Double Ironman UK 07/08 Aug 2010
This a 5 mile swim, 224 mile bike & 52 mile run as a continuous event – I was in the last of 3 waves doing this race (24 in each wave) and was due to start at 2:30pm Sat afternoon.
So I really enjoyed the swim, 304 lengths in a pool (7.6k) – in a wetsuit too. I usually count laps (well count every 100m) – but for this, I just kept knocking the laps out, and kept an eye on the clock halfway down the lane ’cause I knew that I just need to keep going to 2 and a bit hours – waiting for the nice bod who was counting my laps to “show me float” meaning I only had 2 laps left. No food or gels – but I had a drink of High5 every 30 mins ….. and got out in 2 hrs 15 mins. The pool wasn’t too hot so I was really happy to have worn the wetsuit. I was happy to find out later that this was the 3rd fastest swim split of the day ..
I got out on the bike by about 5pm … it was dry and clear, perfect weather. It was tricky to know where you were in relation to everyone else because there were 2 waves already out on the bike, with some athletes doing a triple and just a few doing a single as well as all us double bods. So keeping with the theme of laps… the bike course was 16 x 14 miles, quite flat .. not too busy with traffic. My crew (parents & fiancee) now stepped into full swing. They had a tent as our race HQ .. silly amounts of food and clothing and strict instructions to be the “Food Police”. In other events I’ve got nutrition wrong, so their job was to make sure I ate, whatever crap excuses I came up with … and they did it well. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten as much on a bike ride .. but with Ironman, you fuel for the run while you’re still on the bike (easier digestion) .. so it was probably a good thing!
The crews and organisers at race HQ were brilliant – up all night cheering us on – it was a great feeling every lap to cycle back into the HQ, with lights, happy people, hot food. The dark early morning hours ticked by quite slowly .. put on some more clothes, kept shoveling the food in and waited for the sun to come back up. By the time the day had started, the earlier waves had been finishing their bikes and the number of bikers out on the course was dropping. This isn’t very nice psychologically, you feel like you’re dropping behind and when you’re 16 hours into a race and 200 miles on the bike – that doesn’t help!
A few laps before the end my very good friend made a surprise appearance and joined the crew … he actually turned up just as I was refusing something from the Food Police (the only time! I promise!) .. which resulted in maybe the only 30 seconds of the event where I got a bit moody . But it was a very minor blip. I got off the bike at 10am and was HUGELY happy to get back on 2 feet. I know you can freewheel on a bike, but I’m happier on 2 feet – and now I was back in home territory, I knew I could finish and I felt like it was just a matter of time, er .. and 52 miles.
The run was 42 laps of a 1.25 lap …… but actually this kind of kept me slightly sane. I’ve done 50 mile ultras before, and I know that when they are point to point, the start is SO FAR from the end. This ultra being laps meant you were never going to get lost (done that a few times), find a big hill (bastard hills), or have to wade through a river (done that too) …
I managed the first 5 laps (half marathon) in 1:45 .. but faded from there! Most athletes were out on the run course now, and so there was more opportunity to chat… sometimes this helped you keep up the running… sometimes this made you stop and have a walk break.
I’d moved onto flat coke, clif bloks and chips at this point .. brilliant. The idea was that you ran your last lap in the reverse direction – everyone knew that you were finishing and could high 5 and congratulate each other … great touch, that. So the afternoon came and went, I high 5’ed quite a few other people, and while I was making progress, it seemed slow. I think the delirium of sleep deprivation was kicking in now – there was NO CHANCE anyone would come this far without finishing, but I still had to finish the laps.. even if it meant 3 more hours of running. It started to get dark again and I put on a a spurt of speed – I couldn’t face going into my 2nd night with the race … I crossed the line at just past 9pm … a Double Ironman Near the end I was telling myself that it was just me and a few triple guys left on the course, and that I was going to be one of the last to finish. Actually it turns out that this wasn’t true and I managed to come 11th overall 🙂 …. Plant Strong!