feel good, you are running well but when are you going to struggle. Just keep eating and drinking I kept telling myself.
Through 30km and back out through the Ironcity. I knew next time I was back here would be to finish. Now I just had to decide when to push. Through 32km still good. At 34km I figured I might as well push only 45 minutes or so to go. Now I was wondering if I could beat 11.02.36 recorded by a friend in IM Switzerland 2 weeks previously. Through 36km I was now inside his time on this pace. Reached the turn and carried on pushing. Through 38km and knew a sub 11 was on. Through 39km and I knew I had to run the last 3.2 km (2 miles) in 15.45 to go sub 11. Pushed I bit more and then suddenly I was in the finish shute. I sprinted for the line to clock 14 minutes for the last 2 miles, a 3.48 marathon and 10.58 overall.
I was so happy at the end and even now a week later I still can’t believe I pulled off such a good race.
his is my race report. I wouldn’t call myself a racer other than I believe that we should try and do the best that we can with our respective talents and skills. The background to the story is, I suppose, quite typical. Young guy interested in sport plays cricket, football and golf. Packs in cricket and football at the age of 30 and gets caught up in a corporate lifestyle eating and drinking too much and puts on 4 stone. So, at the age of 40, I looked at myself and decided I had better do something. I started running and over the next 2 years completed the Edinburgh and Paris marathons. I have always been able to go for long distances, albeit slowly.
I got my place in IMA during Christmas of last year (thanks to Candy) but had started training in August when I put my name on the reserve list. My big issue was swimming. I couldn’t swim front crawl, not even a little bit.
Fast forward to Klagenfurt:
We arrived on the day before the race, registered, met the pirates at athletes briefing and then set about re-building my bike. I went for a short test ride, made a few more adjustments and packed my transition bags. I had never done a race like this before so found the race briefing very helpful. With everything done I set off with my wife to an Italian restaurant for dinner. We bumped Mr and Mrs Symes at the restaurant which was great as we shared our hopes and fears for the race. My personal hope was to finish, my fear was that I would fall apart on the swim. ( His turned out to be spookily similar!)
The alarm didn’t need to go off at 4am as I was already awake. The hotel was fantastic and had laid on a proper breakfast starting at 4:15. We set off to the start and managed to get parked 30 yards from transition. I did the usual check of the bike, bags, applied a load of sun cream and pulled on the wetsuit.
I was dreading the swim. The 10 minutes before the race was amazing. A sense of anticipation and excitement was in the air. As the gun fired I stood on the beach and watched 2,221 racers hurl themselves into the chaos of the swim.
Once the mass of swimmers was off and away, I strolled into the water and started at the back by myself. I had decided not to get involved in the bumping and pushing of the mass start and to stay calm, not panic, get into a nice stroke and then focus on beating the cut off. I was fine until about 400m by which time my goggles had fogged up and I bumped into another swimmer. I had managed to catch up with the back of the group. They seemed as incompetent as me. I spent the next 2,600m being guided by people in canoes on either side of the course. I probably swum nearer 4,500m overall because I couldn’t see where I was going! Sighting is an important skill and one I will focus on before my next open water swim.
I ran aground on the beach at the entrance to the canal. The canal was full of weeds and not that pleasant to swim in, but the support on either side was very vocal and it didn’t seem to last that long. There was a steep ramp out of the water that a couple of volunteers pulled you up and it was off to transition. My left leg cramped on the ramp which surprised me but I shook it off quickly. Danielle, my wife, was there to meet me at the swim exit and offer a few words of encouragement.
Off with the wetsuit and on with the bike kit. I was so chuffed that I had got through the swim, I took my time in transition chatting to Symes – both slightly surprised we managed the swim. Put in my contact lenses, more sun cream, packed my bag and I was off to find my bike. This turned out to be a rather simple process as the previously full transition area was now deserted.
The cramp on the ramp worried me. I had decided a rather defensive strategy from the start of just wanting to finish but now I was worried that even this goal was at risk. I decided to fuel up on the bike. I had a rather home spun food plan based around my mum’s fruit cake and flapjacks. The artificial bars that are dished out at the aid stations do nothing for me and generally upset my stomach.
By 9am the sun was up and it was getting hot so plenty of water and energy drinks. The first 20k of the bike was undulating and very pleasant beside the lake we had been swimming in. Then it was off for the first loop and into the hills. The second one at Rupertiberg was the biggest climb and I found it a bit of a killer second time around. The support round the bike course was superb. Every village, even at isolated houses and at the top of every climb people gathered to cheer you on. They were not as noisy as our own pirate support – fab team! The only real excitement of my bike was when the eventual winner went past me nearing the end of his second loop. He was impressive. He must have been doing 40k compared to my 27k. By the time I was on my second lap people were moving into town to cheer the runners so I know of a couple of folk who got lost and headed off in the wrong direction! Passed a few pirates on the bike and it was great getting the encouragement and stopped the medic bike to get some paracetamol ( didn’t know if this was allowed but they passed me the drugs and my head cleared)
Dropped the bike and jogged over to the changing area. On with my shoes, grabbed a hat and some more sun cream and off I went. Not quite sure how I managed to waste 11 minutes in transition!
After about 10k of walk and run I began to see more and more people struggling. I put my finishing head on and decide that I want to finish above worrying about a time. So I walked and shuffled the 26.2 miles. A personal worst marathon time by 2 hours but I didn’t care. I knew that if I kept up my shuffling I would beat the 17 hour cut off and finish the race. The support from pirates going in the opposite direction was great and I hooked up with Symes for most of the second half before he went for his final 7k sprint. We whiled away the time messing up the maths to work out when we would finish! The crowds in the bars were entertaining as they became more and more vocal as the beer flowed. It was pretty dark by the time I strolled in towards the end. I had followed this chap who was in a bad way for some time but determined to finish. He was being followed by 2 medics on bikes.
The finish of the Ironman is amazing. As I turned the corner, Danielle met me and we jogged towards the finish line together. The announcer screamed down the microphone ‘ here’s John Ma-cle-odd a first time ironman’ and then as the crowd were going mad he added ‘ John Ma-cle-odd, you are an i-ron-man’. It was great. The sense of elation and emotion that was coursing through me was a high I shall treasure.
So I finished in a very slow 15:15. The odd thing is that despite the slow time I still feel a winner. I didn’t ever feel any less than any other athlete taking part even though I was slow and the congratulations that I received from other racers and pirates was heartfelt. All of the training was worthwhile for that moment you cross the line. The support and encouragement that I received from the pirates throughout the race was amazing! I was proud to wear the colours!
I want to say a big thanks to Iron Mike – he gave me a schedule to follow every week and kept me going when the training got tough. I really appreciate what you did for me. Good job!
So a week on and I’ve entered Ironman France next year. I’m going to keep up the training and build on what I have done this year and hopefully beat my time by some margin.
Sorry I rambled a bit….
I felt sick but reasonably calm. Hanging around with Barlos and DD and Gumps. I think LIndi was there for a while too and Eccentric but I was already going a bit quiet, thinking about the task in hand. I remember the voice saying 2 minutes to go please make your way to the water and then the bang and people around saying “they’ve started” and thinking it quite funny. I carried on wading into the water and as soon as it was deep enough started swimming.
From the start I was swimming as slowly as I could. Luckily, this turns out to be equal in speed to swimming as fast as I can so I had decided to take it easy and avoid panic at all costs. I was thinking away to myself about things people had said to me. DTs and his struggles with tears last year but mostly I was thinking to myself with a smile that today I was going to be an Ironman. I remember at one point thinking “next year I really would like to try to get better at swimming” and then thinking “where the hell did that come from? Go away, I’m not doing any more!” Other than that things were uneventful. The canal was great, being sucked into it like some swirling silt vortex. Overtook loads of people in the canal and loving swimming past the people on the banks. My watch was set to beep every 20 minutes for nutrition reminders on the bike so I knew I’d done the swim in about 1.30something and was happy with that when they pulled me up that ramp and into t1, which was also uneventful.
I was so happy to be out on my bike. Soon went past the piratey supporters grinning like an idiot. My plan was to do the first 60km with HR under 145, 2nd under 155 and third under 165. Looked at HRM, said 186, thought “it’s ok I’m just all excitd it will come down”. Kept peddling along at an easy pace as people were passing me. One guy said something about come on and I told him there was plenty of time for that later. Still I couldn’t get my heart rate down. Freewheeling down some of the decents it went down to 150 but I couldn’t get it any lower than that. After a while of this I just though that I must just be too excited about the whole day and I would just have to go on perceived exertion. I wasn’t looking at my speed but I remember being surprised when the first 10km marker came up that that was all I’d done. Symes and Caley Jags came past and I was very pleased for them having made the swim I knew they’d be ok. Saw Bryan who told me he hadn’t seen meldy, though “ha ha, beat her out of the swim”. Got to the first big hill and all the people were shouting and cheering and all I wanted to do was cry and say “but I cant go any faster”. So much for taking it easy to begin with, Meldy flew past me up this but by then I didn’t really care. From that point on I don’t really remember much. Squishy passed me looking good but basically the track in my head was “I cant do this, I’m already too slow and it’s already too hard I’m never going to be able to keep this up for another lap” followed by me giving myself a slap and saying “you can turn the pedals, that’s all that matters. You are going to keep turning them until you cant any more and then you can stop” Got to the piratey supporters again thinking I was pushing as hard as I could and I’d taken 4.30 for the first lap which was already too long. I was crying when I passed them but thought that “what the hell am I going to do I cant go any faster” wasn’t really an appropriate thing to say to them. Got to the turnaround just as what seemed like a hundred people were finishing. Told myself to JFDI and pushed as hard as I could.
This carried on until the first big hill again where my chain came off. As I unclipped my legs cramped up so I sat down on the floor. The marshals at the bottom of the hill shouted if I was ok and I said yes but as I sat there I realised I was panting and my head felt rather strange and so I rested in against the barrier at the roadside. The marshall walked up and gave me water and asked if I needed help again. I said no and got up and started walking my bike up the hill thinking it would be quicker than cycling it. I still felt very strange and part way up there was a shady bit on the other side of the road so I went over to it and lay down and drank all my salt drink. Suddenly there was the sweeper car asking me if I was ok. I said that I was just having a little rest and the man looked at me as though I was insane. There was an Irish man in the car who said “you’ve done better than I have. There’s not shame in stopping now” and I thought to myself “fuck off”. He started to say something else and then said that he didn’t want to influence my decision. I wanted nothing more than to stop but couldn’t bear the thought of Candy ripping the piss for all eternity so again I got back on my bike and started again. The rest of the ride I had the sweeper car just behind me. I was pushing as hard as I could, feeling that every time I stopped peddling they would think I was giving up and that I wasn’t going to. I started to feel better and thought to myself “see, told you it would pass. It always does” but then I think we had passed the 40km to go marker and I had again looked at my watch, again ignored that I was never going to make the cut off when the sweeper car pulled into a layby in front of me and signalled for me to slow down. The man said that I had 40 minutes to do 30km and so he was taking my number off me. I did what any self respecting, testosterone filled endurance athlete would do and burst into tears. I sat by the road while they loaded my bike up and an ambulance arrived. I said I was OK wishing that I was nearly dead or something so that at least I would have an excuse for being such a failure. And that was that. Apart from that same irish bloke saying “I know what you need!” running back to the car and triumphantly producing a powergel. What a penis.
So, that was that. I had a crap day and I wasn’t fast enough to begin with to get away with it. To put it into context, I can fairly comfortably do 30km in an hour. On Sunday it took me 2 and a half hours to do 47km. I don’t know what was wrong and I don’t suppose it really matters. I’m disappointed of course but I’m also glad that I didn’t give up despite knowing from pretty early on that I was fcked. I just want to thank all the supporters and everyone who was so nice to me afterwards and to say sorry to all those who came out to watch and support me for not really coming through on my side of the bargain. xx
So, one Friday lunchtime July 2006 I’m trawling the threads and Candy suggests that if you want to join the PSOF sailing to Austria to get in quick as places are going quickly, I sat looking at the OK box at the foot of the entry form and plucked up the stupidity to press it.
Nearly 12 months later I’m standing in a queue in a tent in Southern Austria having a little orange band wrapped round my wrist and it says athlete on it.
From there we joined a few pirates on the shore of the lake and headed out for a gentle swim, leaving Mrs Symes to take in the rays and collect a sun tan which was to be a theme over the next couple of days! Certainly a bit different from any OW I’ve tried in the UK but unfortunately a bit too far to travel to for training.
The following day it was briefing and bike racking. The briefing meeting brought all pirates and some supporters together, making up a decent sized group, if I’d not been involved I’d surely have been jealous! We started on a sad note with something that crossed my mind whilst training. Unfortunately an Israeli athlete had been hit by a truck whilst training on his bike and died three weeks earlier, I guess with all the mileage we all put in the odds were that this would happen to one of the 2450 signed up and there were a few thoughts no doubt of there but for the grace of god…
Breakfast was served at 3.30am a time usually reserved for crawling in from the pub or setting off on holidays but not this day. A couple of pieces of toast and cake and then time to collect various bits and pieces and off on the shuttle bus. Arrived at transition and pumped the tyres up, attached my new saddle mounted bottle cage (never tried before but it’s the pirate way) and went back outside to the increasingly nervous and very patient Mrs Symes. Joined a while later by GOM and Mrs GOM to while away an hour or so before it was time to get the wetties on and head for the lake.
I’m sure most of you are bored with the facts of my previous experiences with swimming but after my last pre-race training swim I’d covered 3km and was relatively confident of making the distance, I just wasn’t too sure about the time it would take! As others have said we seemed to have been given a 2 minute start and then all hell broke loose, playing right into my hands as I’d planned to let everyone go and then use the clear water behind them. Found my rhythm quite quickly and kept on going for the orange and blue buoy, I maybe should have checked the distance to it so that when I passed it in 37 minutes I’d have an idea of how well or otherwise I was going! As we made our way to the next buoy I was actually overtaking people, how good was that?! Reached that turn in 51 minutes and realised that it had to be over halfway to the canal and that I was in with a chance of my aim to beat cut off. 30 minutes later I reached the canal and with an hour to go 800m I reckoned I was ok, indeed I was at 1hr 45minutes I had my arm pulled out of its socket by a helper and I was sent on my way to T1, unfortunately I missed out on seeing Mrs Symes but she saw me so that kept her mind at ease.
About 5 minutes later Caley Jags turned up and we had a joint celebration of getting our worst section out of the way before I set off for the bike.
A great start to the bike with the pirate crew just a mile or so in, gave them a fly-by sweep across the road and headed off for 112 miles of fun. Had a shout of “even crapper swimmer” from Meldy heard a motor bike somewhere nearby and didn’t want either of us to get carded for drafting so carried on. The crowds on the hills first time round were fantastic and certainly helped me through what was a rather painful experience. Met up with Caley again after Rupert the Hill and said goodbye as he carried on, sort of nearly collected him after a quick left hander as his gears had jumped leaving him pretty much dead in the road, managed to avoid him just, no other excitement until about 6 miles from the end of the lap when a helicopter followed by a police outrider, press motorbike and then the leader swept by, tried to get on his wheel but decided against it in the end.
Got to the turnaround point passing the pirate supporters and finally spotted Mrs S and Mrs GOM and off for lap two. Same as before really but the hills were longer and harder and there were less people out there which made for hard work at times. Had to give in and walk the lower slopes of Rupert hoping that if I protected my legs they’d pay me back on the run. Coasted in towards T2 and was met by a woman who just walked out on to the path, thanks for that.
Set off at a slow easy pace and bumped into a rabble on the side of the path with supersquirters, most welcome though, top supporters. The slow pace became a walk after about 3km, somehow I’d managed to damage my chest muscles meaning I had to adopt a slightly different posture to stop the pain, but apparently you can’t expect to get though one of these things without being in pain at some point so I just got on with it and ran when it was comfortable to do so. I’d promised I’d take my wedding ring round with me but didn’t trust leaving it on my finger but I discovered that although you can get away with putting it on a chain round your neck for the swim and bike it is really very painful on the run unless you tuck it in to your top, nice bruise to show for it!
Met a large number of pirates coming the other way throughout the run section which certainly helped me on my way. After one and a half laps collected Caley again and walked with him for a bit more than half a loop before very selfishly asking if he minded me running on as I thought I might be able to sneak in under 15 hours, put a few 6 minute kms together but just didn’t have enough time to play with, felt a right sh*t when I heard the announcer count down to the 15 hour mark, sorry Caley.
Eventually made my way past transition into the rather dark park and missed one turning then found pirate hill again and with shouts as loud as ever from them set off for the last few metres, did have one more mishap as I ran into some netting instead of turning left, oops. Round one more corner and the bright lights and dancing girls were there as was the small ramp up to an arch with an M and a dot on top, what a feeling!
15 hours 2 minutes 29 secs
Thank you to all pirates who supported me through the training when things weren’t going too smoothly and for your support on the day itself it made the day and almost certainly made sure I’d finish.
Big thank you to Mrs Symes for being so patient when I grumbled about windy rainy training days and for being there on the day, I wish I’d have seen you at the finish but hopefully next time…
firstly, just a quick thanks to all the PSOF in Klaggy who were so nice to Mrs G-S and the 3 wee G-s’s.
The kids had a great time and the wife tells me she did too.
Sorry we could not spend a bit more time with the Pie Right celebs, but it’s hard enough keeping the wee sports happy, let alone sneaking an IM in to the weekend somewhere:-)
Race Morning up at 4, brekkie and down to T1 to check the bike.
Lack of Dunnies was a bit of a concern, but made all motions in time to find a spot on the beach next to young Ergo, did not seem to find the pirate massive anywhere at the start? Not much notice of start( the carp organisation of IMA seemed to be an ongoing thing during the whole weekend, but i shall not elaborate , just enough to say that the Germans are better at it)was in the water about 50m from the start line when the gun went.
First 20 mins were horrible and i questioned why ?
After the furthest buoy, i settled in, wandered off to the right where some yachts were moored, could not sight very well, sun and my general poor ability. The canal was a real fight, only one big whack in the face, but must’ve dished out more.
Out of the soup at 1’15.
T1, usual slowness, forgot my vaso, eejit.
Lap one of the bike on HR, couple of good chats on the way around, some poor fellah from “Englnad”- George, binned it on one of the two sharp 90′s just infront of me, he was ok, bit shook up and grazed. I just missed him , then onwards, that Rupert the Bear hill second time was a bit tough.
6’31 bike, very dissapointed with the time, hr was low on the second lap, but my legs are carp!
T2, forgot to apply the vaso, again.
Felt ok on the run to be honest, knew i was not gonna make my planned sub 12, so walked all the aid stations and stopped for a few chats, with Gumps who was in a bit of a dizz, swoosh and Pebble. Could ‘ve done with a running partner to keep me pressing on as realy i felt ok. Luckily caught up with Mr Hampster and we joined forces for a social last 10km or so.
Picked up the 3 kids coming into the finish,we all 4 tried running to the end, but it was further than the 2 yr old could manage, so had to put her on my shoulders and carry her to the end with the two boys holding hands too, it made a great finish photo.4’46 run
Bumped into the geez with the big nose who won on Monday at expo, i asked him to run in pirate kit next year! Seemed a top bloke, i have a feeling he was a bit afraid of one of the PSOF beating him next year.
Thanks again dudes. Great respect to all finishers and for those who had not such a good day, but sail on.
The alarm rudely woke me before 4am and I staggered down to breakfast to meet Crashie and Squishy. Everyone was looking focussed, or it might have been tiredness, and lots of us were plugged into MP3 players either to distract us from the impending trial or to stop us falling asleep. I went for My Chemical Romance as my motivational music selection.
We took the hotel bikes and cycled down to the lake, stopping to hurl abuse at a small group of pirates walking along the path. I sorted out my bottles, chatted to a few people then dropped my bag off and headed for the lake. There was a final opportunity to get some words of encouragement from DTs and Hanna before zipping up my wetsuit and joining the snails on the left hand side of the beach. I found Lindi and Dangerous Dave and we watched the lake nervously. Eventually the tape was lifted and we walked into the water. Suddenly the gun went, about a minute early, so I kept walking and eventually started swimming. Immediately my goggles started filling up so I stopped to empty them. Despite several more stops I couldn’t get them to seal properly so I ended up only being able to see out of one eye. The first stretch up the lake was fantastic. I was swimming steadily and only had a few bumps with other people. After I turned back towards the canal I found it tricky to sight as the sun was in my eye so I ended up drifting to the right. Eventually I saw the canal entrance and headed for the final 800m. This was the only rough bit as I was behind someone alternating breaststroke and kicking me each time. I finally got past him and spotted the exit ramp. Two volunteers hauled me out of the water and another pulled me up the ramp as I could hear my sherpas on the other bank cheering me on. I had a quick look at my watch as was pleased to see 1:34.
T1 was pretty straightforward but with a quick pee stop on the way to the bike.
As I cycled out of the park and onto the road with the crowds of supporters I realised for the first time that I was actually doing IM. That brought a lump to my throat as I headed over the bridge. My strategy was to take it easy so I could get my heart rate down and take on some fluids. Originally I have planned to use gels that I had in a bottle but at the first aid station I tried a banana and a powerbar, which I found really tasty so I decided to stick with that. At each station I took energy drink and/or water, banana and half a powerbar.
The course was tougher than I expected with some long slow drags and a few tough climbs. Some of them were fantastic with supporters lining the road, reminiscent of the TdF. As I pushed on through the first lap the day started to warm up so I kept drinking as much as I could. As I crap swimmer I expected to overtake some pirates and sure enough I started to spot yellow and black in the distance as I reeled them in. Eventually the scenery changed as I started the final stretch to the turn. I checked my watch and was on course for a 3 hour first lap. I was pleased with that pace but knew I couldn’t sustain it for the second lap as it was getting very hot. Sub-6:30 still looked reasonable and would make me happy.
The second lap was, predictably, harder and there was less company. I rode with Foggy for a bit and caught up with Kanga. We took the piss out of Eamon “All the gear” for a bit. He was a fat chap with a disk wheel and aero helmet who was making heavy going of the hills. The final stretch into the town was a relief and I cruised the last few miles, keeping my heart rate down and giving my legs a rest before the run.
Coming off the bike in bare feet was a mistake as the ground was very hot and I worried that I’d burnt my feet. But I couldn’t do anything about it so I pulled on my running shoes, grabbed the suncream, stopped for a pee then headed out onto the run. Normally I start marathons feeling good and they hurt later. This time it hurt from the very first step. How I was supposed to run for 26.2 miles was an unanswerable question but I made my way through the park and the first pass of pirate central, where I was grateful for a soaking from Candy. It was hot and I was thirsty so the first aid station was a welcome sight. My strategy was to walk all the aid stations so I could take on the water and fuel I needed. I picked up the pace again and pushed on along the lake. The course was a bit twisty and the surface changed a lot so it required some concentration, which wasn’t easy in the heat. I cheered some pirates coming back from the turn and received words of encouragement in return. Hollywood was running really well and Melli looked great. I was keeping my eyes open for the Hamster as I knew he couldn’t be too far ahead of me.
After the turn I started to feel a bit of grumbling in my stomach so I decided to try some coke at the next aid station, which seemed to do the trick. I still needed a toilet stop as I came back through the transition area but I avoided stomach cramps. I was walking every aid station and managing to keep my average pace to about 10 min/miles. By now the clouds had arrived so I was cooler and feeling a bit better. My legs still hurt but only as much as they had at the beginning.
There was huge support from the other pirates and pirate supporters. Pirate central was packed with supporters, Mrs GOM was just outside the transition area, cheering hard, and random people were waving pirate flags and cheering.
I saw Crashie again, looking very good so I didn’t think I’d catch him. Lindi and Melli were still running well and CRAB was making it look easy. As I came onto the second lap I noticed the change of pace among the other athletes. The faster guys and girls had finished and now I was among people with pain etched on their faces. I was still feeling strong and managing to overtake people thanks to the coke and a couple of gels. I was very pleased to see Squishy looking strong and running well as I made the turn at Klumpendorf.
Eventually the final turn in Klagenfurt arrived and there were only 6km to go. I checked my watch and realised that I could walk from there and still be under 13 hours. The final stretch went by in a blur. I cheered Meldy as I came back to the transition area, delighted to see that she’d made it off the bike, and wound up the pace for the final 2km. I came onto the final few hundred yards along the lake with someone close behind me and remembered Ergos words – “Check for the Womble”. I didn’t want someone spoiling my finish so I found a reserve of energy and sprinted (well, ambled slightly faster) to create some space. As I turned into the finishing chute I was met with a sea of faces and a wall of noise. I remember looking at the clock, punching the air and seeing the cheerleaders giving me a Mexican wave with their pompoms. I was over the line and being wrapped in foil. Bryan the Snail stopped me for a photo and I’ll apologise now for the stupid grin. I couldn’t stop smiling. I’d beaten my target by nearly half an hour and I was an Ironman!!!
The next hour went in a blur but eventually I found myself back at pirate central with other supporters nervously waiting for the final two. I was delighted to see Squishy run through then we waited nervously, checking our watches. The minutes ticked past and someone was sent down the course. Eventually, we heard a shout and Meldy came through, looking good and very excited.
There are lots of people I want to thank. Firstly all the supporters – you were fantastic. Crashie and Squishy for some great training rides and lots of encouragement. Caroline, my running partner, for hours spent pounding the paths of Marlow. And the forumites I chat to regularly who have been encouraging when I’ve been wibbling, spent Sunday following me on the net and nearly blew up my phone with the number of messages after I’d finished
My advice to any new pirates thinking of IM France…….. don’t, it hurts!!!
I’m sorry this is so long, I tried to edit it, but there’s so much I wanted to remember about the day. Here it goes….
When the alarm went off at 4am on Sunday 8th July, I’d been awake for almost an hour, lying in the darkness wondering what my first Ironman would be like, whether I’d get round okay, how much it would hurt, what time I’d do, what the weather would be like. All these questions would remain unanswered until around midnight….just a mere 20 hours away!!!
Crashie and I got up and went down to breakfast and sat with Mr W. There were lots of people, possibly others doing an Ironman for the first time, others old hands, evereybody focusing in their own way. I couldn’t eat much, just some museli and a couple of bread rolls with some jam and honey, juice and tea. The hotel didn’t have a microwave (what century is this??) so Crashie couldn’t have his porridge. We then went back to our room and faffed around a bit before we decided it was time to leave.
Myself, Crashie and Mr W rode down to the lake on the hotel bikes – we wanted to ask if we were too late to rack them, just to see the organisers faces! We locked them up and walked into transition. It was a hive of activity, people everywhere, faffing. I went to see if Amelia (my bike) had made it okay through the night. She was there waiting for me, all in one piece. I stuffed all my Powerbars, Torq bars, gels, cashew nuts and Tuc crackers into my two top-tube boxes, filled my profile bottle and put my energy drink in the bottle cage. Crashie came over with the track pump, and I went to unscrew the cap on Amelia’s front wheel and promply unthreaded the whole valve and expelled every bit of air! Panic!!! Drew said not to worry and just did it up again and pumped up her tyres. A trip to the loo, and a huge bang while I was waiting in the queue. I prayed that wasn’t one of Amelia’s tyres blowing up. It wasn’t, phew. A bit of wandering around in circles, and chatting to Slummo, Jan and Eccentric, back to check Amelia’s tyres – no, they were still fine.
We grabbed wetsuit, goggles and hat out of our streetwear bag, stripped off our clothes revealing our pirate kit and dumped the streetwear bag and left transition for the last time and headed off towards the lake shore to put the wetsuit on. Jesus, I’d got the wrong wetsuit, I couldn’t get it on! I really struggled, but mainly because my feet were wet and I couldn’t get the thing up my legs. I spent ages pulling it on, making sure it was absolutely right, no creases or wrinkles anywhere, all nice and smooth and pulled up properly, then we joined all the other wetsuit clad athletes. A lot of pirate supporters were there already, so hugs and good wishes all round, then it was time to go to the waters edge. Crashie went to the right of the pier where all the sub 1:10 swimmers were heading, I was on the left with all the snails. I was suddenly on my own, and looked around frantically for a friendly face. ATO appeared, bless him, and he held my hand and we went down to the beach together, and bumped into Debbo and Meldy. More hugs and good luck wishes. This was it, we were about to start. My stomach was fluttering like crazy, but for some strange reason I didn’t feel as nervous as I had at Bala. I knew what I’d got to do, and I just had to get on with it. This was what I’d trained for for almost a year, this was my dream, I was going to enjoy it. Strangely they didn’t let us in the water straight away, but we were then allowed to wade in. It was lovely and warm on my feet. There was a rope across a little way out, and I guessed that was the official ‘start’ line.
I waded in deeper, then began to swim, get the water on my face, let my wetsuit fill up. The water didn’t feel cold at all, even when it seeped through my wetsuit. This was going to be a lovely swim. I began swimming towards the rope, expecting to have to stop and tread water at some point until the gun went off. I’d vaguely heard the commentator say 2 minutes to go. I kept swimming towards the rope, then looked up to see everybody swimming beyond the rope and carrying on. We must have started, surely? I didn’t hear the gun go off. What should I do? Was I to stop and wait? I stopped briefly and trod water for a few moments and watched, but people were definitely swimming on, thrashing around, lots of splashing. Yep, we must have started, so I hit my watch and began to swim.
My first 15 minutes were a bit rubbish really. I wasn’t panicking, but I couldn’t seem to find a very good rhythm. Lots of people round me, one on my right who was really splashy so I pushed on past them as I breathe to my right and didn’t want gobfuls of their splashy water. It was very exciting, boats everywhere, police launches with their lights flashing, helicopters buzzing overhead making waves on the lake – stop it, feck orf, you’re making it choppy! I was watching them, wondering what it looked like from up there, looking at the boats and people, not really concentrating on my swimming very much really. I was doing my usual 8 strokes and sight, but sighting wasn’t much good, I couldn’t really see any of the buoys at this point, just lots of boats and lots of people in the water in front of me, so I just swam and sighted every so often, until I spotted the first big buoy, then I sighted more regularly so that I didn’t go too much off course. Past the first buoy and I started to concentrate a bit more on what I was doing, keep my stroke nice and long, rotate in the water, don’t kick too much. I wanted a wee, and it took me until way after the first turn before I could actually go. Nice and warm in my wetsuit. A bit too warm actually! The sun came up, and it was really hard sighting then, as we had turned into it. I was pleased that Crashie and I had swum round to the mouth of the canal a few days before, as I knew exactly where I was heading, and there was another big buoy to sight off, then we were at the mouth of the Lendkanal and I knew I hadn’t got far to go. I hadn’t been able to check my watch at all as it’s on my left hand, so I hadn’t got a clue how long I’d been in the water.
I aimed straight for the middle of the canal. I could see people standing up over on one side and walking through the water. Where were they going? There was somebody in front of me who was weaving from one side of the canal to the other, and I think they must have struck the bank at one point because they came to an abrupt halt. They weaved back in front of me and over onto the left side, so I decided I’d had enough of them, and I put on a bit of a spurt to get round them. I sighted more often up the canal because it was easy to go too far over to the bank, and I needed to stay in the middle. Under the bridge, lots of people. It was strange, there must have been a lot of noise, but I only heard it when I came up to breathe, then all was quiet when my head was in the water again, just the lovely bubbly sound of my breathing. I could see the people clapping and their mouths moving as they shouted, but no sound. Bliss. I loved the quietness of my own little water world.
Then there it was, the exit. We’d seen it the day before from the bank, and I knew that as soon as I saw the blue matting I could stand up. A couple of people grabbed my arm and up I came, then I went from one helper to another as they hauled me up the steep ramp of the exit and I giggled. Off with the hat and goggles, and unzipped the wetsuit so people could see my pirate kit underneath. I was quite sad to leave the water. Checked my watch. 1 hour 53 something, piss, I was no quicker than at Cirencester. Crashie had said I’d do a 1:45 and I felt disappointed that I hadn’t. I’d faffed around too much watching the helicopters and absorbing the atmosphere. Oh well, I was still miles within the cut-off so that was okay.
I walked quickly to T1, into the tent and stripped out of my wetsuit and began to get changed into my cycling gear. Where were the helpers? There was nobody in our tent to help at all. I put sun cream on the bits I could reach, and decided at that point to wear my buff around my neck, which would offer some protection from the sun. Stuffed wetsuit, goggles and cap into my transition bag and dumped it on one of the carts outside and headed off to find Amelia.
She wasn’t quite on her own, but a lot of bikes had already gone. “Crap swimmer” I said to myself, grabbed her from the racking and wheeled her out of transition to the mount line. Here I stopped and wiped her tyres with my hands as all of transition wasn’t carpeted and there were tiny loose chippings and stones stuck to her tyres. I didn’t want a puncture! On I got, didn’t even worry about clipping in, just took my time and then sped off down the road and out of Klagenfurt. This was the bit I was dreading. I’d now got 112 miles to do on the bike in the blazing sunshine. Deep joy. Oh well, JFDI. The first bit was fairly quick, but I held myself back a bit. I was breathing heavy and my HR was a bit high, so I took it steady, calmed myself down and my HR dropped to about 120. That was better. On we went, and I tried to look at the scenery, which was beautiful. Then other bikes coming the other way, whizzing so fast down hill, Jesus they were shifting. Then I saw Crashie and beamed and waved at him. It was great watching everybody coming down that stretch, as we were climbing up a very gradual hill, then we had a downhill bit and then the road split and we went off to the right and there were no more people coming the other way. I wondered how far it would be before we would be coming back that way. Don’t think about it – keep going.
Up a big hill. There were billions of people, well, okay, possibly a couple of hundred, and the noise was deafening, they were all shouting and clapping, a lot of them standing in the road and I was grinding up the hill, boiling hot now, but smiling. I got to the top of the hill and checked my HR which was about 153. Phew. It levelled off again and I looked at the beautiful mountains and was enjoying myself. I saw a pirate in front, and guessed it must have been Firestar. We greeted each other and we chatted briefly about our swim before I went past and continued on my way. Another hill, this was a biggie! Out of the saddle, the sweat was dripping onto my sunglasses. Back in the saddle for a bit, back out of the saddle, in the saddle, all the way to the top. I didn’t want to get off and push, but I was probably doing about 4mph! On and on it went, then suddenly it was over, and flat again. I didn’t look at my HR! My left foot was killing me, all the way up into my leg, and I wished I’d got some nurofen with me. Some nice quick downhill bits then, all on the aero bars, and beautiful fields full of sunflowers which made me smile. I love sunflowers. Some idiot running along on the road trying to take a picture of his mate on a bike, who then stopped dead, right in front of me. I don’t know how I managed to miss him, but I swerved round him and yelled “Move, stupid!” which was a lot more polite than I expected. He almost caused me to have an off road, and I’d have been really chuffed. I cycled on cursing him under my breath.
Another pirate, and I could tell by the long plait that it was Meldy. I was surprised to overtake her so early on in the bike, I thought I’d only catch her on the run. More piratey greetings, and on I went. Then Dangerous Dave came past me. He said he’d had a dreadful swim. A motorbike went past me and the lady on the back smiled and said something to me and I smiled back and waved, then spotted the bike said ‘leader’. Oh God, here we go, I’m about to be zipped by the professionals. He came past me like I was standing still! It was amazing to see him, and he was a long way in front of the others.
Back into Klagenfurt and a nice flat and downhill bit all the way, and there were the supporters yelling at the side of the road, pirate flags waving. It was great to see them, and I waved cheerily. I felt pretty good at this point. A U-turn in the road, and I started my second lap. I checked my ride time, which was 3 hours 51 minutes. Flippin heck! I had to go some on the second lap. I wanted an 8 hour bike, and the cut off was 10 hours 30 minutes after the start of the swim. I was trying to do the sums in my head, but I couldn’t! Keep pedalling, keep pedalling. Fortunately the pain in my foot had gone, but now my neck and shoulders were aching like hell and I could feel my back frying in the sun. I had a bit of company with a chap named Ash, and we kept passing each other and cheering each other on. Some silly bint called Sigrid or something sat on my back tyre for about 4 miles which really pissed me off. I was very tempted to turn round and yell at her to get off my backside. I slowed up a bit while I emptied a bottle of water into my profile bottle, and she went past me, then stopped a bit further up the road and propped her bike against a tree and vanished into the woods and I didn’t see her again. I began to apologise to Amelia, because there was no way I was going to stop for a pee if I wanted one, so I said to her that I was very sorry but if I needed to wee-wee I was going to have to do it on the move, but I would clean her afterwards! Anyway, I didn’t need to wee wee at all. I was stressing a bit about the bike cut off, especially when we hit the hills again for the last time and I was crawling even more slowly up them. I refused to get off and push, and I ground my way up them, accompanied by “We are the Champions” followed by “YMCA” and the first bit of “We Will Rock You” by the very noisy DJ parked on the hill. I was very glad to get past him!
A pirate poster stuck to something with “As You Were” written on it, which I hadn’t spotted on the first lap, which made me grin and lifted me a bit. Cracking! There were the sunflowers again, golden yellow and they made me smile again. Then the beautiful mountains, the very pointy green one, beautiful rivers that I wanted to jump in, the scenery was breathtaking. I was absolutely boiling hot. A pirate in front of me, and it was Dangerous Dave. He was really flagging and said he was really suffering now. I noticed bottles on the side of the road and realised I was approaching an aid station, so threw mine off, which only had a couple of inches of water left in it. Cycled on, and saw the aid station, the tables all folded up and stacked on the side of the road, bin liners full of empty bottles, but nobody there, no drinks, nothing!! I was furious. I’d got some energy drink left, but I needed water. I couldn’t believe they were packing up the aid stations, there was about an hour and a half to go until cut off and I knew there were lots of people behind me. I wished I’d kept my bottle now, which at least had a bit in it. Stupid idiot, I should have emptied the lot into my profile bottle. It was then about another 12-14 miles until I got to another aid station. Fortunately there were people there, but none of them standing waiting with bottles. I yelled “Wasser, wasser” as I approached. The lady looked confused “Wasser” I yelled, and she scurried around and eventually found me a bottle! Thank God. I took a big long gulp, emptied the rest into my profile and stuck the empty bottle on my cage. Hoorah, I’d got a bottle with Ironman written on it!
I kept checking my watch, and managed to work out that I only had to cycle at 10mph to get back within the cut-off. All the big hills were now done, and my current speed was 24mph. I would do it. I told myself to concentrate, I was a long way into my bike, I hadn’t got far to go and I certainly didn’t want a puncture, otherwise I would blow it, so I watched the road carefully, avoided any potholes and sharp looking things and rode carefully. I was worrying about Dave, Meldy and Firestar, praying they would make the bike cut off. Past the stadium and back into Klagenfurt, the turn into the park and back into transition. The time was 4.45 – I’d done it within 3/4 hour of the cutoff. Wahhooooooo! I’d done the bike. I unclipped and got off rather gingerly and grimaced to the marshal and said my backside hurt, but he just smiled (and gave me a vegemite sandwich…)….. no, he didn’t really!!! There were about 4 helpers standing chatting, and I almost had to shout to them to take Amelia off me. They should have been there waiting to rack her for me, we didn’t have to do this. Come on, sort it out!!! Eventually somebody took her from me and pointed the way for me to go. I didn’t run in clip cloppy shoes. Grabbed my run bag from off the peg and noticed there were an awful lot still hanging there. I hadn’t passed that many people surely. Into the tent to change. I decided that I would change my top and put a sports bra on and a monaco rather than the mesh lined tank top I was wearing. I took my top off, and attempted to get my sports bra on, but I was so hot and sweaty it all rucked up at the back and I fought with it, then took it off again, straightened it all out and attempted to get it back on. Again we could have done with a helper in the tent! Eventually I wriggled into it and managed to pull it down, and the bloody thing felt like a vice around my ribcage. There was no way I could wear that. Off it came again, and back on with the mesh tank top thingy. Oh well, I’d be running fairly slowly so it shouldn’t be too painful with the bounce! I took a couple of nurofen. After all the faffing with my bra, I was in T2 for 13 minutes!!! My goal of getting out on the run by 5pm was virtually spot on. I had 7 hours to do the marathon, which was my goal.
Off out of T2 and onto the run. I exited with another English chap who said his legs had gone and he was going to walk for the first couple of k, but I started to jog very slowly. I wanted to giggle, my legs felt like nothing on earth! I carried on jogging very slowly, out on the path towards Krumpendorf. I think I saw Hollywood first, and he beamed at me and said “bounce bounce bounce”. I wasn’t sure whether he was referring to my chest, after the fight with my sports bra! I jogged on, pleased to be off the bike, and my legs began to work a bit better. The route to Krumpendorf was horrid, silly twists and turns and a mixture of surfaces, and it seemed forever to the turn-around point. I saw lots of pirates, and my darling Crashie, and we stopped for a very quick snog! He was on his last lap, and would be finishing soon. He was having a stormer. It was great to see everybody and getting lots of encouragement. Turned around, the mat bleeping, and I thought that my split times would be coming up on the Ironman website and people would be tracking me. They would know I was on the run. At this point I knew I was going to do it. I felt okay, and I had loads of time. Back to transition and I saw Dangerous Dave in the distance, carrying his bags. He’d obviously missed the cutoff.
The run into Klagenfurt was quite nice and shady, quite a few people cheering, and the bit through the main town square was great, people sitting at tables in restaurants all cheering, shouting and clapping and I beamed and waved a thanks to them all. Two old ladies sitting in their porch clapped me and I shouted thank you to them. Back to transition and I saw Debbo, who said she’d just seen Crashie going in to finish, and I welled up. I was sorry that I wasn’t able to see him finish. Around in a funny loop in transition, and there was Melifera and Mr M, they had finished long ago. I stopped to see them. Meli took both my hands and told me I was doing really well, I had got plenty of time left, and to take it steady. Thanks so much Meli, that meant an awful lot. Back out to Krumpendorf. Jesus, this was hard the second time around. I caught Bendy Jan and we stayed together for a little while, me jogging very slowly, she walking quickly, and eventually we got to the turn around point again. I took on water at every station and took some gels. My HR then went a bit high, and I slowed down and walked for a while, telling Jan to carry on. I took a sponge and shoved it under my buff at the back of my neck. I was starting to feel very sore and very tired. The sun was setting. I would be glad when it was dark and would be cooler. I saw Meldy, a huge relief to see her and I was pleased she’d made the bike cut off. She was going to be an Ironman today. Lots of pirates on ‘pirate corner’ all cheering, thanks guys, you were absolutely amazing. I then spotted Firestar among them. “Don’t ask” she shouted to me, and I felt tears prick my eyes. Poor Squeaky hadn’t made it. I was jogging again now, very slowly, and drank a cup of Coke, which did nothing at all for me, so I stayed with my gels and water, and had a piece of watermelon. There were lots of other things, bananas and oranges, but I wasn’t sure whether they would upset my stomach. Back along the canal to Klagenfurt and I was now absolutely certain that I was going to do it. An annoying man at one of the bars yelling “Eye-ron Lay-dee” at the top of his voice, obviously not drunk at all! You could hear him for miles. Shut the f*ck up! There was Barley running back on his very last bit, and he told me to take my time at the finish, to enjoy every moment. Into the main town where all the people were, all yelling “Sooper Debbie” and I felt all emotional and thought I was going to cry. Past the ladies on the porch for the final time, and I thanked them again, and they said “we will see you next year?” I replied “no way”!
It was dark now, and the bit back was quite tricky, no lights and I was picking my way carefully along. I carried on jogging, as it hurt as much to walk, and I kept telling myself “this is it, I’m going to do it, I’m going to be an Ironman”. I couldn’t think about it too much because my eyes kept welling with tears and it was hard enough to see where I was going as it was! I began to think about the race, and that I’d felt okay the whole way round. I had read in ‘Going Long’ that I would feel really, really bad, at least once on the course, probably more. I’d had a couple of rough patches on the bike where my foot and leg had hurt like hell, but all in all I had felt okay. I hadn’t hit the wall, I hadn’t had a dizzy spell, hadn’t felt sick or anything. It had gone well. I saw Meldy for the last time, she was grinning and I told her she was going to do it.
I was now approaching the final section. I had loads of time, and knew I could crawl if I had to. Onto Pirate Corner again, and Oxy was yelling that I was going to do it and I was going to be “Iron Squishy”. Thanks so much Oxy…. but you made my eyes fill with tears again! The final bit of the path was lit with big candles which was quite nice, as it was really hard to see where the path went. I could hear the announcer at the finish and heard him say something about a pirate, and I guessed that must have been Jan coming in. It was an awful long way, that last bit before I turned to the finish, then suddenly it was there, the rest of it was fenced off now and there was only one way to go. I must have grinned like an idiot at the marshal when he pointed and said “finish”.
Barriers on both sides of me, and loads of people. Past the 42k tree marker that we’d taken a photograph of earlier in the week. I couldn’t quite believe it now. To the end of this bit, and a left turn and I was in the finish chute. I was taken aback with the noise and the bright lights shining in my face. I carried on jogging very slowly up towards that gantry. People yelling on all sides of me, but I couldn’t make out any faces or voices – apparently Crashie was there right in the front of the grandstand yelling at me, frantically waving pirate flags, but I didn’t see him, all I saw was that big blue gantry at the end – the finish of my ironman and the clock showing 16 hours 19 minutes and something seconds. I lifted my arms when I heard the commentator announce my name, and suddenly I was under it, over the finish mat, bright flashes in my eyes from the photographer and I burst into tears. Lots of flashes from cameras, dear God, all my photos would have tears streaming down my face. Somebody put a medal around my neck and I picked it up and kissed it, sobbing like a fool.
A helper put a gold foil blanket around me and put her arm around my back and started steering me away. I suddenly didn’t know where I was going, I couldn’t see a thing for the tears. She kept asking me if I was okay and I was just nodding. I guess she didn’t understand the emotion of finishing something like this. She steered me towards a tent,and there was Bryan the Snail and I burst into tears again, and he took my arm and my helper left me and Bryan led me into the Ironman Dome. There was Debbo, Kanga, Slummo, Jan and I sobbed over everybody. Kanga was an absolute sweetheart and took my chip from around my ankle and took it back for me and got my certificate, and Debbo got me a cup of Coke. There was no food left. Swiss Bobby then appeared, all neatly scrubbed up and we hugged and I sobbed all over him too! Bryan rang Roger to see if Crashie was with him, but he wasn’t. Poor Crashie was frantically trying to find me, I’d been whisked away by the helper so quickly, but he realised I would be in the Dome and he came into me and we sobbed again. Then we had some tense minutes waiting for Meldy. The clock was ticking, it was about 15 minutes to midnight. Somebody said she was 5 minutes away, then suddenly she was there, and there was huge relief. She’d got her Ironman! Bless her, well done Melds. I was now quite composed, and I got my finishers t-shirt and the fireworks went off just as we were leaving the Dome to signal the end of the Ironman. I felt sorry with all my heart for the people still out there who had missed it, especially those who had just yards to go, it must be gutting. Sorry to our brave pirates who worked so hard that day, Firestar, DD, Petal and Gumps.
I don’t know if it will ever sink in that I’m an ironman. I look at my lovely shiny medal and think to myself “yep, I did that”. It was an enormous challenge, at times it hurt like hell, but nothing in the world will ever compare with that feeling of finishing, the buzz of the finish chute and the emotion of it all, it’s very hard to put into words. The pirate supporters were truly amazing – I had been one last year and didn’t really know how much difference it made. They give you such a huge lift, and I thank you all so much for standing out there for so many hours yelling until you were hoarse. You are heroes. Thanks so much to our sherpas, Knackered Knees (Roger) and Linda, who drove hundreds of miles with all our kit in their car, and who helped and ferried us around, especially after the race when I was too tired to walk another step. You were both amazing and we will never be able to repay you. Thank you so much. Thank you to the on-line supporters who were there in spirit from RW and Fetch – I know you were thinking of me. A special thank you to my wonderful mentor Debbo who has put up with my epic emails over the last 11 months and the stupid questions and for telling me off when I needed it. Finally to my darling hubby Crashie, who got me through all the training, was there by my side through wind and rain, encouraging, never losing his patience with me, giving me advice, coaching me and supporting me through it all. I am so proud of you, you did a wonderful ironman, and we share something very special.
Just a final word…… waaaahhhooooooooooooooooooooooo, I’m an IRONMAN!!!!
(sorry it was so long!)
I was feeling pretty Piratey, standing on the lakeshore, waiting for the start. I was warming my wetsuit, newly purchased from the Expo, and adjusting my goggles, newly purchased from the Expo, while nattering to Runnersworld’s answer to Torvill and Dean, aka CRAB and Doozer. Eventually they lowered the tape which was preventing us from entering the water, so we could swim out to the start…which promptly happened, much to everyone’s surprise. Despite this being the biggest cock-up since Eccentric forgot his fluids, I reckoned there was no way they were going to stop the washer now, so I got on with it.
It’s typical Hamster luck that the one bit of triathlon that I happen to be moderately good at is the swim. (1:09:29, I thank you )) Sooooo, it all went, er, swimmingly, nice punch-up in t’canal and out into transition, where I found CRAB in the tent. He gave me some stick about reversing our placings at Cirencester, but it just turned out that he found his bag faster than I did. It might have only been 30sec, but a kill’s a kill…
He departed with ‘AS YOU WERE’ written on his shorts; I wonder if that’s now sunburned on his arse?
Out onto the bike (at which I’m hopeless) so I resigned myself to being overtaken by a succession of crap swimmers. Started watching people’s names as they flew by. I deided to use them as an omen for the day’s weather, which could have gone either way at this point. First through were Rainier, Reinhard and Fookinpissendown, which I took as a bad sign, but they were soon joined by Berndt and Bernhardt, which sounded more promising. Next it was the ‘try to associate something with the name of each rider as they passed’, which worked fine until Silvia went by and then I was singing ‘Sylvia’s mother’ for the next 30 miles. Saw Firestar and Meldy and my darling Squish on the two way stretch, then on up a couple of hills and into Klaggers for a little Piratey support! Tried to high 5 a apectator at the turnaround, nearly fell off, gave up on that game.
Contradicting most geological principles, the hills were noticeably steeper on the second lap and I slowed by nearly 30 minutes, not helped by throwing a chain, then accidentally unlipiing half way up Rupertthebear second time around. Back into Klaggers and off the bike in 6:26.
In a quasi-Newtonian way, the rule for the run was ‘for every forward motion there is an equal and opposite bowel motion’, so it was portaloo stops at 0, 10, 20 and 30k. Great, now I was humming ‘Portaloo, knowing my fate is to be with you’….
Past the Pirate supporters (‘Squirt me baby!’) past Pebble, who was walking. He explained his ‘alien moment’, though I’m sure he only did it to be rubbed by several women at once. I knew how he felt as my back was killing me. Then there was Melli coming the other way and saying she felt awful; it was looking like a long day. Fortunately, it seems we all shook it off and JFDI.
Much mutual encouragement from a whole bunch of Pirates; I caught up with Squish and stopped for a bit of a snog; Mr W went past looking strong (I might have to work on my power mince for next year); next thing I knew there was a firm slap on my arse. I knew Squish was behind me and Tony was in front of me, so who could it be? I tried to hold out for Emma Snowsill, but it only turned out to be G-Sport, the man who turbos in his pants.
We had a good run/walk/natter on the way into Klaggers for the last time, then *cough* sprinted *cough* back to the finish, pausing only to take in every aid station and a natter with the Doner-vans. Sorry that you didn’t make it, Petal.
G-Sport collected his kids, and possibly a couple of someone else’s, and we ambled over the line in 12:48. ‘Twas a top 3 life experience. Thanks for the company, Paul, I hope it helped you as much as it did me. Cheers, mate.
A quick chat to Benson the Snail, a couple of piccies and then off to the Iron Dome, which was shite. Be afraid, these are the same people who are organising Nice…
After a leisurely natter with G-Sport and a change of clothes, it was off to Pirate Corner to cheer on the people still on the course. Oxy was showing Lanza-finisher-stylee endurance in still giving it out to all the runners, even after 15+ hours. Top bloke. Had a chat to Firestar; come back stronger, Suze, and caught up on the gossip from the spectators’ point of view. Having been kicked by Hannah that it was probably time for me to bugger off to the finish chute, I toddled off to watch Barley, then Jan, then Squish come in.
I cried buckets, my darling Squish was an Ironman. Of course, she didn’t spot me in the crowd and then I couldn’t bloody well find her, even though I sprinted (as you do after an Ironman) round to the finish chute exit. I eventually tracked her down in the Iron Dome, where she’d already been looked after by the Pirate Massive, including Kanga, Debbo, Slummo, Jan and Bobby. More hugs and tears…
Commiserations to those who tried so hard, but the day was unkind to them. It is what it is. See you in Nice?
Huge congratulations to all the finishers, the new Ironmen, the repeat offenders. I hope your day brought you as much happiness as mine did to me.
Thanks go to our wonderful sherpas, kk and Linda; to the Pirate on-course support; to all you fabulous Pirates; I love you all like brothers, even the girls, like Meldy, Melli and Mr W; to my darling Squish, who I love in a rather different way because it would be illegal if she was my brother…you make me so happy.
After a long and traffic jam interrupted drive through Europe, myself and the bearded one arrived in Klaggy on the weds night and were lucky enough to get a room at the youth hostel for an extra night. Ok, before I get corrected, I had a long sleep through Europe. Dumped the bags into the room and went out for a gentle 40 minute jog.
Slowly on the Thursday more pirates started to arrive, spent the morning wondering around town drooling at bike porn in one of the many shops and a bit of Eastenders style market shopping from the fruit and veg stall. That left time for a bit of a wander around the lake and into the Ironman City for a bit more drooling, this time over the very attractive female competitors dressed head to toe in lycra. With registration completed, a pre race dip in the lake was needed, before meeting with the rest of the pirates.
It’s all about the journey
While sat talking to Gumps about various training/racing theories, CRAB piped up with a phrase that was to be repeated constantly through the week ‘it’s all about the journey’. Gumps wasn’t quite sure what to make of this and I’m sure by about 4pm on Sunday that was the last thing on his mind. A few more beers/waters later it was into town to meet everyone else not at the youth hostel. On the journey into town, Mr and Mrs Gumps were treated to some sycronized dancing to the beat of Micheal Jackson. Fred and Ginger beware!!!
The excitement was starting to build as the race approached, after months of training and sacrifices was it all going to be worth it.
A 4.15am start, breakfast and final race preparation before a slow walk to transition. I have never experienced such a buzz before a race, 2200 plus athletes all adding the final touches to there bikes and transition bags, with the nervous anticipation of what was to come. It then started to dawn on m for the first time what I was about to undertake. I ditched the steetwear bag, and made my way to the swim start. All the pirates congregated together for some last minute best wishes, tears and hugs.
I moved into the sub 70 swim start, to be joined by Crashie and CRAB, a few more handshakes and good lucks before I left them to move down to the front. I was hoping to get out with the quicker swimmers and get pulled round. The start was a bit of a fiasco, we started swimming to the start line before an accidental bang set everyone off 2 mins early. Quite a painless swim a few kicks and punches thrown but nothing that you wouldn’t expect. Got in to a good rhythm early, no problem around the first 2 buoys but sighting was very tough going back to the canal. Once into the canal and I must have swam the fasted 800 meters of my life, you just got pulled along with no effort. With the crowds lining the banks on both sides it created a great atmosphere to what can be a very boring part of a race.
Out of the swim and in to T1 my HRM had stopped and due to the fcuked up start I hadn’t started my stopwatch. The time said 7:56 am, at this point I thought I had done a 56 min swim, but due to my out of time watch and early start I was to find out later it was 1:01:06 – not bad for a first attempt I thought. Hollywood soon joined me in the transition tent, a quick change and chat then it was off to tackle the bike.
I grabbed my bike from the rack and headed out onto the open road, fully blinged up with tri spokes and woodpecker. I know your all thinking w@nker, but I don’t care, it looked great. Soon passed the first group of supporters who made a deafening roar as I passed and settled into a steady pace. With no HRM I was unable to use my pre race HR strategy and had to instead go by feel and perceived effort. I felt great and with lots of fast downhill sections and smooth tarmac the speed constantly pushed 24-25mph. Even so, there was about 400 people pass me in the first hour. Got round the first loop in around 2:50 still feeling strong. My nutrition plan went a little wrong at this point as my chocolate covered energy bars had all melted. I went for just gels and bananas from each aid station. The second loop slowed a little, a combination of the heat and a fast first lap I think. It wasn’t until about 75 miles until I was passed by a pirate, surprise surprise it was my chauffer. He flew passed my up a hill looking as strong as ever. After the final climb, it was time to cruise back to town, at which point I was playing cat and mouse with Pebble until he started to cramp up. The last 10k was a fast gradual descent, just what you needed. Into T2 and who should pop up but Hollywood again. Another quick change and off for the run.
After adjusting my gel belt I settle into a nice plod, but was soon put out of my stride by four supersoakers blasting me with water as I passed the Pirate support. Thanks guys!! My plan on he run was always to take it steady and hopefully run a consistent pace all the way. I was soon overtaken by Hollywood and Pebble, although the latter was to be seen again shortly. Iron Mike, Mr M and CRAB all passed me coming back from the turn around all looking very comfortable. I thought to myself, this is great. A few more hours of plodding and a few more pirates started hitting the course, every time I saw Mellifera she looked to be flying along and it wasn’t long before she went passed me. I exchanged a few high 5’s with oncoming pirates, and was really enjoying myself. Passed the Pirate gang for the second time and received a nice drenching of water from Oxy to which I replied ‘you fcuker’ , apologies for the language but I was in a state of shock. The second half of the run seemed to last for ever, by this time my feet were starting to hurt and passing the bridge to the youth hostel, it was tempting to pop back for a quick sleep. At this point I was passed by Barlos, I thought this cant happen. I chased the big man down and was kindly offered some of his flapjack but had to decline as it would have mad me throw up. Was finally caught up by Lindi as she walked quicker than my running. Put a big effort in for the last few k, at this point I knew I would finish and all the effort over the last year would have paid off.
Crossed the line in a pleasing 12:14 to be greeted by Brian and his camera. It was then off to the Dome for drink and food and then back to support the rest of the pirates coming in.
A fantastic day, one I will never forget. Not only for the event but also the great Pirate support and camaraderie. A BIG thanks to everyone and especially to my dance partner. Bring on Nice
Perfect build up, 3 beers, in bed at midnight, 10 mins sleep before dreaming I got super soaked at 1am then another 90 mins to get back to sleep.
Candy, Oxy and I all slept through the alarms, luckily Debbo remembered my earlier request to knock us up despite Candy dismissing it as unnecessary when id mentioned it earlier.
Went pretty well and felt very relaxed, had zero contact for the whole swim though that maybe because I spent most of it on my own trying to work out where I was supposed to be going? Did quite a bit of zig zaging. Entered T2 around 1:27.
Coach Firestar told me to go at it hard so I did, around 40 miles I started to feel light headed and noticing I was averaging 17mph I had a fair idea why. The next few hours were a bit of a struggle and as id slightly over cooked it, I got passed by nearly a dozen pirates. I began toying with my fueling, fluid intake etc to see if that was part of the problem? For whatever reason (probably the coke) I got myself together again towards the end of the bike and finished well. 7:39 bike with approx 35 mins of special needs.
Overall I found the bike course to be tough, a lot tougher than id expected.
Felt strong at the start of the run, started off as I was thrown by the uneven length of the 1st out and back and was chasing the clock wondering why I was so far off my 1:20 target (hence stopping CRAB for info). The fast start and what I guess was less than perfect preparation meant I just went down hill and really struggled finishing in about 6:25. As always it was brilliant to finish and so much fun seeing everyone else on the course.
For me the race was more about being part of the pirates, soaking up the atmosphere, seeing others on the course whether supporting or competing and especially sharing their joy of achieving their ambitions. Beyond the race itself I loved the atmosphere, camaraderie and friendship we shared. The whole experience was as wonderful as always.
So disappointed for the few that didn’t finish, your day will come… I know you all gave 100% and more, thats all anyone can ask of you.
“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
Crikey what a feat of endurance. Tears, heartache, the full gamut of emotions – and that was just saying goodbye to the binlids. I think they thought I was gonna die – I had bigged it up a tad. (BTW the tears were very much theirs thank you.)
So onto the real struggle what to put in what bags, what would I need for running, cycling, nutrition, would I be able to find them let alone carry them after such a long time, would it all still be in there, I was bound to forget something – and that was just packing the case! Took the safe option – never knowingly underpacked.
Anyway enough messing about let’s get down to it. Over 10 hours is a long time in anyone’s book. Never before have I felt soo tired, neglected and alone. Mile after mile only broken up by the occasional word from a pirate. Incessant, never ending, the weather didn’t help – that’s enough about the journey down there for now – with IronD(o)ozer. Fck me can that boy blow some serious Zzzz’s? Think I’ll need a cattle prod on that there tandem you know.
Got there too early on reflection. Pretty much twiddled my thumbs for a couple of days riding around town on what felt like a Grifter compared to the serious bling on display. It’s not about the bike but rest assured I’ll have one of those puppies by next year ;o) Highlight was some Austrian bint putting a GlastoBand around my wrist saying ‘Athlete’ – the buzz soon wore off when I saw Snoozer had one too. Talking of which I like to think I’m not exactly the unfittest chap on the planet but I felt like John Prescott (with a beard) walking around IronVille.
Day before race day and time for racking – aka putting your bike in a clearly marked space, packing one bag for running and one for cycling. Not exactly rocket science but being a Tri-virgin this was about the only thing I managed to talk up into something to worry about. A stroke of (mis)fortune though. Coach Barlos is similar to me alphabetically and age wise – the similarity very much begins and ends there by the way. So I asked for a bit of assistance. No probs I’ll be racking about 4pm he says – such a nice helpful guy just like everyone says. Funny that cos when I asked where he was at half three he’d bu@@ered off to rack. Cheers for that.
Knew I’d done the training so wasn’t particularly wibbly. Just needed to make sure I stayed in control on the bike as it was a long way. So relaxed in fact that when the start just kind of happened with no discernible start I was blissfully unbothered as to whether I was racing or not. Just occupied my mind with why Mini-me was (Tim) Donning chest waders for an OW swim – each to his own. Seemed like two or three minutes before I finally decided yeah it’s not that far to the start and those 2000 people in the distance sure look like they’ve started. Didn’t get too much of a shoeing as a result but on reflection not stopping for a few seconds to empty my right lens that was full of water from the off was possibly unnecessary given the length of the event. Only got one redirection from the canoeists which given my record was a record. Good fun in the downhill canal and got out in under 70mins which was very pleasingly close to my best case scenario. So just for the record that’s was both me and Doozer in the 60’s for the swim.
Decided I’d leave my salt tablets in T1. Admittedly decided that about 10k into the bike but hey ho these things happen. Right now the thing I’d been focussing on for a month or more. Don’t overcook the bike. Never heard anyone (not even IronMike!) say I took the bike too easy. Decided I couldn’t give a toss about time or speed just keep a lid on it and see what time we get to T2. Overtook Jesus quite early but that’s hardly surprising given he probably walked the swim. Most people were passing me though and rode for a bit with a bloke who had a bike from the smallest specialist bike builder in the world (he has a shed) – I know that cos that’s where I had the Grifter serviced before I left. Said shed is in the Dorset wilderness and this dude lived in Vienna – well would you ever! Settled into taking the mick out of all those people who should have saved on the bike porn and gone for swimming lessons or done that and used the pie fund for even more lessons. Oh what fun we had. Kept it under wraps the whole way round and never felt in any discomfort or pain – mainly thanks to some JD spinning up the hills. Saw plenty of canaries going tother way (lindi 1st I think) and passed Hollywood and Doozer. Nutrition seemed spot on. 5:38 for the bike and that was again under budget (I’d have been v happy with 5:45) and very much for less effort than I expected. Got off the bike as if I’d never been on it.
Mmmm…this might be where you want to look away if you’re on the verge of signing up. Think I got a bit excited because I never thought I’d have the patience I needed on the bike and I switched off mentally. Okay so here’s the excuses :-
1) Wasn’t sure where I’d started my watch.
2) Couldn’t find any km markers cos they were sprayed on the floor and easy to miss
3) 1st bit was along the railway line and the HR wasn’t giving a read out.
The result was a 22min 5k. 7 more of them and we’d be home and hosed ;o)
Now that was the excuses but the real reason is I’m a plonker. Nothing more nothing less. Cos once the HRM picked up after ~10k I could see it was too high but never got it under control. Knocked out 5-15k in 48mins and wasn’t feeling too bad. At 16k some athlete pointed out that the profi in front wasn’t taking much out of me. I guess keeping up with bib number 4 when he’s got under 4k to go and you’ve got 24 isn’t the smartest pacing option. Well it didn’t take long to prove that theory. At 18k I inexplicably and involuntarily stopped and slumped to one knee. Just remember thinking of Gerald Mclelland when he quit against Nigel Benn. I was gone, goosed, trousered and trolleyed. Completely spent. Everything was a blur. Shaking like a sh!tting dog and sweating like a paedophile at a swimming gala. A few unsuccessful attempts to throw up later and I staggered a few steps down the canal bank for a quick alfresco. Thought I was gonna pass out. Not sure how I got back to transition and halfway but the next thing I remember is doing a McClelland again by a bush to get some shade. Couldn’t believe I wasn’t even gonna finish. Now that wasn’t in the game plan.
Staggered down to Pirate Corner and enjoyed a bit of a soaking. Ran a bit, walked a bit, got custard pied by ergo and gumps a lot, seemingly got overtaken by SwissBobby a lot, got short thrift from GOM when trying to help him along (none taken of course), got told I was looking good by a few pirates when I clearly wasn’t, shamefully had a pop at C1 for doing what I’d spent much of the last hour doing and pretty much forgot about how long I’d been running or how far there was to go. Drenched myself in wasser wherever possible and started to take on a bit of Coke. Got ‘going’ a bit. Felt a bit of a bowel movement around 30k and saw no bushes but remembered a PortaLoo at the beginning of the Aid Station. Can’t believe I was actually walking back down the course. Tried the handle but it was locked. Waited patiently for an age then a polite knock. ‘Yeah what-fckn-ever.’ Was the response. Gave up. So I’d done an extra 100yards for absolutely no benefit. Deep joy. Saw Bobby for the 87th time just before the final turnaround and bumped into Foggy too. Looked at the watch for the first time in ages and realised I needed to get to the finish in under 30mins to break 11hours. Actually felt like I was running for the 1st time in about 20k and (relatively) whizzed to the end taking people for fun.
(Oh and can’t leave out my first meeting with Coach Barlos in the race. Stood in the middle of the run route, arms outstretched like an albatross, fingers pointing ‘Can I just ask? Is it 10k that way and then 10k that way?’ – for everything else there’s MasterCard.)
Mmm..so about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on but annoyingly been left with an empty feeling cos I know I was fitter than 10:53 (although I didn’t know it before I started). The goal was to hold back on the bike so I could run a decent marathon when it should have been to hold back on the bike AND run a decent marathon. Subtle difference.
Got everything I wanted out of the experience apart from the feeling that I’d maximised what I had on the day. I wanted to go places I hadn’t been before and I did – I just visualised it would be in the last 10k and involve a finish line collapse of epic proportions. Not bad for a first effort I guess. Great support both on and off the course.
Thanks very much to the Windermere Three especially the Irish contingent whose advice and patience made sure my hamfisted enthusiasm was aimed in the right direction a lot more often than it would have been otherwise – seriously guys I think you saved me an hour. And thanks to someone else who knows who they are.
And if you’re looking for some merchandise to commemorate such a joyous report (that’s if you didn’t pack in an hour ago) try this I agree with Rich M the kit’s shocking so I might have to join the Iron CRABs ;o)
As you were.
Monday before race discover idiot bro has goofed hotel booking 2nd year running (who’s the fool I let him do it) . Lindi and Kanga step into breach and stop me panicking.
Thurs – Bike ponce -packs the bike grumpy as Eeyore but very funny bless him.
Discover pool of coolant under car need to get bike home and car into garage in time for taxi in 90 mins …..its done all good until on arrival at hostel discover am making up fourth in compulsory smokin fartin butt quartet of wind !
Barlos provides enough hot air to reverse wind for florida IM…
Friday register, swim god the waters superb , we sight the canal , handy later folks , build bike and Kestrel feels gooood except slow puncture discovered on return from pub , get up at 6 am to fix , no sleep for 2 nights now but slummo calms me down and Sat am its ok just the 40% less trainin from IMDE to worry bout now!
So then race day and its the early bus for me slummo and bendy Jan had to ring bro to make sure he made bus then phsss as bus door shuts and I immediately realise all my carefully prepared viper is in bottles in my…bathroom aargh….. Slummo waters down some concentrate and I pump the tyres and again Im a tri god , after all ive done this before right…. ponce around transition dispensing bonhomie to pirates whilst privately pooing myself ..we stroll out past the nervous 520 bussers 20 mins to start , get wetsuited with other pirates and laugh heartily at fritz as he stares in horror at the Barlos pre race fag. I point out to fritz that its the second leg of a triple and I had three pints last night , now he’s convinced were gaga.
Swim start is bizzarre as we calmly walk to the water to discover everyone else has started 3 mins ago , doh .
Slip into gorgeous water and swim easy till whaked by numpty doing double handed backstroke.
I decide to sink the tirpitz and move on…. lovely swim except canal where klaus punches me three times before I thwack him athwart the noggin with a none too subtle right. Two battleships down and I make T1 in an easy 1.23
Had so much fun in T1 on benches with Kanga , Swiss B etc at least 8 of us Gaaarring , breaking my vow that this year Id spend less time in transitions than I can do a swift 5K !
So off on the bike and the livin is easy Im in charge and spinnin comfortably until a hauntingly familiar hussar hails me with hints of Yam Yam. Ooooright Chris , Ohmigod Barlos cruises past as possibly the only other athlete on the course with greater pork pie descent power (Oxy watchin remember). Still overtake a smokin bush in another 20k and the nightmare is over.
Spot lots of pretty women who cant swim as they spin effortlessly pass only to block the bloody road with their cissy descending 2 mins later
Its all OK until about 70k when I drop my malt loaf , probably causing a smash and royally arsing my nutrition plan such as it was.
Get to the pirates outside Klaggy and show off no hands skills what they dont know is that I was violently sick 5 mins earlier … suddenly it looks not very clever and the initials DNF are rearing into my concious….
Andrea from San Fran cheers me up a bit and I decide to take the second lap even slower havinbg only done 3.15 for the first.
Tie up on first ascent and admit defeat by walking have seen DT , C1POL and Debbo up ahead . Get back in cleats at top of hill and realise I have surpassed fluid retard error , I was in the big ring , nobs …..Eat a whole bag of almonds in barely surpressed rage and then vom em out with rapacity 10 mins later after Austrian teenager fails to spot the difference between Cola and Iso … still its strangely refreshing when youve just hurled.
Wierdly get a couple of gels into the small intestine and they peristalsis the right way , huzzah , feelin a bit stronger and despite Alain the crap french descender and Kevin of Bedford Tri trying to get themselves impaled on me tri bars make some headway.
Debbo dispariginley asks where I’ve been when I finally pass her on the bike , this was to be the least of her gibes though , how cruel is fate ?
Into T2 and feelin ok until I see Petal being supported off by 2 helpers , at this point make decision not to look at watch and just bimble out onto run course , chat to some pirates and have fun. Good call as support in run up to pirate corner is magnificent the jocks a real feature but all are eclipsed by the pirates and the seemingly omnipresent Brian.
See one and all on run course as we descend together into Pirate rambling club , Debbo, C1POL, Symes, DT, Foggy , Slummo, Kryten all caught walking and chatting.
Stop for chat with Iron Mike as I glide effortlessly past him before realising he’s a lap ahead .
See Lindi performing her magnatronic levitation run which would really have hurt if I was actually trying to run. Second time around pirate corner even better crack , decide I will settle for around 14.15 with walk bimble and enjoy second half of magsie.
Bizzarely sporting nearly blistering sun rash and twelve hours on course prevents any promising chats with any of the prettier athletes ?
Sadly witness part of Gumps demise and Debbo exerts brutal revenge on me not stopping for her as she reported all in at Pirate corner . Wait for Danish chap to finish before smilin and grandstanding it in for a 14.12 which was 2 bags of IV and days of recovery easier last year. An Ironman again and it feels every bit as good , in tent in time to see GOM on finish line cam superb!
Racing with the Pirates is the only reason I did a second the support, the camaraderie and the craic. You are all superb. God bless you all. xxx
Racking Good Day
Since I entered IMA it has been a distraction. As the day got nearer my ability to function normally diminished even more. Having got to Austria, my most common response to questions, or comments was “pardon?” and “what?”. I had the attention span of an ADD whatever…..
Having read the pre-race instruction carefully I realised that I only needed to rack my bike and bike bag on the Saturday. So I arrived for the English briefing – I thought this was sensible as I don’t speak German or Italian. I arrived with my bike and thought whacking Barley’s calf with my pedal was the thing to do. “I really needed that” was Carl’s response. Gratitude eh.
It soon became evident that I should have brought my run bag so Iron Man Eve turned into Iron Man Eve Nightmare as I needed to head back into town and get my run bag. We (my partner Sian, my brother and his wife) were staying in the centre of Klaggy. I’d already clocked up a few km walking and had two blisters on my toes. Great preparation. Eventually I arrived back in Iron Man City and attempted to rack my bike and stuff. Some Austrian wearing a Newcastle United shirt beckoned me over and then tested my brakes “Nien nicht gud Braaks nicht nichy swienhund” he said and immediately sent my bike to a mechanic. He then took my helmet and said “nein, nicht” and did much pointing at what I realised was a crack. I then thought if I looked innocent and just made it clear I a) couldn’t see it and b) couldn’t speak any language, he’d just give up and let me through. Sadly this strategy didn’t work and I ended up with a new (yellow helmet). During this time the mechanic had sorted out whatever was wrong with my bike and I got rid of my gear.
We had two choices, a 4.20am or 5.20am coach. We booked the 5.20am along with the Serpies who I later found out were Mr Melik and Jen who won her age group. This was a mistake as 40 mins later we’d done a full circle, had a full bus and the deadline for leaving transition was fast approaching.
Some tri-ponces at the back of the bus were getting really flustered shouting things like “Go, just go, we’re racing”, “go just go”….tensions were running high.
We found the pirates and I tried my best not to look nervous. My preparation hadn’t been excellent but I just wanted to get on with it.
The place was so busy but I found a spot on the beach and then we were off. It wasn’t as frenetic and busy as I’d thought and I seem to have got over the hyper-ventilation/panic attacks that happened last year when I first tried this lark.
The swim was ok although my sighting was poor and the blue buoys were not easy to see so I wasn’t particularly efficient and probably swam over 4k.
As I approached the canal I got rid of “we all live in a yellow submarine”, it had been in my head for the last hour. I then crashed into the left hand side of the canal – will it make the DVD? I doubt it. Was a bit embarassing.
Like Foggy, by some fluke I spotted my brother and his wife whilst swimming and attempted a wave, not clever. When I exited the water I was feeling ok but wobbly.
Having counted those who were ahead I realised I was in 2,066 position and if I wanted a cash prize, I’d better get cracking!
Seeing Sian at the end of the swim also gave me a boost so I was feeling good.
Rubbish. I couldn’t get my wettie off, I was all over the place. 10 mins. Rubbish.
Self discipline has been something I’ve not been good at but I had drummed into my thick head that if I go like Billy-O on the bike I’ll risk ballsing up the whole thing, so I took it steady and ate and drank.
The weather was fanastic, the local support brilliant, and seeing the Pirate supporters was excellent and made up for the fact there was more tumbleweed than bikes when I left transition. I took the first half pretty steady, kept my heart rate down but averaged a reasonable speed. I passed a few Pirates and and some guy called Norbert who was pedalling away on a mountain bike. Pirate attitude and an excellent forum name I thought.
It was a lift to see the Pirate bike crew going loopy at the end of the first lap, as well as seeing my beloved and family. Just 56 miles to go…
Then my toes began to hurt. I was worried. I was prepared for muscle fatigue and had a plan for that. I was drinking loads and eating loads. I did not anticipate my toes might be the difference between “tears and a medal” and just “tears” – and they are manky little buggers to boot (literally). I had to stop on the bike and massage them for a while. I took more painkillers and loosened my shoes. Anyway, that seemed to help a bit but it was still bloody uncomfortable.
The end of the bike stage happened 6.5 hours after it stated. I just could not wait to get off it.
To help chew up the minutes, I counted the number of people I passed and the number who passed me. The net result was I was 172 places up. I was pleased with this. However, I was less pleased with the number of totally inconsiderate riders who ignored the instructions to stay on the right making overtaking more difficult. There was one French bloke who I know Eccentric had some fun with as well. Quelle twat, je pense.
As I got off my bike I realised I was in trouble. I couldn’t walk. I stopped and removed my shoes. This made it better but I was still in agony. I handed over my bike, and grabbed my run bag and entered the tent. I saw Petal being treated and it didn’t look good. I was so impressed to hear that she had later gone back out on the run.
Eccentric arrived in T2 to witness me giving my toes a good seeing to. Eventually after being sloshed with sun tan lotion I stumbled out for the “shady” run. “Shady”, yeah right.
I’d never run a marathon before, and I still haven’t. At Bala and before, I’d gone too fast off the bike and paid the price later. I nearly did the same. However, I blame all the proper athletes. Just as I was joining the run, they were part way through lap two and running a decent pace.
I’d not seen my family or Pirates for a few hours and was looking forward to seeing them and for them to know I was still in the game. I saw them, it was awesome and I got supersoaked…!!
The early congestion soon eased up and I applied one of my many run/walk strategies. I really am a rubbish runner. Being an rubbish swimmer and a rubbish runner isn’t a perfect set up for an Iron Man. My problem is pacing. I run too fast (for me) and can’t sustain it. I thought, aha, I’ll run at my only pace for 5 mins and walk for 5 mins. This approach pretty much set me up all the way through although sometimes I went for a 10 min run and a 10 min walk.
I think I did the first half in around 2.5 hours. I’d swapped tales and words with Iron Mike, Eccentric, and had run with Debbo for some time. I ran/walked with Foggy for some time. “Fantastic view” Foggy said. “Yes” I agreed and then realised he was looking over the lake at the mountains. I however had been admiring the rather fetching female athlete ahead…
Some of the run is a blur and I lost count of how many banana sandwiches I had, and how much water I poured in and over me but there were some really uplifting things. These were almost exclusively pirate related.
The support and encouragement from the Pirate competitors was awesome. Handy little words of encouragement like “You’ll not get on my pirate ship walking you dirty little man” – then CRAB passed me with “as you were” on his shorts, or “Why aren’t you f***ing running?” from the soon to be Mrs Gom/Moby/Barthez.
The positioning of the main pirate support crew was great, although I wasn’t sure how many times I’d actually passed them. As I did for the last time, Sian said “Only 10k Chris, piece of piss”…I know what she meant but if I am honest, I think I bottled the last 10k. I knew I was going to finish and I knew I was going to finish inside 14 hours without really putting in a huge effort, so I basically just enjoyed it– including the pissed Austrian who repeated “I run Lady” for six or seven hours and all the locals and their applause and “Zupers”. Towards the end DT’s came storming past. What a fantastic run he put together.
A couple of kms from the finish Ergo came past the other way and not looking her best but it was good as I knew she was going to finish. Seconds later Candy came past with a sock asking if I’d seen Ergo. I feared what Candy had in store for Ergo with that sock.
I loved the last bit and Sian gave me a pirate flag to wave on the way down, the noise was loud and I could not bloody well stop smiling. A few high fives later and I was an Iron Man. 13hours 55mins 10seconds.
It was hard, and it hurt, but it was also one of the most rewarding and satisfying experiences of my life. I could not have done it without the support of Sian over the months, and during the race, it was great to have my brother, Andy and his wife Jo there for the “fun”. However, even this would not have been enough.
Through the forum and particularly being a Pirates have given me access to great advice and support during training and importantly during the event. The fact that so many people gave up time and money to come and cheer us on is just fantastic.
Thank you all.
My initial thought upon looking at my garage was how the heck am I going to get 18 bikes into that van! After a bit of head scratching, we got going. I think had there been one saddle bag more, it wouldn’t have all got in. The plus side was that there would be nothing rolling around as it was all quite nicely wedged in.
4am rolled around, and we started our journey to Klagenfurt. All went well until we got to Brussels. Took a wrong turn, got stuck in lunchtime rush hour, and two hours later emerged the other side only to run into the mother of all queues heading out of Luxembourg. To cut a long story short, it took nearly 22 hours for us to get to the youth hostel. Being 2am in the morning though, everything was shutup, so we had to get a few hours sleep in the van before going to my mates hotel for breakfast.
This rolled around really quickly. One minute it was Thursday, now all of a sudden it was 4am on Sunday morning. Got everything setup, and off to T1. Got my energy gels and drinks bottles on the bike, said hello to a number of people, pumped some tires up, the usual. Headed on down to the swim start, and finally got to front and centre of the fast wave as I wanted.
After telling meldy and debbo that they would perhaps be better off on the other side with the plus 70 minutes swimmers, I did the wetsuit up and got ready to go. Now, the start was a bit of a strange one. I heard an announcement from the starter telling the marshals to lift up the starting line. We started to walk slowly forward and positioned goggles etc. I did about 100m of breastroke and had a fiddle with my hat. Then I though, hang on a minute, everyone around me seems to be swimming. The guys at the front were already about 50m out, and didn’t look like they were stopping. Now, I didn’t hear any starting gun, or anyone telling us we were off, but the race seemed to have started. So, set watch going, put head down and cracked on with it. After 1000m or so, I found my rhythm, and also found a lot of space. Think I was just off the first group, and at the front of the second, and it was possibly the quietest Ironman swim I have ever had-didn’t get hit once! Come to think of it, didn’t even get touched from about 1000m all the way to the end-very nice! Having only done two swims a week since March, and only a handful of 4km efforts, I wasn’t expecting much change from 60 mins, so was very happy to see 57 mins on my watch by the time I exited. Take off the 100m of messing around at the start, and it could have been nearer to 55, but never mind, it matters not.
Had a good transition and headed out on the bike. Passed serpie Jen (Rich M’s bird) heading out of T1 and said a quick hello-not sure she heard or not. This was the leg that I was really looking forward to this year as I have hammered the training right up to getting injured at the tour of Wessex. I still felt that I had a good split in my legs and got cracking. Got in with a fast moving group and we were swapping positions all the way round the first lap. The draft busters were all over us and a few of us got pinged, but sometimes you just can’t help it as 40 or so cyclists hit the bottom of a hill, there is going to be some bunching up.
I had the hammer down, and was feeling good. Didn’t feel like I was overcooking it at all, just felt strong. Got to see a number of pirates heading out in that middle section as I was coming back-looking good guys! Got to the top of the Rupertiberg after about 60km and felt good, and enjoyed the very fast descent down the other side. I got round the first lap with 2h40 or thereabouts of elapsed time, and felt strong. It was awesome to be riding with the female elites-was tanking along behind Wendy Ingraham for a fair few miles. There was a girl called Elena I think who had the most fantastic derrier I have ever seen. Damn that 10 metre drafting rule, I needed to get closer!!
More of the same for the second lap-got passed by Rich Melik at about 100km and he was looking good. Was awesome to see the pirate supporters out on the course too, and they really did give me a lift. The second time up the Rupertiberg wasn’t easy, but it was only 5 minutes of pain and then that nice descent again. Had a chuckle as I lapped the last cyclist who was kitted out with a full disc setup and an aero helmet. Think we should have him on the pirates next year. Whizzed round the last 40km or so and hit T2 in 5h19 mins which I was very pleased with. Didn’t feel like I had toasted myself doing it either, though was feeling a bit thirsty.
So, the making or breaking of my day. Got changed and got running. The first 6km or so I felt terrible. It was more of a shuffle than a run. Something wasn’t quite right. Saw Mr M coming the other way about 4km behind and he was looking pretty strong. I decided to take a walk through the aid station at the 8km mark and get some coke down me. This did the trick, and the next 10km or so up to town and back went really well. Saw the pirate support crew just past the finishing chute, and got a much needed super soaking. Got back around to the half marathon point and then it happened.
I think it was a combination of the heat, de-hydration and no salt intake, but I got the mother of all cramps in my right hamstring. Had to stop and stretch it out, but I knew I was in trouble. Its amazing how Ironman can take you from feeling ontop of the world to feeling like an invalid in a few minutes. Got passed by Mr M at about 28km, and then later by Adam just outside of town. I had really gone into survival mode by that point though. I had to shuffle 50 metres or so and then walk until my legs didn’t feel like cramping anymore. Had a couple of tactical chunders around the 32km mark, and from then on, just couldn’t keep any drink down at all. Anything I took just came back up again. This is obviously a problem with the temperatures well into the 30’s, and 135 miles of exercise behind you! This is where it really was great to have so many friends in the race. To anyone who walked with me and gave me some encouragement a massive thankyou. I don’t think I was ever more than 2 minutes away from another pirate and another friendly face. When you are feeling a bit dizzy and like you have lead in your legs, this really is a great help.
The last 10km up to town and back was really the most pain I think I have ever been in. Giving up was never an option, and I just focussed on going from aid station to aid station. Finally went round the final corner to more cheers from the pirate support station, and got to hobble up my 8th Ironman finishers chute. Total time was 11h 18mins, but I was just glad to have made it. Pretty much collapsed into a couple of volunteers and got carried onto a golf trolley. Job done.
Overall I am happy to have taken another 33 mins off my pb, but my goal was always to go sub 11 hours at this one. The run was the deciding factor yet again. My gamble to not do much swim training this year paid off, and the extra time I spent biking made a huge difference. These are two massive positives that I will take from the race. I am determined to crack this marathon malarkey for Germany next year, and I am determined to go sub 4 for it. Chatting to a few of the faster serpies has already given me some ideas, but it may also be time for me to get an experience coach too. If I could go sub 4 in 08, that already puts me at a 10:18 even if I get no faster in the other two.
It will be a shame to not be part of the pirate trip next year, but unfortunately my hands are tied. I would like to say a massive thankyou to all the people who took the time out of their schedules to come and support us all in Austria. Each and every one of you are stars, and you cannot underestimate the lift it gives you to go past 30 raucous friends every now and again. For those that are thinking of doing their first one in Nice next year-go for it, you won’t regret it!
I will be back for IM number 9 in Germany next year, and I will take a big chunk out of this years time.
Ironman – Take Two.
Not sure how long this report will be as I am not sure how much of the day has been blanked out til I start writing ……. Here goes!
I wont bother with the preamble suffice to say we arrived and registered, ate lots and partook of the usual pirate banter that precedes any gathering of the Black and Yellow clan!
Sunday dawned around 0400 so Squeaky could get up and smother herself in suntan cream in time so I forced myself out of bed around 0430. Managed a cheese roll at brekkie and several cups of coffee before convincing my eyes to accept the contact lenses. Left the youth hostel about 0520 to walk to transition.
Managed to get into my wetsuit and remembered to apply the bodyglide, Exchanged words with a few pirates and tried to forget what I was about to do! Wifey and I wandered down to the swim start which was very congested with competitors and supporters, IronMike kindly pointed out to us that we were on the ‘fast side’ so we hot footed it to the pedestrian side and joined the throngs on the shore line, it wasn’t long before we were wading into the water. The lake looked beautiful, a wonderful place to swim. They gave us a two minute warning and almost immediately the gun went off, I was pretty much near the back on purpose and still found it quite busy and struggled to find clear water, the first 20 mins or so was horrendous, I couldn’t breathe and panicked a lot and was so close to not carrying on, couldn’t get a rhythm couldn’t get a breath and was breast stroking early on giving myself a good talking too. I have swum the distance, its just a swim, keep calm and try again. Several similar episodes later and a fair way into the swim and I started to calm down and things started to go well, I found my swim legs and started passing people. Sighting was difficult, there didn’t seem to be many buoys around. I reached the turn around and sighted off the large house built into the side of the hill and passed more people and felt comfortable and confident. So glad I didn’t call it a day in the first 10 minutes. The lake was clear and the most beautiful shade of blue, what a wonderful place to swim in.
I realised that if I kept the canoes in my eyeline to the left then I was in the right line for the start of the canal and that came quite quickly, knowing when I reached the canal was only about 800 metres to the finish. I realised earlier that I had forgotten to start my watch so was not very aware of time but knew I had lost a lot at the start but I heard the announcer say 1.36 as I was in the canal so not as bad as I thought. Soon reached the swim exit and was hauled out by the helpers as the exit was very steep.
Never one to rush transition ……. I struggled to get out of my wetsuit, covered myself in sun cream and on with bike shoes and helmet and new gloves (something new on race day!) and off to find my bike ….
And here I was for the second time on the bike leg of and Ironman and praying for a different result from last year. The sun was out, it was a glorious day and was I got my orientation back from the swim kept a nice comfortable average speed on the relatively flat first part of the course. I had declined the offer of a drive round the course the day before thinking that it wouldn’t make be feel any better or any worse knowing what to expect. The first incline we cam across was not too bad, bit lumpy but manageable, Wifey had said ‘there wasn’t anything as bad as Bala’ and I was beginning to believe her …. Not for long it would appear! I was passed my several pirates who obviously were worse swimmers than me and greetings were exchanged as is the norm! I forget the sequence of hills and the ‘pet names’ for them but they were hard, harder than expected. I think I passed Squeaky on the first big one and I think the timing mat was at the top, the support was amazing on the hills and certainly helped! I made a very conscious effort to eat and drink and picked up something at every aid station and felt ok. Saw a few pirates on the two way stretch and they looked very good. The leader lapped me at 4.16 so I was able then to work out my swim/T1 time from the clock on the car so give or take 2 hours or so I could work out from there. The first half came and went, I remember Bryan shouting at me at some stage and think I managed a smile at the right time!! The first lap took me 4 hours probably 30 mins longer than I expected but I felt I hadn’t pushed too hard and the second lap should be ok. Down towards the turnaround and the Pirate support crew who were as ever fantastic.
The second lap started getting hard after the first incline and it was very hot, I kept my cadence high and was consciously not pushing to hard to overcompensate but was slowing. The supporters has dwindled and by the last few major hills had almost gone completely. I felt a bit of cramp in my right quad so took a salt tab (something else new on race day!) and it seemed to have an immediate effect and never reappeared. I was feeling pretty nauseous and remembered someone at some stage mentioning flat coke so started taking that on at the aid stations, so it followed, gel-nausea-flat coke but I was still moving. There were some deceptive ‘flats’ were I was only managing 12/13 kph and getting demoralised ……… over to my right in the valley I saw a Golden Eagle, it was a sign, the fact that had I seen a sparrow at this point I would have taken it as a sign is irrelevant!
I was clock watching at every K marker and doing some pretty scary mental arithmetic. Still, the last 30/40k was pretty flat and I should be ok, close but ok. I had to employ some very positive mental thoughts of which one which a wise old Admiral had said to me a few days before ‘Just Believe’ …. it became a repetitive mantra.
A lot of the marshalls appeared to have packed up and gone home, it become more difficult to pick out the route, I found Dangerous Dave at the top of a hill and was able to check he was ok, having informed me he had taken a wrong course, I didn’t realise he had had an even worse time than I understood.
Not having an exact time on my watch and watching the minutes ticking away I had the angel and the devil on each shoulder. If I don’t reach the cut off I don’t have to run. If I pedal harder I wont have the strength to run. If you pick the speed up you will get there, deal with the run when you get there. I have been a supporter at these events and I know what anguish they go through for each and every one of the competitors and I would like to appologise now to Oxy and Anna for the premature Grecian effect!! I knew I was close but luckily I was blissfully unaware quite how close! The end was in sight ………. A right turn into the entrance to T2, boy was I glad to see that. 8.30 bike time, at least an hour over what I expected.
I would like at this point to thank the previous athlete who on approaching T2 picked up a transition bag , realised it wasn’t theirs and flung it as far as they could. It took me an age to find it and as if I wasn’t panicking enough by then you really made my day.
I was cross and bewildered following the missing bag episode and couldn’t find my way out of transition to the run course, there were no helpers in the tent and some security guard pointed me down to bike transition for the bike course, the wrong way, after several frantic conversations with several people I eventually found my way out on to the run. 26.2 miles to go, 6.30 hours or thereabouts ….. Tight but manageable. I was soon at ‘Pirate Corner’ and was ‘encouraged’ to shift my @rse.
I am not a fast runner but I think I am a strong runner if that makes sense, I had been encouraged by a good run at Bala and was mentally working out 10k splits. As for the bike leg and now the run I was very aware of not pushing too much and risk having nothing left so maintained a fairly consistent run/walk speed. Saw a few pirates on the run and exchanged high fives with a few! The run was (for me) fairly comfortable, I felt quite good, I was elated to be on the run!!! I met up with Kanga and we walked for a fair way. The first lap was nice, passing a few people, seeing lots of pirates coming in to finish, Swiss Bobby asking me if I wanted to run down the shute together and me declining his offer as I had another lap to go! The pirate crowd again, my new mate Peter the American who I was playing cat and mouse with for most of the day, desperate for something savoury and picking up a banana thinking it was a sausage roll (don’t ask). Into Klaggers town and getting the full atmosphere.
Lap two back from the first 10k and its all a bit dark and quiet and lonely out there, pitch black. You cant see the coloured arrows on the ground to mark the course, time is getting tight. A marshall stops Peter and myself and asks us where we are going …….. We get directed the wrong way, we are convinced we know where we are going and he is trying to send us back the way we have come, its an exasperating 10 minutes as we try to explain we are on the second lap and the last 10k, for the back markers this is a bit of a shambles, no marshals where it counts. Eventually we are on to the last 10k and the clock is ticking louder. Anna telling me to pick the pace up …. I am really sorry for giving everyone a new max HR.!!
Into the town for the last time, I think it was about an hour to get home, 5k. No problem.
I can hear the finish music and the crowd, can see Simon again … looking greyer!
They are playing YMCA, I do not want to finish to that!!! Not that I can remember now what they were playing but I round into the finish chute and cant stop grinning. Its all quite bewildering and difficult to focus on who is where …. I wanted to savour the moment but my legs wanted to get home !! I crossed the finish line and luckily there was an old hooker there to stop me.
One medal, One tshirt and one finishers certificate and a beer.
There are so many people that got me to that line.
Rosey. I couldn’t have done it without your help and support x
Carl and Oxy and Gumps who have put up with me on the training rides
Smiffy for his encouraging banter and belief
The WAISTers for their support over the last few years.
Jj for words of encouragement when needed
I had a good day, but there were others out there that had a much harder and more difficult day than I did, Gumps and Ergo, Petal and Dave went through so much more.
Squeaky, I know how you feel, it’s a difficult pill to swallow but next year will be yours.
So many fantastic results from old and new alike
I wouldn’t be here without the Pirates and would not even have contemplated such madness.
One hell of a group of people I am proud to call my friends.