From Parkrun to Lakesman

It all started with one of those moments! I was in Keswick (June 2017) and waiting for the start of the Parkrun, when an announcement went out;

‘Who will be doing The Lakesman tomorrow?’ from the corner of my eye I saw a group of mature ladies raise their hands in the air and shout:

‘We are!’

It was that moment which had me thinking, ‘if they can, I could.’

It was also the start of a long journey. I visited Keswick again on the day of Lakesman 2017, and watched athletes starting the marathon leg of the event and I knew then that I would have to come back. Once the entries went live the following week, I took the plunge and entered. I signed up and followed a monthly training programme from Steve and Offthatcouchfitness for nearly 10 months.

So fast forward to June 2018 and I am back in Keswick, lined up for the Keswick Parkrun and also ready for Lakesman 2018. Registration and set up were very well organised and if Carling did Race Briefings then this was one of them, a very relaxed atmosphere, there are only two reasons for a DQ, the first dropping litter on the course, the second, not smiling and failing to high five the marshal’s on the route.

Sunday morning came around too quickly, after what seemed a long time tapering I was ready to roll. Porridge at 4am in the morning is not the best experience, but it had to be done. Luckily I only had a short walk from my hotel to the start.

Waiting for the swim start was the only near disaster of the whole day. Looking in my swim hat where I had placed my ear plugs for the swim, there was only one. Oh bugger, a short faff and looking again in my hat and there was the missing plug. Panic over!

The swim went really well; I was worried about the washing machine experience, but apart from a few toe ticklers there was plenty of space. The swim gave great views down Derwentwater and across to fells like Catbells. Out of the water in 1:20:00 which was what I was expecting. Into transition for a quick change a bog stop and then onto the bike.

 

The bike route had been sold as flat, it went from out of Keswick to Cockermouth and then along the coast. Flat, my a$*e. Not only was the route ‘undulating’ but the headwind from the South West was relentless, it was a relief to hit the coast at Egremont and head north with a lovely tailwind. This was short lived as the route turns back into the wind at Silloth for a short loop and then the long return to Keswick. Cycling is not my strong point and this was the longest continuous ride had done, so I was pleased with 6hrs 54. The last 12 miles taking nearly an hour due to the wind.

Transition 2 was very well organised, the marshal’s had my bag ready to change from bike to run. A quick bite to eat (Eccles Cakes) but no time for an ice cream and it was out on the run.

The run is five laps around Keswick, down through Crow Park, out towards Portinscale and the suspension bridge, before heading to the ‘highway to hell.’ Up one side of the road, down the opposite, back up the middle and then down the other-side, not only that but the road rises up and drops on each lap before the turn.

The run started well, and I fuelled up at the feed stations, but after the halfway point the wheels or legs started to fall off and it was a case of walk some run some. A shout from the Fire Service Tri team ‘Steve Cark would have you running’ and I pick up a bit.

At the end of each lap, you are handed a band to keep tally of the laps, so at the start of the last lap, there was a big cheer from the marshal’s as I showed them my arm full of arm bands. It was only in the last kilometre where the realisation that I had completed my first full distance tri started to sink in. It was big high 5’s to the marshal’s and as the route split to head towards the finish the big smile and wave came out and a finish time of 13:45:48. I was now a Lakesman and the end of a long journey and the beginning of another.

I would certainly recommend Lakesman, it may not be the big brand tri, but the atmosphere, support and scenery are fantastic. My thanks to Steve Clark at offthatcouchfitness, my brother Rob Marshall for his support, and the support from my clubs (Lincsquad and S&DAC).

Would I do it again……….watch this space!

Ali’s Season So Far

It all started in November 2017 when Steve had invited me to an event on Facebook (early Brigg sprint!) I laughed and thought is he mad, my running days were long gone and cycling was my game. I first made contact with Steve in April 2017 for an FTP test, set heart rates zones etc as I wanted to get stronger and faster on my bike. In 2017 I’d done my first TT season with Barton Wheelers, which saw me taking all category records (apart from the hill climb!) and consecutive first place finishes. Without a clear 2018 goal, I needed to keep my focus on staying strong through winter so I opted for regular PT sessions with Steve and started a training plan! #teamworkmakesthedreamwork

Bike training was going well and during PT sessions with Steve, little seeds were being dropped into conversation ‘have you thought about running off the bike?’ What’s your swimming like?’ I’ve got close friends who’ve been doing Triathlon for years, but I’d never had the balls to do it! Well, I did enter Brigg Sprint a few years ago but I pulled out as I hadn’t done enough running (I loved my bike too much !!)

It’s Christmas and I’m away in the Lake District climbing mountains and thinking about my 2018 goals and I’m slowly finding my game plan changing, I was back running and swimming and I was loving it…. maybe I should enter a triathlon, sod it I thought you’ve got nothing to lose and perfect opportunity as you’ve Steve to guide you through it. Entry confirmed, message to Steve ‘what have you done…. I’ve entered a triathlon!!’  Eeeeeek…

The Winter months went by, weather was crap, the pain cave aka as my shed has become my second home and yes I’m back running… no where near where I used to be but the running was starting to make a comeback. I remember doing a run session with Steve and calling him evil Steve but it was the arse kicking that I needed to get me back into it. He said he’d been called a lot worse names before!!!! The swimming was going well, it’s the one thing I did a lot of when I was growing up, so I class myself as a fairly strong swimmer but to find out where I was at it was time to enter Steve’s endless pool. What a fantastic experience that is and learnt so much in just one session.

Finally, after a horrible few months of weather, the TT season had arrived and it’s time to get my race face on. This time, I’m not just racing them, I’m running off the bike too.

April 2018 and it’s time for the early Brigg sprint… my first triathlon. Absolutely bricking it. Experiencing nerves that I couldn’t explain, I’d had numerous trips to the toilet and I was pacing around checking my kit/bike/transition. Finally, I’m at the poolside, I’m biting my nails, tummy doing turns and then my number is called, goggles on and a quick tap on the shoulder from Steve and I’m off… oh my god I feel so sick, just swim I kept saying, slow it down, relax, pace yourself…. swim done and out to transition we go, the conditions for my first triathlon weren’t great, it was cold and wet – so I thought balls to worrying so about my transition time, I’m new to this game so I took my time putting a top on for the bike. The bike is where I am strongest and it was windy… I liked biking in the wind, kind of found it a challenge. Bike done and it’s run time, paced it fairly well and it went better than I thought it would. That’s my first triathlon under my belt and I’d finished third!!!! I still pinch myself now, I’ve never been on a podium in my life, never mind it being my first triathlon. What was going on?!!!

I loved it that much, that a few weeks later I thought, I need a new goal, a challenge, something I could get my teeth into…. so Ive entered an event in September. I’ll keep that one to myself for now!! But I have a goal now and I’ve something to aim for. Steve’s stuck with me for a lot longer now as I’ve also mapped out 2019 in my head.

My time trials are going well, I’ve started mixing it up a bit now between Barton Wheelers and Lincsquad (or shall I say coach has mixed it up for me!!) I’ve PB’d the 15 mile TT and still managing to place myself first on all events. Great to be back on the PB train.

May 2018, it’s Tour of the Peak time, an epic bike ride covering 113 miles with over 11,000ft of climbing, I’m in my element. For those that don’t know me, I love hills!!! I eat them for breakfast. I loved every single mile and wow, they were hills to die for. Relentless hills but they were amazing. I had a strong day in the saddle and I’d even go to say it was tougher than doing Coast to Coast in a day. The day before the Tour of the Peak, I told Steve I fancied doing a Park Run and decided to do Scunthorpe, I gave myself no pressure, it was to just turn up and run it. I was very surprised, as I ran it a minute off my PB which was set in 2013. Excellent, my running form was starting to come back.

Middle of May, I thought I need another triathlon under my belt – I couldn’t make any local ones and the only one I could make was the Holmfirth Triathlon. I’d messaged Steve to see what he thought and he said ‘obviously it’s going to be hilly!’ I’d ridden through Holmfirth on the Tour of the Peak so I knew it wasn’t got to be flat and fast, but I loved hills so it kind of made sense. The day before, my husband and I travelled over, we drove the bike route and kind of sussed the run route out…. and yes, it was hilly!!!!! I wasn’t bothered, just crack on and enjoy it was my mantra, it’s all part of the training. It’s race day….. weather was perfect, the wind had calmed down, it wasn’t too hot and I felt good. Not so nervous this time and I was feeling rather calm.The pool was tiny, 20 metres, not very wide with four lanes…. it was choppy!! Swim done and it’s bike time…. and up we go. The bike route had two fairly steep hills (out of the saddle climbs) and a long gradual climb and it was a three lap circuit. Great… whilst on the ride I kept thinking you need to keep your legs for the run. Bike done and I’d gone past the entrance into transition, what an idiot!!!! Anyway, off the bike and into the run. Lovely flat start along the side of the river, I had it in my head the run was fairly flat, well I got that totally wrong!!! Up we go back on the bike route. The downhills sections were good but my legs felt stuck and before you knew it, up we go again and again!! It was tough. But, I got round and I’d finished. Everyone at the end said the run was tough, which made me feel better. Boom. Triathlon number two, finished. But I hadn’t just finished, I’d also managed to end with another podium finish! Third place.

That’s two triathlons done and two podium finishes…. onwards and upwards we go coach, thanks for the journey so far. I’m a triathlete!!!

Slateman Savage

Slateman Savage

‘Hi coach, what should I do Slateman or the Windermere Marathon’ I asked.

‘Oh, Slateman is so iconic’

‘I knew you would say that’

So, with that and a few months preparation, on Friday I am heading to North Wales to take part in the Always Aim High Slateman Savage (Saturday Sprint and Sunday Classic event). Its difficult to compare Slateman to your average Sprint or Standard distance triathlons. Firstly, North Wales is always wet, its very hilly and rains a lot. Secondly, there are some big hills in North wales that catch the rain and thirdly the run is off road, contains hills and is often wet in the rain.

Saturday morning, I woke early to the feeling that I was in a different country, the sun was shining, the birds were singing in the trees and not a cloud in the sky. This can’t be North Wales. Breakfast alfresco in the sunshine and off to registration at Electric Mountain in the beautiful village of Llanberis.

It was one of those days which give the body a boost, clear blue skies and not a breeze to rustle the leaves in the tree. Llyn Padarn was like a millpond. So, no nasty waves to slow the swim. After the poor winter I was expecting the water to be cold, I had done some Open water swimming in preparation so the water was not a massive shock. In fact, the swim went smoothly, it’s a big lake so sticking out at the sides meant I avoided the washing machine in the middle of the pack. I have learnt in the past that the end of the swim becomes shallow and then deep just before the exit point so as some started to wade through the water I continued my swim. A dash across the field avoiding the sheep droppings and into T1 and straight out.

The Llanberis pass must be one to the  most famous valleys in the UK, and stamping ground for many rock climbers, a place I have spent much of my youth, so I was able to tick off many of the famous crags that line this impressive valley. Its fairly plain sailing for the first 5k and then crossing the bridge below Dinas Cromlech and then it starts. The next 2k are the climb, in the distance way way above you is the Pen Y Pass YHA, the top of the pass, so its low gear and keep turning. The last few hundred metre are the steepest, before the descent down to the Pen Y Gurad  Hotel and the turn around point. A slight climb and then the descent of the pass. What a descent, 2k of steep downhill with steep walls either side. Thank fully the road was closed to no worry about the corners only the sheep that randomly cross the road and stop for a loom at the mad cyclist hurtling towards them!

Into T2, and out on the run. The run starts crossing a flat rugby pitch, before hitting the steep slopes of the PadarnCountry Park, and it is steep! After the first 3k, the rout flattens out and and despite a few climbs is a lovely descent towards the Slate Mining museum. Temperatures were relative hot so I was thankfully of the drink station at the end of the last major climb. Once you reach the museum the end is only about 500m away and you are off the slate trails. So, opening up the throttle I headed for the finish. I had hoped for 1:40, so was over the moon to cross the line in 1:37:13, a massive PB. The training with Offthatcouch had paid off.

Following a restful afternoon and evening, it was back the following morning to complete the classic route. The Sunday was not as bright as the previous day and there was a gusty breeze blowing down the Llanberis Pass. The swim was choppy once we turned the first buoy. Again, I had avoided the washing machine and could swim my swim.

T1 was a nightmare! How can a wet suit slide off one day but the following day, you flounder about a like whale shedding its skin? So T1 took longer than I planned.

Onto the bike and its back up the Pass to Pen Y Pass. The area seemed much quieter today, on the Saturday, many visitors must have escaped the royal wedding. It was great to hit the hostel and start the descent to the Pen Y Gurad and then onto Capel Curig a long long descent. Dropping into the OgwenVally the wind was blowing across the road and making the cycling hard work. However, at Ogwen Cottage the road drops steeply for about 5-8km in to the village of Bethesda. The last 10 miles sees a long line of riders digging in deep for the last climb and the fast descent to Llanberis and into T2.

T2 was much better than T1. Quick change of footwear and off across the field. The run climbs first up Dolbadarn Castle before dropping down to the road and along the road which runs parallel with the reservoir. The run is fairly gentle for the first 2k and then it hits the Slatemines and its up, up up.  Climbing the zig zag path for at least 2k until you reach the Gates of Mordor (a gap between two slate pillars). With the main climb done, it was once again full power down towards the first water station and across to meet the previous days route. Thank fully I could tick off the places I had ran past on Saturday which was a great judge of my progress. Hitting the flat once again at the museum.

I was hoping for 3:30, this year which would beat my previous years’ time. So, I was absolutely delighted with 3:27:12, a PB of at least 3 minutes.

So, the Savage was completed two PB’s in two day. The training with Steve Clark has paid off, and now to prepare for the next one. If you haven’t done Slateman, I can guarantee the weather, but I can guarantee a fantastic race experience in some fantastic scenery. So you next year, possibly in the rain.

Gainsborough 10k 2018 – Sarah Lakeland


In 2017 I entered Gainsborough 10k as it’s in March and I thought it would be a good way to motivate myself to keep up running over winter as I was only really use to 5-6km of continuous running at that point. I didn’t really “train” I just ran for enjoyment with Dexter my dog. I was thrilled when I ran under 1 hour (59min 49 seconds) as I’d never done that before, I was use to the company of the back Marshall in any 10k’s I’d done pre-children a few years earlier.

Only a matter of a couple of weeks later I had my first personal training session with Steve and I’ve been a weekly regular ever since. I massively improved my performances last year in some pool based sprints and I ended the year with Curly’s Doncaster 10k where I surpassed my expectations and ran a PB of 51 mins 17 seconds.

Having entered Gainsborough 10k again this year the self inflicted pressure was on now to improve on my PB. It would also be a marker for the last years training as I have consistently trained regularly for the whole year between to races with Steve and the many sessions alone in between.

In the week building up to the race I got really nervous of not doing as well as I should (completely all in my own head). Steve just told me to run so seen as it tends to work if I do as he says, I did!

On the day I wasn’t nervous beyond the usual multiple toilet trips and I planned to just run on how I felt and keep an eye on the pace each kilometre but not stress over it. The weather was amazing and all felt pretty good. I was working quite hard as I knew I needed to in order to do the best I could. I probably ran a bit quick for the first couple of Km but settled into it. By 7ish Km I was hoping the last 3 would pass quickly as I was only just able to maintain the effort but I got to the last km and gave it all I had. I pretty much ran the whole race with a bloke who seemed to struggle when I felt good and perked up when I was struggling so we got to the end together with a bit of encouraging each other. I crossed that finish line knowing I’d given it the best I could and I did get another PB of 50 mins 15 seconds which is outstanding given last years time.

I have improved by 9mins 44 seconds in a year and managed to do a 1 min 2 second PB between November and March so winter training hasn’t treated me badly at all!

So the OTCF effect in one year is evident in my performances, thank you Steve! Next time sub 50 will be mine as I was so close but I can’t be disappointed in what I’ve achieved as I’d have only dreamt of what I can do now a year ago.

Elizabeth Wood talks Zurich Barcelona Marathon 2018

Zurich Barcelona Marathon 2018

Vamoose Chica!

Having previously resisted any suggestions that I do a post event write up, for feeling like I might have nothing to say, I’ll just tell it like it happened and then reflect (oh, so very briefly) on lessons learnt.

My daughter and I go away together every year for a city break. We’d both been to Barcelona before but decided to add a marathon to the itinerary and this promised to be a flat course and reasonably cool in March.

Training, you know, that thing you are supposed to do so that you don’t hit the wall at 18 miles or so. Well, I did a few long runs basing them on time and not distance and went swimming instead.

On arrival we signed up for the Saturday’s fun run, a 4.5km jolly followed by a free breakfast and the best coffee. We started at the Magic Fountains and followed a route around the lovely Olympic Park. The directions were a tad confusing and rather brilliantly led the 1500 or so runners in front of me the wrong way, avoiding a huge flight of steps. This is what can happen if you are prancing and skipping nimbly along, chatting and not paying attention. Therefore I was, albeit momentarily, amongst 500 or so runners doing a lap of the Olympic Stadium to finish, before we were caught up by them. Smiles to self.

The big day and my alarm doesn’t go off.  Luckily H woke up and we had just enough time to get kit on and get to Pl. Espanya but not enough time to think “How about some sightseeing instead?” My first impression was astonishment at the number of loos. I have never suffered from pre-event tummy trouble. Every sphincter I have closes up at the prospect of competition. No peeing in a wetsuit for me or pre-race pooping. My body shuts down in protective defiance and I like to think it’s a ‘fight’ response rather than a ‘flight’ one.

We joined our group for the start in the 10,000 red labelled runners and off we went.

At this stage its worth mentioning, I am not a runner. I started running at 54 and have gone downhill ever since. So, what exactly am I doing?

I’ve had a memorable life, been places and done things that make me feel very fortunate and now I’m in an age group (60-64) when a degree of self-assurance removes the need to seek approval and therefore removes some pressure.  All I want to do, is have a go. I might fail, staggeringly but I just feel the need to have a go.  Once I’ve factored in the risk of injury, the maximum amount of prophylactic pain killers I can take and whether I have adequate medical insurance then we’re good to go!  Seriously though, as I do far more mental prep than physical, I had a good idea I’d be very lucky to come in under 6 hours.  Inadequate training, excess poundage, osteo-arthritis, blah blah blah, all taken into account I knew this was going to be a task even if I ended up having to walk the whole thing.

Actually, the first half was fine, though much warmer than I would have liked after Blighty’s Eastern blast. 20 degrees. Water and feeding stations placed every 2.5km also provided Powerade, fruit, gels, first aid, loos and Vaseline. At 18 miles we realised that the feeding stations were now depleted and that’s where my melted Snickers bar became my best friend. No, on second thoughts, that was the Vaseline. I was also very aware that the six hour cut off van was pushing the few remaining folk behind us and we endeavoured to stay out of its reach.

The Catelonians were fabulous and I was cheered up and surprised by the number of elderly Senyora who were shouting “Vamoose Chica” at me.

At 22 miles I was walking more, my right calf complaining bitterly and knowing at least four toenails were detatching themselves from my feet and then the van caught up with us last few runners. Behind this sweep up van was a large luxury coach carrying those who knew they were done for the day. The pressure to quit so the roads could reopen was intense and we heard the guy say to those behind, “It’s the coach or the pavement”. I was stunned to see everyone got on but us. I grabbed Hannah and we ran off onto the pavement ahead keeping our eyes averted from the van man. He got the message and left.

I apologised profusely to Hannah for slowing her down as she could easily have finished in sub 5 let alone sub 6.

I was definitely not getting on that coach. I’d follow that blue paint on the road and crawl bleeding over the line to empty stands and no medal rather than do that.

Navigating through pedestrians and road crossings slowed us but couldn’t deter us, not even the looks from those returning home and looking quizzically at their watches could humiliate us into stopping.

A message from a friend who had finished sub 3 arrived saying, “You’re so nearly there. Beer is waiting” and provided us with the last push. As we crossed the finish line, the stands were pretty much empty apart from volunteers. A very, very lovely man called Christian, who turned out to be the Race Director, walked to the Finish Line and gave us truly warm congratulations and proceeded to put medals around our necks and give us a kiss (both sides of course, this is Spain).  I don’t think everyone got that.  As if that wasn’t enough, he guided us into the now empty hospitality suite and told us to help ourselves to the posh nosh. The volunteers gave us paper carrier bags which we filled with goodies and took to the café, where our fizz was waiting, to be shared out with fellow Caistor Running Club participants.

Yes, we were last over the line but, hey ho, Hannah will go onto other Marathons and I will…probably not.

Quick feedback on the event itself for the more seasoned athlete.

Fabulous venue, a few very long out and backs which sap the soul.

If you like the idea of fancy dress this isn’t the one for you. I didn’t see anyone who was less likely to run a marathon than me.

I may have steely determination but training is better.

Thank you Steve Clark at OTCF for keeping me strong and my buddies in Caistor Running Club and Lincsquad who see past my bloody-mindedness and praise me anyway.

Hopetech womens’ Enduro; Gisburn

Hopetech womens’ Enduro; Gisburn
This weekend saw me attempt my first ever Enduro race, which is a mountain bike event with a number of timed race sections and some transition sections in between. I’d picked this as my first Enduro race as it was a womens only race aimed at all levels from beginners to elite riders, meaning I was hopefully not going to be too out of my depth! My only aim was to survive the race; I didn’t care where I came in the results. I knew the transition sections would be tough and hoped to find other girls of similar ability to tag along with to keep me going. The added incentive was I’d booked a demo bike from Hope who were sponsoring the race and I managed to get the brand new Hope HB160; a bike that you basically can’t buy yet, which has a £7.5k price tag! Surprisingly all they wanted from me was my driving licence and it was mine to keep all day and use in the race if I wanted to!
The race was due to start at 12pm, and we were going to be set off in small groups until 2pm. The problem was that when you signed on you had to pick your start time, with their advice being slow ones go off first, and fast ones go off last! I decided to go for 1pm and hope for the best. Once I was signed on and got my timing chip, they gave me the very expensive bike and I was sent off to practice the timed sections. This is where I made my first mistake! I don’t know Gisburn Forest at all so in order to find the timed sections I had to follow the race signs, so ended up doing a 2 hour ride with 1000 feet of climbing as my practice run.


The first transition to stage 1 was tough, lots of technical climbing on a bike I wasn’t used to. I was getting annoyed with the bike as it was so different to mine and I just didn’t get on with the brakes or with the way it climbed up and over rocks. I could have happily left it there and walked home! I got to the first timed section and anxiously waited my turn, asking the marshal to give me plenty of time before setting off the next rider as I really wasn’t getting on with the bike and didn’t feel confident. I soon discovered that the minute you point the HB160 downhill it comes to life! Section 1 was 95% downhill, all natural and very technical. It was also very wet, and had deep muddy sections to navigate on tight single track. I got the bottom in what felt like seconds, with very little memory of what I’d actually ridden, I pedalled as much as I could between corners and drops and started to love the bike. I still hated the brakes though!
Next came transition to stage 2. The first half of this transition was the big climb of the day, but thankfully all on fire road or less technical rocky sections. The bike performed much better on these climbs and I made it all the way to the top without having to push up. I took the opportunity at the top of this climb to ask a marshal if he was any good with hope brakes, and thankfully he was! He set up the brakes to my preference and it was like riding different bike! The route then joined the red route and again became very technical. This was by far the most challenging part of the route, and I was tired by the time I reached stage 2. Disappointingly, stage 2 started on an uphill, and had a lot of pedalling sections between short technical or downhill bits. There was also a puddle the size of a small swimming pool which when you hit it at speed created a wave that came up to your waist and onto your lap meaning I was soaked through and freezing by the end of this stage. Because this stage was using a new part of the red route only opened that day, some of the berms were still covered in loose gravel so I made a mental note to take this section slowly given I wasn’t used to the brand of tyres on the bike.
Transition to stage three was all fire-road climbs which I was grateful for as it gave me a bit of a rest. Stage 3 was ‘the Hope line’. This is the only part of Gisburn I have ever ridden before, and I was sure it was all easy and rollable and said this to the marshal I was talking to at the top (the nice man that sorted my brakes!). He quickly corrected me and told me that there was a big slab drop about a quarter of the way down, but that if I went into the corner carefully and slowly I could go around it. So off I went, on my final practice. This is the most fun section, full of jumps and table tops that I could play on all day! However by the time I realised I was coming up on the drop it was too late to think about taking an easier route and I just rode straight off it! It was much bigger than I thought, and I only just landed it but excited that I’d survived I jumped everything all the way to the bottom of the section and rode back to the start. This ‘practice’ had taken me 2 hours; I was exhausted, soaking wet and freezing cold. I also didn’t have any lunch with me so filled up on bananas and chia flapjack and honestly didn’t think I had a race run in me.
Finally at 12.45 I put a dry jersey and gloves on, and went to queue with my start group. The transition to stage 1 seemed easier this time and I got there quite quickly and joined the very long race queue for stage 1. I had to queue for about 15 minutes and got talking to the girls around me. They were all deciding whether to take the harder A line or the B line which is easier but takes longer. I couldn’t remember seeing a choice in practice, but it turns out I’d taken the direct A line! I decided then that I might actually be a bit better at this than I thought as not many around me were riding the A lines, and my new aim was to finish about mid pack rather than just to survive. In my race run stage 1 felt very fast and the bike felt amazing now that I trusted the tyres and brakes enough to ride more aggressively. I pedalled hard between sections and got to the bottom in one piece with a pretty fast time.
The transition to stage 2 was really tough on tired legs, but I got there! Stage 2 felt better this time, and although we’d been warned to go through the giant puddle slowly and not at speed, I refused to lose time on the stage I found hardest. I hit the puddle hard and was absolutely soaked! On the final bit of this stage I’d forgotten about how loose the gravel was and my front wheel washed out, but thanks to the extremely light bike I was on, I saved myself and somehow avoided hitting the deck!
Transition to stage 3 seemed to go really quick, but my legs were so tired now. I just wanted it to be over. I got to the top of ‘the Hope Line’ (stage 3) and decided that I was going for all the A lines again, and that I would jump everything I could to keep my time down. The cheering in this section was so loud in the woods, which spurred me on. I took the drop at the tightest but biggest point and landed well. I jumped everything, including a drop between some trees which I would never normally plan to jump and scared myself a bit! I was finally finished and could fire road it back to the start.
I handed in my timing chip, really hoping I was about half way down in the results, and was shocked to find out at that point I was in 7th place in my age group! My final result was 22nd place out of 68 in my age group, meaning I finished in the top third. I handed back a muddy bike which although is very nice, is not the bike for me (saving myself a fortune!).
This was by far the most enjoyable race I have ever done, but the most exhausting. I was so nervous going there because although Jason was marshalling, I was going to have a full day of racing to do on my own. However, I think it’s safe to say I’m hooked and next year I’ll be doing the full series of races. Main lessons learned are not to ride the full course in practice, and to aim for a good finish position not just to survive! The only picture I have of the day is just after the giant puddle on my practice run, where my face shows exactly what I was thinking at that point… I don’t think I can do this!!

Craggy Island Triathlon by Amy Wheldrake

The last Triathlon of my 2017 Season; The Craggy Island Triathlon. A unique cross triathlon which starts with a sea swim (500m) to the Island of Kerrera, just off the coast of Oban. On the Island there are no roads, so there is a mountain bike ride (14k) and a trail run (8K). This triathlon was rated as being one of the best in the UK, so I had high expectations

There had been a bit of a false start to this weekend. My mountain bike had been stolen (amongst other things) after my garage was burgled just a week beforehand and despite my insurance company being pretty speedy; unfortunately they were not quite speedy enough.

The organisers were super helpful, suggested some potential bike hire places and said I was more that welcome to just do a swim-run. After not being able to hire a bike, I had made peace with only doing a swim-run, I thought never mind it would still be fun. Then I saw all the other competitors getting on the ferry to the island to registration and transition with their mountain bikes and felt sad.

At registration when I pick up my dibber (the race uses a dibber system like that in orienteering rather that timing chips), I explained I was the person who had emailed about my bike and was just going to swim and run. Without hesitation one of the volunteers of a similar height (sorry I didn’t get a name) offered to lend me one. As an optimist I had taken my helmet along for should some miracle like this occurred and it did! I did a short ride towards transition on the bike, got it racked and set up my transition area. Joy! Hurray! What a strike of luck! I could now do the full race.

However, on the ferry ride back to the mainland (where the swim start is) the anxiety set in. I was about to race a pretty gnarly, chewed up mountain bike course on a bike I had had zero practise on, had not completed a course recce or even studied the route. Plus having fully intended on just having a short swim followed by a trail run I had sampled some very good Scottish whiskey last night. Was my bike being stolen, the bad luck I’d had with sourcing a replacement all been the universes way of telling me I shouldn’t do this ride? Was I about to break both collar bones and both legs and some kind strangers bike? What on earth was I thinking? So it was safe to assume I was quite anxious before the swim start.

Race briefing time. The water was 14.5C, nothing daunting there; I’ve raced in around 15C all year. There was no wind so it felt quite mild. Weather-wise it had rained and was quite misty and dull. I was taking part in the Sunday race, the second day of the race, so the course had already been churned up.

Then my first sea swim; across the Sound of Kerrera. Less than 60 seconds in a boom a full kick to my right eye. Could not see a darn thing and was expecting to emerge from the sea looking like the elephant man to gasps and people running away in terror. Quite the opposite. Whilst staggering up the jetty, there was bagpipes playing. I removed my goggles and felt that my eyeball was still where it was supposed to be, this and realising I wasn’t actually that far back, along with the cheering crowd numbed my eye pain.

After a relatively quick transition, as some people got fully changed, and I mean fully changed (an eyeful of a different type) I was out onto the bike course. This was OK to start, a bit of a climb heading out but nothing too scary, the first descent wasn’t too bad either. This built my confidence and reminded me how much I love mountain biking! The course quickly got muddier, more uneven and challenging and I was certainly playing it safe. Mountain biking in comparison to road cycling is worlds apart. Mountain biking uses muscles you dont even know you have when road cycling, requiring much more upper body and core strength and having spent all summer on my triathlon bike, I had forgotten all this. Being on an un-familiar bike and on a torn up course I had no shame in walking some of the more technical bits. While walking one of the very muddy sections I saw a man take quite a tumble, on asking if he was OK I also took a mud slide right down the hill and had to scramble back up it for the bike. After my mud slide my hands were covered in mud and my wet muddy tri suit did not provide a suitable wiping surface, so after this just holding the handlebars was a challenge.  I made it back to transition in one piece, though unrecognisable for all the mud.

The run was incredible! Mainly because I am a lover of mud and there was plenty of it! There was quite a steep uphill, some parts requiring all fours to clamber up. I got stuck in a bog, knee deep, at this point I got over taken by not one but two women, in a normal triathlon this would have been a kick up the butt to sort it out and get a move on, but to be honest I was having too much fun. After the bog there was a stream, which I managed to end up in waist deep, this was quite welcome as it washed some of the mud off.

When I wasn’t stuck in mud I was taking in the views, which were incredible. At the top of the hills you had full views of the bays below, over the Island, mainland Scotland and across to what I think was the Isle of Mull. I took just a few seconds to take it all in, before concentrating on where I was putting my feet again, or I could have taken a very nasty tumble over the edge. The last 2-3K of the run is on a trail that follows the coast. On this bit I was feeling awesome and managed to increase my pace and take back a couple of places.

In almost every triathlon I have ever done I have experienced a mental battle, usually around a third of the way into the run. At this point I usually hate everything, my legs, running, triathlon, but I didn’t experience this during this race. The setting was so picturesque and unique all I could think was how I already wanted to do it again.

I wasn’t fast. I didn’t expect to be. I didn’t even expect to be able to complete the full race (with no bike) but I did and I had a fantastic time. Possibly the most enjoyable race I have ever done. It was the perfect end to a brilliant season, one that I have trained the most I ever trained ever following a structured training plan. Qualified for GB Age Group, completed my first half Ironman and made the decision to try a full Ironman in 2018. The weather and the mud just added to the magic of the race.

Next day notes: My eye is quite swollen. I do not love the mud quite so much when I am cleaning it off my kit.

Ironman Barcelona 30.9.17 Race report – Peter Wordsworth

Anything really is possible.

This race report unusually starts 21 months earlier in the first week of January 2016 when I found myself lying in a French hospital bed – recovering from an operation to pin and plate my shattered tibial plateau – six pins and a titanium dinner plate required to keep the scrambled egg that was now the top of my left knee together. My left wrist was not much better with three pins and a plate but at least my hand no longer dangled uselessly and my fingers still worked.

 

The next day was my darkest day – in pain and unable to even get out of bed the doctor explained to me the scale of my injuries and that I had a very long recovery ahead of me – I could not put ANY weight on my left leg for 3 months and after that another 3 months of intensive physio before I could expect to walk again. – SIX months before I could walk again. For someone used to training 10+ hours a week that was going to be tough.

I desperately needed a goal to keep me going through what was going to be a very difficult year. I should explain that I had completed my first Ironman just 3 months earlier in Mallorca and I had made a right mess of it – walking the last 6 miles and coming in just over 15 hours. Then it suddenly came to me – that was it – I would do another Ironman and I would complete it is sub 15 hours. After all I figured – if I was going to do one, I may as well aim for a PB!

Something about the scale of the challenge and the fact that no one thought I would actually be able to do it made it the perfect goal. Aspirational, out of reach and frankly ridiculous! What followed was 21 months of hard work, pain and sheer bloody minded determination not to give up.

There are so many people who I am grateful to for helping me get through those 21 months that this would be a very boring article were I attempt to list them all but 3 people do deserve a special mention. Ed Nicolson my Personal trainer who as a qualified Physio at York District hospital was brilliantly qualified to help rebuild the strength and mobility in my left leg and wrist. Steve from Off that Couch – who had to build a very long training plan to get me to the start line of the Barcelona Ironman – “trust in the plan – stick to the plan” became our mantra ! Finally my sister Tess who runs the fabulous Tessfit in Devon – her encouragement and input on all matters physical, emotional and nutritional was invaluable.

Between the three of them (and over 600 hours of training) they managed to rebuild me. Standing on the start line on 30th September 2017 was quite an emotional experience – although to be honest I was rather distracted by the thought of what lay ahead.

My plan was pretty simple – swim the 2.2 miles in 1 hour 20 mins – 10 mins in T1 – (I know shocking but I have always been terrible at “the fourth discipline”. ) So I wanted to be on the bike for 1 hour 30 mins after starting. Aiming for an average speed of 18mph on the 111 mile bike leg to get that done in 6 hours 20 min – 10 mins in T2 – on the run 8 hours into the race – a 5 hour marathon -my leg injury meant I had to run/walk the entire marathon. To give me a target time of 13 hours.

I was doing the race with a good friend called Mark – this would be his first Ironman and he was targeting a sub 12 hour time. We were evenly matched on the swim and bike however he has the advantage of two fully functional legs so was always going to be faster on the run than me. He is also taller, leaner and fitter than me but I am sure that has nothing to do with it !!

We had done the Barcelona 70.3 earlier in the year as part of our preparation and had bumped into each other in T2 –He ended up finishing half an hour before me so we were expecting to be neck and neck until the run and then for him to put something like an hour into me on the marathon.

The swim was a tale of two halves for me – It was a single lap course – out and back along the coast. The outward leg was fine – I was sighting well and could see the yellow buoys clearly but I as I turned from home I couldn’t see any buoys – I was just swimming between the safety kayaks and some other swimmers I could see. I thought just keep going and looking up every other breath and you will see the buoy soon enough. It just didn’t happen! I could feel someone on my feet and felt like stopping and telling them not to follow me because I was lost!!Eventually I saw the buoy and it was WAY off to my right – I started to head diagonally towards it but was cursing as I had clearly gone way too far to the left not helped by the current which I only then remembered would be pushing me to the left!! I ploughed on pushing myself harder than I had planned in an effort to make up for the additional distance I now knew I would be swimming.

Eventually we turned for the shore and scrambled up the beach – I checked my watch 1 hour and 17 mins. Happy with that – especially as my watch told me I had swam 400m further than I needed to – I tried not to focus on the fact that I could have done a sub 1 hour 10 min swim had I not got lost and rather just focused on getting through T1.

T1 – well let’s just say there was room for improvement and perhaps blow drying my hair was a mistake but I still managed to get on my bike 1 hour and 30 mins after the start so that was job done for swim and T1 !!

The Ride on the Barcelona Ironman was meant to be fast and it was going to be even faster now as the cycle route had been changed at the last minute back to the original two and half laps straight along the coast route as part of the negotiations to let the event go ahead despite the independence referendum taking place the next day. We had been told during the race briefing that The race had actually been cancelled when Catalonia announced the independence referendum but that Ironman had managed to persuade the authorities to let it go ahead by bringing it forward a day to Sat 30th and changing the bike course.

The ride was manic – 3000+ cyclists on a very fast two and a half lap course meant that at times it was pretty scary. I just kept my head down focused on keeping safe and ridding to my target Normalised power.

Steve had worked hard with me to drive up my FTP level and Ed had done a lot of work on my aero position – I was also wearing shoe covers, shin covers and had shaved any part of me that was going to see light of day! I had decided against wearing my aero helmet the day before as I was worried about getting too hot – a decision I regretted as the clouds rolled in halfway through the ride!

As I hit half way I couldn’t believe my average speed was +20mph. I checked my NP that was in range, my heart rate was fine – I was just on a flyer. I was worried I would put too much into the ride and blow up on the run like last time so watched my power for the last half very carefully. I was also careful to keep the fuel and hydration levels topped up as I always found it hard to fuel on the run without dire gastro consequences!!

I finished the ride sub 5 hours 40 mins – that was 40 mins faster than planned with an average speed of 19.8mph. I was very happy with that and felt I had more than made up for my extra long swim and slow T1.

T2 wasn’t too shabby – I was half expecting to bump into Mark reckoning that I must have caught him up by now. Alas no sign of him – damn I thought he must be just ahead of me and I would never catch him on the run!

I set off on my marathon sticking to my long-term plan of running 9 mins – walking 1 min. This was the Plan My physio and I had settled on to enable my titanium Knee to cope with the distance. After that ride it was hard not to get carried away but every time I had gone out too fast on my long training runs I had really struggled towards the end and I was determined this time to run/walk the whole marathon and not end up walking the last 6 miles like last time!

About 3 miles in I saw Mark’s wife Laura in the crowd and asked how far ahead Mark was – she told me she had not seen him yet! I couldn’t believe that I was ahead of him so just assumed she must have missed him. I looked out for him as we started to passed people coming back down the other way – the run is a long 3 and a half lap course. No sign of him – I passed the northern turning point and started running back towards the finish line – which you had to pass 3 times before entering the finish funnel. Still no sign of him. Eventually I saw him he was about a mile behind me! That gave me a real boost. I must have passed him on the ride without realising it.

I knew Mark would eventually come past me but I was determined to keep ahead of him for as long as possible – eventually just after the 10 mile point he drew alongside me. It was great to catch up and have someone to talk to and take your mind of the marathon all be it briefly! I run to my Heart rate and it soon became clear there was no way I could keep pace with Mark and keep my heart rate within the range Steve and I had calculated. I also didn’t want to slow him down and damage his chances of getting his sub 12 hour target, So reluctantly I let him go and he accelerated away into the evening light.

After that things went downhill quite quickly. I was approaching the halfway point on the marathon and had stopped to get my nutrition and some hydration tablets from my special needs bag. DISASTER – my special needs bag wasn’t there – I couldn’t believe it. I needed that fuel and I needed those hydration tablets badly. I told myself to calm down obviously, they were there and I was just being an idiot. So, I forced myself to slowly check again and again – nope IT WAS NOT THERE. Now I faced running the last 13 miles without the second half of my long-practiced nutrition plan AND I had wasted what seemed like an age searching for the bag!

My head was a mess – filled with anger, frustration and exhaustion. For the first time in the day my spirits flagged, my head dropped and at that point it started to pour with Rain!!

The next ten miles were the hardest 10 miles I have ever run. I ran for 20 mins without walking – breaking my plan for the first time in the day – I was just too angry to walk – I had wasted so much time looking for that bag !! I came to a fuel station and forced myself to walk through this. After all I needed to rethink my fuel plan on the way through it ! I grabbed half a banana and a cup of Coke – I had NEVER tried drinking Coke on a run before but figured a lot of people swore by it and I needed the fuel without taking on board too many solids.

It was now raining, dark, the roads were covered in puddles, my shoes were soaking wet and I was slowing down. It is fair to say I was not having fun! As I past the finish funnel to start the last Long loop I was shattered. I desperately just wanted to start walking – I figured I could still get sub 13 now even if I walked the last few miles. I have no idea how I managed to keep going over the next few miles. I would look at my watch to find I was only 2 or 3 mins into my 9 min run and then eventually when I got to my 1 min walk it was over all too quickly and I had to force myself to run, telling myself “just run for 9 more mins – one more time “- every time but it was getting harder and harder each time!

Then something rather wonderful happened – I turned around the northern point for the last time and it stopped raining! I was now running TOWARDS THE FINISH line – it might still be 3 miles away but I was running towards the funnel and this time I would be turning right and hearing those words “you are an Ironman”. I started to think back to that day in the French hospital – what a journey I had been on and just how far I had come. I found a new resolve and determination – there was now absolutely NO QUESTION of me walking anything other than my planned 1 min walks and I started to run faster and overtaking people. I suddenly knew I would do it and it all became quite overwhelming – I was now glad for the cover of darkness so no one could see this idiot running through the night with a huge smile on his face and tears running down his face. Ironman events can take you to some very strange places!

The last mile was a buzz like no other. I had been so down half way through the marathon that I wasn’t sure I would manage to finish. I think it as only the thought of all my family and friends watching me on the tracker that kept me going – now here I was smiling and running like it was my first lap not my last. Turn right and into the lights over the finish line at 12 hours and 19 mins. I was an Ironman once again.

Mark was waiting for me at the finish – he had finished in 11 hours and 49 mins so we had both smashed our target times and finished within half an hour of each other. You couldn’t have wiped the smiles of our faces that night if you wanted to!

I am not sure what comes next – I am taking a few weeks off. I have put those closest to me through quite a lot over the last 21 months and for now I just want to give them something back. I could never have done it without them.

Peter Wordsworth
8.10.17

 

Epworth End of Season Sprint Triathlon Race Report  17/09/17

I was really excited to see how I would do in the end of season race as I had completed the early season race on the same course and this was a direct comparison which would reveal the impact of last 5 months of training.

A few days before the early race was my first Personal training session with Steve and my first ever experience of the FTP Watt bike test. If you haven’t done a FTP test, book one! It’s a great measure of where your at and how effective your training is.

To add some more context to this story you probably need to read my last race report for Bassetlaw Tri if you haven’t already, scroll down and you’ll find it.

I don’t think I’ve ever exercised as much as I have this summer, having weekly PT sessions helps keep you focussed and I have definitely learnt to prioritise what’s important to me. I’m far too head strong to do anything because I have to, I do things because I want to and all this training has not been a chore, I love it.

On the morning of the race we woke up to a fair bit of fog which I was hoping would clear by the time I was out on my bike as I hadn’t thought about visibility and I didn’t have lights on my bike, but most people didn’t either so we were all in the same boat. My husband, Andy was racing too so we had Grandma lined up to meet us there and look after the kids and orchestrate the supporting. Yet again, Andy and I were both in the same swim wave and before I knew it we were pool side and ready for off.

It was only once I was swimming that I thought “right, focus Sarah, count your lengths!” Talking to Andy after the race I was off like a rocket but I wasn’t really aware of him or how fast I was swimming, I had 3 people to over take in my lane and I’d soon got to 20 lengths.

Out into transition and I was just running out with my bike when I spotted Andy coming into transition. My Mum and our kids were shouting and cheering like mad. Andy soon over took me on the start of the bike course as I would have expected him to and he gave me a shout as he passed. It was still quite foggy and my glasses were steamed up so I couldn’t see much with or without them! After Andy had passed me, I didn’t see anyone else on the bike course for about 25 minutes and it did briefly cross my mind that maybe they’d stopped the race due to fog and I didn’t know! I wasn’t use to this, normally I have loads of quick cyclists flying past me all the way through the bike but not today. A couple of quick men past me eventually on the last section of the course and as I live on the course I know it well so knew where I needed to push it and where I had the chance of recovery downhill. I really enjoyed the bike course and felt like I’d done a good job, I could really tell a difference in my fitness from the last time I raced this course.

As I came into leisure centre, again my little support crew was loud and proud which was lovely and I couldn’t wait to run back out to see them again. The run course sets off on roads but about half way goes off road for the remainder of the run. I mainly run off road as I have a lively cocker spaniel who isn’t good on a lead so that terrain suits me. In the last few minutes of the run, a familiar face shot past me, Steve was racing too. He shouted “push it right to the end” so I did as I was told! There is a short hill near the end of the course but again, as I know the course I knew I only needed to push to the top and it was down hill to the finish.

When I had finished I knew I’d worked as hard as I could so I was pleased with myself. I met back up with my family and got my print out and I wasn’t sure how much better my times were but I knew I’d made a big improvement.

Once the statistics were analysed to compare the early race to the late I was really pleased. I was faster in all 3 disciplines and both transitions and overall was 8 minutes quicker over the 5 months between races! The reason I’d not been passed by loads of “quick people” was because I was 5

minutes quicker on the bike. Even better still I won the 30-40 year age group so proudly received my trophy and posed for photos. Steve came over and we were talking about it as we almost missed Andy being announced as the winner of his age group too. A Mr & Mrs victory!!!

What a day for us both!

A couple of weeks earlier Steve had joked, or at least I assumed he was joking that I’d win my age group and I laughed it off saying “I doubt it” and I blooming well did!

I think this last 5 months may have just changed my life forever. As for next year, watch this space…

2017 – Challenge Roth and Ironman Barcelona

 

I set myself a tough target for 2017, to complete Challenge Roth and Ironman Barcelona. I knew it was going to be tough to commit to training for Roth in July and then Barcelona on October 1st.
Full of enthusiasm I started my plan in January, but within weeks I was suffering with a cold that would not go. The cold wet conditions endured at the Christian Brown ride in February turned the cold into a full on chest infection that stopped any further training attempts. I then lost my Father in early March which further set back attempts to get consistent training. I went to Tricamp in Mallorca, just about clear of the chest infection, but struggled to keep up with the week 2 group of superstars. However, I did come back fitter and ready to kick on, the training plan was ramping up now to Roth in July.
Nicola and I were looking forward to a road trip to Germany in our camper van, we were all packed up and ready to leave. With a final visit to her father, next door, we found him suffering a TIA / stroke. Change of plan and rushed to Scunthorpe hospital. Nicola stayed at home and I headed off for Roth. Yet another sacrifice by Nicola for me.
The race at Roth was not what I planned. The town and build up is great, the organisation with a split transition (start 10 K away from the race end) was really difficult to deal with on your own. Having to arrive at the start at 4:45, before the roads were closed, when my start time was at 7:50, meant a very early start. The swim in the canal although not picturesque is just like swimming in a pool, no real sighting required, simply sight off the straight sides of the canal. I was really happy with the swim and T1. The bike route is rolling and through nice countryside. Unfortunately, I did not get to complete the first of 2 laps. I was knocked off my bike on a descent at 30 miles, by someone who fell behind me and slid into me. My rear mech was damaged such that I could not change gear. This was my worst nightmare and race over. I did limp the bike round to compete the rest of the route in a big gear and got to feel the crowds on Solar Hill.
After the Roth disappointment I settled back into training, getting as much open water swimming in as possible at Hatfield, long weekend rides and long runs. By mid-August I felt ready to race again, keeping the training going and not getting injured was a hard balance an Achilles niggle started to get worse, so I knocked back the running. Did an, 18 miles run beginning of September and then no more running until race day, trying to protect the Achilles tendon.
Arriving in Callela, the weather looked perfect. The Ironman stadium and tents were erected on the beach. I registered Thursday afternoon. Friday, I had a short swim in the sea, at 8:20 am race start time, perfectly flat warm sea, about 21 degrees. Followed by a recce of the bike course. No wind and smooth roads, although a lot of traffic, other cyclists having a recce.
Race day, – Assembled on the beach, to the rousing soundtrack of Iron Maiden and AC/DC to before the rolling start commenced with the Pros setting off at 8:00. I was in the 1:20 pen, watching the faster pens run down the beach and into the water and spread out towards the first buoy. It was soon my time to be released down the beach 2 steps in the water and then into strokes. The rolling start pretty much worked, I had clear water out to the first buoy, 300 metres done, right hand turn to the long leg 1900 metres. It was a long 1900 metres going against a current and the water was a bit choppier then it had been the day before. Past each buoy there was bunching, needing some elbow use to keep position. The return straight with the current behind us was much easier. After the final turn back to the beach down a narrowing funnel I did get a bit lost in traffic. Out of the water in 1:23, happy with that, but I felt really sick, assumed it was too much salt water swallowed. Managed to throw up before going into the T1 tent to change out of wetsuit. Space was a bit limited, but stayed focused and collected bike and out in 7 minutes.
The first 3 K on the bike, was restricted to no overtaking and no aero bars, but there is always one. He lost a drinks bottle that skidded across the road in front of me, needing quick reactions to avoid. Thoughts of the Roth incident crossed my mind. Once on the course properly, quickly got into a comfortable pace and headed to the far turn point for the first time. There was plenty of yellow cards being given out to drafters, I counted more than 20 in the first penalty box as I went past.
Avoiding drafting was really hard on this course. This course has been forced upon the IM organisation because of the Catalan independence referendum due to take place the day after.
First lap completed in 2.5 hours without incident, I managed to glimpse Nicola shouting at me, on the turn roundabout. I was beginning to feel very sick, but kept going. After only a few miles of second lap, I got a puncture, front tyre. Managed to fix OK, but my stomach was really complaining now, and had to throw up. Assuming this was reaction to gels, even though I was using the same regime I always do I carried on, but was clearly losing energy rapidly. I tried to keep hydrated and feeding myself but had to stop several more times before completing the 2nd lap. Just a half lap to get through, the outward against the wind was tough, but final leg with tail wind soon arrived and I could go back through town to T2. Nicola was manning one of the more violent speed bumps and shouted encouragement as I headed through the last 1km.
Finally, on the run, I set off out of T2 towards the finish line. The crowds were amazing very close to what is quite a narrow path. The run is 3 laps, no bands were being used, so there was no way of knowing what lap anyone was on.
The route headed out along the beach path, mostly tarmac, with a bit of rougher gravel. A couple of double backing loops under the railway line and heading out to the edge of town and beyond. Then back to complete the first full lap round the palm trees at entrance to the finishing shoot. Towards the end of the first lap my stomach started playing up again, I forced myself to throw up, before a feed station, so I could immediately try and hydrate again. I was taking water and Iso at each feed station and taking a gel. My energy levels were still getting low. As I started the 2nd lap I spotted Nicola, she told me to man up and get my arse in gear. I dug in a got around the 2nd lap aided by a heavy rain, which kept me cool. However, there was now loads of puddles across the roads, the underpass under the railway was ankle deep in water. I had a little splash dance through it with another struggling competitor and carried on.
Completing the 2nd lap I saw Pete and Chris with medals round their necks and beer in their hands. Knowing, they had completed made me pick my feet and pace up, if only briefly, past the finish shoot for the last time, I set off on the last lap. It was dark now, and the runners were thinning out. I tried to focus on catching each person in front, slowly picking each one off. I was not going fast, but no one was overtaking me either. The last lap was hard, found myself walking slower through the feed stations and walking a bit further past them. Finally, the 41Km marker came into view, zipped up my top and started thinking about making space between the person behind and in front so I could enjoy the downhill run onto the grandstand carpet and get my Ironman photograph.
Completed in 13:54, a lot slower than I hoped, but with a puncture and still dodgy stomach I was happy to be done.
This is my last Long distance race. It has been a long year of training, Nicola has put up with my training and the time it takes away from all the things we should be doing together for too long. Next year standard distance and a couple of 70.3, will be more than enough.

Final notes.
Turns out I had a sickness virus, I got worse Sunday and had to call a Doctor Monday. Was unable to fly home, so we had a couple more days in Callela. We saw plenty of Catalonian Independence referendum demonstrations and road blocks, but fortunately did not witness any of the violence seen on television.