For those of you that have joined at this stage. Thanks! These next two posts are a culmination of a weeks worth of write ups that if you are interested in reading start with this post here. If you have enjoyed reading the blog series please do take a moment to visit my charity fundraising page here – and if you are so inclined leave a small (or hefty) donation!
Let’s get to the main part then. What were the good parts of Ironman Staffordshire? Well – the race itself! If you want to read the not so good parts please read the second part of this race report here.
I’m gonna break this Race Report down into each leg starting with…
The Swim: (1900 Meters – 35mins and 41secs)
My friend Mark and I managed to get to the race start without much of a hitch. We even had time to share a cup of tea and a photo with Gordon Ramsay and former England Footballer Danny Mills. “We would stop and chat boys” said Mark and I to Gordon and Danny in unison, “but we have the small matter of a phat triathlon to deal with so we gotta take care of business. Catch you guys later!” “JINX!”. (Note – that may not have happened.. :-)).
After a short delay we jumped into the water at Chasewater Reservoir, and it has to be said it felt great. Decent water clarity, no funky taste or smell, reasonable temperature and no sense of impending doom as to what may be lurking in the depths. Without any warning the start klaxon went off!
SCRAMBLE! The male 35-39 age group wave started and I quickly realised I had a problem. I had chosen the wrong goggles. I was wearing my clear lens ones as the weather report said that it was going to be cloudy. It wasn’t. There was a beautiful low hanging sun off to my right hand side. Every time I took a breath to the right hand side I got a fresh dose of retina burn, which is not what you want when 199 other guys are swimming over you in single file. I’ so glad I made the conscious decision to learn to breath bilaterally and had to turn to breathing solely to my left with an awkward breathing pattern.
I soon settled into my unsettling breathing/stroke pattern and just focused on keeping everything calm. I started going past people fairly quickly, even though I felt I was going slowly. These were the guys that raged off the start line at a pace that they could hold for maybe 13.5 meters. “Keep it calm fellas” I tried to transmit to them telepathically, “this is a Half Ironman, not a sprint”. I giggled to myself, in doing so taking in my first gulp of Chasewater water.
After about 250m into the swim a lovely chap started to go past me and a slow pace. I don’t know who he was, where he came or what he looked like from apart from the fact that his wetsuit had blue calf panels. I decided that he would be my swim bitc.. err… buddy for the day so I latched onto his feet. My Blue Calved Swim Buddy (MBCSB) did a lot for me. He gave me a wake of fresh water to draft off, provided blocking duties/ ran interference with other swimmers and, after I decided that he was doing a good enough job delegated all my sighting duties to him. What a great guy! I repaid him by tickling his feet at awkward random intervals. Im not sure if he liked that.
MBCSB took me cleanly to the first turning buoy, a left hander, which meant that we know had the sun to our backs and I was free to breathe my usual bilateral pattern. This was great and I felt more relaxed than ever in a triathlon swim. I was really enjoying this parasitic relationship I established.
The second turning buoy was upon us, another left turn. This meant that I now had the sun burning a hole into my left retina. This together with a bunch up at that buoy meant that I took a big glug of Chasewater water, which left me coughing and spluttering and losing MBCSB. NOOOOOOOO!!!! I tried in earnest to find him but he was nowhere to be found. I tried to latch draft off other guys but no-one was as good. I decided to go it alone for the last section. I was certainly slower but I was under control and chilled and that suited me down to the ground!
Transition 1 Swim to Bike: (2.1 miles – 7mins and 37 secs)
The rest of the swim was uneventful and I came out feeling actually refreshed considering its the furthest I have swum in one fell swoop. I wasn’t so dizzy and my legs seemed fairly sturdy. I and the other swimmers came out of the water and were face with a long lightly gravelled tarmac section. OW! Why don’t you throw some drawing pins on there? Or Lego? Or 3 pin Plugs? Anything to make it less painful to run on.
We arrived to the transition tent where we collected our blue bike bags that contained our helmet and bike shoes and for me gloves. I had no intention of rushing this so took my sweet time before heading to meet Cecelia (my bike).
The Bike: (56miles/90k – 2hrs 44mins and 53secs)
The first 1 to 2 km of the bike leg took us over some aggressive speed bumps and carelessly placed pot holes that ended up with a few bike bottles scattered across the narrow twisting road. This then lead into the first gentle climb of the morning that lasted about 7k where already people were fading. This ascent flattened went downhill and a lot of people, myself included, to opportunity to put the power down and get some good speed up. I touched 51km before coming to a short sharp, un-signposted, meagrely marshalled left hand turn. I saw one guy come within inches of hitting the kerb and flying over his handlebars.
This sharp downhill was quickly followed by a sharper uphill where people were pushing their bikes up as they had come down in the decent in their hardest gears and hadn’t managed to change down. I saw one guy take a tumble at this point, he couldnt unclip quick enough. I stopped to make sure he was okay before realising that in stopping I had done myself over and would now have to push my bike up the hill. Dammit!
This next climb was followed by a more generous descent, where I think I picked up my top speed of 68km/h (42mph) lovely stuff!
I had so much fun on the bike course, it was rolling, technical and scenic. There was smatterings of support along the course, mostly at the corners. I think they were baying for blood and crash carnage.
One of the reasons that I like cycling is how sociable it is, you can really have decent chats with people. For some reason I’m attracted to doing this on the bike leg of triathlons. This is one trait I should reign in a little and maybe just go faster. The following are short transcripts of my favourite two conversations on the bike.
Favourite Bike Conversation #1
Kobestarr: You alright mate? Why are you covered in mud?
Guy 1: Yeah mate, i’m fine. I took a bit of a tumble
K*: Oh shit! You and the bike look alright though – what happened?
G1: It was a sharp left turn about 10km in after the first descent. I didn’t slow down enough and hit the kerb. I went over my handlebars!
K*: That sounds more serious that you made out! Are you sure you’re ok?
G1: My shoulder aches a bit but ok.
K*: Cool, well have a good race!
G1: Cheers mate you too!
*Kobestarr sods off into the distance*
Favourite Bike Conversation #2
*Kobestarr admiringly approaches a chap on a Cervelo P5 with a Dura-Ace Di2 Electronic Groupset and Zipp 808 wheels. A conservative estimate values this bike at £7000 *
Kobestarr: Nice bike mate!
Guy 2: Cheers mate!
K*: It looks pretty new, how you getting on with it?
G2: I got it a few months ago, its great. I love it more than I love my kids!!
K*: Ha! I hope you don’t tell them that!
G2: I dont’, but I think deep down they know!
*Kobestarr sods off into the distance. Laughing*
At about 30km into the bike one of my bottle cages disintegrated. Likely a result of the battering our bikes took in the first few 5kms! I had prepared two of them. One filled with electrolytes and one filled with energy gels and a splash of water. Luckily it was my electrolyte bottle that had to be discarded. I drank down the remainder of the bottle and cast it aside (sorry I know – littering). The support at the feed stations was ace and we were able to fill up with electrolytes and/or water, bananas and gels every 20miles or so before casting the bottles aside like a pro!
Otherwise I think my nutrition strategy was spot on. I had enough gels to in the other bottle to keep me going for 4 hours so that should take me through the run. I finished the last drops of this as I came into T2
All in all the bike leg was not a flat course as advertised “THE FASTEST, FLATTEST IRONMAN IN EUROPE”! No. It can’t have been! My GPS said over 700m of climbing. Thats not a a hell of a lot, but it’s not flat either! That’s not a problem though! There was a steady climb up around Cannock chase, but that was just fun – especially knowing it was downhill all the way after that. This downhill took us into the run venue, Shughborough Hall.
Transition 2 – Bike to Run: (2mins and 45 secs)
No dramas here!
The Run: (Half Marathon – 1 hr 49 mins and 18s)
With a slight ache in my legs I came out of T2 realising that I would have to get a half Marathon PB , beating my previous time of 1hr 31mins to finish the race in less than 5 hours as i’d hoped. This was unlikely, but i’d held back and fuelled up loads on the bike so I was ready to give it a good go.
Except I couldn’t give it a good go! I once again experienced that phenomenon where my brain says “let’s go!” My body however was saying “Let’s stay”. I didn’t feel particularly tired or particularly achy, I just could not put the speed down. And that was gutting. I steadily went past people, but also people steadily went past me – I had nothing!
The three laps of the Hall were great fun with apart from a hill that you had to climb 3 times and a “Tough Mudder” obstacle course section with hay and straw that we had to navigate! The support for the event was the strongest at this point and it was great to see people recognise you each time on each lap and urge you on. Some guys at the pub promised me a sip of their pint on the last lap. That never manifested!
As I rounded up the 3rd and final lap and down into the sprint I had no desire to sprint finish. Instead I decided to high five as many people as I could before doing a cartwheel and jumping in the air with my fist aloft. I then crossed the line and then cramped up!
Conclusion: (5hrs 20mins and 23 secs)
I really enjoyed the Ironman Staffordshire 70.3 Race. I hadn’t planned to do another Half Ironman but the fact is I know I can do a lot better. The main thing I’d have to do I actually train for the run properly.
Would I do Ironman Staffordshire again? Probably not. And in it’s In its current state I cannot recommend it due to the issues that I’ll discuss in my next post. I have to stress though that race and the course were great so if they resolve the problems to do with the weekend then it does have the potential to be a great event. If I was to do another Half Ironman i’d be more likely to do and unbranded one and get rid of the excess faff.
Thanks for bursting my cherry though. I mean that sincerely!
Thanks to Kevin for the Bike pic and Debbie for the run pic.
If you have any comments on this race report please let me know!
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