Below I present a collection of my race day thoughts and feelings. It's a real shame I can't put into words the emotion felt and the real buzz of this far out feat. I hope my words help people get a glimpse of what it's like to participate in such an adventure.
|Louy, Charlotte and I at the race briefing|
On race day, Ma, Pa and sister Kim got up with me at 2:45 a.m. and drove me to the Macron Centre in Bolton. From here, I joined a queue to jump on a shuttle buss to take me to the transition area at Pennington Flash Lake. I guess most athletes took advantage of this shuttle service and thats a major amount of people. According to reports some 2,100 athletes took part in this event (88% male, 12%) with 49% of those (myself included) being first time Ironman athletes.
|Queueing for the start. the guy on the left was quite comedic.|
THE SWIM (2.4 miles in 1:35:43)
- The swim was 2 laps around Pennington Flash Lake.
- Some athletes were entering the water for their second lap before I had started my first.
- The water felt cold (not too cold) but was an alleged 18C.
- The water was mirky, certainly not clear but clearer than Ragley Lake where my open water swim training took place.
- Whatever part of the lake I was in, the finish always appeared to be far out.
- There was pond weed in places, particular towards the exit points.
- This lake was so massive, I'm not sure I could see the end.
- There were bodies everywhere. Real carnage.
- I got smacked in the face so hard during my first lap that my goggles slipped and essentially leaked. After the race, I noticed my wet suit had gotten a little rip too - I wonder if the culprit was the same guy?!
- Saw my folks as I finished lap 1 and went for my second.
- I pee'd 4 times in my wet suit! (More about this later).
- One guy was sick in the water and apologised to those behind him via social media after the race.
- I was not last out of the water, there were lots and lots behind me!
- I swam my fastest ever 3,800 metres. Took about 15 minutes off my predicted time.
- Louy was super fast in the water as I expected and had finished in a hour and 14 minutes.
T1 (Transition 1)
- Out of the water and I slowly unzipped the top half of my wet suit remembering to place my swim cap and goggles in the arm as I turned it inside out, or outside in, if you prefer.
- Walked slowly to the transition area as it was like a mud pit and I didn't want to slip over.
- Took me a little while to locate my 'bike bag' despite it being numbered and me memorising that it was 'left of the middle, about half way up'.
- My feet were covered in mud and my poor wet suit got filthy as I struggled to take it off.
- Did not rush or panic in T1. Carefully added my cycling gear after a quick towel dry.
- Located my bike easily, I remembered it was in line with the last portaloo.
- Did not run with my bike. I actually carried it because it was so muddy.
- Folk advised to half inflate tyres the night before (because heat can make them pop). I didn't take this advice and fully pumped them up. I'm glad I did because the track pumps available weren't brilliant. I went to check my pressures and let a little air out but could not add any more.
- Some folk advised leaving the chain on a small rear chain ring so it wouldn't bounce off when you ran with the bike. Others suggested a larger ring so it would be easier to start off when bike was mounted. I didn't run with my bike and left it in a middle ring.
- Ian Dickens suggested I mount my bike a few metres past the official start line, I heeded that advice and it was less congested.
- My Ma shouted 'on ya bike' as I went to mount my bike.
- Settled onto my bike relatively easily and took it real slow for the first few minutes.
- Some athletes bikes were real noisy (including Louy's), with chains slipping, gears not shifting right and all sorts of stuff.
- Course started with a 14 mile point to point cycle from the lake to Adlington before becoming a 2 lap circuit.
- I enjoyed the course and found it a lot easier than I had expected.
- The hills were neither too steep or lengthy in my opinion. Fish Hill, Cobley Hill and Saintbury Hill back home were much meaner hills for sure!
- I think the hills were called Bentley and Sheepcote?!
- I felt powerful up the hills as I was speeding past the athletes in front to much cheering and encouragement from the crowd.
- I knew the hills were not so tough because I still had 2 redundant chain rings on my rear cassette (and that was only a 9 speed).
- Lots of dressed up characters were spotted on route - I clearly remember Wonder Woman and the Belmont Bunnies.
- Had no issues with my bike. It ran smooth and performed well.
- Felt no discomfort in my bum at all. Rapha bib shorts and my tri-saddle were clearly good choices.
- Was windy on route - real pleased with my Gore windproof jersey.
- Felt short periods of discomfort around the 70k mark and again between 140-150k but this was short lived.
- In retrospect, wish I had done a recce of the course. I braked way too hard and too much down those hills.
- Was quite technical in places.
- At one point I really felt like I was in the Tour de France. As I passed through a village, the crowds swamped up the athletes and we had to cycle in single file. There was no way of passing the cyclist in front at this time. It didn't feel scary, it felt awesome.
- Feed stations were frequent and would pass out bottles (filled with either water or electrolyte) and gels, banana's and bars. I cycled too fast at the first station and the bottle flew up into the air. Approach stations slow!
- I would eat a jam sarnie around every 25k. This was a great way of ensuring I fed and helped me count down the k's too. Thanks to Ma for making sarnies.
- I ate loads, mostly rice crispy bars and chocolate from my pockets.
- I lost 1 sarnie (well half) and a bag of sweets (save 1) during my fumbles.
- Was grateful that all my tri-club friends 'allowed' me to have the fastest bike split. Despite having a speedier bike leg than the others, I never caught them. I thought I had caught Charlotte a few times but these athletes turned out to be doppledangers.
- One guy was cycling this course on a single-speed bike. Much respect.
- One of the spectators was holding a sign which read 'smile if you pee'd in your wetsuit'. I took delight in telling her that I had done so 4 times. Later, on social media, I read a comment giving much kudos to the athlete that pee'd 4 times in his wet suit! I was given praise for setting a new benchmark.
- Was great to see athletes running away from T2 as I approached it on my bike.
- Once into transition, I racked my bike and located my run bag.
- Was easy changing out of my cycling gear and into my running gear.
- I chose to wear my Papyrus (suicide prevention) singlet to promote the charity. I wore shorts simply because I wanted to carry a buff in the one pocket and put empty gels in the other.
- The buff I took belonged to my wife's mother. Each time I would wipe sweat from my brow with said buff, I would think of SJ.
- My shoes of choice were my Lunarglide 6's. These shoes had ran the MK marathon. Obviously haven Lunar written on them made me think of my children. If I think about Lunar, I think about Melody too. The two are double trouble! With SJ, they become a terrible trio!
- I changed slowly and took time to vaseline my toes up. My bike socks allowed me wipe the vaseline off my fingers and my feet liked fresh socks!
- One guy in transition must have come off his bike as he was covered in blood and receiving aid.
- A kind soul covered me in sun screen as I left transition and headed for my run.
- The run was brutal and started with a climb!
- First 8 miles were a point to point run.
- So many athletes were walking at the start of their run.
- One athlete was running with only 1 leg.
- After the first 8 miles the real horror kicked in and a circuit had to be ran which involved 3.5 loops.
- Did I mention it was hilly?
- Wonder Woman alongside Batman, some Ninja Turtles and so on made a re-appearance.
- So much support and cheers from the crowd.
- Some spectators would spray water in your face as you ran past which was nice.
- A young lad had a hose pipe and would ask 'you want some', and after a nod 'well, you'll get some' and drench us with water. It was so hot, this water was a real treat.
- One girl would high 5 every athlete that ran past and shout 'woo hoo' each time. I think she was there the whole day. I certainly passed her 3 times.
- One guy had his number shaved onto his head.
- We would get a coloured band after each loop (blue, green then red?). It was horrid passing others on the circuit who were more banded up than I. Felt real sorry for those with fewer or no bands...
- Feed stations were frequent. I ate so many gels and they all tasted disgusting. I only ate about 1/4 of a banana (due to hearing tales of anal explosions). Each station would offer crispy things, banana, gels, electrolyte, water, coke and at times Red Bull. I tried it all!
- Run seemed to last forever.
- Did I tell you it was hilly?
- Passed Louy and Charlotte several times which was great. When I say passed, I mean in opposing directions - they were well ahead of me.
- Louy looked composed each time I saw her.
- How on earth Charlotte ran so fast is beyond me. Each time I saw her she was walking and smiling.
- At one time, I got a trifle emotional and shed a tear or 2.
- I didn't walk (except when feeding or drinking) and was nowhere near Charlotte's time.
- This run was long (26.2 miles, ha!) and it hurt.
- When I collected my last band, I informed the support crew I planned on doing a further lap just for fun!
- The last 5k hurt so bad. It hurt going doing hill. It hurt to smile. It hurt.
- I must have been high fived a 100 times!
Woo Hoo. I was so close and felt amazing. And the next thing you know...
'Tim Taylor, you're an Ironman'
I finished my Ironman event in a total time of 13:31:13. Pleased as punch. Chuffed to bits. Over the moon! Woo Hoo! Got awarded a lovely medal, finishers t-shirt and was able to keep much memorabilia.
SHOUT OUTS, HIGH 5'S AND THE LIKES
Thank you all for being part of my journey. So many folk have helped out in so many different ways that I wanted to end with a big, big thank you! Thank you to all those who phoned, or text, or commented on social media or shouted or whispered support. Thanks to all those who donated to the charities I was raising money for. I'd like to make a special mention to the following folk (if your name is not here and you think it should be, you're probably right and it's probably due to an 'error or omission'):
- Firstly to my wife SJ and my daughters Lunar Pops and Melody Moo. Thank you for much love and support. Thank's for letting me train the past 30 something weeks. I love you.
- Ma, Pa and Kim. Thank's for being so wonderful and transporting me and my gear here there and everywhere. Thanks for the claps and shouts of praise. Thank you Kim for washing my bottles!
- Lin - Thank you for most of my bike. That Dura Ace group set and wheels really did the business. Thank you for supporting SJ so much too.
- High 5 to rest of my family for being so awesome!
- Louy and Charlotte - you girls are Iron(wo)men. Need I say more? You rock!
- Lee - you rock too! Super fast time mate, well done!
- Redditch Tri-Club members. All of you have helped me reach this goal.
- Ian Dickens - your advice is the bee's knees.
- Phil Hall. Thank you for getting my butt to Redditch Tri-Club in the first place. It's your fault I did this and thank you. You too are a legend and completed the much tougher Cotswold 226 whilst I completed this. I love your friendliness Phil and your humour is top notch.
- John Legge - you too are a super nice guy. Thanks for coaching me on my first ever OW swim.
- Folk at work, especially Harry, Dashi and Ed (and Becks and Liz). Thank's for your support, interest and friendliness.
- Flair Birch. Thank you for being you. A believer! I find your total faith motivating.
- Chris Hodge. Thanks for being a bestie.
- Ron and John. Thanks so much for advice, rides, beers and curry.
- Grumptoids - you all make the list for being awesome. Your FB comments made me buzz!
- Gary Levy - you're like my biggest fan. You never stop congratulating me and bigging me up. Thank you. Hope to catch up with you when you are a kidney lighter!
- Russ - thank's for building the dream machine!
- Barbara Hackworth. Thanks for advice and being a super motivator!
- Roger. Thank you for sharing so many adventures with me prior to this event and letting me steer your tandem. You call me a hero but so you are too!
- Si Nichol - Thanks for just being such a nice guy on so many levels. You have been part of a few of my adventures and followed loads of others. I wish you well on your super adventure that lies ahead and will post a link on this blog site soon.
- FB friends - Thanks for all your comments.
- The missing few. There's sure to be 1 or 2. So, big hugs and a big thank you!
Not everyone that takes part is a winner...
So, what next people ask? Well, I have made mention to my daughters Lunar and Melody already. I think they might be race ready within a few years. They sure look up for it don't you think?!