So its been over three weeks now since the race and I have only just got enough strength back to start writing my race report!! Only kidding, I am very sorry for the delay in writing this. The week after the Outlaw was a manic work week getting everything sorted for two weeks of holidays following what turned out to the be the best TDF EVER!
So I am back now and have finally had a chance to reflect on the Outlaw so here is my race report……
Back in October last year, a few months after the Abefeldy Middle distance tri, my good friend Jim and I sat down and deliberated whether we had the minerals to go the full distance and become full IronMen! After a bit of a searching we found the Outlaw. Not only was it a non’Ironman’ branded event (which meant it was half the price to enter) it was also renowned for being flat! Jim and I have historically always chosen hard events for some reason (Mont Blanc Marathon, Day in the Lakes to name a couple)but this time we were unsure whether we actually had it in us to do an Ironman so to be safe we thought a flat one would be a better option. So that was it, we entered and there was no gonig back. A couple of weeks later I had produced a daily training plan but it was not until 10 sheets of A4 paper were plastered across the walls at home that I realised what I had signed up to and Tamara and Mackenzie realised our lives were about to change quite dramatically for the next 8 months!
The Outlaw (Ironman Distance) triathlon was at Holme Pierrpoint, The UKs National Waterports centre in Nottingham on July 1st. We went down on the Friday night in the Campervan and stayed on the camp site right next to the watersports centre which was very handy. Saturday was spent in registration and pre race briefings and of course eating. When I first saw the regatta lake I swear as I looked down it I could see the curvature of the earth! Lump in the throat?? I think so!
So bright and early on the Sunday morning at 6am the Horn went and 1050 swimmers started to frantically splash around as we set off on our quest to become ‘OUTLAWS’!
The Swim 2.4 Miles
The lake was 18 degrees and after having to break the ice to go swimming in East Kilbride Loch and Strathclyde Park this 18 degrees was very pleasant!
Essentially, the swim was 2 lengths! The only problem was each length was rather long! After the initial 20 minutes of being smacked around the head, goggles coming off, knees in the groin and punches in the face I settled into my rhythm and really started to enjoy the experience. I have never done such a massive mass start so for me, over a thousand people all heading to one buoy all at the same time was a bit daunting! Along the side of the lake are metre boards marking out 100m, 200m, 300m and so on all the way up to 3k (for the rowing I guess). This was quite handy as all the way through you knew exactly how far you had swam and how far you had to go. However when you are used to working in miles and not metres/kilometres I spent pretty much the whole swim doing maths!
Before I knew it I was at the turn buoy and really enjoying the swim. We had to swim approx. 50 metres across the lake before turning back on ourselves back down the lake. Halfway back down people were getting tired I could tell as people starting not to site and were zigzagging all over the place. This caused me a bit of a nightmare as a big wave came across me when I wasn’t expecting it and I swallowed a whole load of water. Now normally this would have been fine and I am quite used to it, but this lake was particularly rancid and before getting in I could not help but notice all the dead fish around the shore and endless amounts of duck/swan poo! So when I took my big gulps these visions of disgustingness came flooding back to me and I started to gag! Seconds later I saw my breakfast as did a few people around me! But I just kept swimming trying to put it out of my head and eventually I felt normal again and I could see the big speedo banner welcoming me to the end of the swim.
As I got out I noticed the time and thought something must be wrong as it looked like I had done the swim about 15 minutes faster than I was expecting! There were volunteers helping everyone out the water and also helping people get their wetsuits off which was great. I have never got out of a wetsuit so quickly!
Official swim time was 01:13:07
The Bike 112 Miles
Into the transition tent and changed into my bike gear. For some reason I spent 6 minutes 32 seconds in transition, but I was not rushing as I thought ‘I’ve got all day, what’s the rush!’. One regret I do have though is not buying some calf compression. I struggled for what seemed like an eternity getting on my compression socks. But once they were on I was happy.
The bike course started with one lap of the lake before it headed off around Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire. The bike is probably my favourite discipline but I have always struggled at not going out too fast. With this in mind I kept reminding myself of everything John D has taught me (and shouted at me) and kept shouting to myself ‘Slow the f*** down Hockey’. This really worked but it was windy! My god was it windy. You know that sort of ride when you do a loop but you always feel like you are riding into a head wind? Well that was this! Very frustrating. At one point we turned a corner and I swear I nearly pulled an unintentional wheelie at it was so strong it pushed me backwards.
There were feed stations at every 20 miles or so handing out bottles of high 5, bottles of water, bananas and High 5 Gels both caffeine and non caffeine. The people at all the feed stations were really great and helpful. There was only one climb of any significance after 20 miles or so and it only took about 3 minutes to get over it. Once done it was a nice feeling to know that the rest of the ride was going to be generally flat. Apart from exceptionally windy the weather was nice, sunny in places with a bit of cloud. About a mile from the end the heavens opened and I got pretty drenched but it didn’t really matter.
There were loads of supporters out on the course and the organisers put on buses to get spectators out to course which was good. The ride consisted of one out and a lap followed by a different out and two laps if that makes sense, so you got to see the spectators quite a lot really.
Amazingly with no mechanicals I made it back to transition after trying my utmost hardest to not go too fast.
Official bike time was 06:01:00
The Run 26.2 Miles
I got off my bike and nearly fell over when they took my bike away from me! I hobbled into T2 and started doing some stretching. I am so glad I did this because after doing that I felt really good and ready to run a marathon.
The run course was 4 laps of the lake with 3 out and back to Nottingham Forest Football ground. I am not a big fan of laps and much prefer one big long course but this was much better for spectators which was ultimately much better for us as we got loads more encouragement this way.
I started running and I was feeling great, I couldn’t believe it. All the training, all the time, all the sacrifices were paying off and I started to believe I was actually going to complete it. I then realised I still had 25 miles to run so I told myself to wind my neck in and not get ahead of myself!
As it was a four lap course there was a feed stations almost every mile which was great. I was still on one gel every 20 minutes and really starting to despise whoever it was that invented the energy gel, but they were working. I completed the first 7 mile lap and was still feeling fine. I was running at the pace I had trained at (9 minute miles) and I was holding it, I couldn’t believe it.
A lot of people had told me that an Ironman doesn’t really start until the second half of the run. By Joe they were right! After the first 13 miles I was still feeling fine, no real pains, no niggles, I had loads of energy but for some reason my legs just were not running as fast they were supposed to! What was going on?
I kept on going refusing to walk except through the feed stations. I contemplated mugging some speedy guy who came whizzing past me and nabbing one of his wristbands which would mean I would have to do one less lap!
In the feed stations along with gels, water and bananas etc they were giving out coke. I have never been a fan of coke really and before the race many people had written on the Outlaws Facebook page that coke was brilliant last year, please have it again. After a few feed stations I thought I would see what all the fuss was about so tried a cup of coke. WOW! It was awesome. I have no idea why I liked it so much, it was probably the sugar but it was like Nectar! I then had at least 2 cups at each feed station with about 10 miles to go! Really not healthy but at this point in time I really didn’t give a hoot!
As the race wore on people were really starting to suffer. As it was laps I kept seeing my friend Jim and I we high fived each time we went past each other. By the time the last high five came around we probably looked a bit pathetic really! With about 5 miles to go I realised that I was going to do this and it was here that the emotion kicked in a bit! I am not afraid to admit that I had a little cry at this point as I realised I was going to achieve my goal. I guess it was better to have it then and not as I crossed the line!
The last mile or so of the run was into the wind down the far side of the lake. It was here that Tamara met me and ran with me and spurred me on all the way to the line. She really helped me get there and just as I approached the finishing carpet Mackenzie joined me to cross the line. Of course he had to beat me to the line didn’t he! (little blighter!)
Official run time was 04:58:54
Total time was 12:24:27
So I did it, 8 months of training and it was finally over. I was so happy it was indescribable. That is probably why it has taken me so long to write this report! I was very happy with my time as I wanted to finish in 12 hours something, but I really had no idea if I could do it or not. Exercise over the 7 hour mark was an arena I had not entered before so I was very pleased that I could complete it.
The race was brilliant, well organised, well briefed and all in all good fun. The volunteers were all brilliant. If you want to do an Ironman distance event I would highly recommend it.
Without wanting to sound like an Oscar winners acceptance speech I really want to thank everyone at Fusion for all the hints tips and advice they have given me and especially to John D, Crawford and Kay for the brilliant coaching. I think I would still be swimming if it wasn’t for you guys!
The biggest thanks of course goes to my wife Tamara who spent many a weekend driving around Scotland trying to find me on my bike to refill my bottles and give me more food. She didn’t complain once about the amount of training I was doing and didn’t mind at all that our plans every weekend always revolved around some sort of bike ride or run! For spurring me on through 8 months of horrific Scottish weather and forcing me out running and biking when sometimes I point blank refused to go! Thanks TJ
Will I do another one……………. Hell Yeah!!