My head is still buzzing and my mind is jumping so apologies if this is a bit all over the place. This day last week I became an Outlaw and loved it.
That's the money shot but a lot more goes into an Iron distance race. It all starts when you think about doing the distance and for me that was back in 2009 when I finished Ironman Austria. Roll on 8 years and I'm at the start line in The National Water Sports Centre, Holme Pierrepoint, Nottingham. Race time.....but first....
Training! This continued as normal until January when I decided to follow a training plan from Simon Ward and my max weekly training was 13 hours, this allowed me to fit in family and work. I enjoyed the training, I only had a couple of sessions that when I felt I was just ticking a box, I wasn't overly tired, mentally I felt good. There was also online support from other triathletes. My training included massage, chiropractor, physio, strength, core classes, pilates and these were as important as swim/ bike/run.
Fiona C had been tempted too so we signed up together to become Outlaws.
The only race I had before the Outlaw was Athy Double Olympic which due to a panic/breathing problem in the swim had been a nightmare and left me with huge doubts. I got back to training and did some open water swims so felt more confident. The support I got from club members during my training was brilliant, joining me for sessions on the bike or in the water and lending me various bits of equipment. Thank you all.
Travels! Ferry to Holyhead, motorway to Nottingham (M6 roadworks) and a family room in a Premier Inn. Having the car meant everything went in from door to door. The Premier Inn we stayed at had loads of triathletes so we weren't out of place. Getting to and from race venue was a 15min drive. Transition, registration and briefing all in one spot, simple.
Swim!3.8km, two lengths. I had been dreading this especially when you can't see the far end of the lake. I did a short practice swim on Saturday and enjoyed it. I got a text to say relax in the swim and the rest of the race will fall into place, that struck a cord. Enjoy it, that was my plan. Fiona and I got into the water at 5.50am, a few warm up strokes, then clung to the pontoon til race start. Bang on 6am and we were off. I stayed to the right and had open water the whole way although I did drift too far to the right so ended up swimming around the bouys. No panic, no breathing issues, I was swimming and loving it. The geese and ducks stayed out of the way too. I could see the tower at the swim exit and all too quickly I was getting dragged out by a team of volunteers. Quick look at my watch 1.14.42, WTF, I nearly cried, fastest swim ever (and I spent the rest of the day waiting for someone to tell me there had been a mistake!!!).
T1! Strippers are available but I took off my own wetsuit!. Like other Iron distance racing, it's a hanging bag you grab. Forecast had been mixed so jersey on and off I went. 3.58 (7th fastest female T1).
Bike! I had really found my bike legs during training and was looking forward to this bit. I saw Pete and the girls at the start of the bike and again nearly cried. I hadn't done 180km in training so that was an unknown. The start is flat and fast around the lake avoiding geese but I was careful to save some speed for later. The bike course is basically three loops, southern twice and northern once. The climb is short and sweet with a total of 1000m of climbing the whole day. The roads are open so you have to have your wits about you. Pete and I had checked out the northern loop so I knew what to expect. Drags, some crap road surface, some narrow roads, some big roundabouts but basically on tri bars all day. My nutrition plan was simple, drink 4 bottles of High 5, some water, eat every 20 mins something small, salt tablets and two gels. I did that and had no tummy problems then or later, phew. My cough had left me snotty so I was a snotty mess for most if the bike, nice!!
I kept hitting 30km/hr and started to think about a 6hr bike but once I got back to Radcliffe a village near venue I knew I'd be outside that time as I still had the speedbumps and cattlegrid to go. Time was 6.06.07 I'll take that but it makes me wonder if I'd pushed could I have gone sub 6?! No I needed my legs.
T2! I covered my feet in Vaseline, changed race belt, socks on, faffed a bit so 5.05 which considering you don't rack your bike was slow (lovely RAF guys take it and rerack for you!!). Bag back on hook and I was off. Slappers were out putting suncream on as the sun had come out, bad timing.
Run! Or that could be walk. My slowest marathon but the one I enjoyed the most. Around the lake once, into town, around lake, into town, around lake twice more to finish. Ran the first 5km and got my first wristband saw Pete and girls, he said you look strong, I said you just wait!! Then into town, I knew the towpath was narrow and rough but I don't mind this what I didn't expect was quite how long the figure of eight loop was in town over the suspension bridge, mentally that was hard knowing I had to do it again. I met Fiona she asked if it was far, I said yes. I walked. The girls saw me and I got in trouble! I changed from my run plan to a run/walk plan which then changed to a run/walk/run/walk aid stations plan. My Achilles was flaring up and right knee was super stiff from ITB and glut. These were the issues that had forced me to pool run, xtrain and scoot in training with only 19.5km and 24km runs done before today.
The aid stations were fantastic all run by different tri clubs they really outdid themselves. I stuck to High 5 zero and carb mix with watered down gels as sun was so strong, moving onto coke and water from 21km. If you wanted you could have gone mad with crips, jaffa cakes, bananas, gels, various High 5 drinks, water and magic sponges. They said they wouldn't use sponges as forecast hadn't been for sun but the sun came out and so did the sponges. These were heaven. Pete, Isla and Niamh kept popping up at different spots on the run and having them there all day was fantastic. I also met some people from the SWAT group (Simon Ward Athlete Training) as well as a friend from Scotland. He'd done Outlaw in 2015 so was back. he had a strong run so he was chasing me down. At this point I was chatting to fellow racers, supporters, anyone to pass the miles. Wristband envy kicked in as you counted others bands. The second last lap around the lake is tough as you run past the finish so many people are done and you've 5km to go. I must have checked my Garmin a thousand times trying to figure out what time of day it was how long I'd been out but no just keep going.
I got to the last feed station, quick clean with a sponge then 2.5km to finish. I ran. I saw the girls and we were on the carpet running they weren't slowing down. The noise was incredible. I nearly cried as the whole emotion of the day caught up with me. The girls were taken to Pete and I got my medal and t-shirt. Run was a super slow 5.17.42.
Finish time 12.47.34
Shower, food, beer, cheering especially Fiona who did amazingly well, McDonalds, Pizza hut (although I didn't eat anything here!!), bed.
Awake at 3.30am with a super sore leg and buzzing head. Asleep and awake to pack at 6am.
Outlaw is an extremely well run race, the atmosphere is relaxed, the course is full on but not hard and it's more personal. Give it a go. I really loved it and smiled for most of the day. Yes there were tough times but not many. Pete, Isla and Niamh were with me all day. We had such amazing support from friends with messages, calls, whats app, forum I thought of all the people who had wished me good luck and it really helped. My voice is gone from shouting at The King of Greystones earlier but thank you one and all x x x
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Great read Karen! You had such a great race, especially given the fact that you weren't well the week before and the running injuries. A really inspirational performance and you should be proud! I know we are!