Stage Two – I am Half an Ironman

Posted on August 15, 2010. Filed under: aberfeldy, anaphylaxis campaign, cycle, Half ironman, Half marathon, Kenmore, loch tay, Schiehalion, triathlon, wetsuit |

WARNING – Uncensored Lycra Photography Visible From the Third Paragraph

That’s it!!  99% of the challenge by distance has now been completed!

It has been a long weekend with loads of fascinating and funny goings ons but I am tired and will keep it (relatively) factual. 

Distance travelled – 1.9k swim (cold – think heart-stoppingly cold), 90k cycle (mainly uphill), 21.1k run (mainly uphill and hot, hot as hell)

Snacks consumed on the move (est) – 3 bananas, 3 energy bars, 3.5 litres energy drink, 4 litres water, 6 energy gels, 4 ibuprofen

Immediate post event catering – 1 apple, 2 bananas, family sized pack of jelly babies, 1 litre energy drink, 1 litre water, carton “JustJuice”, large walkers crisps, burger, 2 ibuprofen and pretty much anything else that wasn’t tied down or tightly gripped by a child.

Non-racing highlight of the weekend the race briefing had a couple of special guests – Fraser Cartmel who has just won Ironman UK (but couldn’t compete because of his recovery) and Cat Morrison who won Ironman Lanzarote and was competing – both did Q and A.  Cat told the story of her IM win where her chain broke on the bike and she lost 45 minutes until it was repaired and still ran a fantastic marathon and won.  As she described it she could either have a hissy fit, which wouldn’t have fixed anything, or make friends with the locals – which she did.  A study in serenity I would do a lot to learn from – I used some inappropriate language on the drive up to describe the old dear in the Ford Fiesta who was driving at a speed suitable for her age.  With hindsight it was unreasonable of me to suggest she should have her license confiscated and put where I suggested it should be put.  Both of these guys will be a credit when they represent Scotland at the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii in Nov (and Cat also in the World Duathlon Championships in Edinburgh, 3-5 Sep).

Eyes Remained Tightly Shut
Given the Ungodly Hour

Waking Up – seriously, I woke up at 0630 on a Sunday.  Pam wanted first shower on account of having more hair apparently!!  Post shower I started the liquid event preparations – liberal application of P20 sunscreen on all exposed areas, extremely liberal application of vaseline on all unexposed areas and drank a bottle of energy drink and a bottle of hydration solution. The hotel kindly layed on early breakfast for the handful of competitors that were staying.  Following some toast, coffee, Alpen and yoghurt I made up my water bottles, pumped up tyres and headed to the swim start to rack my bike.  It became a bit of a game of chicken with the weather – it was misty and freezing but the BBC was forecasting 24C with no wind.  The wrong apparel choice for the bike could have huge repercussions for comfort for the rest of the day and, having got so dehydrated in the Rome Marathon that I got into a fight with a blind man, I decided I would risk the cold and go skimpy!  The other good news was that the organisers had given us giant Ikea bags for wet kit which meant that I could retire the old faithful House of Fraser carrier bag that had been deployed in Ayr much to Shakey’s chagrin.  Pam, by now, had “borrowed” most of my cold weather kit, donned a yellow plastic bag and was passing herself off as a marshall.  Telling people what to do seemed to be right up her street.

The Swim – As promised the water was a balmy 12.5C and was shrouded in a particularly cold mist that seemed to start just in front of your nose.  To put the temperature in perspective once your head goes under you get a sensation not unlike ice cream brain freeze……..and we were going to swim in it.  It was a 2 lap course of 850 metres per lap and then on top of that there was a 50metre swim to the start.  At 0830, up to your neck in the oggin and with only a few metres visibility, literally all you could hear were teeth chattering and distressed heavy breathing……until the horn went off and then there was just carnage.  I had made a early policy decison that, on account of the dislocating left shoulder and an anti-clockwise course, that I would stay out of the stramash and swim wide for the whole event.  A fine plan once in open water, however, at the start with the best part of 300 people trying to create some froth it is the survival of the strongest, fittest and stupidest – of which I qualify firmly in the final category and fought my way into clear water.  After that their really isn’t much to say about the swim as my head was under the water and I could only see 6 inches in front of me.  After passing the final buoy the cold took it’s toll and I could feel my right calf and both my hamstrings starting to cramp – this worried me for the 200m run to T1 and my bike.  But really I needn’t have worried – as soon as I stood up all the blood that had been in my head helping my brain to function plummeted down to the wellies and I honestly couldn’t have told you my name never mind know that I had cramp; so in a state of confusion I just followed everyone else.  This almost worked as a strategy except I couldn’t get on their bikes with them so I ended up wandering around T1 for almost 4 minutes trying to work out what my bike looked like and then trying to work out how to get a banana into my shirt pocket and switch on my watch.  In the meantime there had been another shock for me as I got cheered by name as I crossed the road to T1 – an old colleague had made the trip up (despite doing the Ireman event next week himself) to provide guerilla support and would pop up at several points on the course.  Sean, thanks for your support mate, it was a complete surprise, it made a massive difference when spirits are dipping and just enjoy it next weekend!!
Transition 1 – What’s my name, where’s my bike,
how do I get the rubber suit off?
The Bike – was always going to be a challenge with two huge climbs and I had opted for the Temptress who isn’t the most accomodating of climbers.  As mentioned above, I had opted for the tri singlet with no Plan B which was developing into a smart move as the mist was lifting and the temperature rising.  The first climb was definitely tough – a climb of about 800m over about 5km, that certainly woke the legs up.  As I breasted the hill (let’s call it a mountain) I decided to start eating and went for an energy bar and almost near disaster.  I got the bar out, unwrapped it, put the litter back in my bag, took a first bite and went to get back on the tri-bars and completely missed with my left elbow – all at about 35kph.  Luckily I regained my balance or I would have been snacking on tarmac.  It could have been disheartening to see the better bikists flying by me but I took consolation from the fact that they must be really bad swimmers!  The ride was long and probably the most stunning that I have been on – as we went over the north side of Loch Rannoch the mist lifted and the water was like glass reflecting the surrounding mountains.  An idyllic scene apart from all the abandoned bikes at the side of the road – a ha, a natural pit stop spot.  Having been intimidated by the cold in the loch and been unable to perform and by now approaching full it was time to dismount and join the pee’ers.  Relieved I pushed on and by now the mercury was really starting to rise – just in time for the hill/mountain on the way back.  Not so long, but twice as steep as the first one.  I honestly could not see through my shades as the sweat dripped relentlessly onto the lenses on the ascent…..and then suddenly it was over and I knew it was all downhill for 13km to Aberfeldy and T2.  Bizarrely, on the downhill and the approach road to Aberfeldy I overtook a lot of people and made up a lot of ground I had lost on the climb.  I took the opportunity to shout encouragement to a fella punctured at the side of the road – I learnt later that he punctured twice and ran the last 10k with his bike and barefoot – now that is an Ironman!
Transition 2 – Almost fell off my bike at the dismount as my senses were equally assaulted by another cheer from Sean Collins who now seemed to have gathered a flash mob and a shreek from Pam who was by now ordering people around T2 (she by the way now has all the lingo and a firm grasp of international triathlon rules – don’t be surprised if you see her whupping ass in 2012).  T2 should be a simple case of changing from your cycling to running shoes and picking up any nutrition that you had stashed.  But in my black bin bag I catered for any eventually – a change of shorts, t-shirt and socks, large tub of vaseline, 2 gels and a banana.  All that packing and all I used were the trainers and gels!  But as I started to run out something wasn’t right…….I had forgotten in the fug of T1 that I had worn two pairs of cycling shorts and I couldn’t run in them.  So after handing in the bag to the marshall I had to ask her for more help.  Please, please, please let this be the only time that I ever ask a middle-aged lady to take from me a pair of moist cycling shorts that have just spent three and a half hours wellying about perthshire in tropical temperatures.  My greatest shame of the day and she was an absolute pro and took them without complaint. 
The Run – As I left T2 I got another wave and shreek from Pam and then set off on my least favourite discipline – running in the baking heat.  The route started inauspiciously heading behind the school to a scruffy area where I can only assume the smokers hide out.  And then I hit a massive uphill and then an equally evil downhill.  As I ran through the town centre and out on to the picturesque course I made another policy decision – as this was described as an “undulating” (which normally means alpine) course I would walk up the hills and run the flats and downhills and I stuck by this policy faithfully.  I guess it was now about 1 o’clock and the temperature was soring.  The run route was in the trees and dappled by shade but was still hot and I was already starting to hunt down a blind man to have a fight with.  With my learnings from Rome the one thing that I knew was to respect the aid stations because in this heat with my pasty celtic pallour it becomes a battle just to finish rather than racing against the clock.  So at each of the 6 opportunities to refuel I took a cup of energy drink, 0.5l of water and a gel.  Of the water half went in the mouth and the remainder over the head, back and arms to try and cool my core temperature.  The gels were provided by the sponsor, Powerbar, and while not instantly vomit inducing were interestingly labelled – lemon and lime I would rename sulphuric acid, blackcurrant with caffeine would be coal if I marketed it and strawberry and banana tasted nothing like a strawberry or a banana but was unusually semi-palatable for a gel.  The run/walk out to the turn point was really tough because loads of rubbish swimmers passed me and I passed not one solitary individual but on the return trip I passed a dozen runners who had been broken by the heat or some part of their body had let them down. 
As I ran into the town centre again I thought I was getting abuse from the guys in the beer garden in the baking sun but, no, it was Sean again leading my unofficial cheerleading squad.  The spirit breaking hill at the start was to be tackled again on the way back in and I unashamedly walked up it taking in the last few quiet moments of my first half ironman, shed a tear, had a chat and thanked the marshalls in the last couple of hundred metres and then turned onto the astroturf and sprinted like a man possessed into the finishing funnel.  It was emotional, I was knackered and as my timing chip was removed and I was handed fruit and water I realised this was another “no bling” event.  But what the hell, every muscle and joint in my body was left with mementoes of the event.
So, having hoped to beat 7 hours I actually managed 6:32 with splits as follows:
Swim  0:36.29
T1     0:04.49 (this could have been hours or days and I would have been blissfully unaware!)
Bike   3:28.41
T2     0:02.07
Run    2:20.19
Elated, tired, sore and sun beaten.  One week and one event to go.

Hopefully, I will get Pam to do an update from a marshall’s point of view because she has some cracking tales from the day and I will post another pre-race preview at the end of the week before the Great Scottish Swim.

If you were waiting to see if I survived this one before you sponsored me then barring a pirhana attack in Strathclyde Park I think I am now good to finish the challenge.  It is a great cause, it doesn’t get enough attention and hopefully I have done my little bit for awareness.

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7 Responses to “Stage Two – I am Half an Ironman”

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Apparently you will have additional cheerleading squad this weekend at Strathclyde Park…as I recall your last effort in Strathclyde Park was at around 60mph so with a few adjustments for age you should do ok. The boy that has caused all this pain will be your leading Cheerleader I understand


I feel after stating the terrible freezing conditions that you battled through inthe loch, it only right I point out a few factsWater Temp 0 Deg Celsius reduced or loss of conciousness <15 mins Expected survival time: <15-45 Mins.Water Temp: 0 – 5 Deg Celsius reduced or loss of conciousness 15-30 mins Expected survival time: <15-45 Mins.Water Temp: 5 – 10 Deg Celsius reduced or loss of conciousness 30-60mins Expected survival time: <30-90Mins.Water Temp: 10-15 Deg Celsius reduced or loss of conciousness 1-2 hrs Expected survival time: <1-3 hrsObviously these figures are a guide and may vary.Good Luck next week K


Hey Dougie – I have enjoyed reading your (extensive) blog, but have a question or two. How do you find the time…surely you should either be working or training (or cutting the grass) ? Wonderful humour & I need to take a tip or two from you to get myself back on the fitness trail again soon. Meantime I'll be thinking of you as I tuck into my burger & Mackies Ice Cream at the S7 BBQ this weekend ! Enjoy & we would love to catch up again soon.Regards to the long suffering Pamela.Steve H


Hi Uncle Dus.I am so prowd of you. I am coming on Saturday to see you and see you finishing your mission.please dont eat nuts on saturday in your energy bars sometimes they have nuts in them.i love you Amoz


Remember the marathon sessions you endured in the McLaren vale wineries,the pictures of Sydney Opera House and the copious casks of nikov that you drank.After that lot this adventure is a walk in the parkFrom us in OZZ


You forgot the tunnocks caramel wafer you inhaled at the finish. I also thought there was a fudge but I might have eaten that.


LSW…. where is your contribution… we are all waiting for the detailed breakdown of the eye candy, dressed in lycra striding towards the finish line… they weren't all shrek running, sunburnt rust lined, short legged, 6'4 DC's were they????Awaiting the next installment…. K x


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