Saturday, 30 July 2016

I am an Outlaw

Well last weekend was the Outlaw Ironman distance race. For those uninformed, Ironman is now a brand name that originated from the first Ironman Hawaii triathlon which was a 2.4 miles swim, 112 miles bike and a 26.2 miles run, so the term Ironman gets used a lot for familiarity. Some also call 140.6(miles) or 226 (km) but its basically an Ironman triathlon for the old skool.
When I entered last year the plan was to emulate my mate Daz Sharpe in being an Ironman winner, (although he went and won the whole bloody race!) but this year, if you have read my blog you'll know, I'm trying out the off road Xterra racing, with some success, so my attitude and expectations had somewhat changed.
Last week I was so chilled out because I was expecting to do well and my knee injury was still healing so on Sunday morning at Holme Pierpoint I put myself on the start line feeling like I was doing a local sprint triathlon. No pressure on myself!
With about a minute or two to the klaxon I started my watch and waited for the swim start frenzy that never really materialised. Head up swim for about 5 metres then settled into long strokes getting out to the left away from the crazies. I spotted Nick Summers (among a 1100 swimmers) to my right and thought 'wow, i'm doing ok here', so I sat in and let him tow me round. A few times I tried to come past but the effort wasn't worth it so settled back again and sat there for most of the 2.4 miles and then sat in the middle of a small group for the last half a mile. I exited in 57min 21sec and Nick spotted me and I thanked him for the tow. The swim felt so easy made easier sitting in on Nick's relaxed style.
Nick already half stripped as I struggle to find my zipper cord -  

After a reasonably fast T1 it was out onto the bike but I heard Karl Alexander's name tannoyed so figured he wasn't too far behind but pleased to be ahead of the expected winner. Within a few minutes of cycling though Karl came past and disappeared just as quick. A quick wave to Ali's mum then it was onto the A52 with some riders in sight. After a few miles of overtaking and being overtaken I settled into my race pace of 150-160hr (I don't use or can afford power measurement yet) and found myself riding at a similar speed to a rider with DRG stencilled on his backside. We exchanged places a few times over the next 50-60 miles and he always seemed to pull away after feed stations as I fumbled with bottles and dropped bananas and gels. I had even dropped a protein bar I'd taken with me and was trying out some Cadbury's Brunch Bars as race food. Not conventional but as I mentioned, this race had different expectations, and they seemed to work and I got the feeling of eating normal food rather than energy food that can upset my guts. I also took a pack of Airwaves chewing gum which I ate regularly to freshen up my mouth after taking on the gels. I only took about 4 gels but used the High 5 drink every time at every feed. From about 70 miles I was on my own heading into the southern circuit and it was somewhere there I saw Karl sitting on the side of the road. After a consolatory wave I rode on and caught one of the relay riders who was cramping up. After a few miles of him yoyo'ing on and off the front with cramp he finally pulled away with about 7 miles to go. I never felt like I was pushing hard at any time yet still managed to ride the distance in 5hr 1min when I really expected to ride about 10-20 min slower. I was beginning to think today the weather and wind was kind to us. I cramped a little myself coming into T2 and had a little sciatica tingling around 70 miles and some scapula pain on the right side but when I handed my bike over to the catchers and started running to the change tent it felt good.
Leaving the change tent I started looking at my watch for the speed and heart rate display and instantly had to slow down. I had two plans pre-race; go hard and hold as long as possible or run 1:40 for the first half and see what happens. This was decided by the knee injury pain experience and I settled for option two and tried to control my pace to 7:30min/mile. The first mile was 6:45 but the following two where about 7:15 so I figured that would do and just watched the HR about 156. At half way I was on 1:40....the plan worked but still had another half marathon to go. My feet got hot despite choosing the lighter socks and the blisters started in the middle of my left foot, still I plodded on and I wasn't getting overtaken as I thought I might be.
post race walking would be difficult
 I took some paracetamol about 2 miles into the run but I was still getting some knee pains every now and then. Getting on to the rowing lake for the final circuits was a godsend except you can see the whole way round which is quite demoralising. With only about 5.5 miles to go Pete Norris caught me and went past but he soon cramped and I caught him just for him to start up again and jog on. I tried to keep him insight but soon lost him as the lake circuit filled with new athletes. Bethany, my daughter, and her boyfriend Lee, surprised me by coming along to watch and with a lap to go (4.8km) she said I was in 1st position in my age group but being caught quickly so I put in a final push for the line trying to take advantage of the tailwind then using other runners as shields on the home leg. Paul Breeze, my mate who should have been racing, and Cath his partner had also turned up to cheers us on and he was beaming nearly as much as I was as I entered the finish chute.
A few metres to go, no pain felt!
I heard my name called and that I was the age group winner and I just screamed with excitement and relief. I never really believe....or did I(?) that I would ever win a major title.
I then turned my thoughts to how Ali was doing. I always worry about Ali when she races but I found out she was on the run before I finished so knew she would be OK barring injury. Ali was having a mare on the run in comparison to her training runs but in good old Ali attitude she persevered and her determination got her to the finish time with 27 minutes to spare. I don't know if I could spend that amount of time out there or weather my knees and back could hold out for 7 hours of running but she does it well and out her non finish at Bolton behind her. Like me she is an Ironman and an Outlaw. Legend!
The next day at the trophy presentation I got the icing on the cake. I found out that I had also set a new age group record with 9 hours 38 min 33 sec. To say I was surprised was an understatement. I was just chuffed I'd won.
45-49 AG winner and record holder - 9h38m33s

 Swim57:212.4 Miles
 Transition 12:17
 Bike5:01:05111.99 Miles
 Transition 22:49
 Run3:35:0126.19 Miles
So now its onto the next focus...back to Xterra racing but first I need to order some CurraNZ which assist with prevention of DOMS, delayed onset muscle soreness, and by heck it seems to work. By Tuesday I could've run if the blister wasn't so sore, but I'm taking a few days off to recover from the tiredness and just chilling out but with the knowledge that I'm going to need some power for climbing on the MTB. One of the pro Xterra athletes, Jacqui Slack, has given me a few programs so I'm on it to get ready for Xterra Germany in three weeks time, Denmark in 5 weeks time then the World Championships in Maui in 2 months. Racing 2016 like a pro!


Sags said...

A great read and glad you are maintaining the Blog! 2016 is turning out to be a good year! So had you not done any specific IM training for the Outlaw?

Mat Stephenson said...

sorry for the delay in this, The blog I keep is more for training records and prosperity when i get old hehe, I can look back and think 'was that me?'.

I didn't do anything specific for ironman and haven't done since Winter 2012 when getting ready for IM Melbourne. Probably only the Manchester marathon with Daz and Ali was the closest to any specific training. I just blagged it!
To be honest it more a hindrance in my racing schedule due to Xterra.