So nearly three months have passed since I completed the Outlaw Half 2016 at Nottingham.
The event itself was flawless.
The day before the race, race registration was simple, and enabled me to get my race pack and have a mooch around the expo with relative ease. The site itself was well laid out and easy to navigate.
As i mentioned in this blog entry i had opted to hire an AIRBNB house a few miles away from the venue which meant it was easy to collect my parents and get to the venue on race morning.
After a relaxing evening with my brother and parents, i headed off home for the night and settled down to sleep – sadly i did not sleep too well – possibly nerves, but i awoke relatively fresh and ready for my second 70.3 event.
I was up early and had my usual race breakfast – pancakes & pasta at 3am, and got my kit packed into the car and headed to collect my folks.
I had calmed down and was feeling pretty relaxed before the event (i think my nerves had worn off overnight by now), and i was feeling happy with what lay ahead.
As i had previously mentioned, 2016 has been a hard slog, full of a lot of ups and downs, both mentally and emotional highs and lows, but i felt comfortable that I had trained hard with the time available and was happy that with a little bit of personal perseverance, perspiration, self-belief and effort on the day I knew that i could do this.
There had been a slight change to the swim course because of a recent outbreak of blue algae so instead of it being a simple out and back with 2 turns, it was now an out and back with 3 turns – not so much of a problem for me if i am completely honest.
The swim itself went fine – it felt colder than i was anticipating, and with no open water practice this year because of a busy work schedule, i knew that i would be slower this time around. It was pretty windy out on the water if i am entirely honest and it felt like i was battling a headwind up the length of the regatta lake, and on the way back – not a great start – eventually emerging the water in the not so fast time of 52m:16s, slightly slower than in Staffordshire, but pleased to get out of the water in one piece and without suffering from any cramp as i did last year. IThere were a few things that i managed to do very well this year – sighting and drafting – and these helped me massively on this swim, and I will definitely be using these again in the future.
I will never be an amazing swimmer, but from my perspective, getting around before the cutoff, is a massive achievement in light of what little swim practice i have actually done this year.
Next stop… T1.
Emerging from the water, i could see my parents and brother on the balcony as i started the short 200m run along the regatta lake toward my bike. T1 itself was relatively uneventful, the wetsuit came off without too much swearing, the socks went on with relative ease – i had opted for just my cycling jacket with the arms in the back pocket should it get cold. I was out of T1 in 05m:52s – not the fastest, but i made sure i left no debris or stones on my feet and that my feet were dry before starting the cycle as i did not want to end up with any sore spots.
The bike itself was relatively event free…
…except for Oxton Bank where i nearly came off!
Not being accustomed to cycling shoes, and suffering from a bout of cramp part way up short climb it was fairly necessary (ie. urgently needed) for me to hop off the bike and push – to be fair, it was the most sensible thing to do. I lost the gear part way up the climb and felt that i was about to go over, so rather than try to clip back in on the hill, i just pushed up the last 50metres or so – i wasn’t really bothered to be fair, but i did lose a few minutes on the climb up.
There were some fairly fast sections on the bike where i did make up time, but overall, i was slightly disappointed with my performance – it was just too windy for me today, and i seemed to be battling a headwind for much of the day. That said, it is so frustrating seeing other people flying past you on their bikes when you are absolutely mashing the pedals.
To be fair, I was aiming for a 3hr:15m bike time, and I think with an extra few weeks worth of training, and without wind on the day, that would have been well within my grasp – sadly, today it wasn’t to be.
I eventually completing the bike in 03h:34m:26s – 5mins quicker than last year at Staffordshire.
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91.23km – chip time was 03h:34m:26s, averaging a speed of 25.11 km/h
All T2 needed was the Benny Hill theme tune!
It turns out bending down to take your shoes off with cramp in your quads is hilarious for spectators… much to the amusement of my brother & parents, I was cramping up massively trying to take my cycling shoes!
So aside from the cramping and swearing and looking up into the skies, T2 was rather uneventful, but took me the a rather long time of 05m:58s including a pee stop!
Right – eyes down for the run. I’m a runner, not a swimmer or a biker. I have PBd a half marathon at 01hr 42m odd my aim for the Outlaw was to go sub-2hrs, and if i am entirely honest, i know i have got this in me during a 70.3 and Half Ironman distance event.
The run itself was a flat circular route around the regatta lake with a short out and back run along the river into Nottingham. Now, to be fair, i should have gone sub-2hrs on this run – but i didn’t. I just didn’t have it in my legs to go much harder than i did.
I must admit though, the most pleasing thing about this run was i did not have cramp at all.
I paced the run well from the start, not making the mistake i did at Staffordshire and going off at the ridiculous pace of 14km/h! – i settled into a fairly good groove taking on water at the aid stations, and making sure i took on energy gels when i could. The support again was fantastic – first class – lots of people all along the running route, and they certainly helped me when the darker thoughts start entering your mind – pain and fatigue.
2 laps down and the finish line within sight, i put the foot down and finished as hard & fast as i could – I gestured to the volunteer adjacent to the finish line 2 fingers and she smiled and nodded and clapped me on. I turned the corner and saw the carpet – it looked longer than I remembered from the day before, and the people were cheering and clapping – it was electric!
I spotted my support crew – gave them a smile and wave, and hi-fived my mum and crossed the line just outside of 2hours in 02h:06m:57s.
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To say I was happy would be a massive understatement – it is a fantastic achievement to complete a Half Ironman – no-one can take that away from you – it is yours – you have earned it.
It was hard.
It was emotional.
There were a few times in the months leading to the day that I doubted whether I could do it – i even considered dropping out with a few months to go as i was massively underprepared, and undertrained – but i did it.
Just remember – you are the commander of your vessel – and you can do anything if you put your mind to it.
3 months later
…see you next year.. I’m in! – i have a score to settle with that course!