MIDNIGHT MAN REPORT
Having put so much attention to detail into the race, I travelled down to Dartford on the Friday ( race was 6pm Saturday) with my daughter Harriet to ensure a good night’s sleep and we wanted Saturday to be a calm day of hydrating and fuelling correctly. I felt quietly confident , because training had been going so well . I had made modifications to my bike, invested in an aero helmet and received fantastic nutrition advice from the GSSI team at Loughborough, as well as the support of Dr Andy Kirkland of GB cycling at Manchester velodrome. My plan was to push the bike hard at constant 154 heart rate , which would see me riding at 25mph.
The temperature on Saturday was 29 degrees. This would have been horrendous for a day time race, but we had the advantage of racing at night, so weather conditions would be ideal.
However, as we heard from so many of our Olympians recently, the role of the mind in performance is an absolutely crucial factor. I had some personal issues which arose in the period immediately prior to the race which had a very negative effect. I should have been prepared for them and, again, like so many of our Olympians who spoke after their events, I feel that I let down the many people who had supported me . I was sick 15 minutes before the race and the carefully planned nutrition programme was wasted before the race even started.
However, with some timely words from Harriet, I went ahead with the race. Most people felt that the swim was slightly over distance so I was quite happy to finish in 67 minutes, only 7 minutes behind schedule. I felt that I would catch this time back on the bike, as I had put an immense percentage of my training time into cycling. The bike was 18 laps of approximately 10km per lap. About 3 miles of it were super fast on a dual carriageway. The other 3 miles were twisty ( we had 3
dead turns on each lap) and contained approximately 10 speed bumps( perhaps a couple more). So I guess this wasn’t ideal for time trialling, although we did have the advantage of perfect weather conditions. Ever so gradually, I was slipping behind my time schedule. My perceived effort was that I was trying hard, but the evidence from my garmin after the race told a different story. I only averaged 137 HR for the bike /run which is really only cruising pace. It again shows the tricks that the mind can play. All my training was geared towards racing at 154. It’s very frustrating that I didn’t follow the meticulous plan that we had made in advance.
There were a couple of issues that slowed me down (my front light flying off the bike on speed bumps and having to stop to attach a new one) , nutrition pack working loose and having to be discarded but they were quite minor. The main issue was the failure to control the mind and to reproduce what I had been doing day after day in training.
I completed the bike in 5.07 and by the time I was running , the clock had moved on to 6 hrs 19 mins. A 2.40 marathon would be needed to beat 9 hours, so that possibility had receded quite dramatically. I felt absolutely great on the run , but again the HR evidence showed that I was not pushing hard enough. With the possibility of a 9 hour finish having disappeared, I opted to treat it as a race rather than a 9 hour time trial. After the bike section I was told that there was only one person in front of me . I assumed this to be Guy Willard, but I was wrong. It was really difficult to keep tabs on other competitors in a multi lap race like this. When I passed Guy on lap 4 , I assumed that I had taken the lead….. I didn’t know that I was already a few laps ahead of Guy. Meanwhile Tim Male was in the lead and told me afterwards that he was getting feedback on how much time I was gaining on him. So we had quite an amusing situation of Tim having a race with me , but I was blissfully unaware of it, assuming that I was in the lead. I jogged the last lap having a chat with Glen Hatrick and arrived at the finish line where Harriet informed me that someone had finished a few minutes earlier. It was a shame really, as I think we may have had a close battle to the finish line if I had known.
Despite the fact that it’s disappointing to have not broken your record, you must stillbe pleased with 9 hrs 30 which is a really good time ?
Despite the fact that it’s disappointing to not have broken your record, you must still be pleased with 9 hrs 30 which is a really good time ?
Despite all the things that I have already mentioned , I am very happy with what I achieved. It was the best that I could do on the day with the given circumstances, so I am happy with that. It was the best that I could do on the day. I have given some excuses/reasons above, but in the end I was unable to overcome them and carry out the race plan. That’s the way it goes sometimes. Once I was racing, the nutrition plan worked perfectly, but I now need to test this at higher heart rate. The closer you race to threshold pace, the greater the impact on the digestive system and what it can tolerate.
It can also be difficult to compare exact times in Ironman races. We had perfect weather but cycling at night is generally slower than in daylight. The swim may have been slightly over distance but the bike was a couple of miles short, as was the run( I am told). There again we had 180-200 speed bumps to contend with which definitely have an impact. I’d like to thank John Setford and his team for providing us with an exciting new concept in Ironman racing. It was great fun out there and the marshals and supporters were brilliant.
There are always positives to be taken :-
- I was delighted after my race to accompany my mate Dave Madders for his last 7 miles and see him knock over an hour off his previous best time for the distance.( The fact that I was capable of doing this was another sign that I hadn’t given it my ‘all ‘ in the race. I should have been too exhausted to contemplate running another 7 miles)
- Dr Andy Kirkland ( my support from GB cycling) tells me that I have inspired/motivated him to get back into shape. He has lost loads of weight and is back racing.
- It was also rewarding to witness the outstanding performance of my former girlfriend, Joanne Bolton, in the race. She finished 2nd . She also said that I have inspired and motivated her and this year we have shared her first 100 mile bike, her first marathon and first half Ironman together. It was a dream for her to complete an Ironman distance race.
So despite any thing else that may have happened , I take pleasure from helping the above 3 people.
Have you any plans to give it another go ?Or other races for the future ?
I definitely feel that I can go under 9 hours if I get everything right on the day. Next year I will make another attempt maybe at The Outlaw ironman distance race in Nottingham or perhaps at the ultra fast Austrian course. Another possibility is the lanzarote ironman in May, but that isn’t a place for record times.
In the near future I have been contemplating whether to do the half iron, full iron or double iron at The Brutal race in Snowdonia on September 22nd. It’s been a difficult task analysing my own motives. I think I am going to opt for the ‘Sprint’ !!!( Half-iron)– a 1.2 mile swim in icy Lake Padern, 2 bike laps of the notorious Snowdon Marathon route, followed by a half marathon which is a lap of the lake ( with 500 ft climb) followed by ascent/descent of Snowdon.
Oh by the way, I nearly forgot, next year’s main target is the 30 x ironman in 30 days at Lake Garda…see www.decairon.com That should be fun !!
And finally………… I can’t overstate my appreciation to daughter Harriet . But for her presence, I wouldn’t have even got in the lake.. thanks Hazz.