Posts Tagged 'Ironman'

Ironman UK – Bolton 2012

Recently Chris completed her innagural Ironman finishing with an impressive (modest) 6th in age, here is her race report.

Sunday July 22nd 2012, a day that seemed so far away when I signed up to race Ironman UK last October. I must have been in some sort of frenzy at the time, because I also committed to do the London Marathon in April, the Hampshire Hilly 100 mile Cycle Sportif in May and Ironman UK 70.3 in June.

 After relocating the entire family to the UK last August, I really wasn’t sure how I was going to achieve any of these goals. I had left my training buddies behind and a training routine that was well oiled. Where was I going to do my training? Open Water Swimming in the UK – Brrrrr, cycling on the narrow roads – Ahhhhh . Running, well that seemed OK, a road is a road until 3 days after I turned 40 and my knees decided to give me endless grief.

Help came in the form of Tongy aka Andrew Tong. Tongy is a long time friend and triathlon coach. Thankfully, he agreed to coach me remotely from Oz. I looked forward to receiving my weekly schedules and eagerly awaited our regular Skype sessions. Tongy was a gem through the whole process. He believed in me from the start and I trusted his approach. Despite injury he coached me to finish the London Marathon running to pace. Whilst not achieving a PB I still cracked a sub 4 hour result. Despite chuckling when I mentioned the 100 mile sportif, Tongy’s  cycle sessions both on the road and on the turbo meant I had no troubles on the ride coming a respectable 5th in my age group. His controlled brick sessions and firm stance re rest days ensured my Ironman UK 70.3 attempt was a success. Noted as the toughest 70.3 in the world, I managed to finish 8th in my age group in 6.46.58.

Still despite all of the above, the thought of doing a full ironman scared the hell out of me. Soon enough July arrived and before I knew it, we were on our way to Bolton. We arrived on Friday afternoon and went to register at the Reebok Sports Stadium. I picked up my race pack and had a good look around the expo. I really wanted to buy a few logo items but wasn’t feeling worthy just yet and did want to jinx myself. We then headed back into Bolton to register the kids for their ironkids event. They were really excited and it was great to see all the preparations taking place in the Main Square of Bolton. I stood for a few moments and tried to imagine what it might be like to run through the finish shute and under the ironman arch!!! Room service Pasta for dinner and tried to get an early night.

Kids race started at 8am on the Saturday morning. It was so much fun. James was first up and using his blade hand running style came 4th in the 13-15 age group. Grace stormed off to a flying start in her race and kept a smashing pace taking first female in her age group to cross the finish line. Libby produced a solid effort in her race smiling most of the way and coming middle of the pack. I am so proud of all three of them and it was a great motivation for me during my race.

After the kids race, we then had to drive all over Lancashire to drop of transition bags and the bike. I can’t imagine how you could possibly do this race on your own without any support. The bike and the blue bag had to be dropped at Pennington Flash about a 30 min drive from Bolton. Then we headed to Rivington, to a high school to drop the Red Bag. I didn’t enjoy this drive as we got lost and I had a sneak preview at the mountain I was going to have to climb 3 times. Another 20 mins in the car and then back to Bolton. I dropped off Dave and kids then headed to the race Briefing back at the Reebok stadium. Phew!! A lot of driving and a pretty unrelaxed way to spend the day before the race.  The briefing said all the usual stuff, but I love how triathlete’s pretend to listen, when indeed they are checking each other out!!!

Couldn’t sleep much at all, and before I knew it the alarm was sounding. Kids and Dave had agreed to be with me at the start and they were all amazing getting up and ready with minimal fuss. We got to the start at around 4.30am’ ish and made our way up to the transition so I could check my bike and get nutrition sorted. TICK. The we waited around taking photo’s and watching nerves build. I got into my wetsuit around 5.15am and then made our way down to the water. It was a mass start in the water. I thought I was standing in the middle nearer the back of the queue. I was wrong after getting into the lake and looking back some 200m from the start buoy, there were still hundreds of people filing in. I wondered whether I had gotten in too early but soon enough the gun sounded and we were off. There was quite a bit of pushing and pulling  and “biff and bash” swimming out to the first buoy but things soon settled for me as I got into a rhythm and there is plenty of clear water once you get underway and pacing sorts every one out. There was a good few hundred meters where I felt like I was inhaling diesel fumes, apparently to do with a marina you swim past. There was a small run section in between the first and second lap. As I approached the edge I was helped out and I scooted along waving at the family and feeling good, ready for lap 2. A much easier swim second time around, and I felt good running into T1.

As I struggled to get my wetsuit off in T1, it suddenly dawned on me that I had just finished the first part of Ironman. I needed to stay composed but felt very excited. I headed out to my bike and made my way to the exit. The first bit of road is the car park and narrow road out of the country park.  I said a quick goodbye to the murky waters of the Pennington Flash, as we didn’t come back here due to the split transitions.  As I rode out there were quite a few speed humps, and I slowed up a bit as I heard something drop. By the time I had realised that it was part of my nutrition (2 x Mule Bars) falling out  from my bento box , I decided I wasn’t turning around and knew I would just have to take on some extra nutrition at each aid station. I smiled as I thought this was one of those “curve balls” Tongy had warned me about that lurked around every corner in IM. The course then heads onto a flat and fast section in Wigan, heading through Bolton to the Lancashire hills and the start of the three laps. The course is undulating and there is one major climb which we rode three times at the start of each lap. There is 5249 ft of climbing on the course, but it wasn’t until the 3rd lap that I actually started to feel the burn. I hadn’t actually rode a full 180kms before and I began to get a little concerned that I may have gone to hard on the previous 2 laps. My legs started to slow and it felt like my back bike tyre was flat but after constant checking I knew it wasn’t. I continued to push on but it felt like every other female competing that day was overtaking me. I just couldn’t seem to go any faster. My Garmin started to beep non-stop around the 165km mark and I could not work out how to stop it, but this was a welcomed distraction from what was happening to my legs and my declining speed on the bike. Finally, after being told by each person that passed me on the bike that I was beeping, I made way into T2. My legs were jelly and as one of the volunteers grabbed my bike to rack it, he couldn’t push it. The rear wheel was seizing. I was so relieved to be off I put it out of my mind, again managed a quick smile as I muttered to myself, that’s Part 2 done. I did however find out, when I collected my bike the next day, that in fact my spoke had broken. The wheel was warped and rubbing against the brake. Can’t believe it, but again that’s ironman, race day and just another curve ball!

I grabbed my Run Bag from a sea of red bags and found a bench. I took my Gilet off as it was really hot and put fresh socks and runners on.  I re-glided my arms etc to avoid chaffing, my worst enemy, and grabbed my gels and headed out to pound the scorching pavement.

The run was downhill for the first 1km or so, which was great and allowed me to settle into my pace. It was incredibly hot and despite Dave warning me that morning about sunscreen, I didn’t apply it. I was feeling a little scorched but knew I needed to focus on staying hydrated and in control.

As we headed toward Bolton the course was a mix of a few hills and some off road. We ran along a cycle path which is the most isolated part of the course, but it was here I seemed to find my pace. I was overtaking people continually. As we ran toward the main street of Bolton where we would start the 3 laps and we had to climb some steepish hills to get up onto the road. I HATE hills, but so many people stopped and walked, I decided to just keep shuffling.  I had no idea how far to go except that I had three laps to do and it would be mental game working toward each coloured arm band. I had accidently stopped my Garmin 910 as I took off my Gilet, so I decided not to worry about time or distance but just about pace. I stuck to my pace religiously, as I knew from the London marathon , what I could cope with. The knees held out til about the last lap, but by this time, I knew I could do it. I had the yellow arm band and the pink, I just needed the green. When I put my arm out for the volunteer to put it on, I wanted to kiss him. I was so happy. The run leg of an ironman is incredible. So many competitors, stop and walk (ed note, Chris did not stop to walk), there is an amazing sense of comradeship between everybody, urging each other on. The spectators go wild, and whilst I only knew Dave and the kids, and they were amazing on the run course with their support, so many people called out my name or shouted “GO GIRL”.

As I ran down toward the finish shute, am overwhelming sense of emotion overcame me. I still had 100m to go, but the tears were already there. Dave and the kids held out the Aussie flag and after high fiving them I took it and ran towards the IM Arch and I heard the announcer say, Christine Kells, You are an Ironman. I did it, I couldn’t believe it. That was me he just announced.  It was the hardest race I have ever done, full of huge physical and mental challenges. The journey to get even to the start line, let alone the finish, is all consuming, BUT I loved it, every single bit of it. A huge, enormous THANKYOU to my wonderful, amazing supportive, Husband, David. Without him I couldn’t do or even think about doing something like an Ironman. He is everything to me, and has travelled every part of this journey. To my wonderful and patient kids I love you, and you inspire me everyday to achieve more. To Tongy, well what can I say, I hope I did you proud and Thank you for your belief and support. To Caterina, my UK training buddy, thanks for all the miles and the smiles. To Bel, thanks for the constant inspiration. To my family and friends, who have listened to me rave on, about training, racing, nutrition, being tired, etc etc I cannot thank you enough.

Now I guess from Ironman I go back to “ironing woman”…… stay tuned……

Ironman Cozumel, Mexico 2011

My apologies to Iain who submitted me with this great race report and it has taken me far too long to post.

I am an I r o n m a n !
Before I start, I have to make sure I thank the person who made it possible. From the moment I came home saying I’ve made a silly bet, to kissing the sweaty mess I was at the finish line. Yvonne: the wife of steel behind this Ironman.
What a day! An amazing experience with an atmosphere and support from the Cozumel Islanders way above anything I expected.
The day started with an Ironman breakfast of coco pops, bananas and coffee, with the morning ablutions out of the way it was onto the coach and off to the start. After checking the bike, loading it up with drinks and gels, and pumping the tyres up to the required pressure it was off to the start.
The Swim

The swim start was as expected with 2300 people in the water all starting from the same place, hectic to say the least. I’d positioned myself a little to the side of the main pack as didn’t want to get bashed about too much in the usual human soup that is the start.


Even after the first 1km it was difficult to find space in the water to get into a rhythm, and navigating was difficult so it did rather come down to following the person in front as they had to be going roughly in the right direction. This worked ok with only a slight detour on the back straight.
The water was crystal clear, made famous by Jacque Cousteau diving the reefs around the island; it was quite a sight seeing the safety divers waving up at you from the bottom. I was glad that the sea current hadn’t changed from the day before so the long back straight was made slightly easier as we were being pulled along nicely. Of course as soon as we rounded the bottom set of buoys it was back into the current which made the home straight seem like the
longest part of the course. Especially, as for the last 500m we were swimming along the coast so were aware of the supporter’s cheers.
I’d completed the 3.8km swim in 1 hour and 15 minutes, which was better than expected so it was definitely a good start to the race with only a few minor stings from the small jelly fish that seem to have collected by the exit point !

Swim to Bike Transition
Out of the water and running to the changing tents I managed to see Yvonne on the way through. I guess she could tell by my big grin I was pleased with the swim time. Transition is so much easier when you don’t have to fight out of a wetsuit! I’d also remembered to take the all-important Imodium+ at this point ! I’d walked through tranistion a number of times so knew exactly where my bike was. As you can see it would be easy to miss it !
6 minutes and 10 seconds to get my bike gear together and head out onto the road.
The Bike
Heading out onto the bike I was feeling good. Having ridden the roads when we’d arrived on the island I was looking forward to a fast flat ride.
The course was 3 laps around the Island, on the first lap I realised it wasn’t going to be an easy ride, as 2/3 of each lap was affected by the strong winds that were blowing across the Island. The scenery was stunning on the wild undeveloped cost line, but I could feel I was burning my legs up to keep my desired pace. I talked with Tongy, my coach; about the fact that the flat course presented a slightly different challenge to the hilly terrain I’d been training on. I’d thought that with the extra strength I’d have in my legs from the hills I wouldn’t have a problem holding the race pace. Of course I hadn’t account for the wind. When training in the hills your legs get a rest when coming down hill. On the flat you have no such luxury.
Yvonne had positioned herself outside the hotel we were staying in, which was right next to the course. It was pretty cool giving her a high five each time I came around. Seems she’s worked out how long it took to get from the cocktail bar to the road side perfectly as she was there each time I passed.
By lap 3 I was cramping badly in my thighs, so had to drop the pace as I was concious I still had to run a marathon !
Coming towards the end of the bike course the crowds were up to full steam with the streets completely lined with people offering their support.
I was off the bike in 6 hours and 6 minutes so a little over my target time, but I’d kept to my nutrition and hyrdation plans. I’d seemed to have got the cramping under control and I wasn’t being too badley effected by the heat and humidity.

Bike to Run Transition
Off the bike and it felt good to start using some different muscles. I managed to pull the top completely off my talc tube so both feet were well cover as well as a couple of people standing near me. At least my running socks and shoes slipped on easily. With Vaseline applied to the areas of potential chaffing I was out onto the run course in 2 minutes 58 seconds.

The Run
Look I’m smiling!!! Or is that grimacing?
Another 3 lap affair! Coming out of transition I knew I’d worked my legs hard on the bike so it was now a case of managing the run. Having gone off way to quick in the warm up events I’d done I was careful to pace the first few Kms. Heading out onto my second lap the Island was hit by a massive rain storm that ended up flooding the run course in a number of places. On the good side it brought down the heat and humidity down, but meant there was no way of keeping my running shoes dry, so blisters were a real possibility.
Over ½ distance and I was still keeping to roughly the pace I was aiming for, but soon after I started to cramp up badly again so had to reduce the pace considerably. I couldn’t stop and walk as that made the cramping worse so it was a matter of plodding on. It was a bit of a shame as I reached the turn around to head out onto the last lap of the run I saw Yvonne, but couldn’t stop to say hello, it was just a shout of ‘last lap’, just in case I couldn’t get moving again.
The last lap seemed as long as the rest of the day put together. It was a case of running between the aid stations each mile and taking on water, bananas and Pepsi to keep me going.
Cramp was a real issue for the last few miles and this is where it got mentally rough and it was a case of one foot in front of the other. By this point I knew I was going to finish, even if I needed to crawl. It was definitely the point I felt the most emotional and had a large lump in my throat.
The last few hundred metres were amazing, the bands and crowds seem at their loudest. It’s an amazing feeling turning into the finishing straight knowing everyone is cheering for you. I definitely felt an euphoric high or that might just have been the extremely low blood sugar levels by this point.
I’d completed the marathon in 4 hours 58 mins, in the end probably only about 45 mins slower than I realistically hoped to finish it in.

The Finish
Running up to the finishing line to hear those words I will never forget………
Iain Morton …. You ARE an I r o n m a n !
I completed in 12 hours 29 mins ! I have to say I was extremely pleased with the time, all in all as fast as I could have gone on the day. 46 seconds under what I had estimated my finishing time to be in the bar the night (ok early evening) before !
It was only then I saw Yvonne as she’d positioned herself behind the finishing line to make sure she could see me finish. Not sure she appreciated the kiss from the sweaty mess I was at the end, but it felt good to have finished!
The cramp really hit me then and I tried to blag my way into the medical tent for an IV. No chance. The doctor took one look at me and said drink some water, and have a massage you’ll be fine. Looking inside the tent there were a few people in there who looked like they really needed the help.

So………..
What a fantastic experience. I was glad that I had done all the training as I think entering an Ironman without it would only end in a world of hurt!
On crossing the line my first thoughts and words were … ‘I am never ever EVER doing that again!’
Exactly what I said after my first marathon !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

People I need to thank.
Yvonne – for all the cakes and too many other things to mention! Tongy the coach – for all the sound advice and encouragement throughout the 45 weeks of training Rob at Swim4Tri – Even though he did say at our last session my stroke needed to be completely reworked! Hutch – for all his assistance putting the carbon mean machine together Triathlon Tony, Dave and James – for help training and of course support. Big Al Morgan – who’s stupid idea this was in the first place.
Congratulations to fellow Mexico Ironmen, James, Al and Emma. As for Chris a superhuman effort and I’m sure you’ll make it next time.

Oh and the tattoo……………….
Of course thrashing big Al by too many hours to mention (as did his wife !!!), I didn’t need to have the Ironman tattoo, however, a t-shirt and medal didn’t quite seem to be a fitting memento of such an epic journey !

Tongy notes, Well done Iain on a great result I always say you reap what you sow on race day and your commitment and dedication to training showed through on race day. Look forward to hearing about the next Ironman race, great race report.

June 2012 Race Roundup

As usual I am slow to update my blog with race updates, fortunately people’s race times are much faste. the following is some great results for June.

Switzerland 70.3 Parys finished a credible 4th in age and bagging a slot to Vegas 70.3 in the process. Not sure if the credible part was starting the race ill and then declaring the race as some of the darkest moments ever experienced in a race, a lesson learnt is to never race when unwell ever again!

Ironman Regensburg, Richard took on his maiden Ironman and literally hit every target we had set finishing with a sub 11hour (10:54), a superb effort and definite evidence of you reap what you sow (training) on race day. Richard had trained methodically and diligently over the last 8 months for this with a brilliant result

UK 70.3, rated as the toughest 70.3 on the circuit Em and Chris took this race on. Em’s goal was a slot to Vegas 70.3 and having spent a fair amount of time unwell, this was a case of being the first major hit out for the season (definitely not what was planned). Em was absolutely on fire and not only claimed a spot for Vegas 70.3 but took out 2nd place in age too, absolutely ecstatic and can’t wait to see her race with an uninterrupted block of training. Chris’s goal was quality race time in preparation for Ironman UK having only completed the London Marathon some 6 or 7 weeks prior. Chris ran a good steady race as planned and finished 8th in age showing that we are progressing well to Ironman UK

TriStar 111 a last minute race slot saw Stuart head over to France for TriStar 111 Deauville for a spot of race practice, looking at the race and current training decided it was a chance to really nail the run, achieving 14th in age group and one of the faster run splits in the age group.

Awesome training and racing everyone looking forward to the next batch of results

Ironman and 70.3 Cairns

On the first weekend in June Cairns hosted their inaugural Ironman and 70.3 races, as winter was starting to bite at home I was happy to be heading to a warmer climate. At the race we had around 10 people competing from NSTC (Northern Suburbs Tri Club) and everyone found the racing tough particularly the run due to hot and humid conditions.

Of particular importance for me Steve was taking on his first Ironman, with a good base and preparation behind. I was pleased to be able to cheer him on in the later stages of the run and see him finish achieving his goal. Also Bec took on her first 70.3 race and whilst I may be corrected on this, loved the challenge and stepping up to the longer distance. So safe to say achieved goals of finishing and having fun.

I dusted off my race shoes and gave the 70.3 a whirl although was not expecting great things, here is my race report.

The swim, the biggest challenge was getting into the water as the steps were single file only and caused some stress as we all waited to enter the water, once on the start it was a very rough swim heading out to the first turn around, once turning I hung a few meters right of the field and had a much smoother swim. My best performance of the day was T1 where I had one of the fastest times in my age group sadly this did not help me too much in the overall standings. Onto the bike and all seemed to be going well as I settled into my rhythm and eating when at about 15k my spare tyre fell out and into my rear wheel. I noticed this in the nick of time to get off my tri bars as my rear wheel locked up and the rear of the bike was sliding all over the ride, fortunately I kept the bike upright, but the friction from the skid caused the tyre to explode! This required a full tyre change and very frustrating with so many people going past. I finally got going again however not long after the rear wheel felt spongy, rather than stopping again I continued riding, at the end of the race checking my tyre I would have had 40 – 60 psi in the tyre. The bike course headed north along the coast from Cairns and truly spectacular scenery. By the time I hit the run my goal time was well out of reach. I just set to running at my target pace keeping the nutrition in. I was happy with my pace and was moving forward in the field. The run course was hot running alongside cane fields which did not give much back from an inspiration aspect. On finishing I was done but had maintained a consistent tempo, despite finishing way down in the field I managed a top 20 run split in my age group so some consolation.

Cairns is a great location for a triathlon with the benefit of a nice holiday post race, admittedly there were a few teething issues with split transitions, registration and water entry. Hopefully these will all be improved next year and I highly recommend this race.

Ironman Australia Port Macquarie 2012

Ironman Australia

 

What a perfect day for racing at this years Ironman! I was happy to be in Port to support and cheer on the racers Zac, Simon, Len, Jeremy & Paul with other supporters from NSTC (Northern Suburbs Tri Club). For the bike leg we based ourselves on Matthew Flinders Drive a rather short but hard climb as the athletes come back in to town at the end of each lap. I did what  I could to help everyone up the hill and hence I still have very little voice 3 days after the event, every time we get a competitor to smile there was a noticeable lift in their energy. After the bike we positioned ourselves in the heart of town where the laps crossed paths, again it was great to cheer and encourage every participant.

It was great to see all of the NSTC racers get across the line, in particular to Jeremy who I coached for the event and achieved all the target times to achieve his time goal and finish his first Ironman. I will say he flew through his last k, finishing very strongly. Simon a regular at swimming over the last 6 months also completed his first Ironman with a sub 11hr performance. Well done to everyone who competed.

Ironman 70.3 Port Macquarie

Over the weekend, I was conveniently on holiday in Port Macquarie, with the Ironman 70.3 in town.

With a large contingent of NSTC (Northern Suburbs Tri Club) & members of my swim squad and friends competing I was naturally drawn to watching the race. I was ably assisted by Ben & Kylie from NSTC in cheering on the competitors.

The buzz of race start is always something special, it does feel different watching and not racing but exciting none the less.

The Swim was a mass start, with a mass of arms and legs churning up the water. On the bike we placed ourselves on Matthew Flinders drive (on the Hill), this is a great place to spectate and encourage competitors up a rather steep incline. The bike was 2 laps of undulating terrain. The run course again 2 laps and undulating terrain following the coast line. With a tough bike and run, this is clearly not your average 70.3 and challenges all competitors.

I had a great time watching, cheering and enjoyed being able to get some good photos. All competitors rose to the challenge of the course with many that I spoke to achieving PB’s on last year.

Port Macquarie is a great place to race or spectate, with the added bonus of plenty of good coffee shops near the start and finish lines to keep the spectators going. I will be planning to be back to watch the Ironman in May.

Ironman Canada

Ironman Canada was held over the weekend and whilst I am yet to get any race reports, I do know that Tamsin has completed her inaugural Ironman. Well done Tamsin, looking forward to a race report. Well done also to Pete and Andy fellow club mates from Ful-on Tri who also completed the race with great results.

Tamsin has reported that this challenge required her to draw on all of her mental reserves. The run leg showed its dark side and threw a number of obstacles in her way, but they were faced head on with Tamsin finishing under her goal time.



“If you are comfortable with your training regime then you should be concerned. You can only make the big gains by being out of your comfort zone.”
- Me

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