IM Germany 2006
Frankfurt – European Championships.
The journey to Frankfurt started many moons ago with entry, hotels, flight booking and forum threads but the ‘keeping it real’ journey was on the Wednesday before the race, I was travelling with Kelly and 3 guys from Chester Tri to Cologne by airline and catching 3 trains to Frankfurt. To know how much time I spend trying to find the best routes, cheapest ‘good’ hotels etc means that to have discarded everything in favour of travelling Easyjet because of the great bike carriage deal is to know how much of a let down it was to me 2 minutes after we arrived at the check in desk. The problems started as we approached the astoundingly unhappy check in girl, who was purposely put there to make our lives hell and had obviously got out of the bed the wrong side and inserted her monthly self help tubes in the wrong hole.
Easyjet had apparently changed their allowance for sports baggage on May 1st to 32kg total including your own bag, we had booked a week later and they couldn’t confirm or deny that the internet had been updated at that time. So we argued, and argued and argued!!! The argument for an hour and a half after we got to the desk was sometimes heated, often frustrating and mildly amusing as Julian, our local wine rep and frequent business class traveller first tried to bribe the staff with cases of wine and then tried the charm, this might work on business class but the ‘keeping it real’ element of our journey had kicked in and they weren’t budging. He was then told to remove 17kg of excess items from his hard case to reduce the weight to a manageable amount for the baggage handlers before they would even take it, let alone charge the extra. This didn’t turn out to be quite as bad as we thought as he was carrying over 15kg of nutrition with him !!! I sh1t you not !! This meant that he was now carrying around 12kg in a rucksack that they didn’t know about and trying not to look like he was transporting another person onto the flight slung over his back.
Kelly was doing her usual, ‘will you stop getting so ratty and let me deal with this, I’m a travel agent’ But by then I had pi$$ed off so many people that it didn’t matter if you were Stelios’s brother, we were gonna pay excess.
Onto the plane and we arrived at Frankfurt on time, which I had allowed 2 hours of messing about in case EJ delayed us, we got our first train to Koln main and then the waiting for the usually on time German public transport started. Some kind soul had managed to set light to the tracks a few miles from Mainz so the next train was delayed for over an hour, in the oppressive 36 deg heat under train station glass this was slowly getting to be a bad day. 2 more trains later through wonderful countryside we did however arrive in Frankfurt at 11pm after setting off at 10am that day.
The rest of Chester had taken one plane straight to Frankfurt from Manchester, never had a bag weighed and had now effectively paid less, and we were doing the sightseeing route to SAVE money !!!!! All this time Jules’ new mantra of ‘keeping it real’ was beginning to prove why going cheap wasn’t always the best way ! The best was to come for our business travelling guru, he had left his hotel booking so late that the only thing left was just outside the train station in a local hotel of pot smoking, reggae playing laid back dudes with no concept of bedtime and propensity for loud music in time to the trains leaving and arriving across the street, once again he had been brought back to street level.
Thursday and Friday was spent checking out the lake area and the city, which was beautiful, great setting for a race. My mum and her partner arrived Friday and Team Rose was assembled, I meantime set off to meet the rest of PSOF at the race brief.
I don’t know where the clapping came from after the no neoprene announcement but the German commentator might have missed the sarcasm involved. When he said he thought they might be lynched and not applauded he didn’t know how close to getting out of there with his life intact he was.
When the clapping did die down you could sense the differing reactions, some disbelief, others pensive but dealing with it, myself, well I was hoping to wear mine but it had been a close thing in IMCH a few years ago and I knew it could happen, it was just I had to hear it to actually believe they had really made the final decision. At this point the ‘sub 10’ was walking slowly out of the door, for no reason other than I intended to beat the time but minutes were vital and this would put me back a few, possibly up to 10.
The group assembled for photo opportunity and we had a bit of a laugh meeting others we hadn’t seen before, when the pirates did the Aaaarrrgggghhhh on one of the photos I just thought, Frankfurt are not gonna know what hit them Sunday, fantastic.
Saturday I tried to relax with the other Chester guys while the sherpas went out and did a dry run of Heartbreak Hill using the public transport.
Putting the bikes together ….
We made up the transition bags, tied all the tubs and bottles etc to the bike and then at 4pm we started the queuing for the buses, it wasn’t too much of an issue regarding time waiting but having one transition is so much easier. 😉
Anyway, while we were down at the lake the rain that had been promising all week decided to break, the wind came first and as I was running back to the entrance with my ‘helfer’ the wind caught one of the gazebo’s and lifted it clean off the ground and took about 4 of the fence panels with it, we had just got out before they decided to close transition, then the rain came and hammered down for the next few hours to clear the sticky air that had built for the last week. God knows what state transition was going to be in the next day.
The bus back wasn’t too painful until a German guy opposite me decided to open a sachet of Ralgex and smear it all over his legs; my eyes had stopped streaming by the time we got back to town. I then spent the rest of the evening breaking the whole race down into the manageable chunks I was going to use to set times by, decide what I was wearing and then got to bed around 9ish.
Got up at 4, sorted out breakfast made sure I hadn’t missed anything and got in the queue for the 5am bus, which was just as well because the queuing again at the lake was beginning to get tiresome, I’m just gald we weren’t standing, we didn’t actually get to the drop off til 6, the only annoying thing for some was the fact that non competitors were on the bus and were never removed even though the queues were quite long, I had long since got into race mood and it didn’t bother me. I had been in such a rush the day before that I forgot to let the air out of my tubs, so checked them, still OK, loaded the full drinks bottles, filled the bento and aero bottle and snapped on bike shoes. Sorted helmet, glasses and race belt and then decided I needed to go wee ! That done, saw a few more pirates, kept chatting, more shaking hands and somehow managed to get to the water about 10 mins before the start.
I had decided to race in the pirate skin suit so I didn’t have to faff in T1. The bit I was looking forward to least tho was the wait and ‘float’ at the start of the swim, the only thing I could think of was to go to the front and hanging onto the rope over the start line. We kept getting told to leave it but as soon as the canoe went by we all grabbed it again, I was being constantly kicked from underneath and had to re do my chip strap which was a bit unnerving in case I lost it in the depths of the lake. Eventually the rope was pulled away and I started my watch, I was trying to avoid waiting til the horn went off for fear of being dunked in the rush to get going. We then had to tread water for another 2 minutes before they let us go, as soon as the horn went I dove straight for the inside line and the buoys.
It has to be said, apart from the turnarounds, this was the easiest swim in terms of fighting, there was clear water in front of me most of the way round, which didn’t help my drafting but was keeping my heart rate down I am sure. I had to detour a little on the first lap as I started to head out of the final exit ramp instead of the turnaround exit, a kind canoeist pointed me in the right direction.
I got out in 29 mins, heard a few shouts and got back in, the mind games on finish times started at this point, I know that was the short lap so how much longer is it, I decided to forget it when I got to the top of the lake again and started to really kick for the last 800 metres home.
Exited in 1.05, surprised and pleased.
T1 was a ball ache, it was sooooo long, everything was on my bike, so I ran up the hill, with encouragement from the pirate support, blew a kiss at Jj and hi5’d FB as he was taking piccies at the top. Straight through the bag area, past the tents, got to the bike, the glasses were wet and steamed up so they went in the back pocket, I put on my race number, then helmet, took a glug of drink I had left on the floor and left. 3.22 for T1.
I always had a plan of following HR for the 3 60k’s and breaking it down to 140-145 for the first and then upping by 5 each time. On the hills I would push harder but stay under my lactate levels and if I was cruising at a fast speed and the HR was low, use it as a brief rest. The first 12k to town was a fast pace but the HR was low so I used it to recover the extra exertion in the swim. I was cheered by Chris, Jan, Nigel and Julie with my family by T2 and then the pirates a few hundred metres after that.
The smile on my face was shortly removed when I reached back to get one of my power bar bottles for a drink when I realised I had ejected both of them somewhere on the bad roads, not a show stopper as I had the aero bottle still but I had to drink slowly to conserve liquid until I got a chance to top up. The first aid station came and I was surprised at the initial ‘EEESO’ shout instead of ‘energy!!’ so I only got one bottle of isotonic but used it sparingly and decided to take an extra gel with water to compensate. That was about the last time I had any concerns regarding nutrition, the aid stations were slick and if you shouted what you wanted they stepped forward. The ‘Beast’ and ‘Hell’ both crept up on me as I hadn’t ridden the course previously, a few had said there weren’t any hills to speak of but just watch the 90 degree turn into the cobbles, well before I saw the cobbles I saw the hay bales so slowed down and by the time it registered that this was the infamous cobbled part I was already halfway up, wasn’t as bad as I imagined but I need a few fillings replaced. I finished the first 60k in 1.40 and thought this was on good pace for 5.15 with a little drift later.
The course wasn’t too bad at this point but it was still very wet and drizzling constantly so I had to keep concentrating, the last thing I needed was to come off, I assumed the rain was kicking up all sorts of crap as people were puncturing all around me, I was trying to ignore it, oh and praying to anyone that would listen so I didn’t get one. There were also a lot of accidents and a stretch just before town of mini roundabouts was slowly becoming a cyclist scrap yard, I weaved in and out of a few and tried to keep away from the draft cheats who seemed intent on going into tight bends in groups and taking each other out, more fool them.
Heartbreak Hill was where my supporters were based, I passed the main pirate support at the bottom as they were making their way up for the rest of the group to come through and Bryan and a few of the others gave some great encouragement.
Supporters at the top of Heartbreak Hill..
I saw the Chester gang, my mum, Roger and Kelly before they saw me, it was probably the yellow straw hats, yellow straw skirts, pirate tops and superb cheering that did it, it was a great boost just before town. Coming into town I saw another load of Brits and pirates together with lots of great cheering.
I had got into a good frame of mind now as well as the day was warming up and I now knew the course now so I decided to stop the high 5’s for the kids, which was hard and try to concentrate, might seem harsh but I was still sticking thumbs up at anyone who cheered but as I was doing well the veering across the road to slap 8 year old kids hands was beginning to seem like a waste of energy. I did the next 60 k in 1.39 and settled in for the road home. I passed a few of the back marking pirates in the last 12km into town including IW, Plum and KK and shouted a few words of encouragement but as I didn’t know what actual time it was and I was trying to concentrate on catching the guy in front of me I didn’t know they were facing the cut-off on their return to town. I recognised the last few roundabouts and reduced the gearing to start spinning more and ease off the pedal to slip out of the bike shoes ready to get off.
Bike time was 5.06.
I can’t remember the exact time I came into T2 but I knew that I had to be in and out of transition without messing around, a ‘helfer’ ran in front of me shouting my number and then it took what seemed like 60 secs to find my bag but no harm done, into the tent and took off bike gear and cleaned feet, put on new glasses, socks and hat and off taking 1:49.
I knew Kelly and Team Rose would be at the first aid station as I had asked her to pass me my Garmin and my Camelbak. It didn’t seem too hot at the time but I suppose that’s because I had just thrown cold water all over me but I ignored the camelback and grabbed the Garmin and set the pace timer. It was good to see them at the start and the support here and all over the course was to be a pleasant part of what was to be the hardest marathon I have ever done.
I set off at a comfy pace with the GPS telling me I was doing 7.15 pace, I had to look twice but it was right. The thoughts that followed were along the lines of, ‘that’s too fast’ ‘but I feel OK?’ ‘If I slow to 8’s I know I will only get slower’, ‘sod it, just keep going and if you slow down later fine !’ So I did.
About 2 miles later I was running along the top bank and heard a shout below me going the other way, ‘come on Rosey, looking good !’ well to look up and find Cougie bouncing down the riverbank in front of me was a bit of a shock. In the time it took me to catch him I was analysing my reaction, was it fair on Cougs to be thinking, ‘how the hell did you get here ?’ or had he just had a storming swim, I knew he was a good biker so it must have been the swim. As I got level, I said, ‘nice swim and bike Cougs’, the reply started with ‘well there’s a story behind that ….’ Lol !!! We jogged for a while as he explained the nightmare of the day and we chatted for around a mile, he also asked me if I needed anything so I told him I was getting hot and wished I had some salt, before I had finished he produced 3 saltstick capsules, cheers mate. (I managed to use one before losing the others while taking a gel out of my back pocket) Then he told me he needed to walk for a bit and dropped back so I carried on.
The next shock was the pirate ‘aid’ station, how cool was that, I could see it a bliddy mile off, yellow everywhere, spotters pointing and letting others know a pirate was coming and the cheer was great, I may not have waved very enthusiastically every time but it was a real lift, and what you probably didn’t realise was that for me, I had Team Rose on one side, pirate aid station on the other and the Chester guys moving all round the course. It was something that you could also look forward to all down each side of the river before you ever got sight of it.
I completed the first 10.5k in 46 mins and secretly hoped I could keep this going but knew that I would drift later so I concentrated on keeping strong and keeping my form. I was also using a good nutrition plan that was changing every aid station. I am normally able to eat anything while training so I decided to go with stomach feel and taste. If I needed a gel which I was taking every 35 mins I would only touch water but otherwise if I fancied isotonic I would have it and if not I would concentrate on loads of water on me and in me. I had ignored the ice after the first aid station as it was burning my head but did foolishly once throw it down my front and spent the next 400m picking bits of ice out of the undercarriage as it was cooling me down far too quickly and I was in danger of going inverted !!!
I saw the family again out of T2 and a few more of the Chester supporters giving some great encouragement. What was also fun to hear was random ‘pirate’ shouts, a few times I was going under bridges and Mrs G-Sport would shout as she was pushing the pram back and forwards over the river, others were up at far reaches of the course, JC’s(tritalk) family were up at the opposite end to the pirate camp, Brits were giving us total support as well as a load of the Irish just before the T2 entrance.
The second lap I still hadn’t walked but kept running through all the aid stations and I was now starting to feel the heat at the far end of the course, the trees were giving a little shade but as you came out on that rise before the last bridge it was getting stupidly hot, just keep throwing water everywhere was the aim.
This was also the lap that I first heard Rich, a few of the pirates were abusing me verbally to run faster (which was actually working as in these moments anything shouted at you personally helps ) across the trees either side of the far turnaround and Rich was right behind them, he spotted me and shouted something like ‘I’m coming for you Rosey’, well it sounded like that, but I am sure afterwards he said it was something encouraging !
Completed the ½ marathon in 1.40 and started to work out the maths again. I had come out of T2 on my 3rd lap with 7.58 on the clock, I knew I had 2 hours to do 2 laps, I also knew my pace was slowing but if I could keep 9 minute miles I had it in the bag. This meant I could now start to walk the aid stations, something my legs had been asking for for the last mile or two.
By now the GPS was screwed as I was seeking as much shade as possible and it was struggling to read the satellites so I ignored it and started using the km markers and staying at 5.30’s.
So out on lap 3 it was much the same only slower, aid station, fast walk, water, more water, gel, and at this point. Coke. I had left it til now as I knew it was fizzy and trying to run and drink fizzy coke isn’t pleasant. It was working for me now though.
I was now concentrating on more things than I could shake a stick at, I was searching for familiar faces, responding to shouts to pirates, working out how far RichM was behind me as he is a better runner and trying not to walk inbetween the aid stations.
I also started to see more pirates on the course and tried to shout something more than ‘hello’ as I went past but it was difficult, the sun was starting to affect my eyesight as every time I stopped concentrating I got stars in my peripheral vision so I had to refocus, I am sure it looked like I was being miserable as on completing the 3rd lap the Irish lot told me to smile lol !!!
My legs hurt from my knees up to my neck lol !! and it wasn’t getting better, the only thing taking my mind off it was keeping to pace and dreaming of crossing the line with 9. something showing. I got to T2 for last time with just over an hour to go.
As I went out on lap 4, Kelly shouted that she would see me in the stands, I think I responded but can’t remember, the next hour was just painful, all I wanted to do was walk, if it had been looking like I was going to not break 10 hours then I probably would have, the rollercoaster of seeing people I knew and them shouting encouragement was matched by knowing I was weakening and my legs could stop at any moment.
I concentrated on making the aid stations fast and efficient and also thought it was the right time to start on the Red Bull, the race pack had some gumpf about how it was to be used for the last 20 mins of the race but I thought I could really do with a lift, that and coke and I was buzzing all the way round the last lap. Passing the pirates for the last time at the aid station was great, nearly in tears was a mix of emotion and pain and it started to dawn on me how many hadn’t finished as they were all there cheering me on, I really appreciated that too.
By now I had forgotten about RichM as I didn’t care if he overtook me I just wanted to beat 10 hours, I ignored the last aid station and as I got to the point when you separate from the course and go right instead of onto another loop the elation started from my feet and kept going until my ears were tingling, Nigel and Chris were yelling at me to keep going, I was going to do it but the 2 minutes I had extra on my watch from the swim start meant I didn’t know by how much.
The finish chute was amazing, lots of noise, I just focused on the clock in front of me and heard Kelly and my mum shouting from the stands, check behind me so I got a clean photo and crossed the line in 9.56.04. As I roared and put my head back screaming I saw FB above me taking pictures so I hope one of them came out cos a lot of emotion was vented at that moment.
I then spent 2 ½ hours in the athletes village, I had to refuse the drip as I wanted a massage straight away and I have never had one yet, I think I will save that experience for Lanzarote when I might need one.
A lot of people helped me for that result, Kelly, my wonderful sherpa joined by my mum and Roger made for a great family weekend but the support from all the pirates and Chester tri contingent was huge. I have to say I already had great respect for all of the competitors that I knew but to see the pirates that DNF’d on the run course cheering with everyone else was testament to their attitude and to the whole experience.
Just been made Admiral Rosey
The party the next day was one of the funniest awards ceremonies I think I have been to and to be made an admiral, well what more could a pirate ask for. I rolled into my bed that night, very drunk and feeling very warm, and no, I hadn’t wee’d myself again 😉