Sunday, 7 August 2011

Bolton Ironman July 31st 2011

My first thought of an Ironman challenge came from one of Matt pritchards tweets. He said he was in training for one, so I messaged him which one he was competing in as there were two in the UK one was Bolton. This was the one he was doing so I thought Yep! I'm in.....

After entering the Ironman my first surprise/shock was how much it costs to enter one ! Over £300..

Well with great intentions I started thinking I will really start to train hard for one of these. Although I have completed some long bike rides, this was going to be something else. The long steady cycles will be replaced with timed swim, cycle and run!

My first obstacle was the Swim... I can't front crawl! So it was off to a triathlon swimming class on a Thursday evening for 45min session at my local swimming pool. This was very funny at the time. There were a couple of fit/healthy looking athletes at the pool waiting for the session to begin and I entered into small talk with them asking if they have been coming long to the session, they both replied that they were training for an upcoming tri event, I replied I'm here cos I've entered an Ironman challenge but can't really do front crawl. They looked in amazement at me saying that they have been doing lots of tri's themselves but wouldn't even think of an Ironman challenge at the mo! Gulp! What have I let myself in for?

After getting in the water the instructor put us all in a lane each, the others were hammering up and down the pool at great speed, and there was me with a float in my hand waddling away not really getting anywhere fast! The instructor was seeing how my legs and feet were performing. I can remember clearly my thought at that session being this can't be right, those fast swimmers wouldn't even attempt an Ironman and there was me -Float in front of me splashing like mad getting nowhere - going for Ironman challenge ha ha.

As the months past I did seem to get in some good run training, I would take the train to Rochdale then get off and run back to pick my daughter up from school, this would happen regularly in the months after entering the competition, I also had a little 13mile Skateboard ride back from Hebden bridge one afternoon before picking my daughter up from school.

All the training that I could do was limited really to an odd Sunday or on my days off whilst my daughter was at school, all the rest of the time was a balance of family time and work time. I did however get some swimming time put in especially in open water to get used to it on the day. These swims were mainly after work for an hour on a Mon or a Thurs (Was trying crawl at these sessions but it still was not working and ended up doing breast-stroke)

Some of the Sundays I had free, I completed some good distances even managed a cycle to Winderere and back (That is still currently my longest ride to date 166miles)

As time went by the competition was looming, and my training had more or less dwindled away! In the final 6 weeks before the event I had completed a day cycle 72 miles, and 2 x 1mile jogs - And that was it! Not very much at all....
As for my diet, well that didn't really change at all. I was still on the wine and beer regularly, also still eating lots of fast food and curries regularly.

When I entered the challenge, I sorted a day off at work before the event as i thought it would involve some sort of placing of the bike and briefing, so good job I did book that day off, I also asked my colleague to swap our days off for the week after Ironman, this would give my the Monday off rather than my usual Wednesday off, so I could recover. 2 weeks before the event I reminded my colleague that I needed the Monday off for that particular week... his reply was I'm on holiday that week ! Jeeeez.... I thought, I'm going to be knackered on that Monday, to make maters worse it was a new store opening at work, which meant that I would have to be in for 6am, also the store was an hour drive from home :-(

On the day before the race I was very chilled (Saturday off work ?? never normally allowed.. too busy..) but hey! I was driving over to Pennington Flash to put my bike in place and to register for the comp.. It was very sunny and really good atmosphere around the place, I was excited and also little nervous about the following day. But today was great, also had to hang around for the race briefing at the Reebok stadium in Bolton around 5.30pm for 1hr.

It was good to hear the briefing of rules etc for the Ironman (But no ipods, iphones etc due to health and safety issues!) I thought damn! How will I update everyone on Twitter and facebook ? I also would miss my music that I normally listen to on my cycles usually..

After the briefing was done it was home to have some food and get to bed ready for the early start the following day. I did eventually get to bed for around 11pm, I set my alarm for 2.30am so that meant could get to Reebok stadium for 4am to get the coach to the swim/bike transition area. I couldn't really sleep the night before, I was panicking that would oversleep and miss the competiton..

The race morning was here and I was feeling pretty good considering not much sleep, my plan was to do breaststroke for the swim, my time target in my head would be 2hrs, anything less would be a bonus!

After the mass swim start I was keeping far to the side of everyone else, so I didn't end up getting smashed to bits at the start. After the first lap I checked my watch it was about 40mins - I was buzzing at this time I was ahead of my expectatation of the swim, after second lap I was coming up to the finish and could see the timing clock at about 1hr 45mins, I was out of the water and running to my bike, the compare shouted out over the loud speakers my name Awesome :-) that gave me a brilliant buzz... At the same time though my calf muscles had really seized up as I was running to the bike (Shit I thought is this the end with this calf problem) but I carried on into transiton, I can remember saying to a fellow race goer, Thats the hard bit done! ha ha.

On the bike now, and my calf muscles were ok so its was going well again, I stuck to my plan of the bike and took it steady. I didn't want to push it too much as I could have been shattered for the run part! I did the bike in 7hr 57mins, I was pleased with that, as was bang on my time that I had set myself (to be starting the run for 4pm) This would leave me 7hrs to complete the marathon. Even now if I run/walk the course I will be an Ironman.. and that was the plan for the next 5rs and 40mins until I crossed the finish line and became and Ironman :-)

After the race I was over the moon, I'd done it! But now my thoughts had switched to finding the coach that took my back to my car, then was the trip back to T2 to pick up bags and bike. After this was complete, I had the drive home, I got back about midnight, then it was to bed and to be up for 4.30am ready to set off for work and the store opening. On the morning the only issue was my calf muscles were a little sore... after this 13hr day at work had passed I did eventually have a good nights sleep on the Monday night. Happy days :-) BOOOOOOM!!

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