Entering this event was probably very late and as someone mentioned, “very stealth”. There are many reasons for a such a late entry, but I will not bore you with them on this report, as in 2 weeks time, I will be competing in IRONMAN Barcelona.
Entering Wales the Saturday before the event was very last minute , I was fit and had no injuries and felt good.
The week up to the race had now become a logistic nightmare, travelling down and booking accommodation and by Tuesday evening everything had been sorted. Training wise, I took it steady and kept the muscles turning. Traveled down on the Friday afternoon, which took longer than excepted due to an accident on the M1. Finally arrived at hotel number 1 and went out for a quick walk to stretch the legs and grab some food. Saturday arrived and up at 6am, to go and register for 8am. Registration was very quick, as I was one of the first there. Then it dawned on me, that there was no turning back. I collected my wrist bands and goody bag and the nerves set in.
Decided to take a walk round Tenby and to get my bearings. The practice swims where under way. While walking to the beach area, I bumped into John Chambers and Paul McEwan. Passed on words of encouragement and was great to see familiar faces. So, I went for a big breakfast and read the itinerary. Next job to go to the car and sort out my bike and equipment for the days event. This took awhile, as I had to keep checking and double checking. Then headed off to transition, where I was to rack my bike and hang the blue and red bags up. (Blue for bike equipment and red for running gear).
Checked that, I had put the bags on the correct hook about 10 times and went out to double check my bike. Decided to leave the tyres pumped up at 100psi. Weather forecast had shown up a very nice low pressure and high winds. Prefect for racing in (NOT). One last check of the transition area, before heading out and collecting my timing chip. I Bumped into Paul and we discussed the transition area while having a lot of bike envy. Shuck hands and wished each other a safe race and off we went our separate ways. The nerves had set in, so went for a walk before bumping into another familiar face, Ashley Evans. Good chat and few giggles which settled the nerves. Just got walking again and bumped into Dean Kirkham eating a cream bun. Dean lively as ever gave me a few tips and encouragement.
Back to the car and booked into hotel number 2 and there I just chilled and took the weight off my feet. Next was to get the numbers stuck on my arms and make sure all alarms where set for 4am for breakfast. Had a late dinner that night, which was not in my plan but never mind. Get to bed and rest for big Sunday.
The alarms went off and this was it. Get ready and down for breakfast. Check everything and head off to the car and drive into Tenby before the roads close. Parked up and grabbed wetsuit, goggles, pink swim hat and trainers and my nutrition for the day (nutrition consisting of cheese onion crisps and pasta sandwiches – it’s the future).Headed off to transition to check bike over and rack the water bottles/nutrition onto the bike. Final check and headed into the crowd with my pink transition bag. (Pink bag for trainers, due to transition been 1km away from the swim). Looking at the timing boards of where to place myself, I took up around 1hr15 marker. As I walked through Ashley Evans stood there smiling and looking excited.The Welsh national anthem played out and the atmosphere sent goose bumps through you. The mass of competitors, walked through the town and down to the waters edge and as we did everyone hung their individual pink bags up on their allocated hook.
Swim hat on and goggles on and few stretches. Count down began and the pros where set off. Not long after us amateurs where released. Into the water we go and the temperature was good and it was not to rough. Found position on the outside of the group to steady myself and find my rhythm. First buoy coming up and felt ok and nothing to worry about apart from seeing jelly fish. Lap one went according to plan and a little run along the beach. Ashley Evans in front of me entering the water on the second lap. Felt good and back in I go. Just getting to the first buoy and had a little cramp but soon sorted itself out. As I got round the buoy, someone had turned the wave machine on. This messed my rhythm up but battled through it. Just took my time and made sure I got out safe. (Swimming for me is not fun). Out the water and a check of the watch 1hr24. I was happy and now to push on and get my trainers on and run to transition (T1). Running up to transition I remembered a saying from Majorca tri camp “on it, like a car bonnet” (room15). Running to transition, I felt good and the atmosphere was electric. Into the tent I go and picked my blue bag up and grabbed my helmet, arm warmers and cycling top. Stuffed my pockets with food and put my shoes on. A quick run to grab my bike out of the rack and out of transition. I noticed coming out of transition there were not many bikes left in the racks. (What the dickens, where is everyone). Only one thing for it and that was to hit the bike hard from the start.
The weather started off ok but soon became windy. I knew nutrition and water where key to the ride and I had split times and distance of when to eat. Was going well until 14 miles. Cramp set in on my left leg on a hill. Off the bike and stretched off and drank a bottle and half of fluids. I look to the side of me and there a farmer watched me and smiled, asking if I was ok. I reassured myself and replied “yeah, fine, all in a days work”. His quad bike did look tempting. Back on the bike and getting near the coast-line the wind became strong and gusty. ‘Head down and keep pushing on’. Spotted Ashley Evans on the way round and encouraged each other. The hills then came into play and I monitored the roads, as I knew I would see these again (2laps). The rain was coming down harder and made some of the hills tricky but I took chances on the bike and did not let up. Oil had been put on the course and had to slow down into single file, for a while. Then came the famous heartbreak hill. Wow the atmosphere was out of this world (tour de France springs to mind). But, I learnt something very quick. Don’t get off your bike on heartbreak hill, like the guy in front of me did. The crowd erupted into “this is heartbreak hill, you ride the hill, RIDE, RIDE, RIDE, RIDE, RIDE” and so he got back on his bike to a massive cheer. My legs where burning and just thought get up the hill and then relax. Rain still falling I pushed on and at 70 to 90miles became a stop/start affair (x3 toilet stops). Around 98 miles, I sat up to prep the legs for heartbreak hill and once up it was on to the run. Into transition (T2) and it was like déjà vu not many bikes. But this time it gave me confidence as I knew I had a good bike especially in the wind/rain and oil. Bike racked and into the tent to collect my red bag. Trainers on and gear away. Out onto the run for, 4laps. The crowds had grown and the atmosphere was just amazing. Bells ringing and people shouting your name gave you energy.Felt good for two laps then onto the cobbles when my right knee began to hurt and was suffering. Had to manage it and the wind along the top hill gave me that. I walked through the water stations and the part of the hill where the wind was gusty. Seeing John, Paul and Ashley was great as we encouraged and high fived. Band envy on lap 2 was very apparent. Then I spotted Lizzie, who had been with me from the start and it was great to see a smiley face. Lots of praise and told me to keep moving and just think only 2 laps to go. I was back running and managing my knee. Lap 4 came round and the final band collected. I had a finishing time in my head, which I had kept to myself and I was inside the time. Into the town for the final time and I found pace. On to the red carpet and did the air plane manoeuvre(offthatcouchfitness) down the finishing straight, high fiving the crowd.
Then came the moment, PETER TINDALL you are an IRONMAN. Boom I had done it. And very happy 13hrs 26mins 22secs.
The journey this year has been long and hard at times. When it gets tough, remember why you enjoy swimming, biking, running and have fun like a kid and eat lots of cake while out biking or dive bomb in the pool. When out running walk the hills and take in the views. Makes training easier.
Now just a little time out to say thankyou to Andrew Burrows and Chris store for pushing me and training with me. Steve Clark for the tips/advice #offthatcouchfitness. Dean Kirkham for advice/tips and encouragement. Not for getting room 15 (Majorca tri-camp crew).Lizzie for having to put up with me, over the weekend. Many thanks to all.There will be another report after Barcelona ironman.