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I am an Ironman!!!

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Start of the swim

I woke at 4:00am to eat breakfast then sat around till about 5:40am, by which time it was ready to get to the start.  I usually get a little nervous before a race but strangely enough I was really calm and just looking forward to starting.

 

The Swim:  1h 20m 09s

2500 athletes spread over 100m of beach made for a frantic start.  As we started my main aim was to avoid having my goggles kicked off my face.  After a few hundred meters I was able to settle into a rhythm and just follow the feet in front of me.  There were buoys in the water to mark out the swim course but I couldn’t work out which way I was supposed to go.

Crazy start!
  Luckily I’d have about 1800 other swimmers in front of me to lead the way.

 

I put in a good time for me and exited the water looking forward to getting on the bike, my strong point.

 

The Bike:  5h 43m 36s

The course was stunning.  After 20km of flat riding we headed up into the mountains with the two major climbs being 20km and 7km long.  I rode pretty hard and passed hundreds of people on the bike.  I had exited the water in 1734th position overall (out of 2548) and by the end of the bike I was in 529th.

 

The descent to the finish was amazing.  The road was fast and the corners could be taken at speed, nothing like some of the descents in Britain which can be very technical and often very steep but short.

I'm in there somewhere

 

The Run: 4h 15m 22s

Six weeks before the race I picked up an injury to my knee and it had still not recovered properly so I fully expected to have to walk the second half of the marathon.  For this reason I chose to ride the bike course much harder than I had otherwise planned to in order to make up some of the time I would loose.

 

As it turned out after a very painful 20 minutes about 12km into the run my knee went numb and did not limit my performance.  However, from riding so hard I had absolutely nothing left and my legs were in agony so I simply couldn’t raise my pace.

 

I found it interesting how I played mind games with myself.  The aim was always to get to the next aid station where I knew I could walk for a few meters while I took on water and gels.

The swim turnaround. 2.4km done, 1.4km to go.
  I found the hardest part the top of the course between the last aid station on the way out and the first aid station on the way back because it was far longer between them than any other two aid station.  Because of this I was over heating badly (there were showers at all the aid stations) and I would always feel very sick at this point (many people were).  So, I made my toilet stop at the turnaround which I found myself looking forward to each lap.

 

 

I am an Ironman!

Crossing the finish line was amazing (after 11h 30m 51s) and finally having the medal around my neck was a dream come true.  I have had a picture of the medal on my wall since last September and now I finally had the real thing.  However, within a few minutes of crossing the finishing line I felt emotionally numb.  Was it worth all the suffering?  Was it worth giving up many things that I love to complete the necessary training?  Would I do another one?  That evening if anybody had asked me any of these questions I think the answer would have been ‘no’.  But, the next morning as I hobbled my way around the streets of Nice I found myself clutching my medal in my pocket (my neck was too sore from chafing and sunburn to wear it around my neck) and grinning to myself.  So, a day later the answer to all of those questions is a big ‘YES’.

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Start of the swim
Start of the swim
Crazy start!
Crazy start!
Im in there somewhere
I'm in there somewhere
The swim turnaround.  2.4km done, …
The swim turnaround. 2.4km done,…
On a 20km climb
On a 20km climb
Stil climbing...
Stil climbing...
Walking through the showers to kee…
Walking through the showers to ke…
Happy to finish
Happy to finish
A sprint finish after 11.5 hours o…
A sprint finish after 11.5 hours …
Nearly finished
Nearly finished
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photo by: EmyG