Ironman UK – Bolton 2nd August 2009
Swim – 1:07:21
T1: Swim-to-Bike – 5:11
Bike – 5:35:53
T2: Bike-to-Run – 4:21
Run – 3:21:53
Finish time – 10:14:40
Overall position – 33 of 1370
Age Group (35-39) Position – 6 of 254
Firstly lets get the bags of sand out of the way, I have even had this from Kelly because I played this year down, we (Kelly) had our baby daughter 15 weeks ago, a lot of people said to me at the time, ‘Oh that’ll be the end of the training for IM, responsibility is the baby now’, Well, at the start, not really, the baby was in a good routine so getting an hour swim or turbo or run was easy, it could be planned, it was just a case of making sure I scheduled it in. The longer rides in the early stages were OK as well, people wanted to visit, so I set off on 4-5 hour rides and as long as I wasn’t leaving them on their own I was OK.
Well I am sure it was Rosey denial but I merrily went along with this for a good few weeks until one day it came back to bite me, Kelly saw her ar5e big style, and with good reason, when I initially signed up last year I said I would fit the training in with the baby and I was now pushing my limits, I was neglecting my responsibilities and I needed to sort it out, so gradually IMUK became just a race to do, a ‘B’ race as it were, I was looking forward to it, no pressure, for me, I wasn’t bike fit for IM endurance but I was loving 1/2 IM racing as this was the core training I was doing. I was getting good 2-3 hour hard rides in and this extra time I wasn’t on the bike I was working on my running.
I did a few early sprints, couple of top tens, couple of half’s (Bala and Eastnor) and good results there as well. Come the IM, I was pretty chilled about it and although was still in serious mood (shaved legs/haircut/full bike service etc) I had no expectations, I wasn’t IM trained and there was only 2 slots in my AG, it was a no brainer.
The only deviation in my head from how I felt was that I always ‘race’, I love to race and this lack of preparation wasn’t going to stop me, in the days leading up to the race I think I told a couple of people I was going to ‘smack’ it on race day and see what happened.
Pre race prep for me is pretty standard, get up, eat brekkie, baguette with ham and jam, malt loaf, drink coffee, couple of energy bars and then sip weak Hi5 til 30 mins before the off.
This year being in Bolton it was a little weird driving to the start but it seemed to work out well, plenty of time to do what we do well, faff. I sorted out the bike with gels, check tyres, fill bottles and put shoes on with elastic bands in the right place.
I caught up with a few people I knew in transition but kept it to general chit chat, no one likes an over enthusiastic triathlete first thing in the morning, smile and be supportive, if someone is looking nervous, don’t make them worse, that sort of thing. The usual trip to the portaloos and then I was done. The guy on the tannoy was beginning to annoy me so I settled into getting my kit together, put on my wettie and join the throng to get down to the water. This was about the worst organised part of the day for me, stood around waiting for someone to open the gate to let 1500 swimmers into the water led to a 10 min delay to the start. It didn’t make many around me happy but we just had a few jokes with the guys near me and tried not to wee in our suits on dry land (unsuccessfully if I remember !! lol)
Had a quick hello with Capt Morgan on the way into the water when he got this picture, how does anyone look good in one of these things !!
I left everyone I know to get to the front, far enough right not to be in the fast swimmers way, got to bear in mind the front line are looking at 55mins and I am not, no need to be a hero. We ended up treading water and getting cold for about 15 minutes before someone had the decency to sound the horn, I never heard it but everyone started to swim so I just went with it, the swim was 2 loops up and down the Rivington Reservoir.
The only time I had any issues was at the first turn, took my usual wide berth of around 3 metres but everyone else had the same thought, I am sure there was no one by the buoy !! I also thought I saw the familiar windmill action of one of my mates who I didn’t realise was doing the race, Jase, so I thought, right I will get on his legs, he’s an hour swimmer, draft all the way around. Just as I tried to get closer to him I got a smack in the face to remind me I was still on the outside of the throng and if I wanted to get to the inside line of buoys I was going to have to fight for it, that knocked me off stroke for a few seconds and by the time I recovered he had made 10 metres on me so I didn’t bother, this was just as well as on the first ascent of SHL Jason was supporting on the first bend, so it wasn’t him anyway lol.
I did find myself following one of the tips I picked up earlier in the season, at each turnaround flex the feet at the ankle so you don’t get cramp on the end of the swim, I noticed my calves were tight so I did this at each white buoy, I knew we had to run up a steep hill after the swim so I was keen to keep flexing, no cramp so it might have worked but who knows.
The rest of the swim was quite smooth, I think I fought the water down to the second turn around and then the next lap I was in my stride, the buoys seemed to be moving with the wind which can be seen on this photo (should be a straight line from white buoy to white buoy) which looks like it contributed to the slower swim times but I just went from buoy to buoy so it never really bothered me. Round the last white buoy for the second time felt great, then I just headed to the slipway, it wasn’t clear if this was the way to go but I just followed others.
I have done some long transitions (IM Wisconsin) so this wasn’t a problem for me, people get caught up in how much time they will lose, it’s the same for everyone, just get in, get changed and get out. The problem here was the uncarpeted 80metre steep slope that had to be climbed first and then the dash another 200m across concrete to the transition, hard on the feet but all I could concentrate on was the superb crowds at the entrance to T1, just made me think, actually this is going to be a great day, the support was already out in force and I love support, big smile as I entered T1. Just kept thinking ‘where did all these people come from !!’ WOW
What had been a mystery to work out in the days before was now simple, the route to the bikes, marshalls guided you to your bags, into the tent, throw everything on the floor and get out of wetsuit, I decided on arm warmers but no gilet, it was cool but not cold, just perfect in fact. Helper finished packing my stuff and I set off. The transition had been drenched in the days leading up to the event. They had put matting down but I was soon running through inches of mud, I had prepared an extra bottle on the bike to carry to the exit and wash down my feet before getting on the bike which worked a treat. I decided to go with the popular ‘running jump’ start, BIG MISTAKE !!
I use a rear seat bottle carrier and I never quite managed to get my leg over !! 2 bottles straight onto the floor and now look a complete idiot, calm down, pick up bottles, climb on bike, set off, no damage done.
The bike course was a 3 lap route tracing out a scenic if undulating course around Lancashire and touching into Cheshire I think, as I came out of T1 I knew the padowen (Nam) was on the first bend, she gave a great smile and wave and was then drowned out by the rest of the supporters on that corner, loads of people, this was seriously going to lift people, down to the reservoir and up to Sheep House lane for the first time, I still couldn’t believe the support, it was ace, I had decided to spin up the whole hill, so I started to drop the gears one by one as the cadence dropped until I was in the 2nd or 3rd lowest cog I had, sit down and spin, you will need it later, no need to showboat because of the massive crowds.
I was obviously surrounded by a few more experienced IM’ers as no one really shot past in the early stages, most content with spinning knowing it was going to be tougher later. The climb was well supported again and lots of familiar faces and shouts, thanks. My first hairy moment came on the bottom of Sheep House Lane as it turns into Belmont, I know my bike handing is fine but I wasn’t prepared for them to have cut the exit onto the main road in half, I was coming in WAY too fast, cones in the middle of the left lane meant I had two choices, shoot straight through into the house on the other side and hope I miss the cars or brake hard, I chose option 2 and proceeded to skid round the corner, through the cones and just released the brakes to keep the momentum going up the hill, no cars, job done, won’t be doing THAT second time round.
First loop was to be done to HR, around 140, problem was it wasn’t working, or it was but I was lying down in bed, 45bpm, then 80, then 110, then 50. Bollox, it wasn’t working, so I had to go on feel and keep trying to adjust the belt to get it back, it did eventually start reading something around what I might expect but never for long periods so I resigned myself to picking a speed and maintaining it but going on feel for the hills. The support was great in the villages, the locals were out, a few thumbs up, smiled a lot and generally chilled, my knee issue had come back for the first 15 miles but I knew if I just persevered with it, it would go, I really need to learn to stretch as part of my training !!
I managed to maintain a good pace for most of the first lap, spinning up hills, picking off the good swimmers and not being passed by anyone for ages. First lap was done in around 1.45 which included the messing around outside T1 so I was happy. The ‘pirate’ corner at the start of lap 2 was a bit more energetic (read – disturbing) this time round, SA was there in full voice with a huge flag and lots of energy, I thought he was going to run into me at one point as I turned the corner he was being so animated, just picture one of the really vocal supporters with a huge flag on Mt Ventoux this year at the tour and you are nearly there, what a lift, the amount of people was great, all lined up round the corner, loads of noise and plenty of encouragement, I smiled all the way down the hill each time to then get another boost at the café end where the other large crowd was.
A few of the Chester guys had camped at the bottom of SHL this time round and plenty of banter exchanged, then the shout I didn’t expect from the Warrington lot, Steve shouted’ you’re about 20th, come on, doing well !’ I think my facial expression said a thousand words so he repeated himself. This was in my mind for the rest of the climb, I still decided to spin up the hill as I wasn’t being passed by anyone and now I felt lifted but somewhat concerned as I might decide to be more competitive, so I reigned the thoughts in and set off up the hill, the support at the corner of SHL near the top was great and the pirate top gets loads of shouts, I even had Jase run with me for a bit, it was TT corner as well which was even more impressive, loads of good cheering, plenty more smiles from me.
The corner into Belmont was a little slower this time but as I exited and started to climb I heard a pop from the front wheel, to begin with it sounded like a puncture but the tyre wasn’t going down so I just kept going, then I heard a ‘ting’, ‘ting’, ‘ting’ against the frame and had to stop.
I had snapped a spoke, no problem, just break it off !! lol, what a palaver, the spoke isn’t fixed at the hub so it just kept twisting, I was getting nowhere and I was getting more frustrated as the 5 or so faster guys I had passed in the previous lap were disappearing off into the sunset.
Someone came over to help after a few mins and held the bike, he suggested wrapping it around another spoke, which I ignored as I was still trying to yank the spoke thru the hub like an idiot, he helpfully suggested it again a minute later, so I stopped panicking and wrapped it carefully around the nearest spoke.
Sorted, cheers mate, span the wheel to check it didn’t hit the forks and the wheel didn’t spin, it was buckled, only 16 spokes on the front meant it was holding a lot of pressure, so I had to release the front brake completely and try again, sorted but buckled, that will do. Thanked the guy, he pushed me off and I set about chasing down the other 5-10 who had passed me.
This was probably the reason I didn’t loose too much time on this lap but loads on the last, I went too hard, I was determined to get back my position, I managed to claw back around 3 places I lost and then calmed down, getting off had aggravated the knee and I knew I needed to conserve energy.
Lap 3 started with the great crowd again at Rivington, the support all the way up the hill was less populated but still vocal, I grabbed 4 bottles at the top of SHL as I had dropped both bottle at the last aid station immediately after picking them up, just as well the aero bottle was full at the time or I might have struggled.
Lap 3 was a nightmare, people have said what a good bike leg I had, well you should have been there on lap 3. This is what I was afraid of from the start, lack of solid endurance, I was also paying for chasing the guys down on lap 2, the wind had picked up and I was feeling shite, thoughts creeping in of blowing up and me just saying ‘well, you told people it wouldn’t be fast this year !!’ I decided to do a couple of things, try to keep eating gels, it was hard but I needed to be fit for the run, try to maintain my position in the race and on the bike and never give up. It was hard but the last thing was the most important, I pushed harder on the flats and downhills but rested on the uphills. I got to see Kelly and family at Pepper Street and that lifted me but I was really fading, I had 10 miles of the lap to go and I needed another pee, this was a good excuse to ease off, hill after hill I tried, they weren’t long enough to get the free wheel I needed, I was slowing up, then climbing, them slowing, eventually I got off, threw my bike down and tried to pee, and waited, and waited …. Nothing, shit, get back on the bike, wait until T2.
I knew I was OK but it took a few short sharp words to myself to deflect the anger of losing time to a school boy error and just get on with it. Coming up the last set of hills with 2 miles to go I was passed by a train of 4 riders, pacing each other and going past like I was walking, I let them go and said I know have a target for the run, this was were I was abused again by a few of the pirate massive haha
the final ride past Rivington corner was superb, pirate support was great, SA screaming like a banshee, Mike and Emma were at the main road, it was over and I really needed a sit down.
All I wanted to do in T2 was rest, I was goosed. The crowds at the entrance to the farm road were great, as I entered the catchers were there for the bikes, Neil gave me a good shout and encouragement, I couldn’t see many bikes so I was lifted again but this was going to be hard
I picked up bag and ran to tent, emptied all of the stuff on the floor, I wanted to wear my compression socks and decided this was the best way to rest but pretend to be doing a normal transition, recovery was quick, by the time I had got hat, glasses and socks on I felt better, jumped in the loo on the way out to make sure I was refreshed and off. More good encouragement by Neil who reckoned my picnic in T2 was gonna let Phil catch me up, I didn’t have the heart or the time to tell him he wasn’t going to finish as I had seen him on the bike course supporting on lap 3 !
Getting into a stride normally takes me about 2 miles, I suffer the legs and back till I get my heart rate down and then stop for 20 secs to stretch, coming out of the farm again it was going to be tough to stop, the cheers to encourage you were deafening, Mike and Emma were still there and they were shouting some great words of encouragement again, small collision with a marshall at the turnaround and back past the farm, Marc found me then and ran with me for 100m finding out how I was, I used it to bring down the HR a bit more and then he was gone and I started to concentrate.
I was still confused by the run layout but had decided not to bother with a recce, one cos I couldn’t find the course and secondly, on the day I was just going to follow the directions.
The course was a ‘virtual’ 3 laps, which I prefer, out, back and then out to finish suited me as mentally when I got back to the crown I was 2/3rds of the way there.
Brian and Diane were at the downhill before the Crown the first time and yet another ‘you are about 30th’ shout meant not everyone could be wrong, so I started to count people passing me and being past to try to keep my place.
My Garmin was registering the pace and HR so I wasn’t bothered by the lack of mile markers, just try to hold HR, which was now working and keep a good pace..
My pace was steady on the way to Queens Park, seemed to be more downhill overall on the way out along the main road which was good for leg 3 but not the return, the problem was the extra hills that kept cropping up. Steep declines and rises off the main road and back to it meant the rhythm was disprupted. And then Queens Park !! whoever thought of that needs shooting, down to the marshall, struggle up to the feedstation dead turn, back down to the marshall and then down again to another dead turn and then back to the main road, I had to run walk.
There was a lot more people on the course now, I continued my strategy of gels every 35 mins, in the aid station take water and 2 cokes and make sure you get it down you, this meant power walking for 20 secs each time as it was getting warm and I didn’t want to miss anything. I think I only broke this rule once and missed the coke as I didn’t shout early enough, school boy error again, fuel is important – slow down !!
Saw loads of friends on the way back to the Crown, the only real incident was a driver pulling out looking the other way and I had to jump across his bonnet while shouting obscenities, I felt really bad but he really could have caused me serious damage, those thoughts went as I got a few shouts of encouragement from the next pub about how I told him good and proper !! pmsl for the next mile.
At the turnaround it was the party atmosphere again, great feeling, marshalls gave great encouragement and I spotted a familiar face, Calf. I caught him up and started goading him about free beer that he was going to owe me, he had done an IM 3 weeks previous and I think it was showing, we ran together for a bit until a mate of his came past on an MTB, before I knew it he was off into the sunset using the pace of the bike, it shows how much of a lift that can be as 10 mins later without his mate I passed him again as he had settled back into a rhythm of his own, I said I would wait for him at the end with a beer and he gave me a good shout to keep going.
I was counting down the miles, thinking about the hills in Queens Park and not quite knowing what to expect, the extra runners on the course made for good targets, my mates were all at the first road drop onto the canal path and got a great shout, not far to go.
I decided I could wait til 6 miles out to really push, the 20 mile mark is a great feeling and I still felt OK, hip hurt, ankle hurt and I was slowing a little but I felt fine, last gel at 21 and I mentally set off again harder than before.
Coming into Queens Park all I could think about was were the hell am I going, I started to call out to each marshall as I got to them where the finish was so I didn’t get misdirected, all clear responses back, I had another loop of QP to do. The Chester guys were at the bottom along with a few of the COLT guys giving support, when I got the top end Emma was there, apparently I was 5th or 6th , looking good but I needed to step on it as I was being chased, my watch said 1.8 miles to go so it was going to be a long last stretch but I liked my position and wanted to keep it.
Thanks to Emma and set off down the hill, more shouts of well done pirate and Rosey, still confused about where to go but went with the directions, then the greatest shout of the day, I still had 1.6 miles to go on my watch but the marshall shouts ‘Only 0.7 to go !’ OMG, fantastic
I knew I was being tracked but I didn’t know how far and I never look back, so I cheated lol, I shouted at the next marshall to tell me how far behind he was, ’50 meters’ that was enough for me, it was the South African guy I had passed 2 miles ago and he shouldn’t be there and I hadn’t checked his AG, so I sprinted, no really, I set off like a stung horse.
The finish was great to see, it was long road once you turned onto the main entrance, I was powering up the hill and started to look behind me, he wasn’t chasing too hard but I couldn’t stop now, kids were trying to high five as we started through the long line of barriers, I missed the first group only to get booed, haha, so I started to high 5 after that. The relief coming up the carpet shows in my picture and for a brief couple of mins all of the pain left me, the noise was great, I could hear Whit calling my name and the pirate top was mentioned and then it was all over, 10.14, why I was disappointed for a second I don’t know but I knew it was a tough day so it didn’t last long, I just needed to lie down, so I did lol.
I still had no idea where I was in the field but I knew I had done well, the dream of Hawaii is always there in the back of my mind and even more so now I thought I had done OK. There was only 2 slots in my AG so there wasn’t any hope surely, I had missed this for the last 2 years by minutes and the odd slot, this was too far again really.
I found out pretty quickly I was 33rd overall which I was astounded at, it had been the run, it is normally waekerr than the bike but not this time, the extra miles had paid off. I met Kelly who had stayed at the finish line and got a great spot as I had come in and some great pictures, she was so proud and her family who had come to watch were very supportive and loved all of the day, Bolton had put on a show for those not normally associated with this type of thing and it had worked for the non athletes following me so I was buoyed by this as well.
There was so much anticipation about the Monday roll down it was a bit of a haze, we arrived early as it doesn’t matter how much you tell yourself it won’t happen, I was still hoping. We found out that the M70-74 guy hadn’t finished so we now had 3 slots. I had come home in 6th so still a long shot.
I had read the night before that number 2 was going to reject, then on the Monday 10 mins before it got to our rolldown someone on Twitter said that number 1 was going to reject, I just needed one more.
Well come in lucky number 4 !!!!!! I was in 6th but at this point I nearly wet my pants, the last 3 years just came flooding back in around 20 secs of ‘OMG, what do I do now ??’ I didn’t really have much of a choice, both in my mind and everyone of my mates sat with me.
It was never anything other than …… ‘Nick Rose, do you want your slot ?’
Thanks to everyone on the day, it was orsum to wear the pirate top, what I didn’t realise was the overwhelming partisan crowd that basically all knew the pirates, and for all on here, the virtual support was amazing, thanks, the texts of congratulations after the awards, I am still replying now.
There is also one other person I want to say a special thanks to and thats Phil, owner of D&M Cycles. I refer to him as my ‘sponsor’, I am not good enough to be sponsored as it were but he looks after me like I am, servicing my bike, supplying my fuel at cost and generally giving me credit terms on kit I need that would send his bank manager to an early grave. He is a great source of encouragement when I don’t want to go swimming in the morning and also a bad influence when I do want to go to the pub in the evening, publically I want to say thanks, your help is well appreciated.
And to Kelly, as always xx