As we sat there in the sunshine on Saturday afternoon at race briefing, there were whisperings of hurricanes and foul weather. The race organiser was making sneaky gags and all his local mates in the know, were sniggering about the beautiful weather forecast on Sunday, all non locals were looking at each other and looking up. Blue sky, no wind, talking crap, no chance.
Regardless of anything mother nature could throw, I’d had to do some serious thinking about tactics and race plan for once rather than just go flat out from the horn until my legs fall off. So getting up and heading to race at 4.15am is just never fun, but swigging my cup of tea and chilling with Classic FM was the perfect pre race start. Big contrast to the Led Zepellin fueled back seat of Marks Audi in Chantilly. The last tune was the theme from Westside Story (I wanna live in america…) which, while definately homo was also quite jolly. So all pre race plans in place.
I had my swim plan, which was….. Wide open lake and the first blast was about 500m to the first buoy, so start way right so I don’t get smacked in my blindspot, get into a rythm, use raw pace to burn off those other punks and swim like a marlin. Worked like a dream, got to the first buoy about 40th out of 300, just went quicker and quicker, lovely smooth stroke, no panics, no slaps in the mush, no shark attacks, all the time humming I wanna live in America (well it was still early), 2 laps of the lake and into T1 about 25th place out of 320 which was ace.
So into transition and the weather’s getting really bad. So socks and bike top on, lots of gels and bars and last minute decision….banana in the jersey…Go go go. So hills and lots of them and having to dodge cow and horse obstacles. The wind by this time has really started blowing properly all the while pouring down and getting colder and colder. Lots of bikers struggling with punctures with frozen fingers and some having come off and were getting St.Johns ambulanced away, which was probably a blessing in disguise. Anyways I’m counting down my 10k’s in blocks. Coach Martin had said just remember it’s a triathlon not a bike race so save some juice in your legs. At 60k I had no idea whether I had anything left in my legs because I couldn’t feel anything from the waist down which was definately mildly concerning as a red blooded male. So 75k almost there, had my banana, best banana ever eaten, which got my spirits up and final slog with no punctures and into transition. A nice Marshall took my bike off me and racked it, which was very cool because I couldn’t feel my hands, so what a legend.
So bike top, lid, glasses off, trainers on, more gels energy beans, quick drink, go. Couldn’t feel my feet for 3 miles. Good because my body just got into run rythme, actually bad because my feet are now bruised and got a seriously sore achiles/ankle/calf. At 4miles I met a guy called Jeff who was suffering, so we ran and talked about kids, sport, our seasons anything but running until about 9 miles, happily this got him out off the bottom. I was going through a rough patch just as he was talking about how he’s now up for taking on an Ironman. I was just thinking what a total mentalist because I think my leg might actually have fallen off a mile ago, hill running in porridge. No fun. So I packed Iron jeff off with his sickeningly fresh legs. Common sense kicked in though because I was on a wide open moor, the wind blowing, freezing cold and if I’d stopped I’d have got real cold real quick. So thoughts of Estella, Anna, everyone that’s sponsoring me, Sparks children, the mighty Leeds Rhinos and I dug in and dragged my tired, cold ass onwards. Found some road at 12miles which was a relief especially as it was downhill all the way to the finish. Got to the line and there was just a massive roar from the crowd for every finisher, everyone understood how tough that was. So half ironman distance in 6:28:59 (With a shocking 2:21 14 mile run). Lots to work on for next year.
So 216 finishers, 114th for me, which was ok, but 101 DNF’s. Unbelievable amount of people that didn’t finish shows how tough a race that was.
All in all, the toughest thing I’ve ever done by a country mile and every one I do from now on will be a doddle compared to the New Forest 2012… Sorry about the lack of pictures, turns out the pro photographers cameras all flooded so no race pics just yet. Here’s one from the last few days of post triathlon lash to tide you over.