Why I decided to do an Ironman? Many many people asked me this question, but the best answer I can find is, 'Why not?' After reading a few books about inspirational people (Rosie Swale Pope to name one) and how far you can push your body, mind over matter etc I wanted to put this to the test. I'm from a running (I use the word 'running' loosely) background, starting running in 2008 I did the Great South Run, then progressing in 2009 to a few half marathons, and Tough Guy, onto 2010 and some Marathons, Tough Guy and a couple of Olympic Tris. I think you can see a pattern emerging here, I enjoy challenging myself and pushing myself to new and ultimately longer distances. After going on Runners World and speaking to the pirates (a group of lovely likeminded people on the forum who love triathlon, and helping others on their journey) I fell in love with their crazy ways, and their fantastic attitude to Ironman. Not only that, but to have friends along the way and out on a course which ultimately is a lonely sport, gave me the push to sign up for the Outlaw...why not eh? I told my Mum and Dad, they thought I was mad, supporting me all the way but I could see they thought I had gone bonkers and was potentially going to kill myself! I told my ex, and many friends, who also thought I was insane, but know me well enough to know what I'm like, and that I would do this regardless. So in January my training started in earnest. Apart from my 25 mile rides for the Oly distances, I was rubbish on a bike, so I decided to sacrifice most of my run training to get out on the bike as much as possible... this turned out to be exactly the right thing to do. Plus with 5 marathons under my belt by April this year, I knew I had it in my legs to do one (or at least I was mentally prepared for what I would face on the run). Swimming I was slow but comfortable with, but I knew I needed help so I joined Mid Sussex Tri Club, who have been amazing. Supportive and helpful, but also and maybe most importantly just as crazy as me. When I told them I was doing an Ironman, they didn't have that 'your crazy' look in their eyes that everyone else did, instead they gave me valuable help and advice (Steve Mac and Phil Knock to name just a couple who gave me so much invaluable information) So with a not too structured training plan (and nutritional plan of pot noodles and bananas) I was good to go.
The Build Up
The week leading up to the race I was really excited, but when I got to HPP on Friday and registered, I started to become terrified. I just couldn't bring myself to even think about it, as I thought I might hyperventilate. On Saturday I racked my bike, put my bags into transition (after checking them several million times) and went back to the campsite. Later on Mum, Jess the piratedog and myself went to track down some pirates. We came across a lovely circle of pirate folk , and chatting to them really calmed my nerves. When I got back to the tent I read a couple of race reports, but it was a verse taken from a book at the end of Steve Macs race report from Switzerland that completely calmed me down and made me think 'Just enjoy it what will be, will be'. So I slept solidly from about 11 to 3.30, result! I even snoozed the alarm a couple of times. Lots of porridge and a banana and I was all set. Calm on the outside, complete bits on the inside. I took my mp3 player down to the lake and amongst the chaos I put my earphones in, shut away the world for 7 minutes 19 seconds, closed my eyes and listened to Muse 'Citizens Erased'.... I was ready to race. Hug to Mum, and as I'm about to go through to the starting bays my Dad arrives and gives me a big hug too! Its great to know they are both there to watch.
I stay at the back of Bay 2, which turned out to be a great idea, as everyone swam off ahead I had no kicks or punches. As everyone met before the first buoy it became a little more crowded but again no problems, and even a few feet to follow. My aim was just to relax, enjoy it, and use it as a warm up...expected time 1.30-1.40. It took me until about 1000 mtrs to settle down (there are signs with the distance all along the lake) and the cramp in my right calf was actually a blessing, as I then stopped using my legs completely, stretched out my stroke and really relaxed, the turn around point came quickly, and with it I even overtook a few people! On the leg back my mum, dad & Jess were following me along the bank (Jess even jumped in the lake at one point!), It was great to see them every 6th stroke, and when I had to clear my goggles I would give them a little wave, and get shouts of encouragement back. Out of the water in 1.32.40 and chuffed to bits.
Nothing special, change of clothes, arm coolers on, toilet stop and out to bike. Probably would have saved a couple of mins if I hadn't faffed about with arm coolers but it doesn't really matter.
Loved the bike!! This was the part I was most worried about, as I felt least experienced, and so much could potentially go wrong. But for some reason, whether it was all the training, I was just having a 'good day' or the reason I most like to think...that my granddad was giving me a big push from up above, whatever it was it worked! I had done two laps in training and found Oxton bank a bit painful the second time round, but on the day I powered up it, laughing my head off at the pirate signs (It's not a knitting club being my favourite...so true!) and was just really really excited to see the pirates for the first time, they didn't disappoint, with their big smiles and cheers...legends!! Down to Southwell and was so excited to see Mum and Dad... scanning and scanning all the crowds and fantastic people cheering, turn right at the mini roundabout..and there they are, YAY!! I REALLY want a banana...my Dad is holding out a sandwich, I keep shouting banana, banana!! but no banana appears, incredibly amusing, poor Dad left holding a sandwich, and my Mum taking photos of me shouting banana, love it!! No problems, was amazing just to see them, and I'll get a banana at the next aid station. At this point I should point out that I'm eating Cliff shot bloxs every 30 mins, but my poor stomach is not in a good mood, and every time I swallow them I puke them back into my mouth (nice!) I force them down but it's not pleasant, at one point some poor fella behind sees me puke half a chocolate mini roll up onto the floor (sorry!). I get to the next aid station...banana please! I fly past at 20mph and drop the banana, darn it!! Lesson learnt!! Luckily the pirates save the day on loop 2, not only do I get banana from them, but also banana from Dad (he's well prepared this time) and even sandwich and banana combo on the 3rd loop. My stomach settled down about halfway round the bike course, and I then I knew I would finish the bike. Many people, including some of the really fast people gave lots of support on the bike which was gratefully received, and I shouted as much encouragement back as possible. With my lack of real experience on the bike I didn't know how my legs would hold up. I expected to average 14/14.5 mph, and decided to just go at a pace I felt comfortable with, not looking at my garmin except the check the general time/distance. I realised I was going faster than this, but as I felt comfortable would just go with it. Coming in at 7.09 (15.6 mph average) and well over half an hour faster than expected was amazing. Mum and Dad cheering me into transition gave me exactly the boost I needed to get those trainers on and out onto the run.
Change of shorts, compression socks on, trainers & cap on, off I go...
In my 'dream plan' I was to run a 5 hour marathon, never did I ever imagine I could do it (ok nearly 5 mins slower but I can cope with that). It was hot on the run, and I knew I would not be able to push as hard as maybe I would on a cooler day, and had to be super aware of my hydration. I started running, and although I felt a bit shattered my legs felt really fresh...work that one out! I started running 10 min miles, which I was just happy to be able to sustain without any discomfort. Walking though the aid stations and stuffing my face with crisps, flat coke, water, oranges I was happy, and even happier when I went through 6 miles in just over an hour. My aim would be to run for as long as I was able to, walk the aid stations, and hopefully only have to walk the last few miles at worst. My Dad ran a few of the river parts behind me, and also a bit of the lake. This was lovely, and great to have him there, but I felt awful that I couldn't really hold much (any) conversation. I just had to concentrate and stay in the zone to keep those legs turning over... but I think he understood! There was so much amazing support on the run, you couldn't help but feel humbled by it all. I also had to run past the finishing chute three times before it was eventually my time to turn down there...some might say this is slightly cruel, but the cheers from the grandstand were enough to lift the spirits, and watching others finish gave me the boost I needed to keep strong. On Lap 3 I really had to dig deep, but instead of walking like I thought I might, I just kept at a steady pace (12 min/miles). So with my determination I'm now at the last turnaround point and I guess around three miles to the finish. I say well done to every single person I pass, and am smiling so much... I'm nearly home! I round the lake for the final time, I can hear the man and lady on the loudspeaker shouting everyone home... name, you are an outlaw! I smile every time I hear this, and all the other crazy stuff they are saying, I think they even sing happy birthday to someone. I go past many men walking on the last loop, and give them as much encouragement as I can. As I get onto the final straight I can hear the loudspeaker clearly again, someone has got less than a minute to get under 14 hours... I can't be hearing correctly, there's no way I've done it so fast, the loudspeaker again, 'Well done, you did it in 13.59 something' oh my goodness, I wasn't hearing things, I'm only a couple of minutes away now. My Mum appears by the lake and starts shouting that I'm her hero, she is so proud and I can't believe I've nearly done it, I turn down the finishing chute and see my Dad, we high five, and everyone else wants a high five too, it's brilliant, I run down and lift the tape above my head and hear the announcer JADE, YOU ARE AN OUTLAW!!!!!
Finish time 14.02.20
It still feels like a surreal dream, but it really was the best day of my life. And I'm so glad I could share it with my Mum, Dad, Uncle Ali, Jess, the pirates, and know I had an amazing network of friends following and supporting me from their homes or on the live feeds. My hard work and training really paid off. My time was amazing (for me), and better than I could have ever imagined, but the best bit was that I enjoyed every moment of it, and got to share it with some very special people. When I finished it I said I would never do it again, but my name already seems to be down for next years event. I have a feeling the buzz of that finish line and the adrenaline is just to hard to resist......
Author: Jade Overy