Ironman Uk by Rhydian Stock

Around 2 years ago a certain Coach Clark asked me “so, what’s the goal?”, “I’d love to complete and Ironman” I said, and in typical Coach Clark fashion, I can make you believe you can do anything, he said “right, lets do it” and it started.

UK Ironman in Bolton I decided on, I didn’t want to go abroad and really didn’t fancy a sea swim as swimming is my weakest discipline and what worries me the most. I didn’t want the though of being eaten by sea things on my mind as well. As it worked out there was 8 other Off That Couch Fitness guys also doing it which ended up being brilliant support.

The week leading up to the big day was probably one of the most nerve-racking weeks of my life. I’ve never felt so sick and worried, what have I done, I can’t do this. Steve kindly sat down with me for an hour or so to go through everything and gave me his normal words on encouragement telling me I can do it, which worked for a short time but then the nerves were back.

So, the Friday before race day I decided to go and get registered and collect all my transition bags, no turning back now, I’m in and go the band. I packed my transition bags 3 times that evening and then had a bowl of pasta and thought I’d best try and get some sleep.

Saturday, lets tip those transition bags out and re-pack them again, get some breakfast, pack an overnight bag and set off. Maybe I’ll just check those transition bags again. Right, time to set off, I can’t put this off any longer. As I set off within half a mile the police have pulled me over, what a start. Anyway, got rid of them and got to Bolton to meet Steve at T2 to check my running bag in. Kindly Steve offered to walk me through everything and check my bags to make sure I’d not missed anything (oh, and by the way, he’d not packed his and just through a few bits in on the side of the road). Everything’s good, racked up, way in and out sorted and off to T1 we go. Gets to T1 and the same process again, find the way in and out of transition, where my bike is and have my first look at the lake, those buoys are a long way away, they sorely can’t be right and its 2 laps. They were right.

Anyway, back to the hotel to chillout for a couple of hours before we all go out for a bite to eat. I’m stopping in the same hotel as Craig, Gemma, Dan, John, Camila, Walt and Steve so there is a bit of buzz as we all meet up to go for tea. Driving out for tea I’m starting to get nervous again and the dough is kicking in. Thankfully I was stopping with some of the best people in the world and everyone was so supportive and encouraging. 3:30am start we all agreed on so off to bed to try get some sleep if possible.

Sunday, race day, 2:45am the alarm goes off (not that I really needed it), get a shower, coffee and a pot of porridge with a banana. Put my wetsuit half on, pack the rest of my stuff up and walk out to the car. Meet everyone else outside and everyone (especially Steve and Dan) is excited and ready for it, I’m NOT. Driving over I’m starting to feel sick again but there is no turning back now, park up and walk out with everyone to find the bus. Bolton is just full of groups of people, carrying white street where bags with someone at the front with their phone following google maps to find the bus. All of us got sat on the back seat of the bus and we’re all chatting and look happy and relaxed, but you can feel everyone is on a knife edge, either wishing the start to come or go.

So, we get of the bus and walk to T1, I’m just gob smacked how many people are there, not just athletes, supporters as well, do they not know what time it is?!? We all get sorted out, hand are white bags in and get together for a group photo, I’m properly nervous now and could just throw up and could easily just go home.

We all make our way to the start line, I get stuck at the 1:20hr point and just can’t get any further back, I remember Steve telling me it’s better to keep to one side if possible and there’s less chance of getting kicked or swam on rather than the middle, I’m stuck in the middle at a swim pace I’m not comfortable with, the national anthem starts and I can help but think get me out of here. Someone then says to me if you’renot too happy just hang on when everyone starts moving to get to a better swim time and keep to the right, its not as bad on the right.

Then ACDC kicks in, I wait to get to the back and get myself on the right, we get to the water and I jump in. The nerves are doing overtime now, just do breaststroke and get to some clear water I say to myself, relax, you know you can do this,nothing is working though. I try to do some front crawl and I just get even more panic struck. What am I going to do, everyone is passing me, I’m going to be drop dead last, I might not even make the cut off?

About half up the first leg I just force myself into front crawl and all of a sudden something clicked, I started to feel good and comfortable. Next thing I knew I was catching people and I was at the first turn, I kept to right just to keep out the way, made the turn, sighted the next buoy and set off. Hang on a minute I’m not only doing front crawl and feeling relaxed I’m actually starting to enjoy this. Next turn came up like a flash, again kept right to keep out the way, sighted and set back towards the shaw. I’m not passing people all over and even getting a little annoyed at people in my way, I swim right up to the line to get out, look at my watch, wow, that’s actually not a bad time for me, (maybe all those Endless pool sessions with Steve actually worked) I’m now really loving this. As I run to the next lap all I can hear is Camila shouting me(who by the way is probably the loudest supporter in the world), I get to the start of the next lap and I’m that pumped and confident I dive in and get straight into it. Keep to the right again, hell no, I’m positioning myself on the left this time. People keep bouncing into me as I swim past them which any other day would have panicked me but not now, not today, I just held firm and kept going.

I got out the water feeling on top of the world, I not only survived I actually did and ok time for me, 1:27hr, I’ll take that all day. Right concentrate now and get that bike gear on a get going.

I get on the bike buzzing from the swim and then have to try and calm down and say to myself, right, it’s a long ride with some big hills so pace yourself. Its about 15 miles to start the first loop and it all starts quite nice with a bit of down hill and small rolling hills, then the first climb kicks in (I don’t know all the names so I’m not going to try), I’d said to myself before I started, small ring for all the climbs on the first lap, I forgot this and just powered up. As I got to the top, I remembered what I’d said and reminded myself there’s a long way to go yet.

The bike course was absolutely brutal and full of long step climbs followed by step, fast, technical descents, there was no point where you could have a second to relax, recover and gather your thoughts. Maybe that was a good thing? The first lap seems to fly past, I was feeling strong at the top of every climb and really enjoying the fast descent being able to carry that bit more speed knowing it was closed road and there was no car to worry about. As I started the second lap all I could think was, I’ve got this, lets push on, how wrong I was, and this is where the real Ironman challenge started. The climbs got harder and steeper and I was running out of gears on the bike, I remember saying to myself, “I must have more gears left, it wasn’t this hard last time around” this is really where I started to dig deep, just keep pushing those pedals round one revolution at a time and you will get to the top, all which is true but at the summit of each climb came the fast, technical descents. I wasn’t enjoying these any more as by now I’d seenpeople coming off on about every corner and ambulances blue lighting it everywhere. I went past a guy and just said “this is a course that just keeps giving hey?!?” sarcastically, he replied with “yeah, this is a proper Ironman course” and I thought yeah he’s right, that’s what we’re here for, the challenge. My bodies really starting to hurt now but I just kept my head down and kept going. The crowds were amazing and every time I got a little down, they were there to pick me up and give me a boost. 100 miles clicked over and I perked right up again, 12 miles to go and that’s it, I’ve done it.

I see T2 and the bike dismount line and I hear my name being shouted, a couple of my mates were there, all of a sudden I’m buzzing again. Right, best think about this marathon then hey.I rack my bike, walk into the transition tent, find my bag and tip it out and get changed. Once I’m ready and re-racked my bag I sit back down and think, how the hell am I meant to do a marathon now!!! I jump up walk out the tent, grab a cup of water and think just run to each water station. I set off running and what’s going on, I can actually run! I feel ok! Wasn’t expecting that! I see my family has turned up and are all cheering me which gives me a huge boost.

Right, just 4 laps, nothing more than that, run to each water station, that’s the plan.

Lap 1 it all went according to plan and I start to see other OTCF athletes on the course, all of us high fiving and cheering each other. Yes, I’ve got this, I feel great (within reason).

Lap 2, again the same plan and it’s working, come on I think, my watch died which worried me a little as I had no idea what pace I was doing but I can’t do anything about it so keep going.

Lap 3, oh no, the cramp kicks in and then the doubt, can I make the cut off? I don’t know if I can keep going. All I can think about is all the people that were here cheering me on and my family that’s also made the effort and I’m going to let them down and not finish and I could feel tears starting to well up in my eyes. I had to dig so deep then to say NO! I’m finishing this, I am going to be an ironman, lets do this. I settled back down and re-focused and just set little goals and kept moving forward. For some reason then the tears come back, this time though because I was amazed that my family and friends had made the effort to come and see me complete this. I swallowed them down, shook my head and got back into it. Then there back again as I’m thinking about all the OTCF family that’s come to support everyone and as I’m thinking about all the support every OTCF athlete has given me this weekend. What’s wrong with me? Why am I so emotional? Come on dickhead lets get to the end.

Lap4, I’ve worked out now that I think I could walk this lap and still get under the cut off, but I don’t want to walk it, so I decide just to walk up the hills if I need to. I needed to. I see all the other OTCF athletes and we all give each other a shout, Arron and me even stop for a couple of minutes to talk. That’s it, I’ve nearly done this, just make it back round into the town centre and its done. I walk through the last water station and turn the corner to go up through the town centre, the crowd is still buzzing, and I think right let’s run as much as I can. All of a sudden the 26-mile marker is there, 0.2 of a mile I say, that’s all it is come on. As I turn to come round past the finish line for the last time the atmosphere is electric, I have someone just in front of me, let him go to build a gap I think, I want that red carpet all to myself, I’ve been planning this finish from lap 2. I turn onto the red carpet and look over to the crowd and the OTCF family stand out, I make my way down the red carpet doing the aeroplane (as was discussed over dinner the night before) and I hear those words I’ve been waiting for, Rhydian, you are an Ironman!

I can’t explain how over whelming and life changing this whole experience has been. The training was tough, the course was physically tough and emotionally draining but I’ve made it out the other side. I’ve met some brilliant people over this whole challenge, people that I now call friends. Thank you so much to Steve Clark for all the support over the journey and the belief he’s always had when I hadn’t. It has truly been one of the best experiences of my life and now, even days after I’m still buzzing about what I have done, and I am so proud of myself and everyone else that has made it. It really does prove that yes, somethings are tough and hard, but nothing is impossible.

Ironman UK by Gemma Scott

So when I was asked to write a race report for Ironman UK 2019 I would never have expected in the lead up to this race that I would be writing about the outcome that I had.

2018 I took on an Ironman for the first time and literally got my arse handed to me on a plate, Ironman chewed me up and spat me out but I did complete the race as the last finisher within the cut off. I didn’t get that sense of achievement I had hope for as I felt cheated & defeated. So how does one overcome this feeling, they sign up to Ironman UK 2019. I had some demons I needed to put to bed!

This time I was determined I needed to work harder, no way was I going to go through that hell again so I enrolled on Steve’s Swim lessons (highly recommended) and set out trying to get stronger on the bike too. I worked hard through winter pushing myself out of that comfort zone on the bike and in swimming. I worked hard on my mental wellbeing too. A lot of people work so hard on the physical aspect but fail to exercise the mind too and I can guarantee as long as you are not injured the mind will be what gives up first.

Training was going well until the beginning of March and I just began to go backwards. I had no energy, I felt so ill and I had no idea what was happening. I managed to continue the training but as soon as that was done I was in bed for the rest of the day. I finally gave in and went to the doctors when I lost a stone in 4 weeks and was referred to see a consultant. I had some tests done but they couldn’t see what was wrong so I was referred to another consultant but wouldn’t be seen until July so I had no choice but to go private. After extensive tests they confirmed I had SIBO & I was suffering with Malnutrition & dehydration because I couldn’t digest any food. I had to take medication to ease the symptoms but it was agreed we couldn’t treat the illness properly until after Ironman. So with the help of the medication I battled on through training and although the issues didn’t disappear I did start to feel better.

The pinnacle of my training was to take on The Tour of the Peaks Sportive in May. 2018 I attempted to tackle the 115 miles and 13000ft elevation ride, but wimped out after Winnatts Pass & only completed the medium route of 62 miles & 7000ft (still tough but not what I set out to do). In 2019 i completed the full distance way inside the cut offs required with no walking and finally put that demon to bed. The biggest confidence boost I could’ve asked for. I knew I was so much stronger than last year already.

So heading into race weekend I set myself 3 goals for Ironman UK 2019:

• Aim to swim a sub 1 hour 30 minute 2.4-mile swim

• Bike within the cut off time of 10 hours and 20 minutes which includes the swim time too.

• Finish in daylight

I knew it was going to be hard and painful but I was ready for this, I was strong both mentally and physically. 

We arrived in Bolton Friday afternoon and headed straight to registration. We then caught up with Shawnie & Aaron and headed to the race briefing. It was after the briefing I began to feel a sense of calm. I knew what the cut offs were on the bike so I had more of an idea what I needed to do in order to survive the bike which had been changed drastically since 2018 9500ft elevation as opposed to 5500ft and an extra 17 miles.

Saturday we got up early and after spending the previous evening prepping the bikes and ensuring our race bags were packed and ready to go we headed to T1 to rack the bikes. Best move, it was quiet and pain free. I headed to the portaloo before we collected the race chip. I saw something move on the floor and had a moment of panic (I thought it was a big spider) but it turned out to be a small frog. How cute. I safely rescued him and returned him to a safe place. There was actually loads of tiny frogs all over transition. Hope they all survived race day!! We then headed to T2 and it was there where we caught up with Coach Clark and Rhydian (after he had got lost bless ya mate!!)

The rest of the day was pretty stress free we kept hydrated, ate little and often and stayed off our feet as much as possible. That evening the majority of Team Off That Couch Fitness had a last supper talking race strategy and how we were all going to survive the challenge ahead! We were fortunately then in bed by 7.30pm watching Jurassic Park.

Race morning, up at 2.50am. Quick shower, kit on and out of the door by 3.30am and heading to the town centre to catch a bus to the start. Nerves were starting to creep in, but I always believe that nerves are a good thing and I should be more worried if I didn’t have any.

I ate my overnight oats on the bus 2 hours before the start as planned. Pulled up near Pennington flash and pulled a blinder we used the toilets at the holiday inn and no queue whoop!

Once in T1 I filled the bike up with food and drink for the day ahead. Then back in the toilet queue whilst Craig kindly sorted my bike for me!

Once sorted we headed to get rid of bags and get ready for the swim. After pictures hugs and general encouragement from

Coach and the team we headed to the swim start.

I seeded myself at the 1 hour 20 minutes sign on the start line. Last year I ended up being slowed down a lot by breaststrokers despite seeding myself at 1 hour 30 minutes. Aaron joined me but it was so squashed I literally couldn’t move at all. Then Thunderstruck began to play and I went into my happy place. This song sends chills down my spine in a good way and I knew we were off, no looking back.

First 100 meters I took my time (Coach Clark drummed that into us on the bus) got into my rhythm the water was a nice temperature (unlike lakesman brrr) and quickly got into my stroke. There was weeds everywhere think swamp

Monster lol but I just got on with it and before I knew it we was approaching the turn buoy. It was heavily congested here and the only option was to breaststroke around the buoy. It soon freed off. The remaining first lap swim felt quite comfortable just sat in what felt like a steady rhythm & in what seemed no time I was soon at the Aussie exit. Out the water and I ran as fast as the breathing allowed. Some guy in front waved to an adoringly fan and just so happened to elbow me right in my face. Cheers Pal! It hurt but I wasn’t bleeding so just sprinted past him and straight back into the water. Some guy slipped entering in front of me which sounded painful so I took my time. 2nd lap I was much more fluid. My arms were free, I was gliding through the water and ticking off buoys. Half a lap to go…then the guy who couldn’t swim straight. It felt like having a dolphin plow into the side of you with every stroke as he kept knocking me off my swim line so I had to kick a bit harder to pass him. Up ahead The exit approached Whoop I’ve survived part 1. Climbing out of the water I glanced at the watched. 1:22 what!!!! That smile began!! I was buzzing 18 min PB whoop!! Ran past the cheer squad smiling buzzing, and ran all the way to T1.

Grabbed the bag sat down & hurried as fast as I could. Helmet on shoes on gel necked I was off. Quick toilet stop where I nearly lost my tailwind but I saved it!

Bike grabbed I could see Paul waving frantically and I was still smiling. I’d just knocked 9 mins off my T1 in 2018 so all was going to plan. I needed the biggest buffer for this bike course so I already had an hours grace.

Pennington Flash to the bike loop was so much nicer than I remembered I was happily sat around 17mph but last year I barely got above 13mph. Still smiling.

Saw fellow team mates Aaron & John looking strong which is an enormous buzz. I kept my speed up on the fast sections and eased the light climbs. I had the advantage I knew this course and what world of pain was about to be unleashed.

I kept on top of my nutrition and was nearly empty as I approached Oompa Loompa Alley. I also Saw some familiar friendly faces from Our number one supporters! You guys are immense. After id been rattled by the cobbles no exaggeration I head off to embrace the beast of the course.

The first lap appeared to pass by quite quickly I took my time climbing and it paid off I actually passed people climbing and descending more so. What’s happened to that timid petrified girl of 2018. I was flying down the hills taking technical sections like I’d been doing them all my life and I was enjoying it. I’d become a cyclist I was strong. The moment that it really hit me how well I was doing was on the fast technical section after roman road. A German lady in my age category caught up said “how on earth can you descend so fast and not fall off with all those pot holes!” Complete credit goes to my no 1 bike coach & hubby Craig who sacrificed some of his training to get me this strong. Plus I had remembered where those pot holes were.

I had the usual peaks and troughs of energy but I have now learnt to ride those waves and just eat it soon comes back.

Was lovely seeing friendly faces on the bike course and the Tour de France experience climbing sheep house with Dave Hinch running alongside you is priceless. Top effort mate heard you had some incentives for the others including coach lol!!

Second lap passed with a blur. I tried to be disciplined and not go too hard but Before I knew it I was heading to the brow of sheep house and got to see those wrestlers for a last time. Thanks guys you made a girl keep smiling.

I also have to thank all of the spectators on the bike course that made a day of it with bbqs and mini festivals. You all were so welcoming and I made sure I thanked everyone as it sometimes is hard to think outside the bubble you’re in when it’s tough!

Before long I was heading into T2

I sat and span my legs out on the descent to prepare the legs for the run. My back ached but after that beast I wasn’t surprised it certainly wasn’t as bad as 2018.

Bike racked I felt such relief to hear no penalties so I ran to the tent and grabbed my bag. The second Relief was that I had safely made the cut offs with a big buffer so second expectation met. Visor loaded shoes on lubed up and I was off. About 5 mins faster than T2 2018. Boom!!

First lap I saw everyone & I was able to run so kept it going plodding away and using the feed stations. I was smiling something I was being consistent at throughout the day and slowly tapped away. I walked through the hills in the park I learnt that lesson from last year and continued on my way. The troughs came more on the run than the bike.

So I just walked through them ate a tortilla and kept sipping tailwind and water. 

Heading towards the feed station at the turn point they all recognised me “she came back well done Gemma you’re our favourite”!

These guys remembered me from last year when I gave up at the turn point on the last lap in 2018. Now a year later I was in a smiley happy place and they all said they were so proud of me! I was their inspiration. Queue holding back tears.

First lap done the wheels were beginning to fall off. No no no keep smiling walk when you need to but don’t stop moving.

I was annoyed I’m not going to lie I wanted to run faster and to my capability but that bike course had taken loads out of me. I just needed to survive and finish.

Second lap still smiling (some was grimacing my stomach was beginning to hurt and the chest was getting tight).

Halfway through lap 2 I felt weird light headed and unfortunately was sick. I felt better as soon as I was. I actually got mad at this point. I was not going to be the last over the line again id worked hard I’d proved that on the other 2 disciplines and also the fact I was able to run up to this point so I embraced this anger had a word with myself and soon enough I was out of that trough! I headed to the next feed station got some coke and tortilla sipped tailwind and progressed on it made me feel better so this became the remaining race strategy. I saw fellow team mates on the course dishing out hugs high five’s and loads of encouragement. This helped channel my mindset for the remaining 2 laps and I just kept smiling encouraging people and plodding on. It was nice to see how elated coach was when he saw me! And of course Craig massive relief from him.

Loads of support from the cheering squad as I headed through the town centre to head out on the final lap. I was hurting but I wasn’t letting anyone know that I was determined to finish in day light. Time was running out but I was hoping somewhere strength would come. Last hug with my cheer squad at the feed station who I thanked profusely for all of their support this year and last. I was eternally grateful for their selfless acts of kindness. 

In times like these you realise how amazing people can be. 

After the turn point something ignited inside me. I was doing this I had a massive PB, I’d survived a bike course that is now regarded the toughest Ironman Bike course. My pace just came. I had another lady just sat on my shoulder and I just knew she wasn’t getting past. Competitive mode kicked in. I collected my gold band and I went. Kicked through the park and didn’t look back. The down hill part of the park hurt but I pushed through I had only half a parkrun to go. Refuel on coke and tortilla no stopping though I ran through the last 2 feed stations. 1 mile to go I’ve got this. The faster I went the less my legs hurt and before I knew it I saw cobbles. I saw Hinchy shout yes youve done it! I saw That finish line. I gave everything I ran as fast as my legs would go I wanted to fly down that finish line. Round the bend friends were cheering High fived Craig and attempted the most ridiculous aeroplane known to man more like a bird flapping down that red carpet! But who cared

I had become a double Ironman and finished 1 hour and 21 minutes faster than last year on a course with 4500ft more and an extra 17 miles. I did it within my expectations set and all with a smile on my face. 

Massive thanks to all friends and family who’ve supported us both at Bolton, from home, for understanding when We couldn’t spend valuable time with you, for believing in me probably more than I did. Thanks to Steve for tailoring the training to make me stronger, getting my swim technique better (extra shout out to Sarah too), Jo for keeping me stretched out and most importantly Craig for supporting me so much despite also training for his own Ironman. It’s been a hard journey but one where I’ve discovered myself and what I am really capable of! 

 

Sent from my iPhone

Ironman UK 2019 – Criag Scott

July 2018 I completed the only Ironman I was ever doing, fast forward 12 months and it’s race weekend Ironman UK 2019.
Its Friday morning and I’m loading the car with all the gear for me and Gemma whilst carrying out what must be the 20th kit check then off we go full of excitement and nerves.
First stop in Bolton is to drop the bikes off at the hotel where we met up with John Chambers who was his usual excitable self (not) then off we all go to race registration to collect the long anticipated Ironman backpack (I’m sure this is half the reason we do these events)
registration done quick and easy then we have a few hours to kill so we relax have some food and watch the world go by sat along side the Fred Dibnah statue.
A couple of hours relaxing go by then we meet up with Andy, Aaron and Shawnie and it’s off to race briefing we go and this for me is where the nerves start to build and it all becomes very real. Once all the formalities are done we all soak up the atmosphere together then head off back to the hotel to bag all the kit then time for food and a early night. Saturday morning we head off to T1 first to rack the bike hang the bike kit bag and familiarise ourselves with transition layout and the swim course, it’s then back in the car and heading to T2 in Bolton town centre to hang the run bag and again take time to learn the layout of transition.
Finally that’s us done and for me once this is done all nerves seem to disappear I guess at this point there is nothing else you can do except eat well and stay on top of hydration. We wait around at transition to meet up with coach Clark and Rhydian who had got lost and also been mistaken for a local tramp according to Steve. After yet more food we meet again with Dan, Shawnie and Aaron for a chat then off to the hotel we go and take some chill time. Our evening meal was at a local Italian where we met Steve, Dan, Rhydian, John and also Camilla and Wal who had come to support.

Race day 2:50am and the alarm goes, straight in the shower full of nervous excitement then jump in the car to go catch the shuttle bus to the start.
once there it’s load the bike with drink and race nutrition then try to relax before the start.
our amazing support crew were there giving out hugs and words of encouragement and this is where it all gets a little emotional for me with us all wishing each other good luck out on the course ( it genuinely feels like we are all preparing to go into battle in a war zone)
I then have a minute alone with Gemma to wish her well and have a little pep talk, this is where my hay fever started playing up and my eyes were watering ;-).

In the starting pen at the 1:15 pace board I now focus on the task and try to keep the heart rate as low as possible then AC/DC Thunder struck comes on and I’m just tingling with adrenaline as make my way to the water. Once in I go taking the first 100m nice and easy to find a good rhythm and some space then crack on and before I know it I’m nearing the end of lap one and making my way through the Aussie exit and starting my 2nd lap. So far it was fairly uneventful but then at the 2nd turn the group tightened up and the guy in front of me stopped dead then started to breast stroke and as he kicked he his me square in the ribs which literally knocked the wind out of me so I had to compose myself then get going again. Finally the welcome sight of the finish is now just in front of me and I’m pulled out of the water by one of the helpers a quick look at my watch and to my amazement I had a 1:13swim which was 8 minutes faster than last year I was so happy.

T1 went smooth and there was a amazing image in the tent when I looked around the amount of steam poring off all the athletes it would make a awesome picture.

Right the Bolton 2019 bike course was next up and I knew this was going to be the part of the race that puts to test every ounce of mental and physical strength (I wasn’t wrong) I had been over a couple of times before race day to recce the course so I knew it was a big challenge, the hills are just one after another and some are very long long drags which are energy sapping, the descents are sharp and technical so they are a mental challenge as well as physical and now with a added bonus of cobbles through the town centre the course is a bruiser from start to finish. From the swim there is a 17 mile rolling hill ride to the loop section and part of this is a switch back so you get to see other riders no sign of Steve he was on a mission but I saw Dan coming the other way closely followed by Shawnie they were flying, I reached the turn around and headed back along the other side thinking I hope I see Gemma then I know she’s ok. Aaron was next he was looking good but sadly I missed Gem by what I work out to around 30 seconds ( she was fine and had a great swim). Through lap 1 I was just trying to stay on top of my nutrition and ride efficiently but also carry as much speed on the descents and through the technical parts as this is my favourite part of any ride so still have fun after I had paid be there. Dotted around the course were so many friends supporting us all it was awesome including a Mr David Hinch who was sat at the bottom of of the start to sheep house climb which is the most iconic climb on the course. he is outside a pub with what looked like 100’s of people creating a Tour de France feel to the climb but as I get out of my seat to start climbing he is running along side me with a fishing rod and a packet of Hob nob biscuits on some string dangling in front of me i was laughing so hard I could hardly breath it was brilliant. Soon after I’m back in Bolton and lap one is behind me and I remember thinking that’s it Scotty you are on your way to T2 now and feeling pretty good. 5 mile into lap 2 I see Dan up ahead climbing so I push to get to him and we completed the hill side by side exchanging words of encouragement then we drift apart, deeper into the lap I start to feel tired and go through a bit of a low patch and allow my head to drop which isn’t like me but I guess the hills were taking there toll so for the next few miles I eased right up and opened up my little treat I had packed myself for times like this kind of a break glass in case of emergencies it was a nice little pork and apple pie then I reached the point where Paul, Rob, Lindsey and Zoe amongst others were and I asked if Gemma was ok? I guess seeing what she went through last year was playing on my mind and they told me she doing amazing and smashing it, armed with my treat and the good news I instantly picked up and felt good again. I guess it just shows how important your mindset is in any endurance event.
Hill after hill and back heading into the town centre and starting to think about the run and I remember thinking oh god this is going to be fun as the legs had been to hell and back which also put a lot of pressure on my back and shoulders.
Again T2 went smoothly making sure I was comfortable and also had a good floor stretch.

Run out steady straight into Camilla and Wal offering top support and I’m just trying to relax and tick the miles, halfway through my first lap it was clear to me it wasn’t going to be the sub 4 marathon I had hoped for but I was ok with that, sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture. Each and every lap the support from the whole crowd and especially all our friends and family was just incredible and I cannot thank you all enough. Every lap I think I saw everyone from the OTCF team which was awesome, we were all high fives and shout outs. Steve flew past on his last lap looking awesome but a puff of the cheeks towards me indicated were were all feeling it. Finally I get to see Gem and she is smiling away which made me feel amazing and so happy for her, after quick exchange of words and a cuddle I’m off to collect my yellow band and start my last lap and I see Shawnie also on her last lap so another quick cuddle and we are off.

As I try to enjoy my last lap I realised a guy that I run along side was also on his last lap and potentially going to be on the red carpet with me then hear Steve shouting go go go push it so after 139.8 miles I’m in a sprint finish for god sake. There it is in front of me the famous red carpet where the noise is unreal and the atmosphere is electric, I remember on the Saturday night Steve saying make sure you airplane down the finish so that I did high fives with as many people as I could then you hear the words “Craig Scott YOU ARE A IRONMAN” which after 2018 has more meaning than you will know 😉

In the recovery tent there is a overwhelming sense of emotion and as I said at the swim start it feels like we are all going into battle, at the finish it feels like a load of wounded soldiers returning home from battle it’s a very special feeling that is hard to put into words.
As the whole OTCF team return one by one the sense of pride is overwhelming then boom my hay fever starts again.

I would like to thank everyone that supported us on the day and also in preparation for this event you all know who you are. Secondly a massive thanks the Coach Steve not only has his training schedule got us all through this monster Ironman course but he’s created a great family feel to the club, he’s always on the end of the phone to answer any question but also just to run ideas by and help when you are finding it tough. Thank you

I’m writing this sat next to a pool in Ibiza but still thinking hmmm what’s next.

P.S Dave I still want them Hob nobs

Ironman UK Bolton 2019 – John Chambers

Here we go again!

Following some good race results earlier in the year, Barcelona Marathon, London, North Lincs Half marathon and Lakesman half distance triathlon, preparation for Ironman UK was going well…… until a long standing issue with my shoulder reared its ugly head. Swimming has never been my strong point but had been going well until a few months ago so the swim was always going to be a struggle.

There was a big OffThatCouchFitness presence at this race so there was a good atmosphere between us. We travelled on Friday and registered in Bolton town hall – it was happening again! There was a buzz around the town already as athletes were beginning to arrive. Registration complete, a bimbleround the town centre, expo and of course the merchandise shop and back to the hotel to relax and sort transition bags and gear out ready for racking and drop off on Saturday then an early tea with Gemma and Craig – quite a laid back day really which was the plan. Saturday morning came and early to T1 to rack the bike, a quick look at the Flash which was very tranquil and serene, T2 for bag drop off and again, back to the hotel to keep off our feet. Another relaxing early meal with Coach Clark and the half the team as we were in the same hotel. Early to bed and BOOM it’s 0230 and time to get up! Eating at that time of day is always hard work but a pot of porridge, a banana and some pain killers for my shoulder did the trick. We left the hotel at the ungodly hour of 0330 to drop the cars off near the finish and then back on the shuttle bus to Pennington Flash. The rest of the OTCF team assembled – it felt like we were the new Avengers!

As we lined up for the self-seeded swim, I was conscious of my shoulder so headed towards the back of the field. I intended to swim steady stay out of the way of people and protect my shoulder – plan achieved. Not the fastest of swims but my intention was to minimise the pain. The swim actually went reasonably well, incident free maybe 10-15 minutes slower than I would normally do but due to the circumstances I was happy with that, I got out of the water feeling really fresh – maybe this is the way forward!

The bike – what can I say about that? Well in one word, brutal. Having completed Ironman Wales in 2017 and 2018, this was much harder than that so hat’s off to everyone who completed it as it was a tough day on the saddle. I saw a couple of the OTCF guys on the bike, a quick chat with Gemma and Andy to see how they were and onward. It was apparent, this wasn’t going to be a fast bike course so after the first lap, I decided to ease back a bit. Much of the descents were technical where you could gain speed but had to be wary as at the bottom were sharp turns, the road surfaces weren’t brilliant either so concentration a must all way round. I had originally planned an average of 200 watts as a target so I was on the conservative side only averaging 164. It was great to see many familiar faces that had come to support us on various parts of the bike course, and not to forget the infamous wrestlers dancing away!

The run – seemed to go really quickly. I saw all of the team more than once through the run which was great to see them all doing so well. A few words of encouragement and a check to see how everyone was, it was nice to know we were all going to make it. That hill through the park though, that was energy sapping but I managed to run up the first three laps and only walked the last lap to have a bit of a chat with Stephen Cannings and then away I went again. As each lapped passed and I received my bands, once I had received my yellow and final band it was like someone had took the brake off, that psychological barrier know I was nearly home – I was off, I picked up the pace for the last two miles and completed the race in my fastest time yet so all is well. The support through the town and all along the course was amazing. Our support crew and friends had relocated again through varying points on the course and had managed to get a prime position at the finish line and I cannot thank all of them enough for the words of encouragement and banter (and Mr Hinch dangling a KFC bag in front of me on the bike for motivation!).

It doesn’t matter how many times you hear those four words after your name announced to the world “You are an Ironman” – you know you have made it, not just to the end of the race but to the end of that particular journey, however, this journey hasn’t quite ended for me yet as I have another appointment with the Dragon in Tenby in 8 weeks’ time so can step off the gas just yet!

I would like to say many thanks to the expert coaching and guidance from Steve Clark at OffThatCouchFitness (he didn’t have a bad race himself either!), the rest of the team who raced and trained together for this event – there is strength in numbers. We all had an awesome day. At the Ironman awards ceremony, there was a video about Ohana – the Ironman family. This is what Steve has achieved within OTCF and it’s great to be a part of it.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – Ali Schofield

Two days after I’d finished the Helvellyn triathlon, entries for the Outlaw Half opened. In the days before my triathlons, I ran with my very good friend Jane Handy (clarkey) who was into triathlons. I used to think she was completely bonkers – she raved about the Outlaw and I thought why not, let’s give it a go. Entry done, message to coach, let’s do this….

Race Day

4am alarm – no one likes that time of the morning, but I woke up before the alarm, fully rested and feeling ready and fresh –thanks to my wonderful family up the road for proper looking after me.

The planning and preparation for my events gets easier the more triathlons I do. Set up, rituals and routines become unchanged. The thoughts of changing things do happen, but I pull myself back into line and remind myself, that’s what you do in training, this is race day, stick to what you know.

The Swim

The wetsuit went on like a dream. It was the most comfortable I’ve ever known it.  Waiting to start is the most anxious part of the day for me… I slowed my breathing down, long andslow breaths keeping my calm. The previous weekend, I’d been to the Lagoon in Scunthorpe for an open water swim which had been freezing and I struggled to swim with my face in the water, so did a lap of breast stroke. I’d already had a word with myself, whatever happens on race day, you just need to get on with it no matter what. The announcement came to us all, the water temperature is 15 degrees… phew!!

And we’re off…. Kept it calm, only one little panic after I’d turned the corner to come back as I lost my breathing rhythm, but kept it smooth remembering everything coach had taught me. I knew I was off my usual swim pace, but I was cool about that. Out of the swim, mum and dad gave me a cheer as I ran into transition.

T1 – Transition was smooth considering I had a wetsuit to whip off.

It’s bike time…

The smiles were wide. I passed my husband on the bike exit, gave him a big smile and off I went. Having not biked the course or paid much attention to the route, apart from being told it was fast, the most important part for me was hydration and nutrition. First priority on the bike was eat and drink. Then to keep eating and drinking at regular intervals. I continued to do this like clockwork. I was finding myself on the most amazing bike course I could’ve imagined (some of the course was in very poor condition but the organisers had done a fab job on marking everything out) It was fast with a few lumps too. It was perfect. I had to hold myself back, kept thinking I hadn’t run a half marathon since 2014 and I was slightly anxious about it!! I could’ve seriously pushed the power on that route, but did I want to completely smash the bike (body said yes you could) and potentially ruin therun….? Head said no!! I was proper focused. The miles just flew by….

T2 – Yep, smooth as once again. Happy times.

The run….  (honestly I was dreading this bit)

First mile, wow I’m running well, form is good, pace is good, legs feel good… had a quick glance at my pace, ok this was quicker than I would’ve expected it to be – let’s get smooth girl, you need to enjoy this run, not ruin it. Head was in an amazing place. Each feed station, routine came into play once again, one cup of water to drink, one cup to throw on my head/hat (I hate being hot!!) I mentally broke the run into 3-mile blocks. Couple of high fives to Rhydian, fellow OTCF team buddy out on the course and regular ‘’you’ve got this’’ shouts from hubby helped the miles go by. By 6 miles, I thought it was time to see how I was getting on. I took a look at my overall time…. Wowsers, was that right?? Ali, you’ve got 6 miles to go and you’ve got how much time to do it in? Jesus. I was had the biggest smile. I’d worked out, if I continued to run as I was, I still had time to play with, if the worse was to happen, even if I walked, I could still finish this near to my target time. My pace had started to drop off, my body had started to get tired but I kept my form and kept on running… YOU ARE NOT WALKING!! 3 miles to go, it started to hurt a little. I looked at my watch, quick pace check, ok yes, you’ve slowed down, but you are only losing 1 min per mile…. 5k is nothing now, you’ve got this girl. On the last 1.5 miles, I passed the last feed station, same routine as the others, but this time it was different, it was party time, they were playing Kelly Clarkson,’’ what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’’ I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, this has been my ultimate motivation saying for such a long time…. I had a little sing song and said ‘’Let’s take this home girl’’ Boom, I was going to finish well under 6hrs. I passed my folks with 1 mile to go, big cheers and huge smiles, I was buzzing… watch check, 0.5 to go, I could smell the finish line – the pace picked up, the flags got closer and closer… I was crying. Boom. I’d finished. Stop the watch. I was a little wobbly, focused my eyes on the medal and grabbed fluid…. I needed food, I needed food quickly. Grab a coke, walked up some stairs, bit of a daze and threw my arms around my husband… food, I need food. He knows me far too well in this state, I have one priority right now and that’s to feed my face otherwise my recovery is ruined. I still didn’t know my time…  he said my WhatsApp has been constantly buzzing, I couldn’t really focus on the what, where and when – quick update to coach, then I got a text…. OH, MY FRICKING GOD!!!! Not only had I gone sub 6 (target time) I had proper smashed it and gone sub 5hrs 30 – finish time of 5:29:56. I could not believe it…. And still can’t!!

Behind the Scenes

1. Majorca – the toughest week of training ever… both physically and mentally. But it prepared me for the above and provided me with the most amazing support network I could’ve ever have imagined. Girls and boys, you know who you are, thank you.
2. The mental side – massive learning curves. It’s been tough. I’ve learnt a lot about myself. There has been tears, lots of doubts, lots of highs and lows – but I kept picking myself up and stayed focused to the goals. I’ve found ways to deal with my struggles and had to make some big changes, but it is starting to work. Onwards on upwards (ps. buy Steve’s books!!)

Thank you to my husband – you are my true rock, day in day out. Thank you to my family and friends for the ever planning around my training and supporting me through my crazy events.

And thank you to my coach, he sure knows what he is doing…. I’m proud to be part of the OTCF Family 😊

Slateman Savage by Camilla

Falling injured last year following the fittest period of my life was hard, very hard indeed. Mentally it was tough as I quickly reverted back to my old ways of inactivity, excessive food and alcohol consumption. What the hell was I doing? Stop feeling sorry for yourself, get on with it.
Swimming have always been my weakest discipline. This was my chance to finally focus on it and get my technique improved. Timing was good as OTCF was just starting their swimming improvement course and having trained with Steve before, I joined up. My confidence and motivation was returning fast. Around this time I was scrolling through social media, as you do, and a friend was rallying the troops for a weekend away in Wales for Slateman Triathlon. Full of said confidence, my finger slipped and there it was, confirmed, I was doing Slateman Savage, I.e. both days. Better shift my gears… I’m coming back!
As people were preparing for Christmas I was preparing to get back into training again. Oh my goodness, my former fitness had gone quickly, this was going to be tough. With Steve on my team I knew I had the right support to make it happen. Let’s do this.

Following several months of hard work, hills & mountains later, I finally stood at the start line, this was actually happening.
Standing in the valley of Llanberis, time had come to take the plunge, literally. Enter the cold spin of a washing machine. Swim was cold but the water was beautifully clear. Hands & feet everywhere and suddenly it was over. T1 went great and straight onto the bike and the climb, 10km to the turnaround point. I took time to enjoy this bit. The view of the valley and mountains were unbelievable and the atmosphere was really friendly. As I bantered my way up I kind of forgot the race part of this day. Big grin riding up and unfortunately a grimace descending. Not got used to this yet, it was scary.
Finally back into T2 and our support crew were loud and cheering, pressure was on! Stuff off, the trainers made it on, out on the run. As I headed to the hills a guy fell over right in front of me through the fields, I helped him up and we did the run together and we got each other up and down that run. I’ve never used hands during a run in a triathlon before, some parts were so steep, still, it was great. It may have been a race by name but it was joy by nature. Another big grin and day 1 was over.. I was left wanting more. Less than 24 hours later I knew my wish would come true. Double up and my first standard distance was waiting for me but it was not going to be anything standard about it!

Woke up with a strange feeling of calm, nerves were gone. As my friend, Jane, rightly said.. no need to be nervous as your race have already begun.

Back to the start line and day 2. Transition was now rammed and buzzing. Rain was coming down and I was ready for the swim. Goggles on and this day is about to get busy. And we were off again on a longer swim this time. I lost my head a bit towards the end of that swim, maybe the cold, maybe my awful sighting skills? My breathing was a little all over the shop but soon I saw the exit buoys… yay! Up and out and the support crew were loud and cheering. Swim done, yay!

Now back on that climb from the day before, race face came on and I got up that climb much stronger and faster than previous. The rolling hills, scenery and road was just amazing following that first climb. My fears of descending were gone and I pedalled hard down the hills and up them until we all grind to an unexpected and brutal halt. Lots of riders in the road, stopped due to a road accident. This was like a coffee stop now but with no coffee, we ate & drank. I had to keep moving to stay warm as I was quickly cooling down in the wind, few minutes later and we were setting off again on a massive group ride, some serious drafting was inevitable. About 15min later normal order had resumed and the race was back on.

2 hours it took to do the bike leg but it felt like an hour, I would happily have done that loop again!!!
T2 and onto the run. Sun was coming out. It took me around 5min to find my legs. I knew it was 3km to the slate mine and up the zig zags so I let my feet fall to an easier pace waiting for the climb to start, and boom, there it was, like a monster staring down at its victims. This was not going to be easy. I was running behind an athlete with a Welsh Ironman tattoo, he looked strong and as soon as he started to walk I took that as my cue to do the same. Ironman John and another chap called Ben became my zig zag friends and we helped each other up to the top. The place is like no other, think Lord of the rings or any other fantasy story setting. Unreal!!! Quick selfie and the race was back on. Ben had quicker legs and I tagged on. This was the last part of the race, let’s have it. Skipped and jumped through woods and paths and back up again through vegetation and gorgeous landscape. Made up good time and I could hear the finish line tannoy getting closer. At the last turn to the final descent I couldn’t help but to let out a scream of joy. Last 5 min to go… I was in touching distance of finishing this. I gave everything I had as I pushed it to the end. That’s it.. Savage done!

I knew I was going to enjoy this race but I had no idea how much I would love it. Big thanks to my coach but also to my family. They have been subjected to many hours of me being away training and they continually put up with my crazy tri goals as they know how happy it makes me. I’m really grateful I got to experience the Slateman Savage, maybe next year I’ll do the Legend…

OTCF NEW EBOOKS MINDSET AND MOTIVATION



Get your OTCF Ebooks now

How much do you want it – The ultimate Motivation guide with tasks to refocus and motivate you £6 

Positive MindA Mindset guide to help you restore the WHY we do what we do and tasks to help you set the focus for your journey  £6

Both of the above Ebooks  £11

 

OTCF Chase 2 Race Your Dream 100 recipe book £10

132 pages of healthy information and recipes

Standing on Mount Everest, in London



The London Marathon, the word on everyone’s lips for two weeks prior to the actual day.
For me the road to London started back in August when I ran my first marathon. Never done one never thought about doing one and then I’m in one. No set time in my head, let’s just get to the finish. Crossed the line at 4 hours 17 minutes. Second marathon entered, Barcelona. Let’s see if I can actually break 4 hours. Crossed the line at 4 hours 14 minutes. Hard day at the office, hot and maybe my preparation was wrong.
London Marathon entered via a charity place with MACS. Myself and my mate Craig raising money so we can run in an iconic event.
So I travelled down on the Friday morningwith Glyn, Shawnie and Zoe listening to shocking music and listening to some of the stories from past London Marathons.


To say I am buzzing for it is an understatement. I feel good, I feel full of energy and I’m with friends who will share these same feeling with me in two days time.
I collect my number from the EXPO and now it seems real. Having a little chat with Craig about the world record marathon time and how someone’s body actually lets them perform to that standard.
Number collected now for food and rest. That evening and Saturday was spent resting and making sure I was hydrated and had a few good meals in me.
Race day, the big day. Up at 6am, coffee, water, food, race kit on. So this is it, I am about to take part in the biggest marathon in the world, one which I have watched so many times in TV. When we reach our designated area I give everyone a hug and kiss Zoe and wish my friends good luck.
I have a special surprise up my sleeve but only if I do something that I have not done before and that’s run a marathon in under 4 hours.
As I sit on the grass with Craig to rest that one last time I just new deep down to my bones I was going to have a good day. Something Craig always says to me before and event “ you will do it today mate” when he said that I new today was going to end with smiles.
At my starting area with a friend from work, who is running his first marathon. Having a chat and laugh about the past and this takes our minds off it. Then at around 10:20 we go and that’s it I am part of his huge event. As I run my own race I leave my friend after 3 miles, good luck mate see you later stay safe. As I run around London I see familiar faces from back home in the crowd. Big D i here from a distance which makes me laugh, thanks Rob. I can not describe the crowd around London, it was  amazing. I strongly believe that the crowd has a huge part in you getting to the finish line. One place that stands out for me is when I crossed tower bridge, I could feel the vibration from the crowd cheering and stamping there feet.
I found the 4 hour pacer at around 8 miles, I stayed with him till 23 miles. These men and women are just incredible. At 20 miles I passed Zoe, I didn’t see her but I heard a voice say oy Dawson, which my response was “ hello you sexy little bugger” a few ppl around us giggled. After a like conversation with Zo I said I felt good and at 23 miles I was going for it. At 23 miles I felt good, I had a sneaky look at my watch and a small grin came to my face. Let’s go Dawson let’s go and do this. As I ran around the last corner with 200 metres to go I looked at my watch and I new I have gone under 4 hours. The smile on my face was happiness, relief, monkey off my back and jubilation. Having that medal round your neck makes you feel so alive and happy.
My goal was achieved 3 hours 56 minutes. The special surprise I had up my sleeve was to ask Zoe to marry me. Thankfully she said yes. It was her 30th Marathon and my first under 4 hours, what a day to remember.
In the pub after “sorry coach” and after a few beers Craig said to me “ stop smiling” the thing is I couldn’t stop smiling, I was standing on top of Mount Everest with my friends Zoe, Shawnie, John, Craig, Gemma and Glyn.
A big thank you goes to Steve. You know what you do day in day out for yourself, your family and us your friends and team mates.
Thank you.

Breaking the 4-hour Barrier at London by Gemma Scott


It’s safe to say the 2 weeks leading up to London Marathon were difficult for me. Training hadn’t been going to plan due to lack of energy and having to make some drastic changes to my diet ahead of the big day to combat this. I had to train less something I am not good at doing & It was touch and go whether I would actually run on the Sunday. I had decided it would be a see how you feel over that weekend decision.

London Marathon weekend is always so much fun. With Friday arriving we set off down to London and headed to the Excel to collect my number. There was a big gang of us and the excitement was pouring off us all. This would be my 5thLondon Marathon and I really wanted to break that sub 4 hour at London, something I had been so close to doing in 2015 but due to weaving around the course I actually ended up running 27 miles and missed out.

Once I’d picked my number up I made my mind up I was doing this marathon whether it would be a case of a training run or run to the best of my ability on the day. I knew the crowds would get me round and I had friends on the course there for moral support.

Saturday we had a nice stroll around the Olympic park, but generally had a relaxing chilled out day another thing I never do the day before a marathon. It’s hard to explain but even though you know rest is good for you, it’s hard to follow through with it.

Fast forward to race day, I woke up before my alarm feeling nervous, excited and unsure how my day was going to go. I kept telling myself “Just Run, no pressure”. I had my overnight oats, coffee and countless toilet visits as the nerves escalated, but once I put on my kit my race head took over and I began to get focussed for the task ahead. We made our way to the start, excitement brewing from all other runners and I just felt at home.

After dropping Craig, Aaron, Zoe & Shawnie off at their starts I headed to the Blue start with Glyn and John. Two toilet stops and bags dropped I headed to the start zones. We were in the middle of a field freezing. Both Zones 3 and 7 were merged together so there would be a lot slower runners in front of me. Not ideal but we can only control the controllable I can hear coach Clark in my head!

Gun goes and we slowly start moving towards the start line. It takes 15 minutes for us to get over the start line. First mile I need to stop for the loo, surprisingly I managed an 8:57 minute mile with a wee stop, get in!! Now I’m on my way my legs fall naturally into line, breathing is good and I am enjoying every minute.

The miles ticked off quickly and before I know it we’re at Cutty Sark, reduced to a jog as the road narrows and it’s very congested. The key here is to not get frustrated and use it as a breather traffic soon flows again.

Tower Bridge soon came into sight, such a welcoming sight I knew I was now nearly halfway and feeling strong. I came across the halfway point in 1:48 and to my right there was a big screen that showed Eliud Kipchoge heading down birdcage walk. I wasn’t quick enough to see him on the course, but it was amazing to see how effortless he was cruising to that finish line.

Heading towards Canary Wharf the crowds were unreal, to say the day was overcast and cold (my perfect running conditions) the crowds were bigger and better than in 2018. I cannot thank the crowds enough for the support it’s what makes London Marathon the most amazing experience you can have racing.

I keep on top of my hydration by sipping my Tailwind every half a mile and then ensuring I am having 3 mouthfuls of water at each water station. Before I know it I’m approaching mile 20, usually known as the Wall for most runners where your glycogen levels have depleted. I feel amazing, what is going on? I am not running slow my pace is not at my PB pace, but it’s faster than Barcelona Marathon I ran 6 weeks ago, and at this rate I’m going to go sub 3:40. Yes!!!

Ok so now is the game of keeping my mind focused and not allowing my head to drop. I know I’ll start seeing friends from mile 21 so if I keep smiling and plugging away I’ll be there in no time. I reach my friends who are pleased to see I’m smiling and still putting one foot in front of the other. Mile 22 more friends, feeling strong, buzzing with the crowd and the fact my pace is fairly consistent. Mile 23 I know my running buddies are up ahead, I have my second bottle of tailwind waiting for me & a big hug ahead. As I approach them I become so emotional but still strong both mentally and physically. After a quick hug I’m on my way home 2.5 miles of cheering and then the victory mile!! Glyn catches me up and we run together for a short while before my pace picks up.

Mile 24 I get a pain in my stomach. You know that feeling when your stomach wants to eat itself. This gives me the kick I need to get to the finish. I need food and my legs are starting to hurt now. I approach Big Ben and I know I’m nearly there. I pass a guy running as Big Ben (I later find out he got stuck up the finish line). Everyone is going wild for Big Ben and my skin begins to tingle with goose bumps from the noise.

I’m nearly there! I look at my watch & I can’t believe it…After 5 attempts I am finally going to go sub 4 hours at London, I’m going to get a Good for Age at London, I am going to go sub 3:40, I’m faster than I ran 6 weeks ago in Barcelona. Final 200 metres I give it everything I have left and push my body that last few metres.

3 hours 39 minutes and 32 seconds. I have gone 22 minutes faster than I have ever run at London Marathon and I am buzzing!! 2 weeks’ light training have not made me lose fitness and I am so much stronger than I thought I would be capable of. Thanks to my coach Steve for guiding me, now onto the next challenge…. Ironman UK 2019!!

Shawnie runs 3 hour 21 minutes at London



Since I can remember I’ve watched London Marathon on the TV religiously every year and after deciding I was going to give marathon running a go London has always been on my hit list. 5 marathons later I decided to put my good for age time to use and get a spot in London.

My marathon training had gone perfectly for London until Iran Hull 20 (5 weeks before) and I started struggling with shin splints. Mileage for the next few weeks was cut, and as an injury prone runner I was nervous. Miles on my bike and miles in the pool kept me ticking over but little miles on my legs. The weekend before London I managed 8 miles at marathon pace and after hobbling around for a few days after, I was 50/50 whether to run.

After speaking with Coach and going to the London Marathon EXPO there was no way I wasn’t at least starting the race.

We collected our numbers from the EXPO on the Friday and after sampling ever protein and energy bar the EXPO had to offer, getting taped up at the KT stand and entering every marathon ballot going (maybe I’ll end up doing Kenyamarathon next year) I was definitely psyched up again for London.

The rest of the weekend flew by and before I knew it- it was race day and we were on our way!

I was in the green start with Zoe, both of us super excited, far too happy to say we was about to run a marathon.
We were soon put in our separate pens and after lots of small talk with my surrounding runners we were being moved forward to the start line.

And off we went…

Coach had told me don’t set off to fast for the first 5 miles (would I ever? :P) and that’s a challenge in itself. Trying not to get carried away with what’s happening around you and the realisation of actually running the London Marathon is enough to make even the best pacers get a little carried away, surely? I’ve always thought that the first half of a marathon feels like a solid but comfortable Sunday run and the second half feels like, well the complete opposite.

The first few miles involved merging together with all the other starts, tackling the mile of speed bumps, high fiving as many kids as I could and amazement at the crowds that lined the streets before we’d even got into the main section of the race. I was actually running next to a Christmas tree at one point for the first bit.

The rest of the miles until Tower bridge went pretty quickly, I was feeling good, my shins wasn’t hurting, my pace was exactly where I wanted it to be so I was enjoying this feeling. I’d had a shout out at mile 8 which was a nice surprise by Lindsay and Nicola and crowds were growing and growing.

Tower bridge soon approached – and we were already around the half way point. I don’t think I’ve ever been over Tower Bridge in my life so this was an extra special part of the course. As I approached the bridge, I saw Mick and his wife, the atmosphere was quite overwhelming, the crowd was so loud and admittedly I had a happy tear running over the bridge (cry 1 of the run).

Mile 14 – my Mo sighting. Running down a dual carriagewayI saw a 22 mile sign on the other side of the road and the crowds really started cheering, I knew Mo was on his way. First group Kipchoge and the gang and then 1 minute (ish) later, followed another loud cheer and Sir Mo himself, hanging on in there. Amazing to think we set off at pretty much the same time yet they’ve gained 8 miles on me.

From my 5 marathons I know that I’ve always struggled anywhere from 16 miles and if I’m lucky from 18 miles so I was expecting a hit anytime soon, especially because of the last 5 weeks. Miles were ticking away (quite literally couldn’t believe how fast it was going) and my watch soon buzzed 18 miles. I still felt good, pace was still good, everything was good, I was still smiling.

Then I heard ‘fancy seeing you here’… Turned around and there was Craig, we got on about the atmosphere and he told me the best bits are to come… Really?! I didn’t think there were people left in London after seeing the crowds for the first half! And off he went.

Mile 20 – fastest split of the marathon a 7.07/min mile, oops. Don’t know where that came from but I’ve never done that 20 miles in before.

Mile 22 – I knew Uncle Rob and Auntie Linds were somewhere along this mile and for sure they was. (cry number 2) no time for a hug, but a high five, a friendly face and a ‘welldone’ kept me smiling.

Mile 23 – there’s the wall I was waiting for. It never hits you gradually, it just happens. I remember running past a Lucozade stand desperate for water and asking one of the volunteers for water but it was a no go- just Lucozade, unfortunately I’ve not found my perfect supplement for running yet, energy drinks are not for me when I’m runningand neither are gels, I take shot blocks and I cant even stomach a lot of them.

Luckily for me, I saw three friendly faces jumping up and down on a block (Kerry, Andrea and Loraine) I gave myself a pep talk because at this point a little walk would’ve been very much welcomed and so far I had not had a walk yet (a new first for me). Besides what’s a parkrun when you’ve already ran 23 miles?

Mile 25- Craig was right, it did get better. I had definitely had enough at this point but the crowds just kept you going, there must’ve been thousands of people and it was so loud that you didn’t hear anything, just white noise. Then my watched ticked over 26.2 miles and I saw the 800m to go sign, next time I’m sticking to that blue line.

600m. 400m. 200m. Mustering up some sort of sprint to the finish line, forgetting all about the last 26.2 miles because I was so happy and relieved to see the end (cry number 3). And I’d done it, tired legs but one happy girl.

Things London Marathon has taught me:
Believe in the process and the miles in your legs.
London Marathon has definitely earned its title for best marathon in the world.
Listen to your coach it works.
I can run 26.6 miles without stopping.
Christmas trees can run fast.
I made it onto Tri24/7 London report see here