If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew to serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you except the will which says to them: 'Hold on!'
If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, And - which is more - you'll be an IronMan, my son!
My Roth - Ant Grey
I had been dreading the swim, so it was with quite a bit of
trepidation that I lined up for the start of the swim. The turn
around buoy the other side of a distant bridge looked very far
away. The swim went fairly well, although I seemed to have trouble
getting a draft from 'quick feet'. No sooner had I latched onto a
pair than the swimmer in question decided to meander off to the
bank or the middle.
I mostly found myself swimming in large 'empty pockets' of water, maintaining (I thought) a relatively straight line to the markers. The return was great once you got close to the start line I could hear the commentator and cheers of the large crowd even through my ear plugs.
I exited the water in a bit under 1:16 which was close to my target time, what wasn't in my plan was the rather large T1 duration. It didn't help that my bike was almost as far away from the changing tent as it could be. I took my time in T1 as well ensuring there was enough comfort cream applied down below to last the distance, along with a good dosage of sun tan lotion.
The bike course was excellent, I had to rein myself in a bit at
the start to keep to my target heart rate zone, although towards
the end of the bike course this wasn't a problem as tiredness did
that for me.
The support from the crowd was amazing, apparently local news and radio reported that there were about 200,000 supporters in attendance and they really did lift your spirits with their enthusiastic support.
Lots of banging, drums, rattles, even old WWII air raid sirens. At one particular stretch of the cycle course there were half a dozen or more soldiers in uniform standing at attention saluting the competitors.
Lots of supporters holding their hands out for flying fives, I even had one guy running up one of the steep hills with me cheering me on.
The Solaberg hill was amazing, there are barriers there to funnel you through to a single lane. Supporters there are about 15-20 deep on both sides and you hit this roller coaster of sound and emotion. I choked a bit going up the hill the first time, it was all a bit overwhelming.
The bike course is a bit open and unfortunately there was a bit
of a breeze which made it harder than it could of been. My time of
5:57 was a bit slower than the 5:40-5:45 that I had been planning
Another slow transition followed, but this was partly my own doing as I had a quick chat with Jon to find out why I had managed to pass him towards the end of the cycle leg, and a quick trip to the porta loo (sorry Dave, but I couldn't bring myself to utilise 'that' particular strategy on the bike course).
I started off fairly well on the run, having to try and hold back a bit for my target 9:00 minute miles. Unfortunately the heat and tired legs soon took their toll. I had planned on only walking through the aid stations, but after the first 10Km I had made my first walk of shame. The next 15Km were very hard for me although the crowd were very uplifting with their support. With about 15 Km to go I realised that a sub 12 hour time was still a possibility if I pulled my finger out, queue a lot less walking. With 4 miles to go the sub 12 was still on but there was no time now to walk through the aid stations so I pressed on ignoring the offers of drinks and sponges. By now my legs were all over the place, lots of rippling muscle spasms running up and down my legs with each stride. With less than a mile to go I had given up on my target time and had started the walks of shame again. Before I knew it the finish tunnel was within sight, 2 minutes to go, could I do it? With what felt like a sprint, but in reality was simply a fast shuffle, I charged up the red carpet finish loop, barging past other competitors intent on crossing en-masse. To cheers from the MSTC supporters crew I finished in under the 12 hours. Unfortunately the last few miles had taken their toll so I was rather unwell and had to go to the medical tent for an IV pick me up!
I couldn't imagine being able to do such an event without the help and support from the friends and family that were there to support or compete, and also my own family back home for having put up with my crazy training schedule over the last 7-8 months.
My Roth - Jamie Goodhead
Not sure what I was more apprehensive about - a week in a
foreign country with my parents, three kids and wife or the
inspiration that is an Iron-distance triathlon after not having
participated in a triathlon for over 10 years. Anyway as I
couldn't decide I thought I may as well preoccupy myself with
thoughts pertaining to "will my bike actually survive easy jet?",
"will my kit be the oldest there?", "does Lycra disintegrate with
time?" and "will out of date gels make me sick?".
When I arrived at Munich Airport I was slightly perplexed by the number of bikes from previous flights without owners - a friendly German lady told me to think positively and she was right - out it came in one piece. Despite my retro bike, kit and gels I felt sufficiently prepared until I got to registration where I found my front wheel had been made "illegal" - if work has taught me one thing, it is that there is little point taking on a debate with a German following "instructions" so I swallowed my pride and gladly took the spare wheel on offer from Jim who had pretty much two of everything! That exemplifies the week - everyone was happy and helpful with Jim in the back ground fiddling with his extra kit!
Now true fear started the day before the race - not so much about the race itself but by leaving one's bike in the sun fully race ready. As the sound of bursting tubs could be heard on the walk back to car I had a night to ponder how I should go about changing my tyre(s) in the morning in what may be a closed off transition area. Thankfully all of our bikes were intact although there were many a triathlete being informed to the contrary over the tannoy.
I suppose you may be interested in the "race" (personally I'm not sure anything over 5 hours is actually a "race"). To summarise, it was ruthlessly efficient. I failed to see why we needed to be there 2.5 hours early for the swim but ho hum, sleep was not really happening. What a pleasant swim (aka "warm-up") - no point killing oneself, I was happy to sit back, watch the crowds and enjoy the moment - over too soon it was onto the bike. 180kms on tri-bars is not something I could imagine or train for so I felt "winging it" was the only viable strategy which seemed to work. I was terrified of being busted for drafting and ending up in the "pit of shame" so I can honestly say I have never been so "clean" in all my life and before I knew it I was in T2 being helped by a German lady who was not the slightest bit perplexed by my full frontal. Having enjoyed the crowds and survived the wind / hills I was now looking forward to a pleasant jog but by now the litre of fluid & three gels per hour were starting to catch up on me - 10kms later and a bag of pix & mix I reached for the salt tabs that Mr Mac had given me the day before - they worked a treat, my stomache started to empty and despite being a victim of TBC (Total Body Confusion) I jogged on. The only conversation I had the whole day was 30kms into the run with Hans who told me he was "fxxx'd up bad" and looking at him he was correct! An hour later it was all over with a deceptive burst of speed down the finishing straight - naturally my wife passed me the kids with a look that clearly meant - "its your turn now"!
I would fully recommend this race / family holiday, that was made all the more enjoyable with the cracking bunch from the club!!
My Roth Claire Cresswell
A little bit of my heart doesn't want me to write a race report. However I am sitting with a huge smile on my face, another adventure ticked off the box. Perhaps it might seem weird to you that I am smiling as I didn't finish the Ironman. It doesn't to me, from the minute I booked to do the second ironman I have been excited.
We are going with Jamie, Jim, Jon, Steve B, Ant and Steve M. What a team, no wonder I am excited. We are sharing a house and its going to be great. I don't really know all the guys that well, so it will be a great chance to spend some time with them and their friends/families/loved ones some of which I do know like: Pippa, Emma and Kay.
I know already the guys are going to "fly", such a wealth of experience between them. I so enjoyed my first one last year. Having a time of 15hrs 4 mins to beat was something I was hugely aware of as Roth has the cut off of 15 hrs, not 17 hrs like Austria. My training this year seemed more settled . . at times.
Like anything that's a big sacrifice this year, this was no different. A few 'hurdles', make the end challenge even more appealing. Mine started with a lovely touch of bacterial sinusitis and a remarkable cough that left me with a very husky voice - which has been missed by a few of my patients!! This took me out of training for about three weeks in a very pivotal time.
Then the information that we could represent GREAT BRITAIN that felt at times like a noose around my neck was something that was not deserved however hard not to cherish as a thank you for the continued support to give back to my mum, dad, family and of course Tim. Seeing "the Trisuit" with CRESSWELL GBR made me start to think about why I race? Why I HAVE to keep challenging myself? Why do I make life harder, by choosing an impossible distance to train to and put myself under so much pressure? When in life most of my other pleasures are escapism from pressure, gardening, painting, cooking etc..
I know now why I did it. I rang my dad when I was having my leg
taped up in Germany.
"How's mum? how did the chemo go for her? "
"She fine-ish honey, we were more worried about you"
"ohh I am fine-ish "
"we could see that you only got to 108 miles on the bike, are you sure you're ok?"
"Yes-ish, my leg got really painful dad, "I was having a ball" the roads here, are like you said they would be FANTASTIC and mainly flat if you take out the Solarberg and a few other hills"
"What's the solarberg, hon?"
"oh, so much to tell you, dad, the solarberg was awesome. You could see it in the distance, the iconic hill that is littered with supporters making enormous amounts of noise, banking drums, whizzing rattles, you would have loved to have seen it, it looked like something out of the tour de France. I couldn't see where my path was. Only room for one bike UP and thick crowds of supporters smacking you on the back, shouting HOP, HOP, Hop, Allez, Sooouper, it was unreal. I had to keep one hand on the handlebars and the other flicking my hand to indicate that they needed to get out of the way as I was cycling on up. It was phenomenal the noise and atmosphere was wild almost as noisy as the crowd at Foo Fighters concert! You'll have to come with us next time dad. I am just having my leg iced and then it's going to be strapped up - don't worry though, all is good dad, all is good.
"So what happened?"
"well, I was really tinkering along for me and it was easy to do at times as the roads were flat and I think that my vastas medialis muscle (inner quad muscle) got very fatigued and I altered my position on the bike and sat further back in the saddle. Then I started getting, knee pain and my first ever sciatic pain for about ten miles this didn't arrive until I had done 90 miles and the constant pain in my knee was unbearable with every turn of the leg"
"You should have just stopped, mum and I are very proud of you no matter what you do"
"Dad, I couldn't just stop to begin with, the way my body manages discomfort and pain is a part of what gets you over that finish line, these events dad .they are tough, they are meant to break you"
"Hmmm, Did you enjoy the swim?"
"It was great, a bit warm for wetsuits sitting just under 23degrees. I loved the swim. A very settling moment for a big event, nothing can go wrong in the swim for me. It went so fast dad. When I got a migraine from the pain in my leg and decided to stop at the top of the hill after the solarberg, I couldn't take my weight and decided very sensibly to stop a very close 4 miles from finishing the bike, Tim bizarrely was there for me, I didn't see him, but he was there for me with Kay and Mark"
"Cor, I bet you were knackered"
"No - full of energy - I think I might have to reserve that for when the pain in my leg has gone"
"So, you will do another?"
"Oh, definitely Dad, I feel like this injury was a one off. This is the distance I love, I do it because I can and it makes me so happy"
"Did you learn anything about yourself today and did you enjoy your time away with Tim and your friends?"
"Dad, it's been great, I know you wanted to be here and I am so happy that you stayed with mum, she has been on my mind. We have had the time of our lives, experienced so much in such a short time with some really lovely remarkable people, so many stories to tell and despite the possible grade 2 tear of rectus femoris, I am happy"
"That's my girl, always happy to challenge yourself and that's what makes us proud - sometimes darling , and you won't want to hear this - you sometimes learn more about your direction in life through not completing something.
"Umm, maybe, Dad this call is costing me the earth I am sure! The guy has taped my leg know - beautiful bright pink tape. I am going to ring Tim and he will wander back from the finish line to help me see the guys cross the finish line, I can't wait to see them they have been remarkable"
"Ok, remember to be proud, you still did a superb job, you don't sound tired after doing 108 miles ...
"I know I am not tired, my leg hurts Dad.I can't straighten it, the pain was just too much"
"Claire, you're just human and what you did was just one day out of your whole life, and honey, you would have finished easily the bike in time, so be proud ok? Ok? We have checked your cats, there fine and we will see you when you get home. Goodbye Love - Everyone from the family sends there love to you and Tim.
"Thanks Dad, I Love you, see you soon"
I can't change what has happened, and having the ultrasound (with the confirmed partial tear in the hamstrings) isn't great. I am "behaving" and walking around the pool for twenty minutes everyday and nearly causing lots of accidents with the crutches has made me realise that it won't be the last IM . just a little hiccup on route to the next.
Well Done to the super incredible Jamie, Jim, Ant, Steve B, Jon and Steve M You were all amazing.
My Roth Steve Mac
This was to be my A race for the year. After a lot of hard training I was feeling good so I decided that Roth 2012 would be my chance to lay down my fastest time. Also it was to be the European Championships and I could be representing Ireland. With the other MSTC competitors representing GB, I could envisage that with us all in our kit, this could make for a great photo.
Every time I think about Roth I get butterflies. Can I really do it? Of course, after all, I have done this distance before in the Switzerland Ironman. Well, that's what I keep telling myself. Swim - no bother, bike - after the Mont Blanc training camp no worries and as for the run - although I have never been a keen runner I have really focused on it in this time and am as confident as I have ever been. I am actually looking forward to it.
Arrival in Germany
We arrive on the Thursday and are sharing a very large house with some great club members. Lots of nervous energy and lots of banter; which is a great lead up.
We arrive at registration which in typical German fashion goes very smoothly. Believe it or not we are the first in line. Okay, I admit this is only because we set off 2 hrs earlier to do a test swim but could not find the start, but did find the registration tent! It is also at this point that Jamie discovers he is illegal. Well his front wheel is anyway.
The next day we are out driving the bike course when unfortunately Steve and Pippa are involved in a road traffic accident. Everyone is ok but as the car badly damaged this cannot be a good place for your mind to be 2 days before a big race. With the incident taking place at a crossroads, the locals come out to see the incident and despite speaking little or no English (matched equally by our limited German), they bring out coffee and cakes for us all. They are great people and this really warms the spirit despite the distressing
The Big Day
Breakfast at 03:00 and I'm feeling refreshed and invigorated after a great night's sleep... I wish. Thankfully I am too nervous to feel tired. Well how else are you supposed to feel at 03:00 in the morning after an hour or two of sleep?
Swim 3.8km 01:00:05
The swim is great as I knew it would be. All the anticipation and all the nerves just melt away when I pull my wetsuit over my shoulders and zip it up. Now it's time to race, I tell myself. Up to this point I am pretty unfocused as my way to chill is to talk to people and have the craic.
In the water on the front line BOOOOM a hugh cannon goes off to signal my wave start. Well this is a surprise, normally its a bun fight at the start, but this one goes really well. I am in the lead pack but they are going way too fast so I back off and really start to enjoy the swim. I spot another person off the pack who is swimming a bit quicker than me so I latch onto his slip stream and cruise along at his faster pace but putting in less effort.
We come across and pass 3 other waves I realise that I have passed Jon and Jim. That's great as I need a big lead on them for the bike. Before I know it its time for the fun to end and get onto some serious racing.
Out of the swim with a time of 01:00:05 - where the hell did those 5 seconds come from??
Out of the wetsuit and pull bike shorts over the tri suit and out, but quickly have to go back to get sun block rubbed into me.
Bike 180km 06:12:00
Out on the bike feeling great. The first couple of miles are quite twisty and mainly downhill and quite soon we travel through the army "ration station". We are being saluted by soldiers either side of the road which is quite unusual. I come across 'beer miles' all over the route and note that it is very well supported.
It is however windy, very windy. When the head wind stops, it simply moves to the side and tries to push you off, then turns back into a head wind again, especially towards Greding. The bike route is subsequently described by the race organiser as having the most difficult conditions he had known in fifteen years, due to cross winds.
All that said, my extra training at David Jones Mont Blanc
training camp has paid off as I barely notice any hills and storm
the twisty descent with switchbacks. I overtake the more cautious
riders and this becomes one of the highlights of my race,
overshadowed only by the famous Solarberg climb. On its own, this
would be a relatively minor climb. But with a crowd of
20,000-30,000 standing 10 deep and lining the road like a Tour
mountain stage in the Pyrenees, it is something special that will
remain in my memory for life. The climb is as
I said minor and I approach it with a heart rate of 75%. However, this jumps quickly to 90+% half way up. Not due to the excursion but just the pure buzz and energy from the crowd. You cannot see the road for spectators and have to play chicken with them as they part inches in front of you. With your heart pumping and your ears ringing with their huge cheers, it is truly amazing.
I gradually realise that I am becoming dehydrated, I haven't peed at all even though I am drinking over a bottle an hour. It transpires that unfortunately this becomes my undoing as I subsequently suffer a large crash in my blood sugars. Even though my feeding regime is tried and tested, they drop to dangerously low levels so I have to revert to my backup emergency feeding plan... bolt down as much glucose as possible. Unfortunately even this doesn't work. However, I do see a tiny increase which helps, so rather than withdraw I decide to back off on the bike, so I can at least begin the run and then see what happens.
Bike target was 05:50:00 but 06:12:00 is ok. Avg speed:18mph
I believe (and expect to have it confirmed) that due to the
dehydration, my body could not absorb the glucose properly,
possibly from a liver malfunction. So a lesson learned
all, drink, drink and drink some more.
Belinda Granger (in her 11th year) said the bike conditions
were the slowest that she had
experienced at Roth. It doesn't detract from my disappointment of hitting my time goals, but it does help explain some of the difference.
Out of the bike shorts and more lotion rubbed into me whilst I try to get my head into the right place.
Run 42.2km 05:09:47
Believe it or not I am actually looking forward to the run. I have worked really hard for 6 months with Coach DJ and I have improved massively. So I am set for a 4hr marathon, which is an achievable goal. I start the run and it quickly becomes apparent that this may actually be an unachievable goal, but I refuse to accept it. I take inspiration from the pros who are passing me in the opposite direction heading to the finish. I see the pain and effort etched into their faces, so it is time for me to dig deep. 'Biodh an misnech' is a Gaelic phrase I have tattooed on my leg (it means Have the Courage) so it is time to zip up the man suit and fight the urge to slow down.
The minimal cloud cover that has been present for most of the bike rolls away just in time for the run, and it is going to be a hot one. My blood sugar levels are slightly up at around 4mmol's. For non-diabetics they would be 6ish and collapsing can happen at about 2mmol's, so I needed to keep a close watch on them. I decide to walk every aid station and get as much liquid down as possible. They are giving out half full 300ml cups of coke, water or iso drink and soup. Soup, in this heat?? Madness!. I end up grabbing either the iso or water and by adding it to a coke this works well and stays down. Unfortunately I am still very dehydrated.
I back off the 9 min miles after about 3 miles and settle into 10's and then 11's. The aid station 'walks' are also becoming longer as the course progresses and cramps are setting in all over my body. Even in my forearms, I didn't know they could cramp!
The climb back into Roth with 4km to go is hard, although it
probably isn't even that steep. Then with relief, I am into the
last 3km around the town. Passing the spectators cheering from
their beer tables is amazing and it is quite surprising how much
that lifts me. It is the final kilometre and am approaching the
finishing chute when I see Kay. She joins me and we run down the
chute side by side giving a few high-fives to the crowd cheering
stands either side. As I see the MTSC shirted supporters and the Irish flags waving frantically. I cross the line with Kay hands raised, before almost collapsing into her arms. Another memory that will never fade.
Finish 226km 12:29:00
I didn't hit my 11hr goal time but am ecstatic to have finished,
as I know doing the distance is something everyone should be proud
of and I am pretty chuffed with certain elements of my performance.
Swim was where it should be, bike was fairly well paced -
and the consensus seems to be that the wind made the bike a lot harder than normal, maybe 10-15 minutes slower. The run was bad, very bad, but I survived. I had many internal arguments about ditching my number and binning the whole thing, 'Biodh an misnech' was my response. So thankfully I didn't although it was a close call.
My blood sugars remained low throughout but again I am still
here. On reflection to continue was a dangerous decision to make
and it could have easily gone very wrong, There were quite a few
scattered bodies on the run all receiving attention and it would
not have been nice to be counted among them, If another diabetic
had told me this story on the run, I would have tried to stop them.
For me I think it was the right decision. I had trained for things
like that and made allowances in my training for 'What if's.
Unfortunately that all came into play but things go wrong in all
races, especially in ones of this distance. You have to be flexible
and adapt. If you can't adapt you won't finish. I was flexible and
I probably should have gone to the medical tent to get rehydrated (I didn't wee for quite a few hours after and felt very rough for a few days) but I was slightly distracted by the communal changing/shower rooms....a very strange experience.
Roth as a race is amazing and probably the best experience you
are likely to have at a long
distance triathlon. The spectators were unbelievable and I am sure we all have loads of stories about our individual interactions with them. The banter, support and help from the fellow MSTC team out there were great and David Jones's coaching is inspiring. But most of all the love and support from Kay is as always amazing I am a very lucky man.
The water laps your toes and envelops your skin. Close your eyes. The masses become silent and your heartbeat thunders. You have planned for today, talked about today, trained for today, imagined today, dreamed today, and yet you still don't know what to expect.
A cannon blows and you remember, as you dread the uncertainty and the harsh duration to come, to savour every second because in your memory it will be over in the minutes it takes to recount or reread from your journal.
Move, breathe, drink, eat. Move, breath, drink, eat. Move and move. One hundred and forty and six-tenths miles. Know tenderly, intimately every fibre of your being that propels you forward only because your brain says. 'Don't stop.' And don't stop. Move, breathe, drink, eat.
Manage your day. Stick to your plan. Be flexible. Just finish. Float when your mind and body detach and watch your body move without you - pushed by the crowd, the volunteers, who lust for your finish as if it were their own.
But it hurts. And you don't know for sure why you're doing this and what it will mean when you do. And then you see it. A banner, a clock, a frenzy of applause. And you know you made it happen through whatever means and power source you draw strength from.
Ironman trivializes past hardship and prepares you to minimise those to come. It makes dreams come true. We all have what it takes to bridges aspirations into accomplishments. Crossing that line embraces self: confidence, sacrifice, reliance, invention, worth. Finishing makes you your own hero.
From some book I read on the journey.