Half Iron Shakey

Posted on July 26, 2011. Filed under: bike, cycle, farky, great scottish swim, Half ironman, Half marathon, ironman, ironman regensburg, knockburn, knockburn middle distance, Pentlands, Referee, regensburg, run, shakey, swim, Threipmuir, triathlon, wetsuit |

Sometimes we have people that come into our life for a reason.  Sometimes they are special, really, really special.  Three weeks after completing our Half Ironman Shakey has eventually managed to type a race report using both of her thumbs and her nose to operate the space bar.  It is understandable that she took so long as English isn’t her first language (or second or third either for that matter) and she views the world through a particularly odd lens. Last year the guest spot in the blog was pretty common with Pam’s monologue on ducks and tirade at Arse and Shakey’s Great Weegie Dook race report being particularly memorable examples.  To be clear at the outset, this isn’t one of the classics as the girl is clearly getting older and less sharp witted but if you hold on to the end I’ll make an offer you can’t refuse.

PARENTAL WARNING – Shakey is from abroad.  Apparently if foreigners say “feck” in front of their Ma it is not a swear word.

January 2010

Stumpy – “I’m signing up for an ironman”

Shakey – “hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha”

Stumpy – “I’m serious”

Shakey – “hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha”

Stumpy – “I’ve bought all the books and lycra so I know I can do it”

Shakey – “hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha – now you’ve made me snort tea all over my computer, tell you what if you survive then sign me up for next year –  hahahahahaha”

January 2011 –

Stumpy – “Here’s your half ironman training programme. You’ve got twenty six weeks.”

Shakey – “……………….Feck”

And so it began, six months floundering in swimming pools and lochs (and the bath on those days when I couldn’t face the shame of armbanded toddlers going faster than me), pedalling a bike (trying to either (a) dodge a bus, or a truck, or a pimped up micra or (b) keep my legs in time to the rocky theme tune as a spin instructor shouted at me), and legging it around Edinburgh and Fife doing my finest Forest Gump impression. Oh and all this while clad in varying forms of lycra and rubber……

When we received the news two weeks before the event that the good folk at Aberdeenshire council had opted for a weekend of covering themselves in mud and drinking in a field (the Knockburn Half Ironman coincided with T in the Park) instead of staging their first Half Ironman, I’d be lying if I didn’t give a little woop woop of joy.  Alright that’s an understatement I was running round my flat delirious with relief that I wouldn’t have to go through with the insanity.  I’d been saved!!!! Woooooohhhhhooooooo!! But then the phone rang……

Stumpy – “It’s been cancelled”

Shakey – “Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha……….yyyyyeeeeeeeehhhhaaaaaawwww”

Stumpy – “But we’re still doing it.”

Shakey – “………………………….Feck.”

So at 6am on Saturday 9th July I was rudely awakened by my alarm and the day i became a half ironman began.  Generally when you sign up for any race event you focus on just crossing the finish line and hope for good bling/goody bag/free tshirt.  What you don’t think about is the seedier side of things, i.e the dawn rising to choke down a bowl of porridge and some precautionary/Imodium/ibuprofen/paracetomol or whatever other tablet you can get your hands on – thank god the drug testers were still in bed.

The plan was a 7.30am rendezvous at Threipmuir for an 8am start in the water.   Now as this was not an official Half Ironman event, we were denied the usual glamour of a triathlon, i.e. portaloos, safety canoes, lifeguards, coastguards, ambulance services, road closures, cheering crowds etc etc.  However thanks to my pal Nicole Hatch we did have a race director/race marshal/someone to call 999 in case I needed fished out of the loch and slightly bemused onlooker all rolled into one.  Oh and she also gave me a lift to the start line as I had written off my car, or more accurately an Audi A5 had, the week before the race.  (As a word of warning to anyone travelling down Leith Walk you do not have right of way when turning onto Duke Street).   Needless to say it was a leisurely stroll to the water’s edge from the car park as even loonies aren’t exactly chomping at the bit to hop into a Baltic loch at 8am on a Saturday morning.  As much as it pains me to admit it Stumpy is a faster swimmer than me so I was first into the water (although to be fair he’s got about 60 years more experience in the water than me and swam for Scotland, and water-skied for Great Britain….. or something like that, I tend to switch off when he starts to regale stories of past athletic glories…).   Not to completely lose out on all the structure of a well organised event we did have a prerace briefing…

Stumpy – “OK, swim down there to the rock jutting out, swim straight across the loch to the opposite side, come back down this way until you’re parallel with the boathouse and then into the shore”

Shakey – “Can I put my feet down?”

Stumpy – “Only if you want to drown.  Now man up and get in”

And in I went.  I think everyone is pretty clear of how one heats oneself up when plunged into 10 degree waters in nothing but a rubber suit and hat, don’t judge me but let’s just say I took care of business and set off.  Propelled by a fear of hypothermia/drowning/something nibbling on my feet (and not the type of fish that they keep in those tanks that appear to be all the rage in beauty salons now…. What are they all about by the way?!!?).  I cranked up the pace and made some good progress in the water. My game plan was to stick fairly close to the edge of the loch as, I’ll be honest, my confidence in open water swimming generally errs towards slim to none when there are none of the aforementioned lifeguards, safety canoes or coastguards within a 100m radius.   However as I scraped my knee on some rocks I realised this was going to be a long day if I didn’t just “man up” and get in the depths.  Surprisingly my arms, legs, lungs all held up ok and before I knew it I was on the home stretch.  My elation was short lived when I looked up and saw what I thought was a white cap ahead of me in the water. “How the feck did that happen?? Surely the old man hasn’t passed me out?? He must have taken a short cut?? And he could have at least stopped to say hello??” and so on i ranted to myself.  As I came into the shore, fizzing at this stage partly at the injustice of being overtaken but mainly because he hadn’t stopped to offer me some of his usual words of wisdom, it dawned on me that the white cap was in fact a swan and Stumpy was still swimming.  Oh dear maybe I’ve bonked/hit the wall already…. Or maybe I should just invest in some new contact lenses.  By some miracle (or really just to avoid him moaning at me) I had hit the target time set for me by Stumpy 6 months ago and I crawled out of the water in about 45 mins.  Not exactly Olympic qualification times but for someone who 18 months previously refused to get her hair wet let alone put her face in the water and swim, not a bad effort.

Once Stumpy had emerged from the depths we sauntered back to T-1 (thats triathlon talk for the car park) to get lycra’d up for the bikes (the one advantage of this being an unofficial event was that there was no running deliriously up to a field filled with what appear to be identical looking tricycles trying to look out your own while trying to claw yourself out of a rubber suit).

Now when Stumpy first told me he was joining the pirates (an online group of like minded nut jobs who are not affiliated with any triathlon clubs but do them all the same) I chuckled at visions of him rocking up to start lines with an eye patch and parrot strapped to his shoulder.  Unsurprisingly the reality of what the pirate uniform looks like is very different….. And oh my, it is so much better than I could ever imagine and so worth getting up at the crack of dawn to see.  Dragging my sorry ass out of bed at 6am on a Saturday suddenly became one of the best moves I’ve made all year as suddenly i was faced with stumpy sporting this (actually he didn’t look as good at the start as these guys did at the end of an Ironman!).  Boys and girls going to Regensburg you are in for a special treat!!!

After a few minutes of hysterics I managed to pick myself up off the ground and calm myself to get kitted up for what would turn out to be a 96km instead of 90km cycle (Despite allegedly being an accountant, stumpy can’t count).  A quick visit to the facilities (yes I did previously say that there was no portaloos so use your imagination and don’t judge me – it was going to be a long day) and we were off.  Thankfully the sun appeared about 10 mins in and stuck with us for almost the entire cycle, so needless to say I regretted my decision to forgo the sun cream and I finished the day with some interesting tan (sunburn) lines.   Now as a foreigner (or economic refugee as I now like to be called) my geography of anywhere outside a 2 mile radius of Leith walk (where I live) or Dunfermline (where I work) is fairly poor so for the cycle I was reliant on the old boy for directions.  Little did I realise that he is in fact some sort of middle-aged Evil Knievel wannabe and so our entire route was on back roads where wee boys were drag racing their ma and da’s beamers – there was a particularly close shave with a 3 series outside Winchburgh where stumpy almost lost an ear! For the most part of the cycle we stuck together and as Stumpy had kindly loaded up the Temptress with energy bars/gels/drinks for us he was in charge of nutrition and hydration.  About 60km in I fear I did “bonk” and my legs slowed down as my mind started to wander….. I’d like to report I was lost in deep meaningful thoughts but I wasn’t.  All I could think about was chips.  A quick stop for Stumpy to fix my brakes (which worryingly kept coming loose despite his repairs) and get some energy stuff on board sorted me out.  As marathons have been the longest endurance event I’ve taken part in my mindset on eating when competing has always been that you don’t.  The main concern when running is getting plenty of fluids on board and avoiding the trots but this wee blip on the bike has made me realise that water/powerade/lucozade is just not enough for the serious stuff.

As we crossed the Kincardine Bridge it felt like we were almost there.  We’d gotten over and survived the hump of it so all we had to do now was get back to Stumpy’s pad in one piece, ditch the bikes and run 21.1km.  All sounds easy on paper eh? Throw in though an irrational, angry blue van man, two cyclists and a banana and you’ve almost got a disaster on your hands. For details see Stumpy’s account of the incident but I can testify that the man was indeed a tw@t.

We carried on through Fife and finally we hit 90km…… but something odd occurred….. we didn’t stop, we didn’t even slow down, in fact if anything we sped up.  My oh my was I witnessing a first, had stumpy in fact got something wrong??!  Unfortunately my glee at this was somewhat eroded by the fact that I had appeared to have lost feeling in my feet and as I was now on main roads dicing with motorists this could be a problem.

Shakey -“Are we there yet?”

Stumpy – “No.”

Shakey – “Are we there yet?”

Stumpy – “No”

Shakey – “Are we there yet?”

Stumpy – ………..silence

I wore him down and eventually we stopped.  A quick change into running gear, thankfully Stumpy decided to put a t-shirt over his swashbuckling one-piece and save us from being arrested for public indecency in Dunfermline town centre and we were once again off.  For the first time all day, apart from when I was dreaming of french fries and chunky chips and wedges, there was a deafening silence.  Running a half marathon is bad enough , but try to do one after a 2km swim and 90 (96!!) km cycle and you’ve got a very special type of torture.   The realisation about 5 mins in that we had no water or money did nothing to raise spirits and so we plodded on for the first 3/4 km deep in thought… me focussed on finding the nearest loo, Stumpy focussed on how he could make it over the fence onto the motorway to end it all.  A quick pit stop in McDonalds and we started to get a new lease of life.  Before we knew it we had hit Costa and Subway for cups of water and we were almost 10km in… Half way….wooohoooo!!  Unfortunately the chat restarted but fatigue and dehydration was having an impact on the quality and we shared some deep and dark secrets….

Stumpy- “You had those new Galaxy Counter sweets yet”

Shakey – “oh yeah the ones that are like naked minstrels? They’re brilliant”

Stumpy – “Pam and I ate a whole bag last night. But I still think I prefer maltesers”

Shakey – “Me too. I like to pop 2 or 3 at a time and crunch them”

Stumpy – “Nah, too quick, I go for one and try to suck all the chocolate off…….”

You get the picture.  Thankfully the rain/thunder/lightening kicked off then and drowned us out.  As we approached the bridge (big shout out to the 4×4 who decided to drive on the hard shoulder to make sure he got us with a proper tidal wave) I spotted our race director/race marshal sheltering in a bus stop.  Nicole had been trying to catch us all day but as Stumpy had spectacularly confused miles and kilometres in the race briefing she kept missing us.  We mugged her for water and Lucozade, shouted we had only 2km left to go and headed straight into the rain and mist that shrouded the bridge.  The legs were starting to ache now and the last 2km suddenly felt as long as 20km. We kept at it though and we were at our turning point and heading downhill to the finish line before we knew it.  At around 4.30 we finally crossed the finish line to the rapturous applause of Nicole, John, Pam, Rory and Allistair.

Stumpy now goes on to the madness of Regensburg (if only he’d had a normal mid life crisis and bought an aston martin) but I shall retire to Malta for a week to even out the questionable tan lines acquired in my first ever half ironman.

As much as I cherished the company, I was doing all of this for another reason.  In December of last year, Linda Hunter, a former colleague and friend of ours at Sky passed away suddenly.  When we heard that at age 46 she had suffered from a stroke we were all stunned. In our naivety many of us had thought strokes were something that affected only older people. And so in Linda’s memory I’m hoping my endeavors can raise some funding for the Stroke Association.  It isn’t just about the one event though, the whole painful schedule looks like this…..

19th June – Lochore Open Water Sprint Triathlon

9th July – DIY Middle Distance Triathlon (Half Ironman)

17th Sept – Dublin Half Marathon

22nd Sept – Great Scottish Swim (2km open water)

2nd Oct – Great Edinburgh Run (10km – this is really just to boost my ego after having the inevitable beating it will have take in all of the previous events)

22nd Apr – London Marathon 2012 (That is of course if they organisers decide to give me a place!!)

If you can spare anything at all I have a justgiving page here.  http://www.justgiving.com/vjacob/



And there it is – three weeks worth of Shakey’s work.  I can safely say that the last 6km of the ride felt like they lasted 10 lifetimes.  What she didn’t say in the race report was that her feet were sore or maybe she did – I just blank it out now.  It was no coincidence that she speeded up in the last stretch as I was trying to get away from her to escape the earache.  Now on return from her holidays she has gone all maternal on me – are you eating well, drink loads of water, I know you’re not very good at sleep but your  body will be really needing it etc.  Despite all that it is fair to say that Shakey now lives by the HalfIron mantra “Pain is temporary, Pride is forever”.

Anyway, as most of you know I decided not to raise money for charity after putting heart and soul into it last year so that I could focus on Project Regensburg,  However, having lost Linda far too soon this is very close to my heart and I will make a magnanimous offer which can only really end in tears for me.  As it stands tonight Shakey has raised £1080 with her efforts so far – if the total were to be £1250 by the time I blog on Sunday night then I will reluctantly post the one photo  in existence of me in my one piece Pirate suit.  And who knows, pictures of Shakey in a rubber suit could be added to the gallery if demand is high enough!  Having already appeared in the Edinburgh Evening News in glorious technicolour sporting her trademark dodgy fake tan lines she is already way beyond public humiliation.

From a guest  authors point of view I am going to deliver technical training to Pam and the Farkies to update the blog during the Ironman to keep you up to speed with progress and maybe even post photos and videos if I go slow enough for them to capture me.  But I’ll be warning you now I’ll be in the Pirate suit.


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