As my last ironman was kona in October, I went into the Outlaw feeling the pressure. A few things have changed since last year. I now live, work and train in Dubai. As you can imagine this has taken some adapting to. Maintaining a good level of fitness has been a bit of a challenge, when you are surrounded by such indulgence! I also work a lot more hours, which unfortunately means less time training and not as much recovery time. The heat has been another major factor, in the summer months it’s around 45 degrees, so most of my training has to be done very early in the morning.
I went into the race with a positive mindset. I felt I was in decent shape to pull off my best time. My only slight concern leading up to the race, was not being able to shake the dull ache in my legs. After a couple of weeks tapering, sports massages, yoga and plenty of stretching they still felt heavy.
The race is called ‘The Outlaw’ in Nottingham, UK a more local event close to where I grew up and a race which I have wanted to do for a while.
I slipped into my wetsuit feeling excited and nervous, but ready. I jumped into the water for a quick warm up and before I knew it the klaxon sounded and we were off! Swim training had gone really well in Dubai (or so I had thought) so I was looking forward to this leg. I soon got into a rhythm once I had created a bit of space. The only distraction was all the weeds in the water, which I kept getting tangled up in and it was smearing my goggles. But it was the same for everyone. My target was sub 55 and I came out in 58 minutes. Annoying but not disastrous. Checking my Garmin later showed I swam a 1.26/100m and swam 4km so that would be just about on target!
I started strong on the bike leg and took a few position early, but then the phantom cramps began. I was thinking, here we go…I normally use rocktape to help prevent this which increases the blood flow to the muscles, on this occasion I thought I would try this race without. Another lesson learnt. Riding the Specialized Shiv definitely felt like it gave me a boost though, even if it was physiological. I soon started ticking off the miles and started moving up the field again. At the 60 mile point, my legs and head started to go. This is expected in an Ironman but not this early in the race, when you know you still have a marathon to run. I am not entirely sure why I hit the wall so early, there were not many hills, the weather was good and although there was little support in parts, knowing my family were there usually sorts me out! I wanted sub 5 hours on the bike and came off in 5:14. I now knew I was moving offtrack and felt disheartened that things weren’t going to plan.
In T2 I had to have a word with myself to get me into the right frame of mind for the marathon ahead of me. The first few strides I took, my quads wanted to lock up with cramp, so I knew I was going to have to take it steady for a few miles. The run course was flat but with two big loops and 4 loops round the lake where the swim was. My first few miles went ok considering, but I noticed my splits were deteriorating which took its toll on my mind. Damage limitations set in and new goals set. Message to self use this as training Luke, stay under 10 hours and try climb up as high as you can in your age group. Plus, its just another race so smile 🙂 and enjoy it!! So I kept on grinding out the miles never stopping as one more step forward is one step closer to the finish line.
I came home in 9:51 in the end and 2nd in my age group. On paper, I know this looks good, but for the goals I had set it wasn’t where I wanted to be. As always with any race, valuable lessons learnt and new targets to focus on going forwards.
I couldn’t do this sport without my amazing support crew. There continued enthusiasm and dedication, make it all worth while. Also the support from people who couldn’t make it on the day, was awesome. You all know who you are, big love and big thanks.
Next event Ironman Malaysia (September 27th) I will do all I can to be ready to smash you!! Till next time……