Stenno – You Are An Ironman

Ironman Barcelona 2015

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I’ve now been doing triathlons for over 5 years, during which, I’ve continually told myself I‘ve had no rhyme or reason to do an Ironman! Many of my Lincsquad friends have completed this epic achievement but I still felt that I couldn’t put enough training in to complete this massive race due to work and family commitments. Or could I?

Clarky (Steve Clark) had been pestering me to enter an Ironman as he was entering Ironman Barcelona. Knowing I could only commit to 6 hours of training a week I asked Clarky if this would be enough. To which he replied “Shut up you puff, just get it entered and then I’ll sort you a simple plan to follow”! A few days later whilst discussing with the wife I took the plunge and paid my money!

Training was going well and I was upping the miles nicely in all 3 disciplines. I felt strong and on track until a stabbing pain in my right knee whilst running 8 weeks prior to race day!! This previous niggle had returned and I was now wondering if I had made the right decision? After taking a couple of weeks off, I hit the bike hard with my fellow Ironman Barcelona buddies (Steve Grocock and Clarky) clocking up around 600 miles in September my most ever!!, things weren’t all lost but running would have to wait until race day, I daren’t take the risk and after chatting with Clarky about it this was what we agreed.

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So the day came to travel to Barcelona, arriving in the beautiful city we managed to blag a taxi for 3 bike boxes, 7 adults, 7 hand luggage and 3 big cases!! Don’t think we would have got away with this in England!!!!

We arrived at our hotel within the hour and later on that afternoon Clarky and I decided to test the water. Oh my days! It took me 3 attempts to get over the waves as they crashed over my head. After a small 500 metre swim I felt sick as a dog and now my strongest discipline had also become a worry!!! We prayed for the water to calm down for race day!!

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Race day was here before we knew it. Alarm clock set for 04:45 as we’d join umpteen other athletes for as much breakfast as I could physically fit in. I also made myself a peanut butter sandwich to take on the bike with me.

In transition I saw my good friend and fellow OTCF athlete Richard Powell. We exchanged best wishes and I knew that wouldn’t be the last time I’d see Rich throughout the day. I queued up for one of the smelly port-a-loos!  I put my sandwich in my bike bag and suited up for the swim. Steve G, Clarky and I wandered into the holding pen for swimmers of estimated swim time of 1 hour to 1:05 hours, I should have been confident to go for the sub hour pen but the waves albeit much calmer were an unknown.

At 08.30 the pro men set off. The horn then sounded at 08.45 to indicate it was our turn for the rolling start. I attacked hard but got held up in the first few hundred meters but felt strong all the way to the turn point, unfortunately swimming against the current for the next 1900 meters was much more challenging due to nausea. I seemed to be getting nowhere fast and it was never ending. After the final turn the swim exit was in sight (hurrah). I stumbled out of the water and couldn’t help feeling that I could have done better. Hearing cheers from the wives as I went past I glanced at my watch to see I had done a sub hour swim, this perked me up, I was on track! In and out of transition with no dramas and then on to the bike, another quick shout from the support crew and I was off…………………

Feeling strong and pushing a good pace but suffering from stomach cramps I looked for a toilet all the way until the first turn but to no avail. I kept having to sit up every 40 mins or so as there was nowhere to stop! Other than sitting up for the stomach cramps I felt I pushed a good pace and was averaging not far of 22 MPH.  I could see my fellow Ironman buddies as we passed on opposite sides of the road, then a voice called my name and Richard Powell came past happy that he had done his fastest 100 ever!!!!! I got back in aero and caught Rich up, we finished the bike section together.

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Into T2 I dumped my bike and ran straight for the loos after scratting around for toilet paper I headed into the tent to get my running gear out, onto the run I go……………………………………………………………

The weather had warmed up but I felt reasonably strong starting at 8.5 minute per mile pace. 600 meters into the run I was pleased to see my wife, dad, step-mum, Emily, Angie and Aiden. The run consisted of 4 laps. I was feeling good after the first lap and running through all of the aid stations. I decided to take a banana and walk through the aid station after passing the support crew. I said to myself ‘walk for a minute, then start running’, the minute flew by and I was still walking when I heard my name called! Aiden and Angie had moved spectator positions and caught me! This made me start running again!!! I got to the end of lap 2 and I started to really feel tired at this point so I decided to walk through every aid station. My pace had dropped to 10 – 10.5 minute pace. Twice I passed Stevie G coming the other way; I shouted encouragement but got nothing back?  As it transpired he never heard me. Seeing friends on the course kept me motivated along with shouts from the crowd. The third lap seemed to last forever and the daylight was disappearing fast. At last I was on to the 4th lap and knowing time was on my side (my predicted ‘A’ race was 12 hours), I could afford to continue with my shuffle. On the final turnaround it was a nice feeling to know this was going to be my last lap and that I had almost done it.

Onto the red carpet I took a look behind to make sure nobody was around so I could slow up to enjoy the atmosphere and high five Paul Kay as I went down the finish chute. I raised my arms in the air and went through the finish arch. I glanced back to see my time of 10 hours 52mins. I stood in line to collect my medal and staggered into the recovery tent where Stevie G was waiting for me. I immediately felt shattered, faint and knew there was a danger I may pass out. Steve G bought 2 soups over which I greedily necked. The stomach cramps returned with a vengeance, I had no choice but to grab my blanket and head for the nearest port-a-loo.

After getting myself together I went to find my lovely wife who had supported me throughout the whole day. She told me how proud she was of me and it finally hit me that I had, after 5 years out from my initial sprint distance race now become………….an Ironman!!!!

I would like to thank all the support crew for their encouragement, this kept me going on my journey to becoming an Ironman.

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