Ironman UK, Bolton 2015, (Almost) Race Report

“But take your time, think a lot,
Why, think of everything you’ve got.
For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not.”

Cat Stevens, Father And Son

My Ironman experience is closer to completion. My first DNF. I now understand and appreciate when I hear people being wished “Best Mechanical Luck”  and I certainly empathise with Normal Stadler a lot more.

Immediately post race I planned in my head a blog post going through how I felt during and post my DNF. It was going to be therapeutic but time has provide that so back to a more normal race report and summary of events since.

The swim was a rolling start. Something I don’t agree with. It feels like acknowledgement that Ironman is no longer a race, it’s a mass participation event. For the majority that is the case but for many of us it is not and it’s a shame that by providing a rolling start it rather prevents head to head racing. I couldn’t bring myself to be at the back so headed to the front and was rather surprised to see that people were jockeying for position and even slower swimmers were keen to be in first. Further confirmation that most people don’t think like me ! I even quizzed Declan why he was so far forward… i hope he didn’t take it the wrong way.

[aside. in my age group 5-7th were separated by 12s. On the face of it this looked like an amazing race for the final slot. However the chances are they didn’t start together so on the ground it wasn’t quite as close. 6th was 5s behind 5th and was running 26 mins quicker on the marathon. he was chasing him down. Couldn’t he have found those 5s ? Probably could. My guess is he did pass the guy on the ground but because of their different start times didn’t beat him. Did this cost him the slot ? This illustrates the problem with the rolling start]

I spoke to the marshals there about how the start would be. Clearly not as organised as I’d seen at Cairns and how it was being described at Copenhagen (waves and rolling start – bizarre !). I pointed out that everyone behind looked pretty keen and they ran the risk when the gun went everyone would start running ! Potential carnage. They shouted to us when the gun went we had to walk. A groan was heard from many.

The walk was a kind of jog and we got going. I must say it was smooth for the first lap. Then it was utter carnage. Rather than only catching a small number of stragglers the final third of my swim was just a continuous mass of swimmers nicely evenly spread for greatest impact. This was worse than heading off in the last wave at Barcelona.

I still enjoyed the swim. Nice and steady and fun to see the storm come and go. My swim ended in a massive storm which had me laughing as I headed out on the bike.

I felt great on the bike. I was ready to really push it and was enjoying it. I saw a pro lady make a wrong turn at a roundabout but my hands were too numb to do a decent whistle. I caught some people and didn’t have a single person catch me. in fact, whenever I looked back I could see anyone. I’ve not felt so positive on an Ironman bike for ages. As I started the hill at the far side of the dam I dropped to my small chain ring and it felt like it wasn’t dropping on. I tweaked the front lever to no avail. I looked down to see my chain hanging lose. Had it snapped ? it can’t of it would have come off.

I got off.

Found the chain not running through the derailleur but all the cogs were there. V strange. I noticed the bottom cog bolt was lose. I needed a multi tool but didn’t have one.

I walked up to the turn where there were marshals. Thinking there’d be a mobile mechanic I had a bizarre conversation

“Is there a mechanic ? I need a multi-tool”

A few mumbles, no idea about a mechanic a comment about having a multi tool

“No! Don’t give him a multi-tool thats outside assistance” said a lady to which I replied

“I just want to finish. If you give me a multi-tool then take my number and let the ref know. I’ll take the DQ”

“No no! I didn’t mean that. I just meant don’t ‘give’ it to you”

Next thing a multi tool was chucked beside me.

I spent ages trying to fix it. I couldn’t get it threaded but I thought that was my hands being number. After 20 minutes (yes I checked by bike computer compare to my watch) I gave up and just assumed the thread was gone. As I walked back to where I could meet some friends a local guy asked what was wrong and then offered to take me to his workshop which was nearby to sort it. The people in Bolton are so friendly and this guy further confirmed it.

I had a long wait for my friends and was getting incredibly cold. Some local triathletes looked after me – gave me clothes and bought me hot coffee. Standing there was the best thing I could have done. Roaring everyone on I knew helped me forget about my problems. I enjoyed the day but when I was away from the race having dinner it hit me and I realised just how upset I was.

Looking at the results didn’t help. 5th place was an 11:05. 19 minutes slower than last year when I ran a 4:04, What if I’d fixed my mechanical quickly ? I would have been in with a shout of a slot. What a moral dilemma that would have been given I’d have used someone else’s multi-tool. Luckily for me I didn’t have to face it.

Since then my heel has got no better. I’m sure I would have run and it would have done it no good. I’m still not running yet and now it’s nearly 3 months since i’ve run properly. Very frustrating given how motivated I’ve been this year and my running has been going well. I’ve pulled out of Copenhagen so Kona is a definite no this year. Then last week I twinged my back and have had a week now with only managing a couple of hour turbos and no swimming.

As it currently stands I’ll be lucky to complete 70.3 Worlds and Ironman Wales.

Think this may rank my worst season.   It feels worse than 2009 when I snapped my FHL.

“Come on, jump out the door
You can’t hold it back no more
I’ll show you how the birds learned how to fly”

Katie Herzig, Best Day of Your Life

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