The journey from the beginning to my 2nd Ironman – IRONMAN WALES 2015!!
Back in January 2011, I stood on the scales weighing just under 18 stone and at this time I was a long distance lorry driver. I enjoyed drinking my body weight in beer on my days off so the thought of a Ironman triathlon would have never entered my mind.
Sick of being out of breath just getting out of my cab to get onto my truck-trailer and driving machines on and off it, the time had come to get a bit fitter. I was always active as a kid and into my twenties but like we all do, the comforts of life take over and the weight piles on.
So I start running – well I say running – under the cover of darkness. I shuffled along the streets panting and sweating like a mad man with a red face and hiding behind hedges if someone one was coming the other way! Ha, funny when I look back . Then after a few pints on a Saturday night with a good mate of mine I mentioned to him I’d started shuffling, he laughed and said lets join a running club! Well 2011 we entered the Lincoln 10k which at that time it could have been a hundred miles but we did it. The bug had started. Then we did York 10k, by this time the weight was coming off massively and at that time Chris, my friend, had entered the Brigg Sprint Triathlon and in his way said that’s what you want to be doing Beevers, triathlons, to which I laughed because apart from retrieving my wife’s airbed out of the swimming pool on holiday that’s as good as my swimming got. But listening to the excitement in his voice after doing it, I was talked into it and our new mission and it was set.
So after joining Lincsquad and a few sprint triathlons and increase in the distance of our running we steadily increased our game, booking the 2013 Edinburgh marathon together. I also booked Exmoor 70.3. Chris went bigger and booked full distance in Germany, Challenge Roth!! I wasn’t ready for that distance, the thought of it made me feel a bit sick. Chris and I already knew Steve Clark through his early morning Boot Camps and Circuits on a Wednesday night, and Chris was already on one of Steve’s coaching plans and it was working well for him when I approached Steve to help me and then it was on the path for bigger and harder things.
Tragically Chris had a serious cycling accident in February 2013 when out on a training ride and sadly passed away due to his injuries. I was gutted and nearly packed it all in but something changed in 2013 for me, I couldn’t pack it in, I had to finish off what we had started together. It was hard for a start because I’d lost my friend and training partner, but on the other side through Lincsquad I’d met some good mates who wouldn’t let me pack it in.
So I cracked on and completed the two races and a few more as well and even managed to get an award what had been created in the memory of Chris, the Christian Brown award at the Lincsquad annual awards evening! A good finish to a terrible year.
Then the Ironman story began through a joking text between me and Clarky. I remember it starting like “what do you think to me doing Ironman Wales 2014?” His reply was “get it booked, I’m doing it!” So £400 later I’m in. Then the training started. Hard graft, long rides, long runs and swim sessions, all in between trying to work 60 to70 hours and family time with the kids. (Oh and spending time with my beautiful wife, too.) But on the good side, you start to feel the fittest you’ve ever been in your life.
The 2014 Ironman Wales race was mind blowing, The sea was rough that year and the mad rush off the beach at the start is just what you need to get the blood rushing. Out of the sea for the second time, up the ramp to transition just stopping for a sneaky kiss with the wife who was screaming her head off in the crowd.
Into T1 then out onto the bike, the crowds are amazing in Wales shouting and waving, just what a virgin Ironman needs to get them through a very hard day. The bike course is a hard one in Wales but manageable and the people just stood everywhere giving you encouragement. It does help because you feel, in a way, stopping or slowing would be letting them down. And when you leave T2 to go out on the run, the town of Tenby is alive with people all willing to get to the end and hear those magic words YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!
It must have hurt enough in 2014 because after 2 days sat at home I booked it again for 2015.
2014 Ironman was just to do one and complete it and nothing about the time, however this time I wanted to go quicker and beat my PB.
Changing jobs at the beginning of 2014 and beginning a varied shift pattern meant training was forced to be done when I could squeeze it in around the shifts and family life, sometimes missing vital sessions, i.e. swimming.
However, I did what I could and I still managed a PB time at Manchester Marathon in April 2015 of 4hrs 17mins.
6 weeks before Ironman Wales, training became even more difficult when I damaged the cartilage between my ribs playing football with my son!
Swimming became non-existent at this time and running became uncomfortable. I managed to recover though and off we went to Wales.
My 8 year old son Ben travelled down with us and ran in the Ironkids race, watching him and having him down there watching me, I was more at ease this time as I did not worry as much about the race.
The morning of the race, we walked down to the beach and the crowds were just as busy as last year. The sea looked really calm.
This year they did a staggered walk in rather than a mad rush into the sea, which was a lot better.
Once I started to swim I realised the swell was very strong and it seemed quite choppy at times. Despite this, my time wasn’t much different to last year, probably due to the lack of swimming.
Finishing the 2nd lap and getting out of the water, and up the ramp, saw my family again, high 5’s all round and off to T1 and out onto the bike.
Through the crowded streets, a fantastic show of people, again, and out onto the long ride, I felt fantastic this year and felt confident I would manage a 7 and a half hour bike time. However, it wasn’t meant to be, as a fast descent back into Pembroke, slowing at the bottom of the hill, my front tyre blew out, tearing a hole in the tyre. A marshall said there was a mechanic 2 miles up the road so I bodged the tyre up and road very slowly to the next village to get it replaced, costing me a valuable 40 minutes of my precious time.
Getting back on the bike, I felt cold and my legs were really heavy. This then became a mind game, whether I would finish and the PB had most definitely gone out of the window! Passing my family again through Tenby their cheers and encouragement gave me the boost I needed to keep me going, I had to finish for them as much as myself.
Finishing the bike and back into T2, I was met by a man who had had similar luck to me on the bike and he admitted he was in tears thinking he might not finish, so I put my counselling hat on and gave him some encouragement and said it was possible. He shook my hand and gave me a big smile.
So onto the run, passing the family again and muttering why I’d took so long on the bike, I took off up Tenby hill. I felt great on the first lap, but by the 2nd I was clearly lacking sugar as I felt high as a kite, but plenty of coca cola seemed to cure this for a short time. Then it was just a case of running the downhills and walking the ups, and getting the job done. At one time even my Garmin gave up as the battery died and I had to ask random people what time it was.
On the last lap, through the streets of Tenby, the atmosphere was just as great as the year before. Running up the red carpet and hearing those magic words, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN! Has to be one of the best feelings ever.
I would just like to thank my family for putting up with my unsociable hobby, but also for their support in the big races. Without them it would be so much harder.
Thanks for reading Steve Beevers