It’s been a few weeks since my last blog and there has been a great deal to catch up on so where shall we start.
Training has been intense through the end of August and into September with the main focus on London Duathlon on 20th September at Richmond Park. We arrived at Richmond Park just as the sun was rising, setting the scene for what was to be a beautiful days racing in a stunning location, as we walked through he early morning mist we encountered our first group of Red Deer and the sound of roaring Stags.
As we arrived early I went straight to transition to rack my bike and pick a prime spot at the end of the racking, headed off to grab a coffee and a pre race talk with my coach. I was feeling pretty relaxed, fresh and confident as training had been very good, after a chat over coffee and a quick warm up I headed to the start pen.
The first 10K went well once the long uphill drag was out of the way, although I had to pull off course for a call of nature and ended up face to face with a stag in the bracken. Quickly back on track and to the home straight and shouts of encouragement from Barron and Wendy and then T1 and out on the bike.
I hit the bike hard and decided to hit the first hill hard too which was a mistake as it took me a while to recover at the top, where I should have been putting the power down and steaming away from the other riders. Flying round the back and home straight past transition to be greeted by Barron hanging over the barriers shouting to pick up the tempo which I did on the remaining three laps. This time I learned form lap 1 to take it easy on the hill and power away at the top and felt good going past some TT bikes on the way and eventually clocking 38.1 mph at my fastest point.
Then in to T2 and out on the last run I began to cramp up in my calves due to putting too much into the bike early on. I managed to grind out a below par 5K eventually hanging on to finish 92nd overall. Personally I felt I could have done better but looking back now amongst some top athletes and age groupers warming up for Adelaide it was a good days work bearing in mind that I finished in the top 10% so now back into training and a 72 hour working week.
Having made the decision to go long (140.6) in 2017, Barcelona was a great chance for me to go behind the scenes and also support some friends that were racing. On Saturday morning I took a stroll around the expo and up to transition to see what lay ahead for me on race day.
I bumped into Jonny Brownlee and Harry Wiltshire, an embarrassing wave and “morning boys” came out and a quick exchange of pleasantries and we went on our way. The boys obviously thinking, “Who the hell is he?”.
My hotel sauna and Jacuzzi was out of order so decided to chill out at a beach side Chiringito in the afternoon, I ordered some taps and a drink and a familiar face came walking along the beach, book in hand, saw me at my table, waved and came over. Jonny Brownlee pulled up a chair and joined me for what must have been the best part of an hour talking about everything and anything. It was just like two normal blokes chatting at the bar but without the beer. The picture of boxes of hundred mini Soreen loaves in Alistair’s garage is an image I will remember every time I bite a slice.
Jonny was not racing just supporting Harry who was trying to qualify for Kona next year. Harry was the first pro out of the swim but had to retire on the bike when he hit a rock. The guys had also hired a car and were traveling south on Tuesday to do some training at their villa.
The weather was not great for racing, Thunderstorms and heavy seas on Friday night with large swells meant crashing waves on the beach and a high surf. This eased a little on Saturday and by the evening had calmed a little and I took a stroll down to the all important finishing line.
I had an early night as I needed to be at the swim start at 6am to prepare athletes for racing.
Sunday morning soon came round following a 5am breakfast, I headed down to the swim start to be greeted by a fantastic sunrise as the athlete’s did their final bike checks. Before I knew it 8.45 had come round and the elite men and women were ready for the off followed closely by the age groupers. There was a bit of pushing and shoving at the start but I was firm in pushing athletes jumping their pens back to where they came from. Being inside the ropes (as it were) gave me a great opportunity to see Josh Bowers, Brad Benfield, Jon Brown and Darren Emmett and give them a high five before they crossed the timing mat before they started the swim leg.
Once the swimmers were away I headed down the finish area to hang some 2600 street wear bags in numerical order when the sheer size of the task hit home. IronMan merchandising was everywhere, wives, parents, grandparents and supporters wearing Iron Mate, Iron Dad or Iron Son t-shirts, baseball caps and visors were everywhere. The atmosphere was building along the course with many nationalities cheering everyone on, not only their athlete. I felt compelled to buy something myself it is almost like you are hypnotised by the big red M dot logo drawing you into the tills, this supreme power telling you every one has been through the process and you are just the next one in a long line.
Once my job was done I joined a couple of East Essex and Benfleet supporters at the roundabout on the bike course close to the turnaround point which can only be described as Mexican Corner, for around 45 minutes before I headed back to transition, where I was the only English Speaking person from 1pm until 11pm and bike check out.
It was a tough long day and great to see so many athletes passing through into T2 and out on to the Marathon course. Once again seeing Josh, Darren, Brad and Jon once again probably gave them a bit of a boost. Language aside it was great to be of assistance to many athletes from Spain, Germany, France a large contingent from Ireland an Mexico and a handful of Chinese who were staying at my hotel.
By 11pm my calves were aching and I wanted to see some of the last finishers crossing the line so headed down to the red carpet where the atmosphere was still electric as everyone was cheering on the last finishers and the music was sill pumping and those famous words ‘ You are an Ironman’ bellowed out of the sound system as each person crossed the line. It’s at this point where your mind starts thinking about registration on Monday morning. The supporters are like Cousins, the runners are Brothers and Sisters and you can’t help but get caught up in the emotion of crossing the finish line and what it means to them and how you wish to be a part of that family too.
So will I be on the start line of Ironman Barcelona next year? Maybe 2017, but next year I will become a member of the family. Almost like an adoption or marriage contract I’ve agreed to be a Half-Brother, I’ve entered Barcelona 70.3 over a slightly different course.
Going long isn’t an option……..It’s just a case of when !
In this case seven months and fourteen days to go.
Of course any visit to Barcelona should include the Camp Nou but as I have visited before during the 2013 Marathon I decided to bring Cameron a souvenir home as it’s his birthday in a few weeks. Not sure about Ironman but you definitely need a Cast Iron Wallet !!
On a final note, good luck to all those GB Age Group friends heading out to Adelaide for the Duathlon World Champs. Go smash them Aussies !!!
I am back in training and looking forward to the Ballbuster Duathlon on 7th November and then no racing until 2016 British Triathlon Age Group Duathlon Champs at Windsor on 3rd April. 2016 is shaping up to be an incredible year and I’m looking forward to some winter training.
A few positives on not being in Adelaide is that I can enjoy my Daughter’s birthday on 16th October, our Wedding Anniversary on 19th and my Birthday on 20th. I might just ditch the Erdinger Alkoholfrei in favour of a glass of Prosecco or two.
Cheers Everyone !