Just 8 weeks after the Hell in
I had been relatively disciplined since IM Couer D’Alene. I had followed a sensible diet, trained well and lost a couple of kilos of weight. I was a lean, mean triathlon machine ready to push the opposition aside.
The journey to Sherborne in Dorset was uneventful – tedious – but
uneventful and I arrived in Friday afternoon after a brief diversion to
Sunday eventually dawned. I had
however been up for quite some time before it arrived. In fact by the time the
sun rose I had had breakfast with Ian and George; driven to the race; pumped up
my bike tires and added some last minute food reserves; changed into my wetsuit
and answered the call of nature.
The swim was a simple two lap course, it twisted and turned somewhat but was mainly straight out and back twice. The slightly twisty nature of the course required some navigation which worked well for me in the first lap, but not so well on the second. In fact on the second lap it is fair to say it went badly wrong as I at one point crossed the central line of marker buoys and found myself facing the oncoming swimmers. This came as a double shock to me as I was clearly adding extra metres to the already long distance, but it also meant I was actually in front of people. The latter was a serious novelty. However, with some re-adjustment of my course I headed for the swim exit, was helped out of the water and dashed into Transition. I did the usual transition things – changed kit, buggered about and chatted to those around me and then collected my bike.
The bike course was three
North-South oriented laps. This was cunningly chosen to avoid the prevailing
westerly wind in this part of the Country. Sadly, this was when I encountered
the first surprise of the day: a strong south westerly wind. The southward
heading side of the loop had competitors cycling into the wind and was
undulating with some short sharp climbs and long gentle descents. This meant
that where you should have been able to pick up significant speed there was a
strong headwind. Additionally the road surface was poor in places and it made
for a relatively rough ride
with high rolling resistance. The northbound direction involved c. 5 miles of
climbing however the slope never really steepened to be truly horrid.
On this section of the course the wind was comfortably behind competitors.
The downhill sections of this side of the course were steep – up to about 14
degrees in places which led to some fast and scary descents. Each side of the
loop was c. 17.5km. The remaining 7 miles or so was made up getting to and from
The first lap was relatively
The run was a multi lap course.
It was a sort of figure of 8. The top part of the ‘8’ was in the grounds of
I came off the bike and out of T2
like a rocket my aim
was relatively simple: to run a 10 minute mile pace for 26.2 miles. This would
give me a 4hrs 22minute marathon. This would be a PB Ironman Marathon, so when
I did for the first
mile I felt pretty good. I then lurched down to for the second mile and then for the third mile. Clearly something was
wrong. I was getting faster, and mile 2-3 was all uphill. I stormed
through the first half of the run course averaging 9 minute miles instead of
the planned 10 minute mile pace. My mind was telling me to slow down. I had
never done the marathon at the end of an Ironman in sub and if I kept doing this the wheels would
fall off. I went
into the first lap of the A30 section of the run slowing down a touch on the
steeper hills, and taking on fuel at aid station by walking the length of them
and grabbing Powerbar Energy Drinks, pretzels and coke.
One of the
Photos taken I adjourned for some food.
Of the other two competitors
staying at Mike and Gwyneth’s: Ian finished in about 10 hours 50 minutes and
George in 12 hours 55 minutes. A successful day all around. In total 94% of the
field finished and the winning time was about 8 hours and 34 minutes. Overall
this was a tough course. The strength of the wind made it even tougher. Tri
 A better description would be a “slightly overweight, ill tempered, two-and-a-half-lete, damaged mechanical device”, but lets face it that doesn’t paint the right picture.
 Given my subsequent complete failure to navigate during the swim I spent quite a lot of time pushing things aside, e.g. reeds, buoys, other competitors, dry land – you get the drift*
* drift – as in the way I zigzagged around the course.
 This of course only works on people who do not know any better. Next thing I’ll be doing is dispensing training hints on running 10k races or giving swimming tips.
 Not that it would affect my navigation in the water much; it would just mean that I wouldn’t see the shore before hitting it.
 We were specifically cautioned about doing this in the race literature. While conceivably possible during the swim stage it would make cycling interesting, especially there would be difficulty getting a leg over** and of course be a real problem on the run***
** story of my life really….
*** Although on some of the hills on the run courses some folk were taking such short strides that they might as well have had a length of elastic and Velcro fastened around both ankles.
 Naturally it was necessary to go twice after putting my wetsuit on.
 Well shuffled would be closer to the mark. In my mind I was this sleek, coordinated athlete powering out the water to grab my bike. What spectators reported was a shambling mess that had more in common with the Creature from the Black lagoon.
 I could probably shave minutes off my time by focussing on what I was doing, but when you are going to be out there for half a day or longer it seems somewhat churlish not to exchange pleasantries with those around you. And let’s face it, I actually don’t need to shave minutes off my time for respectability, I need to shave hours off to look good, and I am not going to do that in transition – unless I transition to say…a motorcycle.
 It also led to occasional cases of vibration-numb finger, vibration-numb toe or for triathletes with insufficient padding in their cycling shorts, vibration-numb…well, never mind.
this is truly horrid by
 Doubly so for those who were getting their carbohydrates from an all fruit diet.
 This was about 21 seconds more than anyone would have expected – I was obviously having a good day.
 Sadly he has a reputation for doing this he has pulled out of the last 3 Ironman races he has entered. In fact he has never made it to the finishers chute in Ironman. I can honestly say that I have never been beaten by Richard Allen in an Ironman.
 I presume she meant looking fit and fast rather than suggesting that I smelt bad. Although after 4 hours on the bike I am not so sure.
 By curious co-incidence Simon turned out to be a friend of Ian and George’s, which when there was 1100 other people on the course was pretty spooky.
 Given that this was a simple out and back part of the run course it would better be described as a lollipop, or is that just me thinking of food again??? Actually by this stage in the course food was high on my agenda, but if anyone had offered me another Powerbar I may just have been violently ill.
 In fact by this stage the run course could also be described as mountainous, torturous or possibly simply a crime against humanity****.
**** assuming you consider Ironman competitors sufficiently intelligent to fall into the ‘human’ category. Let’s face it you, you don’t see many chimps+ dumb enough to do this.
+ Quite a lot of chumps though.
 That is generating large quantities of hot air. Two litres of high calorie carbohydrate energy drinks were having an undesired effect.
 Well, not so much of a storm but a slow moving depression or in the case of one or two other competitors a fairly impressive front.
 At least if this happened on the run course it would have been less catastrophic than it would have been on the bike.
 The drinking variety not the snorting type++. Although never having been accused of being on drugs of any form in a race, if I was it, would be the recreational variety. No-one would ever believe I had taken performance enhancing drugs.
++Given that the Cola provided was the ultra-cheap ‘bargain’ variety type, snorting it may have been better than drinking it.
 Charge – possibly as in “Light Brigade” and possibly given that I had just run another minute mile possibly just as disastrous.
 In case you think I am departing from reality here it is worth noting that while attempting to drink this cup of water at this pace I managed one small gulp and ended up wearing the remainder.
 When I
say “crowds” there is serious poetic licence being used. After all this is a
race in the
 I would like to say that I was a sleek aerodynamic runner crossing the line. I have seen a photo of me crossing the line and my face was a fixed grimace and it looked as if my arms may have been flailing at my sides instead of a simple up and down motion. This was possibly a vague attempt to get some additional speed in the same way as helicopters get lift.