Outlaw race report
It all started 3 years ago as I watched my uncle on the run at the outlaw and running across the line with him, and I’m thinking to myself “yeah I can do that”.
So it all began I started training, completed a few sprint distance events a couple 10ks and the odd sportive. Then upped the distance to Olympic and half distance races in the following year and half. After my outlaw half my uncle thought it be a great idea to enter me into the 2015 full outlaw.
I was very optimistic at this time thinking yeah I be fine, played it all cool and collected. Started training hard but thinking I can’t take this lightly if I am going to do this I am going to do this properly and get some guidance and some coaching. Not knowing what was getting myself into.
So the date is 7th of January 2015 first time I had met Steve in person, heard a lot about him and his amazing achievements and accomplishments. My journey to be an outlaw had begun.
Weeks ticked by, improvements were huge, recent personal bests were tumbling, distances were increasing and my body and mind set were changing daily. I was pushing myself in ways I never knew I could.
So, after a great race at the Lincolnshire Edge standard triathlon in Cadney, my 2 week taper had begun. All the hard work had been done, all the long bike rides, runs, open water swims, hugely fun circuits on a Thursday nights and punishing sports therapy massages from Emma Davis.
So before I know it, it’s here Outlaw weekend!!
Car is packed, everything is checked and double checked and the drive down to Nottingham’s Holme Pierrepont began. I had been a nervous wreck all week and to some points actually scared due to the unknown endeavour that lay ahead.
Checking the weather all week, rain, rain, ahh looks like a nice day 22 degrees C and low wind, perfect conditions, oh wait rain and no escaping it now just have to embrace it.
Arrive at HPP and register. There is no going back now. Nerves are high.
Meet up with the Lincsquad gang for a quick chat and group picture before a half two race briefing. As soon as I sit down with a non-alcoholic isotonic lager I’m looking up at the screen trying to memorise the bike and run routes, where I need to go in the transitions to plan it all out in my mind in an attempt to ease the nerves, this one trick I have gained from 3 years of racing.
The briefing is over, I go to rack my bike and prepare my transition bags for the tent. Hang them up and remember where they are hung in relation to the hundreds of other identical others.
So its race morning, around 3:45am forcing down two pots of porridge and a coffee, closely followed by a carb drink.
Everything is laid out from the night before. I suit up with my tri-suit and calf guards, wrap up warm to step out of the hotel and jump into the car.
Music in my headphones are trying to contain my nerves as my uncle and I arrive at HPP.
Sipping on a carb drink from one hand and wetsuit in the other, I walk through the breaking dawn towards transition to check things to make sure everything is set.
Time is flying by and it is now 5:30am, final toilet trip, gel is down in one swift gulp, a sip of water and the wet-suit is on. Just as the zip is up and collar is fastened I just know everything is going to be fine.
I jump into the very warm lake it feels like second nature to me now, everything feels great, no nerves, no worries, few warm ups and breathing drills to tell my body to be ready.
I look to my right from the first bay, in the lake all I see is hundreds of heads bobbing round like apples in a large bowl at Halloween.
Its ten seconds to go, I focus down the lake, the sun is shining and ducks are swimming away from all of us future Outlaws. 3…2…1… the hooter sounds and we are off. So many people, so many different journeys and stories to be here on this race morning.
I stay behind the lead pack for a matter of 50 meters then a group form besides me, as I settle into my relaxed stroke and get into rhythm for the long game. We all reach the top of the lake and cross the buoys; I stay in tight, the shortest line I can without entering the washing machine behind me as everyone battles for the same line. That’s it, home stretch now. Like a flash I am at the end of the swim and I stand up with a wetsuit of water, I reach for my cord to find my wetsuit is already undone and I run to T1.
I find my bag and get changed into the bike kit. Run out of T1 and find my bike over the mount line and away. I was aware that the rain was approaching but how soon and how many miles can I get under my belt before it hits. The answer, not enough, by mile 65 the rain hits and hits hard. The coat was on, legs spinning away and the mileage was falling. I reached roughly mile 73 and my old enemy self-doubt hit me like a train. Started to get a little emotional but I pulled it together and pushed it to the finish of the bike leg as wet as I was when I left the lake seven hours prior.
T2 was rather funny as I could not feel my right hand due to the cold and I could not tie my tri-shorts. I turned to the gentleman next to me and asked” excuse me I couldn’t ask a favour could I? Could you tie my shorts please? I cannot move my right thumb” he replied with “well I have never been asked that before but sure no problem,” that must have been one of the funniest moments of the day.
So, running out of T2 I noticed I’m missing something… RACE BELT, I sprint back ask the kind marshalls do you still have my bag 274? Yes they do, I rummage through it and they get rid of my bag and I gallop off.
The run was wet and littered with puddles, I complete my first lap of the lake and start my first out and back section, cheered on by my uncle and father that had made it to see me. I make the turn point to an aid station, in need of some food as I could not take any more gels and there I re-found the love for Jaffa cakes, they saved my day. Every aid station I had 2 or 3. I return to the lake for the second lap and here a voice from the other side “COME ON DAN ELLIS” thinking to myself,’ hell someone has awesome eye sight.’ I get to the other side and find the one and only Steve Clark and Steve Beevers cheering me on again. One thing Clark said to me that stuck all the way round the run is “keep the mind strong Dan and work, come on this is where it counts”.
I plod on as the rain persists, and I’m wet through to the skin. I’m tired of dodging puddles so sod it straight through I go. Time to dig deep, last two laps now. Lap 3 done, now a three quarter lap, half done only 1k to go. I muster everything, holding a moderate pace. 500 to go! I lift the pace 300 to go I hold my lifted pace, the carpet is there at my feet I see the finish… a final look over my shoulder to see if anyone Is there.. There is no-one, one final kick and kick hard and I am there
I AM AN OUTLAW…
I could not have done any of this without Steve Clark, pushed me to my old limits and now I must discover my new limit, what is next? Well, I shall have to see, but one thing shall remain, I shall remain part of ‘Off That Couch Fitness’ for as long as I possibly can.