The National Watersport Centre is an ideal location for a triathlon and with experienced event organizers and a heap of credible sponsors, plus support from the local authorities this event had all the credentials on paper for being a great event. 950 entries to an inaugural event proved that the british triathlon community were in agreement. The weather for the day was ideal – warm and dry with a bit of cloud cover. The race started at 6am with a 2.4mile single lap swim in the regatta lake. Some fast swim times were recorded despite swimmers hitting clumps of weed and being held up. Transition was on tarmac at the boat launch end of the lake, so with tarmac rather than field wasn’t the mud bath that had met competitors at the last two years of Ironman UK.
The bike course started with a lap of the lake on the perimeter road. I was enjoying spinning my legs and overtaking other competitors. As normal I was well placed after the swim, but normally I find I’m being overtaken on the bike, not overtaking the few that are capable of posting faster swim times. The bike course involved a 12mile out section, three laps of a 30mile course and then a 10mile return section. I thoroughly enjoyed the bike and would happily have stayed out doing more laps in preference to running. Still need to work on nutrition, or rather day before nutrition as was hit with need for no.2s during the bike and then at the end, so whilst I was enjoying the bike I was very pleased to get some relief in transition between bike and run.
The run was a UKA confirmed marathon of 26.2 miles involving 4 laps of the regatta lake with an out and back section between each of those laps that took us along the banks of the River Trent past Notts Forest Ground, Nottingham Kayak and Rowing clubs and Trent Bridge cricket ground to a turn point in County Hall grounds. I enjoyed running round the lake and the out and back was brilliant for seeing and cheering on fellow team members. There were 11 individual’s from Tri-Anglia plus a relay team competiting plus we had friends from other clubs also participating. Wearing club kit made us very visible and the amount of support we got was awesome.
On the first out and back I was 15 minutes behind Matt Spillman who was leading our TA crew and 15 minutes ahead of Mark Philo. I had a low point at this stage, the motivation to catch Matt wasn’t enough to spur me along and I was slowing. The motivation to stay ahead of Mark and the others behind him wasn’t enough either. Then the realization came that as I’d done 9mpm for the first 5 miles I could get an IM Marathon PB and perhaps still get an IM PB. That did it for me and I continued to run. Prior to the race I’d been dredding the run. I’d not run for more than 66 minutes in 2 months and since Comrades was unable to run 3 miles without the desire to walk coming on strong. Come the second out and back I was just 4 minutes behind Matt, with Mark closing slightly on my from behind. At 16 miles I needed the loo again and had my eye on a portaloo on the lake side, when 100m away there was no queue and I was hoping it was empty. Then I saw a runner try the door and enter – it was empty. By the time I got to it there were 3 others waiting. That bit of disappointment caused me to walk 50m or so before completing my third lap to get to a loo.
Running past the finish line several times was a little harsh, but actually good fun. There was plenty of support and of course the commentators would spot your number and announce your progress. Then as I started the final out and back I had a visual on Matt. He was just 100m ahead of me. I continued my run and forward progression with the aim of catching Matt. He and I had previously done 2 ironmen together and the score was 1-1, this was the decider for the best of 3. Then as I went past the 20 mile marker another low spot was hit. I had no strength left in my legs and before I fell down I found a gap in a hedge and laid down. A quick mental check of damage – no injury just tired, okay next check – how was I functioning mentally “Rob what marathons have you done?” – “London, Bungay, .. sorry, what was the question again?”. I decided to stay were I was a little longer with the legs in the air recovering. Soon realised that laying in the sun wasn’t the best idea, so got up and moved along to the next aid station to take on some water and lay down in the shade. Mark Philo and Karl Syson passed me whilst I was here, and then Sue Potter turned up. She is another TA member and a runner with Bungay Black Dog. She did the Loch Ness marathon two years ago to celebrate her 50th. Last year she did a half ironman and this was her first full ironman. She was on the first lap of her run. I got up and ran with her for a bit on my final lap, but her fresh legs enabled her to pull away from me. I continued my walk run approach. The next significant moment came with 3k remaining to the finish. Another competitor asked if I was going to make 12 hours. Instantly I said “no”. Then thought what kind of defeatist attitude was that. I had 22minutes to do 3k. Of course 12 hours was possible. I caught the chap, apologised for my answer, thanked him for the inspiration and pounded my way to the finish line.
Total time 11hrs 54mins 27secs with the run taking 4:58. Yes I got beat by Matt (and Mark and Karl) but at least my run time was 4 minutes quicker than his and I had a lay down.
Would I do another one? Heck yes, maybe not next year. I really need to get better at that run, though I’ll defiantly be at the Outlaw supporting if I’m not participating.