This past weekend I went to Bolton, England to race Ironman UK. Like with any race, I’ve come away from it learning a few important lessons.
The race started at 6am with a deep water start which meant that at 5:40am race officials were giving orders to get in the water and swim out to the start line. It was a cold lake swim and being out there for 20min beforehand was more of a cool down than a warm up. I came out of the water in 3rd place, stumbling a couple of times on the way to my bike, still a bit disoriented from the cold but within sight of 1st and 2nd place.
Onto the bike and I knew I would have to work hard to build a buffer against some of the stronger runners. Unfortunately, I spent the first half of the bike kicking myself for not wearing warmer clothes. The thought even entered my mind to stop and ask a spectator for a tshirt or jacket. Because of the cold/rain I made sure to keep eating every 15min and by 60km I moved into 2nd place. Another 60km went by and I was still wishing I had a parka and feeling the strange urge to stop and have a 5 course meal. The last 60km of the bike provided a bit of entertainment as we had the extra challenge thrown in of double lane traffic – sheep, double decker buses and Sunday drivers on their way for tea and crumpets. Unfortunately, due to the extra bodies on the road, I missed one of my turns in the last 30k and with it went another 5 or 6 minutes.
I came off the bike still in 2nd place, but with only a minute lead on 3rd. The first 2 miles of the run were a hilly cross country course through a forest of mud and puddles before we started the main out/back/out of the marathon. At this point, I was feeling a little low on fuel but concentrated on just moving one foot in front of the other. At about 30km, I had slipped into 4th place, and a huge fight, actually an outright war, was going on between my head and my quads. I knew that the pain in my quads could never compare to the pain of my brain giving up before my body did so I pulled myself together and came across the finish line in 4th place, still within 8% of the winner’s time to finish in the money.
So, the lessons learned at this race? Dress up warm when it’s cold, and always pay attention to the bike course and less to the distractions of sheep and double decker buses. A big congrats also to Bella and Stephen for both finishing 2nd and to Brandon for his 5th place finish.