Norseman Training Stats (Iain)

This week was the last week of Norseman training. Thank f$%K!!!

I don’t know whether I’ve done enough training. I’ll discover that in a couple of weeks time when I attempt the race BUT I do know that I’ve done all I could in the time I had available.

My aim has always been to complete rather than compete so on that basis since the start of the year my training stats are:

BIKE
Distance: 2,720.5 mi
Time: 184h 41m
Elev Gain: 100,682 ft
Rides: 164

If I was to ride 2,720.5 miles from Glasgow then I’d end up in Baghdad in Iraq. I suspect at some point in Norseman i’ll wish I was in Baghdad as even getting shot at will be more pleasant than the swim/bike/run!

100,000 ft of elevation is the equivalent of cycling 3 times the height of Everest. Which sounded impressive until I looked up what is the record number of climbs of Everest.  Kami Rita Sherpa has summited 22 times! So my paltry 3 times is just a walk in the park to him.

184 hours is along time to be biking. I could have used that time to learn to paint, speak a foreign language or more likely just watch television. 184 hours of TV means I could have binge watched:

All of Game of Thrones (63 hours)
All of Breaking Bad (62 hours)
Every Marvel film (36 hours)
Every Harry Potter film (22 hours)
One episode of love island. (1 hour)

RUN
Distance: 544.1 mi
Time: 100h 1m
Elev Gain: 37,493 ft
Runs: 101

If I’d have run from my house for 544 miles I’d have ended up in the sea but if I ignore that pesky issue then I’d have ended up in Schleswig-Holstein in Germany. Which until now I’d never heard of! After a quick google I can reveal the most interesting thing I could find about the place.

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On the coat of arms for the state, the symbols of Holstein and Schleswig can both be seen. The two lions represent Schleswig while the leaf of a nettle is for Holstein.

Before the Prussians took over the region, the lions faced away from the nettle. But legend has it that Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck couldn’t bear the idea of the ‘Danish’ lions pointing their bums at the Holstein nettle.

Sorry – It wass not that interesting a story but its the best I could find!

SWIM
Distance 40,808m
Time 19h 4m
Swims 27

When training for an Olympics Michael Phelps would swim 80,000m a week. That’s 1600 laps of a 50m swimming pool. I’ve managed half a week of his training in six months. Which is why I don’t have any Olympic Medals but how many episode of Love Island has he seen? I bet its none. I’ve seen loads. Who’s the success now?….umm probably still him!

Hopefully I’ve reached the start line fit, injury free and happy. I can’t ask for any more than that.

(Although i have one long run and one long bike ride still to do. Hopefully I haven’t jinxed them!)

A Gentleman Never Talks About His Training (Iain)

A famous playwright wrote:

“A gentleman should never talk about his exercise regime or love life. It should be assumed he does none of one but lots of the other. Discussing either makes a man a bore!”

Talking about training is something all runners/cyclists/swimmers are guilty of. We all want to share the amazing training session we had but does anyone actually want to hear about it?

The best example of over sharing is to think about any friends who have new born babies. I have a friend who posts one picture of their kid every few months. It’s sweet to see the child’s progress so I click like on the picture. I have another friend who posts a picture every day. Sometimes multiple times in a day.  At first it was sweet, then annoying and then I unfollowed them as I didn’t need to see there snot nosed vomit machine every time I logged onto social media.

That’s what happens when you talk too much about training. You first become background noise i.e. people scroll past without even reading. You then become annoying, people ignore your posts and, before you know it, no-one is actually looking at your updates.

I realize the hypocrisy of saying don’t talk about training on a blog about training but if I can’t be boring on my own personal blog where can I be boring?

Here’s some common tropes that I find annoying and how to avoid them.

The “smashed it” post

The post which says what a great training session an athlete had. They smashed it! In fact every post says they smashed it. If every session was that great why are they not winning ever race they enter?

I’d suggest occasionally posting something else. A picture of a dog. A picture of some food, or occasionally just write “what a great session…but not as great as last week.”

The look at me post

The post which says “What a great run today. The view was amazing” yet the photo the athlete uploaded is a picture of their face.

I’d suggest post the view, not the viewer. I’ve seen a million shots of their sweaty face. I know it better than I know my own. If I wanted to look at faces I’d get a job as a crime mugshot artist.

The too good to be true post 

The post where the athlete wears clothes which are too clean to ever have been used in a training session. Every shot is photographed professional and the posts seem to be all  taken from one day yet they get posted over a time period of a few weeks.

I don’t trust these posts. I think I’m subliminally getting advertised to. They should occasionally upload a real picture of themselves i.e. falling out of bed, bleary eyed, half drunk from the night before then I’d be more likely be interested when they did post a good shot.

The meme post

“OMG! Meme quotes are amazeballs! LOL” I think I’m quoting Malcolm X correctly here.

If you went to an art class would draw something or just bring a copy of the Mona Lisa? if you went to a music class would you try to play an instrument or would you bring  a Beethoven CD? I prefer people who have confidence in their own work. They quote themselves  – anything said with truth is more inspirational than anything copied from someone else.

The blatant plug post

If any companies wish to sponsor me then be aware that I have very strict morals. I only work with companies who share my core belief – that I should get free stuff. If you fit that brief then I’ll happily plug your product in a photo shoot which we will release picture by picture over a few week period accompanied by me writing about  how I smashed the session using an inspirational meme quote!

PS – the purpose of this blog is to say I won’t be writing about Norseman training until the event but then I’ll post one big post about it for anyone who’s interested in seeing what I did to succeed/fail (delete one after seeing result) at Norseman.

Norseman – The journey begins… (Iain)

The Chinese philosopher Confucius wrote “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

The approximate distance from my house near Glasgow to Eidfjord (the Norwegian town where Norseman starts) is 1000 miles.

And I don’t step anywhere until I’ve booked a flight, arranged a hire car and reserved accommodation with AirBnB. So, forget what Confucius said, the phrase should be: a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single… mouse click.

Click  1 – Arrange a support crew. 

It’s compulsory to have a support crew. Previously I did this by myself for Andrew. That worked fine but, if I’d had to run the final leg, then the logistics would have been tricky. This time I’ll have two support crew. It’ll make it a more enjoyable day for all of us.

Click 2 – Arrange a flight

There’s two flights from Scotland to Norway. One goes from Edinburgh to Oslo, the other from Aberdeen to Bergen. Bergen is the closer to Eidfjord but Aberdeen is much further from my house. The time I’d save driving in Norway would be lost driving in Scotland. I therefore booked a flight to Oslo.

Click 3 – Arrange accommodation

Eidfjord is very small with limited accommodation but I managed to arrange an Airbnb for a small village nearby – Ovre Eidfjord. I booked a chalet in Rjukan for the finish. I’ve stayed there before. They sell great pizza on site which I’m looking forward to having after the race.

Click 4 – Train for the race

I asked Google “How do I train for Norseman?”

Google replied: “Stop sitting on your ass at the computer!! You won’t get anywhere until you step outside!”

Maybe Confucious had a point after all…

How not to swim (Iain)

Last week I attended a coached swim session. It was great. It’s much more enjoyable swimming with others than doing so by myself.

The only problem is:

  • Triathletes lie about their ability.
  • Triathletes are really competitive

I discovered this when the coach said: “I’d like you all to swim eight lengths (200m) of the pool at 70% race pace. I’ll time you. Who wants to go first?”

No one volunteered to go first.

“Come on! Who’s fastest?”

Everyone started looking at each other in the same way a lift of strangers look at each other after one person has farted. Who is it?

I looked at the man next to me. He was solid muscle. His back had the classic v-profile of an Olympic swimmer. He wore tiny Speedos that were so small and revealing they looked like they’d been tattoo’d to his crotch. His swim goggles cost more than my last car.

“Hurry up! Someone has to go first!”

The only time I’ve been mistaken for a swimmer was when a hairdresser said to me “Are you a swimmer?” I beamed with pride and replied “yes” thinking it was because of my swimmers physique – but my pride was quickly punctured when the hairdresser said “I thought so – I looked at your hair. It’s in terrible condition. It’s dry from chlorine.”

My swim shorts are run shorts. There’s no point buying one pair for running and one for swimming and it means my run shorts get a wash. My goggles are whatever I can find in the lost and of found bucket of my local pool. I am not a swimmer.

He looked at me again. It wasn’t that he was in a different league to me. It was that we aren’t even playing the same sport.

He said: “you first, mate”

I replied, “no thanks. You should definitely go first.”

He thought about it and said, “no – I think your quicker.”

So I went first. I had a five second head start. On the sixth second, he caught up.

I went as fast as I could but he kept having to stop to wait for me.

After we’d finished eight laps the coach said, “are you all happy with your time?”

The man who couldn’t have been more like a fish even if he’d had gills said, “I could have gone faster but I got help up!” Maybe if you hadn’t lied about your ability you wouldn’t have got held up. If you’re good at something it’s ok to say your good at it.

I then looked round and saw everyone else. It was like the scene at the start of Saving Private Ryan. Bodies were strewn in the water. People screaming in agony. One man looked like he’d swum himself into a heart attack.

The coach asked “Was that 70% effort?” No-one replied. They were all completely f&%ked!

At last the man having the heart attack said through wheezy, definitely non competitive, gasps of death “I think I went 65%!”

Racing into 2018 (Andrew)

Triathlon and running magazines will tell you that Autumn is a time to relax. The race season is over. The nights are drawing in. It’s time to let injuries heal and training decrease because, damn it, you deserve it, you magnificent athlete, you!

You did so well this year!

You smashed that A race.

You got the PB!

You ran out of acronyms to describe your achievements!

Except, what happens if you didn’t?

You got round your A race (just). Your PB stood for peanut butter and the sandwiches you ate by the dozen. And then you stopped doing anything at all for two months because you didn’t have time to train.

Do you get to relax?

Well, yes, Because it’s cold, and wet and frankly, it’s Scotland in Autumn. What other excuse do you need, you magnificent athlete, you?

And it is an excuse. Because the one thing the magazines don’t tell you is what happens when everything goes wrong, like this year for me.

The summer was a write off. A project at work meant I had very little free time for three months. And while I completed Escape From Alcatraz and IronMan 70.3 Edinburgh it was very much a case of “Thank you, Lord, for cancelling/shortening the swim and making it easier to get round!”.

So, Autumn for me is a chance now to get back to training, to start a few months earlier to be ready for next year and another attempt at Escape From Alcatraz and, as Iain’s announced, being the support for Norseman.

Because racing isn’t really about racing. And that’s something the magazines don’t get. Not some years.

This year wasn’t about racing as other things were more important and next year won’t really be about racing either, it’ll be about making sure Iain completes Norseman. Taking part and supporting others are just as, if not more important, than racing.

Though results always matter when you do race! 🙂

So, while I’ll be supporting Iain, I’ll also be secretly hoping he finishes Norseman after 111 miles on the bike so I can say I’m the best Todd at Norseman by getting to 112 miles!)

 

Norseman 2018 (Iain)

 

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Feck – I’d better start training!!!

I feel very lucky to have won a place through a ballot. Although – is it really a win to have to jump off a ferry into a freezing Norwegian fjord? Is it a win to then bike 112 hilly miles? Is it a win to have to running up a mountain called zombie hill?

I think most people would describe it as a punishment.

I’ve read they’re going to change the entry process from next year. I suspect to make it harder for no-hopers like myself to get in 🙂

Considering the rise in the number of long distance extreme races I’d guess Norseman will become like Iron Man Kona and an athlete will have to qualify to do it.

Unfortunately, I forgot I’d also entered the ballot for Celtman so I was a bit shocked when I got

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I haven’t ever been successful in a ballot for a race. Then I get in twice in a row! D’OH!

I’ve written to Celtman to apologize and ask they give the place to someone else.

Hopefully, another lucky person will also ‘win’!

Norseman Bike (Andrew)

bike

“Enjoy it”.

The bike leg of Norseman is 112 miles inland from the pier at Eidfjord to the town of Austbygde. It starts with a 1,250m climb to Dyranut, a long stretch along a high plateau, descends back down before the second half hits you with four increasingly longer and harder hills before a 15 mile descent to T2.

The weather forecast all week had been for a north westerly tailwind and for conditions to be mostly dry. That changed on Friday night. It was going to rain for most of the morning and afternoon. I’d brought waterproof cycling shorts, shoes and jacket with me so wore those straight from transition, even though it was dry when I changed. I thought it would be enough, I was wrong.

The bike leg start with a few miles along a flat road from Eidfjord before the climbing starts. The cliff face rises on either side, we follow the old road around the edge of the rock face, dart through tunnels lit by candles, and it feels like we’ve travelled back in time. We’ve left the modern world behind. The road is pitted, but potholes easy to avoid, the drops are steep and tumble down like the waterfalls that scour the sides. I settle into an easy rhythm in my lowest gear and largely keep pace with the rides around me. Occasionally, I even overtake riders on TT bikes standing on the pedals, while I sit down and pass them on the left.

The views are stunning. Wisps of clouds hug the tops of cliff like triumphant climbers about to summit, looking down I can see glimpses of other riders, brightly coloured ants against the dark grey cliff roads, and I keep repeating in my head:

“Enjoy this.”

Because what else is there to do? If I cannot look round and feel that this is the only place I want to be today, that these sights are glimpses of landscape that I’m privileged to see and to be part of.

“Enjoy this.”

The climb consists of two distinct sections. The first strikes through the mountain, climbing through a cleft in the rock like the remants of a giant’s axe strike, the second is a longer climb towards the summit, through moorland and patches of snow along the sides of the road. It’s in the second section that it starts to rain. And rain.

I don’t mind the rain at first. I’m prepared, I have my waterproofs and I’ve used them before in bad conditions so know they’ll be okay. But then the clouds lower. Visibility drops and now it’s not only raining I can only see 50 – 100 metres at a time. This is why we wear a high-viz vest and use lights for the full route. I’m grateful for them. Not for me, but to see others, that I’m not alone.

The next few hours are an increasing struggle. The climb goes further than the profile suggests. Long shallow climbs where, even with a tailwind, progress is slower that I’d hoped. TT bike shoot by. I can’t keep up, nor do I try. I went for a climbing bike and comfort, not speed.

Spots that I remembered from driving across the plateau are rendered indistinct by the clouds. A lake with two black houses on the shore. Three turf houses at the side of the road. It’s always too late when I spot them. But still I tell myself to smile. I’m happy. But wet.

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The support car can’t join you on the climb, I see them in a traffic jam going down the mountain as I climbed up, the single road meaning there’s no place to stop. I’ve brought enough food for two and half hours, eating every thirty minutes. My standard ‘meals’ of ZipVit uncoated orange bars and banana gels. But after two and half hours I’ve yet to see Iain.

I thought I saw him at one point. A black Hyundai estate with 91 – my number – on a sticker on the back. He was down a short lane and trying to reverse the car. I’d shot passed him before I could stop. I thought if it was him, that he was reversing because he’d seen me and was going to follow. I was wrong.

It was another hour before I saw him. Every time a car passed I would hope it was him. After 30 minutes I started to worry. I wondered if he’d had a puncture or, worse, an accident. Every black car that passed was met with a searching look of its back window. 201. 15. 134. Not 91.

I was relieved when I finally saw him. I was soaked through and had run out of food. He pulled in a couple of hundred metres ahead of me. “I’ve got you pancakes,” he said.

By this point, I’d been thinking of quitting. I was starting to shake with hypothermia. I was losing the feeling in my hands. The rain was bouncing off the road and I wasn’t sure if I could carry on for another five hours like this.

“Put this on,” Iain said as I stripped off my hi-viz jersey, waterproof jacket and cycling jersey while sheltering under the open boot of the car.

He gave me a new base layer, my thicker cycling jersey (a Castelli Gabba), a fleece, a Goretex jacket and full length waterproof trousers. I thought he wanted to keep warm while we’d stopped. I didn’t realise that I was going to wear this for the next 60 miles.

“I’ll go to the next town,” I said. The warm clothes having done their job in persuading me to carry on.

“Just keep this on,” Iain said. And I did. I got back on my bike and pedelled off wearing more gear than I would I was climbing a mountain.

But it worked. I warmed up. I stopped shaking. The weather was still awful but as I descended in Greillo it became warmer as I left the plateau.

In town I met Iain again. “I’ll get to the end,” I said while thinking “Enjoy this, you won’t be doing it again.”

The second half of the course is a lot different to the first. It’s feels more part of civilisation, you can see towns, wider roads, and more road signs for evidence of other people.

There are four climbs in this section, nothing too tough or too long but each steady. The final climb is the longest, taking you up to and across a damn. It’s here that a Norwegian woman stands on the porch of a remote house and shouts “Well done, Andrew, keep going!”It takes me a few minutes to work out she must be following Norseman on the website. It’s also here where the support of other teams becomes invaluable. I’m going the same pace as a few other riders so I not only pass Iain every 40 minutes or so I’m also passing other support crews who also shout encouragement.

By now I’ve decided I’ll finish at T2. My temperature is screwy, I’m not sure of whether I should be running after hypothermia and the final climb up Zombie Hill is looking increasingly beyond me. I make the decision to be sensible and  finish while I have Iain as support and not to keep going when I’ll be running for at least 13 miles without support as Iain cannot park on the first half of the course (though it looked like many do!).

The final descent for 15 miles, through thick forest, small villages of colourful chalet houses, and, even better, it’s also the first time it’s dry. The sun peeks out, though not for long, and I’m hitting 35 miles an hour on the sharp descent and 25 mph on the flats. It’s too fast, too late though. I’m still dressed like Ranulph Fiennes.

At T2 I tell the timekeeper that I’m done. There is not a single doubt in my head that I’m doing the right thing. (Though a week later as I write this I think “maybe, just maybe I should have gone on” – but I know that’s a daft thought, I wouldn’t have finished).

After 112 miles, my legs feel okay, I still feel strong(ish) but the desire to keep going has been been washed out by the cold and the rain. The thought of running thought that again is more than I take. I’m done. But I loved it. Every cold, wet, miserable minute of it.

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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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Norseman – Part 3

“How’s the legs?”

“Sore” replied Andrew.

He’s lying in bed in rjukan. A nice wee town at the base of “Zombie Hill.” The famed section of Norseman where runners switch from running on the flat to climbing  Mt. Gaustatoppe.

I’m feeling fit so I’ve decided to take the bike out and head up the mountain. The climb is hard but its more a mental thing than anything else. It doesn’t have many hairpins so each section feels like a long slog.

On the road people have painted zombies or inspirational words. Its easy to tell the UK supporters as they’ve painted the wrong side of the road!

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I stop once I get to the Furnicular railway that takes tourists to the stop. I notice its open and running so I head back down hoping to convince Andrew that we should go the top. It feels like the logical conclusion to our trip should be on top of the mountain!

Thankfully he’s up for it and even more thankfully he’s done all the packing!

Th13906646_10154314344108162_7927054594518622418_ne funicular is great. Its split into two trains. One that takes us into the mountain and then another that takes us to the top. We share a cabin with an older couple.

From the exit its just a few hundred metres to the Norseman hut. Its great to see the finish line even if its 24 hours later!

We take some pics and record a video of Andrew crossing the finish line.

We then pop into the hut to buy waffles. All races should have waffles at the finish!

On the way back down the same couple are in our train carraige. The man says “Not much to see, was there?”

Not really but if we hadn’t gone up we’d always have regreted it!

The aim of the trip was to enjoy the adventure. We had an adventure and we enjoyed it. What more to life is there than that? 🙂

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Norseman – Part 2 (Iain)

If 3 am is an ungodly time to get up, getting up at 2.30 am is even worse.

Today was the day. It was now or never. Which is a strange expression. It should actually be “It was now or never or…in a minute! Cant’t you see I’m busy. I’ll get to it when I can!”

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We left the B&B quickly and headed to Eidfjord. There’s plenty of parking spaces near the ferry but Andrew refused to use them. He was worried that the police would turn up and fine us. Its 3 am. I think the police have got better things to do than check anyone is parking illegally.

We park at the the school. On the walk to the ferry I point out to Andrew all the Cars parked in the spaces he said not to use.

The port is busy. A lot of athletes and supporters are here. I look at the ferry and notice it has a TV lounge! And comfy chairs! And its showing the Olympics! Extreme Triathalon? My Arse!

On the way into transition Andrew has to show that his bike’s front and back lights work and that he has a reflective jacket.

The volunteer checks his jacket and says its not reflective. It is very yellow but its not reflective! Andrew blames it on buying a cheap one from Decathalon. Idiot!

Luckily the volunteer had a spare so he gave that to Andrew. The winner has a black T-shirt but I bet he doesn’t have a Norseman branded reflective vest.

I wish Andrew luck and he heads onto the ferry.

I decide to drive down the coast to watch the start. Surprisingly no-one else had thought of this so I was on my own watching the start. I can’t imagine what people did in town. It must be pretty dull waiting for the swimmers to come back.

13873048_10153645915211196_6084655913261949439_nAfter they jumped in I headed back to town. I stopped at a pier near the yellow buoy and watched the race leaders zoom past. My watch said 50 minutes so it seemed like they were slow or the race had started late. I later found out this years swim times were slow due to the tide.

I got back to the pier in enough time to watch Andrew come out. I showed him over to the transition point and helped him get changed. About half the swimmer were still in the water so his swim time was pretty good.

I sent him off and said I’d see him in a couple of hours time at the top of the hill.

I notice a man at the pier has made fresh pancakes. I buy four so that Andrew will have a treat at the top of the hill. I then eat two. Oh well. Two is still a treat!

I then headed back to the B & B to get some breakfast. Mmm waffles. Its a hard life being a support team!

I’ve lost Andrew.

I saw him a minute ago. I passed him in the car. I gave him a wave and the parked at the next available parking spot. I’ve now waited 20 minutes and he’s not gone past!

I’m on the plateua. Due to thick mist visibility is 100m and it’s freezing cold. I wouldn’t like to be in a car in these conditions, let alone on a bike.

I decide something has gone wrong. He’s gone past and I didn’t notice or something’s happened before he got here.

I decide to head back down the road. I travel for 10 minutes and don’t spot him!

Its now colder and wetter and I imagine he will be wondering where I’ve gone.

I race along the road. After 10 minutes I still haven’t spotted him.

After 20 minutes, I’m worried. Something must have gone wrong.

After 30 minutes I spot a very cold and wet looking cyclist ahead. Its Andrew!

I pass and wave and this time park where he can see me.

It turns out he had cycled past me. My parking spot was in an awkward place. He assumed it wasn’t my car. I must have missed him as I was too busy concentrating on not crashing the car as I maneuvered into the space!

I thought he’d be angry so I pull out my trump card – the pancakes!

I think quickly and then ask him.

“Do you want a Twix?”

Andrew is standing in front of me. He’s shaking due to the cold. I offer him the sweet. He’s still cold and shaking but at least he gets chocolate biscuit snack.

He says he’s struggling to bike due to the cold. The weather is bad and it doesn’t look like it’s going to let up.

Luckily I’d packed Goretex trousers, thick fleece top and a jacket. He takes off his wet clothes and replaces them with the new ones. He now looks ready…to climb Everest!

At least he’ll be dry and warm even if he’s not going to be very aerodynamic.

He says he’ll cycle to the next town before deciding whether to carry on.

I hope he keeps going. It would be a shame to finish at this point.

We pass the next town and come off the plateau. That section is supposed to be fast but due to the weather he never got up to a good speed.

Thankfully he now feels warmer and decides to continue.

13886465_10153645913911196_8173376943594334046_nThe next half of the race has four climbs. They are all manageable. There’s a climb of 400m near Glasgow called the Crow Road. So we split each section into how many Crow Roads it is. As in, this next climb is 1.5 crow roads. The one after is 2x Crow Road etc It helps to put each bit into perspective.

For the next 50 miles we get into a pattern of he bikes and I drive a short distance up the road. He then either passes me or pulls in and gets food. It seems to work well.

At the top of the last climb support has to end. Its all downhill now so I leave him to it and head to Transition 2. There’s not many folk here. Most of the competitors have already been through. I go for a walk and watch a couple posing for wedding photos.

Andrew eventually arrives. I expect him to call it a day. He’s been out on the bike for 8 hours+ and is pretty knackered!

bike

He decides to quit. He doesn’t have the energy to run over  a speed bump let alone a huge hill.

We pack up and head off. As we drive the route towards our accommodation we see the athletes struggling along the road. No part of either of us thinks we wish we’d continued.

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