It’s been nearly two weeks since the Ironman, I was under the false impression that things would calm down once it was out of the way but I couldn’t have been more wrong. There have been a number of administration tasks to sort out plus I started training again on the bank holiday Monday, there hasn’t been time to breath.
The morning of 28th August started very early at 5am, I needed to eat and make sure that I was happy with my kit. We had spent most of the previous day delivering trestle tables and items of kit to the gym so there was little to do. My bike was already checked and loaded into the car, I just needed to run one last check before the swim started and we would be ready to go.
Kevin William’s at Wantage Leisure Centre had kindly agreed that I could have a lane to myself for the swim, they couldn’t have been more accomodating as we set up. I spent five minutes warming up in the pool’s plant room, we had agreed to use this for the transition as it avoided going through the changing rooms and out the main door. I could get changed here and leave my bike safely, another worry avoided. I got into the pool at 6:55 and swam 100m very slowly just to get things moving. Ben was counting off the lengths to make sure I completed the distance, he gave me the nod at 7am, I pushed off for the first length.
We’d broken the swim down into 6 blocks of 26 lengths, a total of 156 lengths of the 25m pool. I took the first two blocks easily but went a little too hard on the third block. The tapering of the last week had left me full of beans; there was a temptation to really get the engine going as a result. The fourth block went back to a more measured pace, well within my threshold. The last two blocks saw a gradual increase in pace, I finished feeling comfortable and knowing I could have gone harder for the swim, I wanted to be safe in the knowledge that I had left enough in the tank for the row. Total swim time was just under 1 hour and 13 minutes – no stops.
A short video of the last length can be seen here.
I carefully levered myself out of the pool to avoid any calf cramp, this had been dogging me in training but seemed to have cleared up over the last couple of weeks. I mitigated the onset of cramp by eating bananas (increased potassium) and staying well hydrated, Adam Dobson of Revolution Sports Injuries had lent me his pair of calf sleeves which also seemed to help nicely. I left those on for the duration of the day. Sarah Penney had found her way into the plant room so I asked her to turn her back as I changed poor soul.
I emerged into bright sunlight to be greeted by a number of riders ready to set off on the 112 mile bike leg. We had arranged a peloton beforehand, it seemed like a good way to get others involved and raise the profile of the event plus it was company for me. Steve Penney and I had spent a couple of hours putting out signage for the route two days prior to the event; we knew the loops backwards by the time we started to pedal! The wind was slightly higher than I would have liked but people made sure they took turns at the front, everyone was willing to do their slot and the ride passed quickly.
The feed station at the gym was manned by my wife and kids, they made a load of flapjack (slightly over-catered I would say!) and we had had a generous donation of food from Alison Wright. Steve had provided a water bowser which contributed to a very professional looking set up. Our pace was quicker than I had panned at 16.5mph so we soaked up some of the saved time by chatting and eating a lot at the end of each loop; it was very sociable and simply good to be riding with friends and supporting a great cause. A big thank you to those that gave up their Friday to ride on the day:
Malcolm Heavens, Steve Penny, Nobby, Andy Norman, Sean Liu, Richard Sheppard of Bikelux, Nigel Bedfords, Sarah Fogden, Nicola Bateman and Carl Salmon.
Bikelux of Newbury was supporting the event by providing energy products for me and also their mobile mechanic for the day. The poor chap (also called Richard) was there all day without a single mechanical; I bet we would have had issues if he wasn’t around though. A huge thanks to Bikelux for wanting to be involved, check out their website or go and visit the shop www.bikelux.co.uk
The final loop was half the distance of the main loop and finished quickly, some of The 14 Club volunteers turned up to welcome the riders back and be part of the photographs. Once we had eaten a little bit more food, it was into the gym to start the row.
TFD Gym in Grove have been brilliant since we started to discuss the event back in January, they have been very relaxed about us bringing in our bits and pieces and also welcoming those who were prepared to do a bit of rowing in support. The idea was to entice people to sign up for a distance or an amount of time and make a small donation, these lucky folk were then entered into a draw for a Waitrose voucher and a bespoke printed sports bottle. The latter prize was kindly donated by Khush at www.kapz.co.uk, they have some really funky bike products, check them out because if you like bikes you’ll want to be aware of this site! I’m the proud owner of two unique headset caps each with a design of my own choosing, completely bespoke and beautifully machined. Might be in the market for some bar ends soon!
The row went well and the stretch breaks every 5km had the desired effect. The total distance was 42,195m or 26.2 miles. There was no way that I could run a proper marathon with my dodgy knees, rowing seemed a challenging alternative. Things started to get a little sticky at the 10km to go mark, there was a bit of suffering up to 5km to go, a couple of gels and a load of pain killers seem to make the last 5km’s relatively bearable. The pace was sedate at 2:20/500m, hardly any lungs involved although the glute pain was significant. Stretching mitigated this to a point but the last 10km was difficult all the same. I finished the row in 3:40 (including the stretch breaks), the whole event had taken 13 hours and 20 minutes (again, this included all the breaks and stops at the bike tent).
I though the end would be a little emotional but it didn’t turn out like that, once I had released the foot straps and carefully stood up, it felt like an anti-climax. Jason had provided motivation from the rower next to mine for the last 14km’s which helped enormously. I think training on my own had sometimes been very boring with the end never really in sight, with plenty of people around the distance seemed to slip by, before I knew it that was it, all done.
I spent a bit of time on the roller but couldn’t really be bothered to stretch properly. The event was very low intensity, just long so I wasn’t too sore on the Saturday and Sunday. Sleep on the Friday night eluded me a bit, I guess I was still wired from the day, Saturday night’s rest was fantastic, out for the count!
A massive thanks to all those who supported me as I rowed:
Kate Sullivan, Grace, Jo O’Halloran, Sam Cox, Harriet Cox, Ben Cox, Liz Snook, Daphne, Jason Auchinvole, Carl Salmon.
To date, we have raised over £2,600 and the total continues to rise. I couldn’t have done this without the help of many people, especially my family and Steve Penney. I’ve been selfish around training, regularly turning down rides with friends so I can stick to my program but they all understood. I guess I know a lot of good people.
Now, I wonder what to do next…..
The Team 14 Ironman was supported by:
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