Almost a year on since my disastrous outing at Ironman UK was my first race since detaching my ACJ..
I signed up because a couple of friends from work had done so, and I figured “That’s loads of time to get over your injury and get race fit”! How wrong I was. Top tip to anyone that gets injured, go to physio straight away and get an opinion, then follow their rehab exercises!
So, anyway.. Outlaw Half. Actual “consistent” training on bike and run started after Christmas but swimming was a real challenge, mobility in my shoulder is miles off where it should be and getting consistently to the pool around “real life” has been trickier than I ever expected.
A few bouts of illness (I think since small human rocked up I’ve not gone a month without being ill in some respect) meant a slight adjustment to my training “plan” whereby I basically didn’t schedule rest weeks, and just took them when I got Ill (conveniently pretty much 3 on 1 off).
In the couple of weeks building up to the race I was actually feeling pretty good, I got onto the TT bike for the first time since July and managed not to fall off, I even managed to do an intentional flying dismount which improved my confidence no end.
Taper week was predictably interrupted by a stomach bug which basically left me running between my desk and the restroom for most of the week, but by Friday we were right as rain again and ready to race.
Registration, racking etc was nice and easy as you’d expect from a large event (a field of almost 1700) although the parking was a bit chaotic. One of the things I was really looking forward to about an Outlaw event was the family finish so I was disappointed to be told that children had to be walking and could not be carried over the line, but there we are, we move on.
Racking done, I checked into the hotel, went for dinner with the family and then caught up with friends that were either racing or spectating over a beer.
Nice early alarm, a porridge and a coffee I stumbled out of bed. Kieran (a friend also racing) had agreed to give me a lift over to the venue so we got cracking only to hit chaos when we arrived, huge queues trying to get into the carparks and a number of cars getting stuck in the mud. Fortunately we were in a carpark close to transition rather than one of the further car parks so we only had a five minute walk vs a 20minute walk.
Predictably with the chaos, race start was pushed by 15mins, unexplainably changing my 0610 start to 0630 (I don’t understand the maths either…)
It was a fairly cold morning, but a toe in the lake showed that it was “nice”, my reckoning about 16-17 degrees.
The walk from transition to Swim start was “epic”, my biggest single tip if you fancy a race hosted here is to bring some hotel slippers so you don’t destroy your feet.
Swim start was from one of three jetties and required a jump in (something I’ve managed to avoid so far), there were some impressive flips and dives and my belly flop would have scored straight 10s. And we got cracking..
After a minute or so of my “it’s cold” special swim I got settled in, the swim course is about as simple as it can possible be, keep the side to your left and turn right when you hit the buoy. That being said, sighting was next to impossible with a low sun and reasonably small waves (couldn’t adopt my standard, if all else fails follow the feet in front).
The water was pretty grimy so not the most pleasant of swims, and there are what can be best described as lane ropes for the rowing of which I must have headbutted about 15times. The aim of the swim was to take it super duper easy, make sure that my shoulder stayed in place and preferably finish with no pain. It felt like it went on forever, and to a certain extent, it did.
My swim was a decent chunk slower than Bolton, but.. I did get out of the water pain free!
T1 was an absolute disaster for me, I couldn’t get my wetsuit off, then was shivering (a problem that stayed for quite a while), struggling to get socks on etc. It was fairly unpleasant. Transition also was what felt like 5k long making the run out “robust”.
On the bike I just couldn’t warm up, it probably took me the first 5-10k to stop shivering. With the number of competitors, there was a fair bit of congestion, combined with some reasonably shocking road surfaces, although absolute fair play to the team at Outlaw, they had done an impeccable job marking the craters with orange paint, meant it took me a while to get going.
I was trying to race on feel, with the aim of feeling fresh coming off the bike, the course is basically pancake flat with the exception of one short climb which was fairly negligible. I had a little bit of cramp on the bike, and got caught up in traffic a few times.
It was pretty clear to me that my confidence was really not there on the TT bike, turns out restoring confidence after a crash is non-trivial and what should have been easily a sub 3 hour bike split was not.
The last km or so is gravel which was horrific.
The run was awful, by this time the temperature had shot up to somewhere in the 20’s and from the first minute in the run I had awful stomach cramps. The run course was actually really nice, three laps of the watersports centre, plenty of feed stations etc. Should have been a rapid run, my initial 30s of running felt ok before rapidly declining to an accident avoidance waddle to the nearest restroom. Unfortunately that was basically the story of my run. Two of the three feed stations had porta loos and I’m pretty sure I visited all of them.
Once the stomach cramps had worn off I still couldn’t maintain any pace so ended up run walking the remainder finally crossing the line.
Literally the only redeeming factor on the run was the fact that the feedstations and volunteers were excellent. I even had a little dance at one near the end when The Divine Comedy’s excellent “National Express” came on. I must have looked a bit odder than usual waddling along singing “but it’s hard to get by when your arse is the size of a small countryyyyyyy”.
My initial aim for the race was to do sub six hours, with the training and shoulder that would have been a result I’d have been happy with, I managed to just sneak under seven hours… Not the best day..