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Outlaw 2012

Outlaw 2012

I woke up at 4am and although I had the usual pre race nerves, I was actually quite calm and looking forward to race (very different to last year when I was terrified).  This year felt very different in many ways as I was doing the same race purely with the intention of beating last years time (14.02) and with the huge pirate presence I knew it would be a fantastic day.  But in some ways I felt I had more pressure this year to succeed.  Last years goal was to survive, no pressure of times but just to finish... this year I didn't want to just finish, I wanted to race, and I wanted a sub 14.  I knew I was stronger and fitter than last year, I had put in a lot of training for this, and now it boiled down to this one day to prove what I was capable of, the day to lay it all down.  I felt I had a lot to prove to myself.  I was worried about things out of my control, mainly a mechanical/puncture on the bike, getting a cold/bug before the race or getting an upset stomach from the water, but I knew ultimately that worrying about these things were a pointless waste of energy, what will be will be.  All I could concentrate on was the hard training I had put in during the year- marathons, including a massive p.b, a 60 mile ultra run, and the tough 114 mile 9000ft ascent King of the Downs bike ride that was 9 hours in the saddle.  I had put the hard work in and I really wanted that reward, bring on the sub 14, I was ready to race! 

So 4am I forced some food down (this never gets easier), got ready and made my way down to the start.  Another beautiful morning with clear blue skies was waiting for the 1000 people toeing the start line to try and become Outlaws.  

Swim  1.19.39  

Now to say I hadn't trained enough for the swim was an understatement, looking back on training I had done an average of just  40 lengths per week this year, and 2 open water swims.  This was the one area where I just hadn't got the training in.  I am confident in the water and knew I could just 'get round' but had no idea in what time.  I hadn't even done the distance in training, let alone timed myself.  I started at the back of pen 1, in the hope that the fast swimmers would go ahead and I would be left in clear water, I much prefer clear water to following feet and getting kicked.  Anyway, that didn't happen, pens 2-4 all grouped together and proceeded to swim over me...literally!  Now I've had the usual kicks, punches, people not sighting and swimming into you etc, and I'm happy to hold my own in those situations...but people literally mounting me from behind...that's a new one on me!!  This was people literally swimming over me from behind, arms either side of my body basically trying to drown me... a swift sharp kick to whichever bodily part I made contact with seemed to have the desired effect of them moving away!  The turnaround point came fast and with it the sight of Mum and Jess the pirate dog on the banks waiting for me, a joy to see them amongst the madness of the swim.  The headwind caused a few waves for the return leg, and I think a few people swallowed water.  I really quite enjoyed the swim and being amongst the thick of the pack for a change.  Out of the water in 1.19.39 and into T1... 

T1  5.21  

Special mention to T1 as all I could think about was Steve A who would not have been impressed with my faffing!!!  I tried my best to be fast, but after hopping about trying to remove wetsuit, throwing on some P20 to attempt to protect my delicate 'english rose' skin from any more dodgy tan lines, I had no change of clothes & ran from the tent to my bike but still only managed a 5.21 transition.  Sorry Steve...next year I'll manage a sub 3! 

Bike  6.44.35

Now where do I start with this... an emotional rollercoaster is probably the best way to describe it.  Maybe my memory of how brilliant the ride was last year affected how I 'thought' I would feel this time around, where as I should have treated this is a completely new race, as indeed it was.  Not only had the bike route been changed, but the weather conditions were much different from the calm sunny day the year before.  The start of the ride was absolutely fantastic and I loved doing the northern loop (same as last years route), I was down on the tri bars and pushing hard, enjoying 20+ mph riding and was way above my expected average.  This put me in great spirits as not only was I faster, but the new southern loop that we were to ride twice was promised by the organisers and many people who recce'd the course to be much faster.  Stupidly I started dreaming of possible bike spilt times.  We had been warned that although the southern loop was fast, it was very open to wind, should there be any on the day.  I think the forecasts that morning were for 30-35 mph gusts, oh dear!  The loops although circular seemed to be a constant head wind, and where I should have been hitting 20mph I was struggling to stay at 13mph!  It was hard work, and the two downpours didn't help to lift peoples spirits.  Unfortunately I have to admit I hit a bad patch and was pretty angry out on the bike from about 80+ miles, my spirits only being lifted when I got to see my Mum and Dad, and the pirate feed station who never failed to make me laugh & give me a boost.  Looking back I'm pleased with my bike time, but knowing I should have been at least 20 mins faster had just made me frustrated.  Someone said to me that everyone was in the same position, but I wasn't there to race others, I was there to race myself and be the best I could be.  This was the best I could be that day, and I don't think I could have gone any faster without sacrificing the run.  And if there is one thing I've learnt is that in my opinion, the run is just as an important part of the ironman as the ride.  It amazes me how much time you can lose, and just how many people walk the marathon after a strong bike leg.  To get a good time you've got to have packed your running legs... 

T2 4.23 

Not sure how this took so long, change of socks and trainers, knee support on and talked to a lady who was feeling sick and I was off... (sorry again Steve!) 

Run  4.25.26

I felt so happy to eventually finish the ride and hand my bike over that I was elated to get out running.  If I had been invited on a bike ride by Chrissie Wellington herself right there and then I would have told her to get stuffed (she was supporting at IM Austria the same day...the chances were slim).  This was my discipline, the thing I had really worked hard on, and the proof of how much training I had really done.  There were no excuses now, I hadn't got a cold or stomach bug, I hadn't had any mechanical faults on the bike, now it was me against the course, and I was in my element.  It really hurt, but I wasn't going to let it beat me, this is my favourite part!!  The crowds, Mum, Dad, Pirates, all there, all shouting and cheering, willing us all forward, to do well, to finish, is what I love!  Out on the course I run by feel, I always run by feel, never by what a watch or monitor tells me to do... I check my pace- 8.30 min miles hmmm this is fast, the sun is back out and shining again and all I can think is 'make hay while the sun shines' so this is what I did.  I knew I would slow at some point, but I might as well make the most of being able to run whilst I could, first 10k was comfortably under an hour, lots of loud music as I passed Notts Forest ground made me run faster every time I passed it.  Pirates everywhere on the course and supporting, and although we couldn't always muster words or high 5's, there were always grins and thumbs up (well from most anyway).  Walking only through the aid stations for crisps, coke, oranges, bananas etc I was quickly back to running again, this generally varied from between 9-11 min miles depending on how I felt and wind direction!  The run course is three out and back loops along a river and then around the lake we swam in to the finishing chute.  Running past the finish chute (to set off on another loop) always made me smile seeing peoples joy as they finished!  I was so close to getting on TV (they were filming for channel 4) as the motorbike camera crew following me on the final mile to the finish they asked if I was coming in to finish (big camera poised on back ready for action) and I had to tell them I still had one loop to go... I was tempted to say yes, run down the finish chute for a stupidly fast fake finish time and then carry on and do another loop!  Darn my honesty!  With that they drove off to film someone else's special finishing moment.  Now I had promised myself that if I ran the first two loops I could walk a little on the third loop, but as what always happens with me is when I realise I am close to finishing a race (I say close, I still had 8 miles to run!) my legs start to perk up and I feel stronger.  This mental recharge I get must be the buzz that gets me returning to these daft events, as it seems to happen every time, and I forget the pain of the past few hours and press on.  The thoughts of walking were no longer there, and I can see my Dad is amazed too.  He could see earlier that I was struggling and really fighting with myself to keep up my pace, but I assured him I was feeling good and he cheered me on!  Mum of course was shouting, cheering and filming all of the days events with her usual vigour and seems to have endless confidence in my ability.  I knew I was on for a sub 14 and knew I had a comfortable 2 hour window to complete my final 8 miles.  It's a long day out there and I use a different watch for swimming, and had reset my garmin after my bike to run, so working out the complete time that had lapsed was hard, especially in my oxygen depleted and exhausted brain.  All I knew was I wanted to finish before 8pm.  With approx 4 miles to go the man running behind me had the ingenious idea of asking a spectator what the time was (this idea had genuinely not crossed my mind!) and he replied with 'just gone 6pm'... what?!?!  I was beating my target, and not by a little, I was smashing it!  I picked up my pace (it's amazing what a possibility of a sub 13 can do) and as I rounded the lake for the last time my Dad told me it was 6.10, woohoo, less than 3 miles to go!  I ran straight past the last two aid stations knowing I had no need to waste any further time getting any food or drink from them and carried on running.  Now I felt like I was flying, in reality I was only doing 10 min miles, but I felt on top of the world.  Final mile with the headwind down to the finish I could hardly feel the headwind, and as I saw the finish line approach I started to well up, I honestly didn't know how I had managed to stay strong enough for a sub 4.30 marathon and I was so so happy to be finishing.  As I start running down the finishing chute I'm scanning the crowd for Mum and Dad and I see them, I stop and give them both a big hug and kiss (and have a little cry.. what a girl!) and then carry on to my finish line moment.

 Finish Time 12.39.26 

That feeling couldn't get much better.  I exceeded all of my expectations, had the most wonderful weekend with family and friends, and learnt that I'm stronger than I ever imagined.  Life is truly what you make of it, and what you make happen, and I look forward to more adventures in the future.  Will there be any more Ironman events... of course (Dad, you were right as always), but I won't be doing this particular event again, I can hang my hat up on this race for good...I'm an Outlaw and I'm proud.  Thank you Mum and Dad for your endless love, support and encouragement, it means the world to me.  Now on to some new adventures!

 Stats for anyone interested in that kind of thing...

Overall position- 397th out of 782

Female position- 33rd out of 106

Age Group Position- 5th 

Swim- 484th (57th female)

For Steve A- T1- 181st!! (19th female)

Bike- 583rd (50th female)

Run- 258th (18th female)

 

European Long Dist Tri - 21 Aug 2011

European Long Dist Tri - 21 Aug 2011

 A fabulous Finnish finish

If you had told me 3 years ago that I would be on the start line  of the European Long Distance Triathlon Championships wearing a GBR tri-suit I would have told you that you may have overdosed on performance enhancing but brain befuddling "supplements". But there I was, feeling something of an imposter, amongst Europe's finest age group and pro athletes, pondering quite how deep the "deep water" start was going to be and if someone was suddenly going to let me know my selection was an unfortunate clerical oversight.

 

When I was offered a place on the team in February (you get a "Congratulations you have been selected e-mail") I looked up the weather in Tampere, Finland, where the race was to be held. -20c by day didn't look great and the 160cm of ice on the lake seemed to suggest skating drills should replace swimming ones.

 

Luckily there was no ice to break as the starter ordered us into the water. Whilst the balmy water temperature (19.6c) was comforting, the thought of a 4km out and back swim was rather scary to a landlubber like myself. When the team GBR race recce took place the team manager pointed out into the far distance beyond the horizon line.. "and somewhere out there is the turn buoy". Luckily my customary swim start tactics left me with plenty of feet (well all of them actually) to follow. I managed to find some kind of rhythm and sensed I was heading in the right kind of direction. This was confirmed as the leading age group ladies caught up and swam over the top of me.

 

Whilst the woman on top wearing rubber water play fantasy may be some people's idea of fun I didn't take too well to this assault. My survival instincts must have kicked in and I swallowed several gallons of Finland's finest lake water to act as ballast and enable me to remain submerged whilst the girls tap danced on my head.

 

I must have swum round the buoy at some stage as I could see the footbridge near the Olympic Stadium HQ where transition was. With great relief I hauled myself unglamorously out of the water happy to be alive and not experiencing the dreaded cramps that have reduced me to tears in the past. I was further uplifted by the cheers of support from team Wintergold (Daisy, Daniel, Alice and her parents had all come out too).

 

The bike leg was a confusing 6 lap effort that included lots of well marshalled roads, a section of motorway and a scalextric style cross over where you went from being on the left side of the road to the right with on-coming riders doing the opposite.

 

I was making quite good progress but couldn't push too hard or drink as my stomach was complaining about the small pond ingested during my encounter with the fast ladies. By lap 3 this pond was trying to make a bid for freedom sometimes up, sometimes down and sometimes both. Not wanting to break the strict ETU rules on revealing various bits of anatomy and not wanting to soil my new trisuit I skidded (no, not that kind of skid) to a halt outside the stadium. "Where's the loo?" I shouted at the congregated mass of spectators and officials. Various shrugs and looks of confusion suggested that my lack of Finnish ("missa on vessa", if you ever need to know) and coherency made me look rather

 

I decided to head into the stadium and search the myriad of corridors for the room I was increasingly desperate to locate. The combination of shiny floors and cycling cleats is not good. Add in a dose of panic and the dramatic backflip with double twist was inevitable. Picking myself from the floor I spied the facilities required and some 7 minutes later I emerged from the stygian gloom to remount my bike several kilos lighter. The next 3 laps were more comfortable in spite of the rising wind and the continuing game of Russian roulette at Scalextric corner.

 

Going into T2 it was lovely to hear "Go Daddy go" as the Wintergold cheerleaders made their presence heard. A leisurely transition (not forgetting a handful of chocolate éclairs for comfort and energy) and it was off on the scenic 4 lap lakeside run. It was quickly apparent that I had forgotten to pack my running legs so I settled into a 7'50 mile plod and cheered the other GBR athletes as we crossed paths (but not in the Scalextric manner of the bike course thankfully). The pro athletes were simply amazing and were already approaching the last of their 20 miles at a pace I could only dream of.

 

Every lap the family fan club gave me a boost as I tried to keep the numbers of people passing me level with the numbers of people I passed. A helpful Finnish age grouper swapped an éclair for details of the (totally unmarked and off course) loos. The slightly lighter load meant I picked up to a heady 7'49 mile pace and rewarded his kindness by overtaking him with a mile to go.

 

It was a really special to finish (and not in last place as I had feared) in an Olympic stadium in front of your own family.

 

A lovely holiday followed where I could spend some quality time with them and not my wetsuit. The lakes and sea were fabulous as were the Spy Museum and the Viking Feast. A better post race celebration would have been hard to find.

 

So for any of you dreaming of wearing GBR on your front I say keep on trying and keep on training - eventually you will be so old that you will get there!

 

Event details:

4k swim, 125k bike, 20.5k run

Drinks - 900ml High 5 and 3000ml lake water

Food - 3 High 5 gels and 4 eclairs

Fans - 5

Blisters - 0

 

Training details

3 key sessions a week for 18 weeks

 

Result details

Time 6.53.01 (1.09 swim, 2.00 T1, 3.13 bike, 1.30 T2, 2.28 run)

6th in age group

2nd Brit over 45 (would have been first without unfortunate loo incident)

61st overall including pros and all age groups

 

Number of medals I would have won in other age groups = Bronze 25-29, Gold under 20, Silver 50-54, Gold 55-59 (if only I were older or younger!)

 

 

Author:   Loz Wintergold