Challenge Roth – Travel and Registration (Andrew)

Roth, like cloth. Or Roth, like both. I’m still not 100% sure how to pronounce it. Instead, when asked where I was going in Germany, I’d say Nuremburg, because that’s the nearest city, only 35 minutes away. Which was okay until we picked up our hire car and found out that in German it should be Nurnberg.

Getting round ain’t easy when you don’t know how to pronounce where you’re going!

Luckily we had a flight to Munich and a hire car with Satnav, a feature that every car rental agency trys to sell you as an upgrade only for you to find it is already part of the car. Does anyone pay for it? If so, I’m going to open a care hire agency which will upgrade your car to include four wheels and brakes too…

We had an SUV but, given this is Germany, and Munich is one of it’s financial centres, the alternative was a Porsche. There was about 50 in marked bays throughout the pick up centre. But, sadly, no room in the back for a bike box so we got an Opel, which is German for a Vauxhall. I thought the 4k swim, 112 mile cycle and 26 mile run of Challenge Roth would be the hardest part of the trip, it turned out it was harder to not only find where we were going but also asking how we were going to get there.

The drive to Nurnberg nee Nuremburg was just under two hours. We stayed in Furth, an older area with a hotel next to the motorway. From there we could get to and from Roth easily.

Next door to the hotel was an Italian restaurant, Vapiano, which provided dinner on Friday and Saturday night. Unlike most restaurants it didn’t have any waiting staff. Instead you would queue on one side of the restaurant to order with the chef who would then cook your meal in front of you so you could take it back to your table, which means that my abiding memory of it wasn’t the food – which was decent – or the atmosphere – which was good as we had tables outside – but the queueing and queuing and queuing some more while those in front of us picked up their freshly cooked pasta.

It must be popular though: on the Saturday night there was a bride queuing in full bright white bridal dress and train. Though in full white, I hope she avoided anything which splattered.

Registration

Roth Guide To Roth

On Saturday, registration is open in Roth until 1pm. Beforehand you can have a practice swim in the canal for 90 minutes first thing in the morning. You can’t swim at other times as you are warned anyone caught swimming will be banned from taking part. I’m not sure how they would know if you were taking part but, as the 90 minutes came to an end, the number of police boats, coast guards (canal guards?) and other boats patrolling the canal to make sure everyone had left the water made me think you wouldn’t be able to sneak in for a swim without a visit to the local German police station.

At this point, it was still uncertain whether wetsuits would be banned for the swim. We decided to swim without them so as to find out what it would be like. We were the only one’s though, everyone else had their suit on. That seemed strange. If you know wetsuits could be banned, why wouldn’t you practice without them so you’d know what to expect on Sunday morning? It would be worse to practice with them and then turn up and find out you can’t use it.

But it doesn’t say where you need to wear Speedos – you could wear them on your head

Registration itself is straightforward, once you figure out where to go. The expo is large, with lots of booths, tents, a Challenge Roth shop, beer gardens, food trucks, and no mention at all on the map of where to go to register. In fact, this was a common problem we had – we couldn’t figure out any of the maps. Perhaps it was named something else in German.

Once we found it – one of the biggest tents, naturally – it took seconds to register. And, even better, the organisers had confirmed that we could swim in wetsuits the next day. The water temperature was 0.2 degrees below the cut off point when wetsuits would be banned.

Racking up

You have until 4pm to rack your bike back at the canal for transition one. You also drop off your transition two bag here for running and the organisers will sort it out for you.

The transition is easy to find, back at the canal where we’d swum earlier and where gunboats now patrolled the waters to stop any rogue athletes having a cheeky dip, and there was 1’000s of car parking spaces.

You need to have not only your bike, helmets, all stickers and your transition 2 bag to get in but also your transponder. Not sure why.

Your transition 1 bag can be brought in the morning along with your after race bag.

The night before

After that, it was back to Roth. Time to rest, and queue, and then queue some more at Vapiano, before back to the hotel room to prepare the after race bag and double check I had everything to swim and in the bike back. Which I thought I did until I woke up at 2am and thought “Do I have my goggles?”

Which I didn’t – whoops!

IronMan UK 2015 (Andrew)

I found my race report for IronMan UK that I’d posted on the Glasgow Triathlon Club forum and you can tell that I wrote it within a couple of days of racing because the first line is far too emphatic. And I then broke it by entering Norseman and now, this year, Challenge Roth. Oh, if only I’d listened to Wise 2015 Andrew!

Here’s the report:

Swam a bit. Rode a bit. Ran a bit. Walked a lot. Happy to finish. Will never do it again.

I just wanted to share six AMAZING tips I learnt from the race that you won’t find in Don Fink’s training guide*.

Tip 1: Crash at least once when it’s totally not your fault. I did and I promise that you’ll forget about your legs as you spend the next 20 miles daydreaming about a bike pump, the rider who crashed into you and the elaborate torture porn of the Saw films. 

Tip 2: Your nose will run. It will never stop. Why not devise your own word for wiping your nose on your sleeve, arm, shoulder, any dry patch of jersey really. Snotting anyone? 

Tip 3: You can leave a special needs bag to pick up during the bike course. You could leave spare gels and energy bars or, you could do what I did, and leave a cheese & ham sandwich and a packet of crisps. It may take a couple of minutes to stop and eat it but, after a constant diet of gels, bars and electrolyte drinks those few minutes were the highlight of my day. Mmmm…. Cheesy Wotsits!

Tip 4: We all run our own races. That’s true. But, secretly, in our heart of hearts, we all get a boost when we see a fat bloke struggle. (This is an equal opportunities tip – remember, for the people ahead of you, you will be their ‘fat bloke’ ). 

Tip 5: Spectators will cheer you. They’ll shout “You’re doing great”, “Keep going”, “You’re running really well” etc, etc. However, sometimes, you know you’re not doing great. You’re walking. You’re crawling. You’ve given up and had a cry at the side of the road. At those times, the spectators should shout “You’re crap”, “You’ll never make it”, “The fat bloke’s beating you”. Sometimes we need a bit of humiliation and tough love from strangers. For your next Ironman, to run faster, why not wear a gimp mask?

Tip 6: Finally, a tip I’ve never read before. This must be a special tip reserved only for the most dedicated Ironmen and women. I call it “Recycling”. It works like this: at some point during the race, you’ll need to go to the toilet. When you do – why not eat a banana? You’re hands are free. You’ve got time. You’re not going anywhere. So why not put in what you’re… erm… putting out? 

I’ve no other explanation for the amount of food found in the portaloos: folk are chewing and pooing – and they’re heading to Kouna! This could be you (but, please God, wash your hands, you’re an athlete, not an animal!).

*tips not found in Don Fink’s book for good reason!

Woman, A Warning! (Andrew)

A couple of weeks ago I was watching Sky News when they cut to a report of a man, Ross Edgely, who had just swum round the whole of the UK. 

“Wow,” said the reporter, as he reached the shore.

“Wow,” said the crowd, as he raised his arms in triumph. 

“What a dick,” I thought, as I watched him explain how swimming in salt water for months and months had gradually destroyed his tongue. Or, as he said it: “Swumming ‘n sawt wather ‘as detroyth ma tong!”.

While I admire all athletes who take on and achieve an epic challenge. I couldn’t help think this time that there’s a danger in automatically admiring them.  They’re creating a dangerous trend. They’re creating the idea that longer is better, when it’s not. Long races are boring. Long races are hard. Instead give me a medium length race. A half-marathon. A half-ironman. Just the thought of entering a race with the word half in it, gives me a boost. “It can’t be that bad,” I think, “it’s only a half!”.

The word “ultra” on the other hand makes me we want to avoid it like a colleague from work on a train station when you know you’ve got an hour’s journey ahead of you and don’t want to sit beside them because you know you’ll run out things to say in five minutes. 

Yet, despite the difficulty, there are longer and longer races all the time. Board of IronMan? Why not run a double, triple or even ten times IronMan? Want to go for a swim, why not avoid the pool and head towards Norway instead? It’ll only take three weeks, a yacht and a willingness to lose your tongue within sight of Bergin.

I blame guys. Guys are daft and macho. We want to take on harder and harder challenges. Which is okay, but I think we should call them what they are. IronIdiots. And, when they complete a race. When they swim 3 miles, cycle 112 miles and run a marathon they should be greeted at the finish line with a cry of “YOU ARE AN IRONIDIOT!”

Which is better than IronMan because it’s not sexist, woman can be idiots too.

Except they’re not. The number of woman who take part in longer events is significantly smaller than the number who take part in short events like 10k or half-marathons. 

But it’s starting to grow. I’m seeing more woman take part in longer races. And I have this to say to them: “STOP! DON’T DO IT! DON’T BE AN IRONIDIOT!”

Instead, women, invent your own races. Races that are fun and people actually want to do. Don’t copy the guys. They don’t know what they’re doing. Why would anyone want to run a marathon after cycling 112 miles? It’s stupid and arbitrary and random and proves nothing except guys will follow any instructions provided they get a medal at the end.

If there was a medal for swimming 3 miles then cycling 112 miles then punching yourself in the face until you make your nose bleed then sign me up!

Women, don’t repeat the mistake of men. Men are idiots. Who invented the marathon? A man? And what happened to him? He died running it. Yet other men thought, “Hey, that’s a great idea – let’s do it too!”

Invent your own races. Don’t follow the guys into extreme triathlons. Invent benign triathlons. Races where the water is warm, the courses are downhill and, if you get a puncture, everyone has to stop until you’ve fixed it. That sounds like a nice race.

Just don’t follow the guys, they’re only leading you on an adventure that should be banned on health & safety grounds!

 

IronMan Edinburgh 70.3 2018 (Andrew)

 

IMG_4653Scotland is one of the few countries in the world where wearing a wetsuit is not just for swimming. Autumn. Most weekdays. All weekends. Wearing a wetsuit is almost compulsory in Scotland if you don’t want to get wet. Except yesterday and except for the last few weeks, Scotland has had an outbreak of what can only be described as “the apocalypse”.

Every day the sky is blue, the sun is yellow and there’s no clouds to be seen. It’s boiling! Every night, we huddle in homes desperately trying to sleep in our fridges. It’s horrible!

How are we meant to live like that! Bring back the rain! We live in Scotland, not the Sahara!

So, while six months of training has seen a typical Scottish training programme of trying to find the few dry days where you can go out on a bike, much indoor training, and a lot of wetsuit wearing, the one thing I’d not trained for was running in the sun. How can you train for that in Scotland, it just doesn’t happen. Until this month. Until I had to pack the one thing I thought I would never need – sun cream.

Ironman 70.3 Edinburgh 2018 itself promised a calm swim, some clouds for the bike course before burning off for the run around Arthur’s Seat. And it almost fulfilled that promise as the swim was calm, the run was sunny – but so was the bike course. Unrelenting from the moment it started.

Swim 

swim

1.9 kms around Prestonpans. With no breeze, the water was very calm and the temperature was a warm-ish 14.5 degrees Celsius.

Before starting it’s worth remembering two things. One, there’s very few toilets so make sure you start queuing on Saturday and, two, the queue for the swim will take almost twenty five minutes due to the rolling start. Either way, be prepared to queue.

The swim itself had an west to east current so the first half was into the current and the second was a rocket launched very easy turbo swim back to shore. In the calm conditions it was akin to swimming in busy swimming pool. No waves made a great turnaround from last year’s tsunami like conditions.

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Bike 

Same course as last year. A very pleasant 56 mile ride through East Lothian with some stunning views of Edinburgh, Fife and the Pentland Hills on the second half of the course.

The main thing to remember about this part of the course is that the final climb up Arthur’s Seat is not the biggest challenge at the end. Just before you enter the park there’s a short section of Paris-Roubaix like cobbles that rattle your bones and could give you a puncture if you’re not prepared for them.

Run

A minor change to the 13 mile run route sees the climb up the commonwealth pool dropped and a slightly longer flatter run around Arthur’s Seat. A welcome change as it makes the route cleaner with less out and back sections.

It was noon by the time I started running so the sun was out and it was a challenge to run in the hot conditions. There’s plenty of water/aid stations and the volunteers were great at keeping the water/cola/energy juice/gels and bananas going.

My aim in the run was to run the first of three laps then run most of the second except for the long climb up from Dynamic Earth then see how I felt on lap 3. As it happened I felt okay throughout and was able to run (very slowly!) most of each laps with breaks at water stations only.

At this point I saw Iain was at least half a lap ahead so I decided to let him win today’s race – and that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

Overall

Ironman 70.3 Edinburgh is a great race. Well organised and most of the niggles of the first year were ironed out. Especially the biggest one – the crap t-shirt at the end. Last year’s effort was very much a ‘will this do?’ effort: ill fitting, poor lettering, just stick Edinburgh on an IronMan generic t-shirt effort. This year was much better. I even wore it through Edinburgh and then back to the start at Prestonpans to collect the car because, although it was hot,  cool people wear their finisher’s t-shirts in public! 🙂

Me

IronMan UK 2015 (Iain)

This week, I realized I have a lot of old posts from a previous blog. So that they don’t go to waste, and to save me having to write new blogs I’m going to publish some of the more interesting ones.

This is from 2015….

Bolton was home to Fred Dibnah. He climbed chimneys and became a TV star.  When he died a statue was erected in his honor. Bolton was home to Nat Lofthouse. He was one of the greatest English footballers. When he died a statue was erected in his honor. Bolton was home to Vernon Kaye. He presented the TV show which tried to drown celebrity’s – “Splash.” I hope he doesn’t get a statue for it!

If he doesn’t then he will, at least, get a mention in a remembrance book at Bolton Wanderer’s stadium. It lists all the Bolton fans that died that day….which is a bit creepy. Do they phone up the hospital and check who the recently deceased supported?

Bolton

IronMan UK which is based at Bolton’s stadium. The race is a 2.4-mile  swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and then a run of 26.2-mile.

Registration/Setup

Registration and Transition 2 are based at the stadium. It’s convenient for parking and easy to get to/from the motorway. The expo/merchandise is smaller than IronMan Frankfurt (which I’d visited a few weeks beforehand) so don’t wait until after the race to buy anything as it will most likely be gone by then.

You can request a special needs bag for the bike section but its not given out automatically.

We stayed in http://www.hiexpressleigh.co.uk/ which is next to the swim start but about 10 miles from Bolton. It was a good choice. We walked to the swim in the morning and they supplied an early breakfast and a pre-race dinner.

After registration we parked the car in a multistory next to the finish line. The car parks free at the weekend. After the race we’d only have a short walk from the finsish to the car park.  We took a bus back to Leigh and picked up a race essential – a Subway sandwich for the special needs bag. I wasn’t going to spend all day racing without eating some real food.

Unfortunately the hotel room didn’t have a fridge so I created one from ice cubes and a sink. I suspect I was the only one racing who eat a Subway.

Fridge

Our pre race rest comprised walking to the cinema to watch Ant Man. It was rubbish but watchable. I got to bed about 20:00 and set the alarm for 04:00

Swim (01:21:46)

The rain was pelting down when I got up. The start was only a short walk away so instead of getting clothes wet I wore the wet-suit from the hotel to the start line. As I walked along I passed people in wetsuits who also were also wearing rain smocks! Why??? Surely they can’t be concerned about the wet suit getting wet!

The swim is a rolling start so you queue in a line and enter the water and start swimming. Where you stand in the line represents how quick you think your swim time will be. I queued towards the back.

The swim is two laps of the course. The queue start meant there was no getting battered and bumped at the beginning of the race. The second lap was trickier as the weather was abysmal which made it tough to spot the buoys. I was surprised when I got out to do so at the exact same time as my brother. I hadn’t seen him at all on the course during either lap!finisherpix_0955_006476

Transition 

There is only one tent. Other races have two (one for male, one for female) so if you want to get naked you have to do so in a corner of the tent that’s blocked off. Its pretty pointless as it’s not very well blocked off so you can see everything. I apologize to anyone who got an eyeful. I can only claim that the water was very, very cold.

Bike (07:46:48)

It was still raining when we came out of transition. The forecast was for the sun to come out within an hour but I wore waterproofs. I’m glad I did because the weather forecast was wrong and it was mostly a cold and very windy ride.

The first section is a 14 mile urban ride to the start of a two loop circuit. The circuit has two hills on it. Neither of which is particularly difficult as we are used to Scottish hills. The support on both is excellent as a lot of people come out to cheer you on as you make your way up.  The wind never abated on the laps and it felt it was more against than for me.

Nothing much interesting happened on the ride other than a man rode into the back of Andrew at the special needs section. Luckily neither Andrew or his sandwich were hurt. At another point we took a wrong turn but we weren’t the only ones who did so and it was quickly rectified.

In terms of organisation there aren’t many toilet spots on the loop and support vehicles seemed to be few and far between. It didn’t cause us any issues but its worth noting that help might not be immediately at hand.

This years bike split times are much slower than last year’s. This has a good analysis of it http://www.coachcox.co.uk/2015/07/20/ironman-uk-2015-results-and-analysis/

finisherpix_0955_001229Transition 

There was only one tent so a similar system of nakedness replied. Again, I apologize for anyone who got an eyeful.

Run (05:04:09)

The weather in Bolton was nice,  the sun had come out (at last!) We had a strategy of running the flat/downhill and walking the uphill. After two minutes of leaving transition we came to the first hill. It felt strange to stop but a strategy is a strategy!

The first part of the run takes you into Bolton city centre. It’s pretty dull slog along a canal as there are no mile markers. I had to rely on a GPS watch to know how well/badly I was doing.

After this there were three loops of the city centre. The amount of supporters, or they may just be people who like to watch other suffer,  lining the streets was unbelievable. At time I was running into a wall of noise. A wall that likes shouting encouragement. Unfortunately I do better with criticism  so I just ignore the encouragement but I do appreciate the atmosphere. Without it the run would have been a struggle. One women did make me laugh as she shouted “two for the price of one” after spotting myself and Andrew.

The loop is surprisingly hilly. A steady climb out of town and steady descent back. As the hills were long I abandoned the hill strategy and replaced it with ‘the cone game’! I’ll share this wonderful game so you too can go slightly mental on a race.

It’s very simple. The course is lined with cones so pick a number of cones to run past and then a number to walk. On the way down the hill on the first lap we’d do a 4-2 strategy. 4 cones running, two cones walking. On the way back up the hill 3-3. The strategy would change depending how we felt so if we were tired we could drop to a 3 cones on 4 cones off etc

From this I learnt that Andrew has trouble counting as he’d say “was that the second cone or the third?”

I also believe I can now recognize every cone in Bolton! By the end they all had individual personalities. I might have gone loopy. It was a really good way to get through the run as we could always see where our next run or walk section was.

Their was a lack of toilets on the route but luckily neither of us had any issues on the day. We both just eat a little bit of everything in moderation and that worked fine.

The finish was excellent. Big crowds and the man saying “lain…you are an IronMan” but better than that was the free pizza in the finish tent.

finisherpix_0955_057343

Overall (14:45:50)

A good experience that means I’ll never have do another one! I’ve always preferred shorter races and this didn’t change my opinion although I would like to know – If I did  an IronMan abroad would they say “you are an IronMan?” or would it be”eres un hombre de hierro” or  “vous êtes un homme de fer” or…

IronMan Edinburgh 70.3 (Andrew)

“Is it safe?”

In the film Marathon Man this quote is repeated as Sir Laurence Olivier performs an increasingly painful dental treatment on Dustin Hoffman.

In IronMan Edinburgh this quote is repeated by everyone on the start line as we gaze out to sea.

“Is it safe?”

Swim

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Last week we had a recce of East Lothian to check the swim start and to cycle part of the bike route.

It was windy, over 20 mph, and the water at Preston Links at Prestonpans was choppy and covered in white caps.

A woman got out of a car beside us. She was wearing an IronMan hoodie and IronMan cap. So was her father, who came out next.

“Are you racing?” We said, which was a daft question as he was clearly in his seventies. 🙂

She answered for him.

She was racing. And she was there to practice the swim. But, on looking at the water, she said: “Not today. I’m not going out in that!”

She had an English accent so we thought she wasn’t local (though, with Edinburgh so close, an English accent could be local!) and we tried to reassure her: “It won’t be like this next week – this is a one off! It’s just a bit of wind!”

Unfortunately for her we were completely wrong. It wasn’t just a bit of wind, it was the start of a week long howl that kept going all through Monday to Friday, sped up on Saturday and wasn’t due to slow down until the race was over.

On Saturday, the forecast was for winds of 15mph plus. Too strong for a calm swim. By Saturday night the organisers were predicting a shortened swim and by 6am they’d shortened it from 1900m to 950m. One lap of a course that had been rearranged to try and avoid the worst of the currents.

But not at the start. The first 100 metres would be straight into the waves and current and wind. The perfect storm.

For the first 100 metres I could see people struggling. Not only was there the shock of cold water, the tightness of my chest constricting, the shallow breaths and the constant gulps of salt water as I tried to time the waves correctly so that my mouth is, and this is crucial bit, above the waves, not below them. But there was also the need to sight the first buoy, to avoid fellow athletes and to generally survive in conditions that even blockbuster movie shark Jaws would say: “Don’t go into the water!”.

But, after the first turn, as we swam along the beach, not out to sea, the conditions improved. It was easier to breath with the waves at my side, than right in front.

Of course, being an idiot, I then decided I had to clear my goggles as they’d filled with condensation. I tried to duck under the water, remove my goggles to rinse them out, then put them back on in one smooth fluid motion.

It didn’t happen.

I ducked. I spluttered. I got salt in my eyes. I couldn’t see. I swallowed half of the Firth of Forth, I ended up swimming in the wrong direction – but I did all that in one smooth fluid motion, so at least I got something right.

For the rest of the swim I had leaky goggles, I had to keep taking them off to clear them of water, while, when they were on, I had to keep one shut to avoid the salt water seeping in. And swimming with one eye is not easy – just ask Captain Hook, if he’d had two eyes, he’d have been able to swim away from that crocodile.

Despite my one eye, I got to the final buoy and turned back to shore. The swim back was a relief, and with the current behind, fast too.

The swim was over. I hadn’t drowned, which in itself felt like an achievement.

Bike

Bike

The bike route started in Prestonpans and then headed out through East Lothian, through Haddington and Gifford, before turning back and heading in almost a straight line to Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh.

But, it was only the direction that was straight. The elevation promised a course with very few flat sections and plenty of ups and downs with some short sharp climbs.

And, because it was still windy, the course also added 25 miles into the wind as we came into Edinburgh.

The crowds were out in force, at least in the villages we passed. The largest town, Haddington, had the fewest spectators. Literally, one man and his dog. A man, and his dog, standing in his driveway. I can only guess the rest of the town must have been in church. Either that or the four hour road closure on a Sunday morning wasn’t appreciated by locals who decided to protest by staying away.

The course was varied, with plenty to see, from rolling hills, to leafy hedges, to forest canopies, farmlands, and, at one point, one of my work’s housing developments (which was nice to see, though not perhaps a selling point from anyone but me).

The final few miles saw a short burst of pave, the Edinburgh cobblestones, and then a climb around the back of Arthur’s Seat. This comes as a shock after 54 miles but not as much of a shock as the sign at mile 40 that “This is the high point, it’s all downhill from here!”. Only it wasn’t. Not in the slightest.

The last mile is downhill and provides a couple of minutes to relax, stop pedalling and getting focused on the run, or, in my case, to try and swallow an energy gel but forget how fast the road falls away and get tangled between trying to eat the gel and desperately apply the brakes to slow down.

I read afterwards that some people complained the road wasn’t in great condition and that there were a lot of punctures. I didn’t see any more punctures than normal and I thought the road was no better or worse than most Scottish roads.

Run

Run

I’d seen Iain in transition after the swim but couldn’t see him in the run transition. I knew he was ahead of me so I thought he must have left so I decided to follow him out.

And, by quickly, I mean for around 500 metres. Then the climbing starts. A one mile plus climb up Arthur’s Seat.

This was going to be a long run…

The run route is deceptively hilly. Deceptive in that even the flats bit are steeper than you think. Especially on the third time around the four and a bit mile course.

The run up Arthur’s Seat was tough, but the course itself was varied and featured a long run through the Innocent Railway tunnel, which was lit by a spinning light show and soundtracked with classic rock.

It’s worth racing IronMan Edinburgh just for the tunnel. Nothing beats running through a dark tunnel with AC/DC singing Highway To Hell and disco lights spinning round.

And then you have another hill. Followed by another hill. Then another hill. Then you finally get to run back down Arthur’s Seat before you have to do it two more times.

It was tough.

Much tougher than expected and I was pleased to get round in around 2 hours 10 minutes so at least I was getting round in around 10 minutes a mile. Not great, but after the swim and bike, I was happy with it.

I finished the race with Iain. As it turned out, he’d been in the toilet so I’d missed him in transition, but he caught me up, then passed, then slowed down at the end as I caught up with him. I conceded he’d won the Todd Championship point and we finished the run together.

The finish-line

I wasn’t sure if the announcer would shout: “You Are An IronMan!” as we crossed the line. It seemed wrong, you should only get that for the full distance, but, as an IronMan event, I wondered if they’d also do it for 70.3.

They didn’t. Instead we had hardcore dance tracks. “Shake that ass! Shake that ass! Shake that ass!” it cried before the announcer quickly said “Um, maybe that’s the wrong song, let’s get something more family friendly”.

We crossed the line in around six hours. Just under for Iain, just over for me (boo!). A tough race but a fair one with some great views of Edinburgh and East Lothian. Also a race that attracted the highest proportion of female athletes than any IronMan event, with over 20%. It was great to see a less male dominated race and, perhaps next year, IronMan could rename it the IronWoman Edinburgh 70.3.

No asses were shook for the podium picture.

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A short history of my bikes – part 7 (Iain)

Bike 7 is a summer bike which in Scotland means it’s used once a year!

It’s a Planet X Nanolight with super light carbon wheels. Its the fastest and most expensive bike I’ve ever owned which means it spends most of its time in doors as i’m too afraid to get it dirty.

I currently have it set up on a turbo trainer. Its my cuddle closet! See https://norseman2016.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/welcome-to-my-pain-cave-andrew/

fullsizerender

Last winter, I did my turbo sessions following a strict schedule…a TV schedule.

My training regime was

Hard Session – Channel 4’s Location, Location, Location.

Medium Session – Grand Designs.

Easy Session – George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces

I didn’t get any better at biking but I can now design my own home.

This year I’m taking training seriously. My aim is to beat Andrew at the Caledonian Etape. A feat I’ve never managed.

So I’m going to investigate Zwift (https://zwift.com/)and Trainerroad (https://www.trainerroad.com/) the two leading turbo training software companies to see which is the best home trainer. I’ll report back next time unless I get distracted working on the blueprints of my dream home!

Triathlons are really boring to watch (Iain)

This weekend is Ironman Kona – the triathlon equivalent of the world Cup final. The winner can call themselves the Ironman World Champion. At the event are the best athletes in the sport – but no UK TV channel will show it.

Why? Simple – triathlons are really boring to watch!

What’s more boring than swimming for an hour? Watching someone else swim for an hour!

What’s more boring than biking on a motorway for five hours? Watching someone else bike on a motorway for five hours!

What’s more boring than running for three hours? You get the idea…

In fact I  can’t think of anything worse than watching a Triathlon.

[Checks TV guide. I spot Sky Sports are showing Scotland versus Lithuania]

Actually…does anyone know where I can watch Kona? 🙂

Race Nutrition (Iain)

“Are you eating a Subway sandwich?” Asks a man to me.

“Yes,” I reply, as I bite into a delicious foot-long Spicy Italian.

“And your doing the Iron Man race?”

“Yes. Its going well! I’m halfway through the bike leg,” I take a drink of Coke and unwrap a chocolate Twix.

The man looks at me and then cycles off. I think he’s jealous of my mid-bike-leg Iron Man picnic.

Many folk more qualified in nutrition than me can tell you what to eat during a race. They will break it down to the exact level of carbs, protein and salt.

I say: “Eat what you like!”

If you normally have a sausage roll and bit of cake during your long bike rides then bring a sausage roll and cake to an Iron man. Your body is used to it so why have something else?

I had a full lunch on my bike leg of the Iron Man and felt great afterwards. The only time I’ve ever felt ill during a race was when I eat just gels and powders.

During one race I stopped and had a burger, beer and a desert. It was great!

The race itself was terrible. It was called the Rat Race and it took place in Edinburgh comprised  of bike/run/kayaking sections as well as puzzles.

For example one section was a treasure hunt on Arthur’s Seat. I had to find three flags. If I didn’t find them I’d get a 10 minute penalty per flag. I took one look at the massive area I had to search in and left for the next section. The 30 minute penalty was less than the actual time it would take to complete the task.

I then calculated that if I finished the race without doing any of it the penalties I would still have less than the expected winning time. So, I stopped and had lunch at a pub. Afterwards I went to the finish and took my penalties. I was disqualified as the organiser said it wasn’t in the spirit of the competition! I disagreed. I’d out thought the race and surely that’s worth a win.

I’ve never done an adventure race since but it did leave me with a desire for a proper lunch during long races.

Norseman Swim (Andrew)

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The dark water grips like a giant’s hand. I kick upwards and grin. I’ve made it. I’ve escaped. I’ve jumped from the ferry.

Earlier, it’s 3am and we’ve been up for 10 minutes. My back feels fine. The physio’s promise has come true. It was okay for Saturday, she made no promises for the rest of the week. I pull my wetsuit on over my legs but don’t pull it on over my arms. Instead I wear a couple of t-shirts. It would be too warm to walk around in a full wetsuit.

I grab my bag for the boat and we drive five minutes to Eidfjord and park behind the main street. We walk down to the pier and… we’re lost. We’ve walked the wrong way and we’re facing a school building. Good start, especially in a town that only has a handful of streets, most of them pointing down to the shore.

We walk back and take the right street.

At transition we have another scare. They check the bike for lights and for working brakes. They check my bag to make sure I have a hi-viz top for the first 20 miles but they say mine doesn’t have enough fluorescent stripes. “It’s doesn’t?” I say dumbly, thinking, “Is this it?” But they have spares and I get a baggy extra large Norseman hi-viz top instead. It doesn’t fit. It doesn’t matter.

We take the bike and bag and I join the queue to board the ferry. We need to be on board by 4am and, through the windows, I can see the Olympic opening ceremony playing on a tv in a lounge. I remember that it’s not quite morning, that it’s still Friday night no matter what time my watch shows.

The deck of the boat is empty as everyone finds a seat in the lounges upstair. I sit beside a Canadian and a Swedish man who has the same type of wetsuit as me. “You must have had the shortest journey?” I say to him to make conversation. “I drove for 14 hours,” he said. D’oh.

At 4:45 I apply Powerglide and ask the Canadian to zip up my wetsuit. I wish both of them luck and I go down to the car deck, which is not filling up with athletes getting ready for the race to start.

At the back of the deck I see the hose pumping and spraying sea water. I know I need to adjust to the cold water so I walk straight into it  –

– and start hypeventilating –

– so I duck out of the spray, then duck in again.

And again. Again. For 10 minutes. Until the water no longer feels cold, until I can breathe normally, until I feel ready to jump.

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A tannoy annouces the jump will start in two minutes. I put on my large swim cap to cover my ears, my goggle and my race cap. I walk as close to the front as I can. I don’t want to wait. I want to go straight in without hesitation.

The jump starts.

People fall like lemmings in front of me. It only takes a few seconds for me to stand on the edge of the deck. Another second for me to jump. To raise my hand to my google to make sure they stay in place. Then I strike the water and it’s cold, and dark, and surrounding me completely holding me tight in it’s grip, but it’s not too cold. And as I kick to push myself up and break the surface I see lights on the coastal road, dawnlight peaking over the fjord and I grin. And I shout in joy. I’d faced my fear and I’d won.

There is line of canoes ahead of me. I swim over, using breaststroke and a few crawl strokes to acclimatize more to the water.

I look back and people are still falling. The boat squats on the water and I know that everything will be okay.

I float for a few minutes. “Enjoy this,” I tell myself. Dark cliffs tower above, in front and to the side. The water is cool. And fresh, the winter snows creating a freshwater layer that masks the salt. The canoes drift. I stay near the front, floating between two canoes. I know everyone will pass me but I like the thought of being in the lead if only for a second.

I wait for the ferry’s horn to sound.

RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWUUUUUURRRRPPPP

And we’re off. I’m quickly overtaken but I settle into a rhythm. 1 – 2 – 3 – 4. 1 – 2 – 3 – 4. And I breathe to my left every time I count 4.

I have no idea where I am. I can see lights in the fjord ahead. Daylight wakens and I know which direction to go but I can’t tell how far I’ve gone or how far I have to go.

Even when we turn the corner of the fjord and face Eidfjord directly I don’t know if this is one mile or one metre away.

At times I follow the feet of a swimmer in front. At others I have a Siamese twin. A swimmer breathing to my right keep pace and only a feet away to my left. Some times I even swim near a pack, though most of the time I’m on my own. I’m further out than others but as I’m heading in the right direction I don’t try and move closer.

In Eidfjord they light a bonfire on a beach to help you find your way. I didn’t know this when I swam but I could see an orange light and I used that to get me to the first (and only) bouy. From there it’s about 500 metres across Eidfyord pier to a small rocky beach. This final stretch is tough. It was the same area we’d swum yesterday in a practice session. Yesterday, however, it was flat calm. Today, the wind had picked up waves and the current was against me. But I was nearly ‘home’. I kept going.

Round the pier I thought there was another 100 metres to the finish but I was wrong, it was only 20 metres. I kicked my legs to try and get some feeling into them. I wobbled on the stoney ground when I stood up. I tried to balance and looked at the people on the beach and the pier above to see if I could find Iain.

I started to jog. (As if it would help!). I was happy, I was done. I told myself: “You will never do this again!”, the same thing I told myself last year at IronMan UK. I’m good at lying to myself.

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