Never have I spent so much time looking around for the weather forecast that is least apocalyptic.  But as last week passed, it was time to HTFU, pack warmer kit, and face the legendary Outlaw Triathlon.

This was my second iron-distance race, and I went into it feeling a lot more confident than I did before IMUK in 2013.  Part of that’s inevitable, because I knew I could go the distance.  But part of it is also because I was much better trained, fitter, and more optimistic about what I could do.  I felt fitter than I had at any point in my life before.  I had a race plan that seemed realistic.  And my stated target time of 13:00 was down to 12:30 (with a secret desire to break the 12 hour barrier if everything went well).

 

So, here’s what happened.  All photos are by my excellent brother Nick, who was there with me at 5 in the morning and watched me crossing the line.  He even cooked me a magnificent curry and bought me my favourites ale, Adnams Broadside, for later that evening.  Thanks, Nick!

 

Swim…

I’d been a bit worried about a mass start of 1400 people, but on the day I found I wasn’t that nervous.  I started in the middle of Pen 2, for those aiming 60 – 80 minutes, and other than a couple of knocks and kicks I didn’t find it too rough.

First half of the swim felt much quicker than the second half… or maybe that was because sighting on the tower really meant it never seemed to get any closer.  But I was out of the water in a very decent (for me) 1:15.  Right on my race plan target!

I saw Tracey and Dan, my wife and son, just by the changing tent, that was a nice boost.  But almost 8 minutes in transition is too long.  And needing a piddle before mounting the bike … ?  Really must get used to pissing while swimming!

 Onto the bike.  I saw Nick at the exit from the venue, then it was out onto the roads for a long, lonely ride. It was pretty uneventful, actually.  It took me maybe 20 miles to really feel comfortable and find my bike legs.  I found the southern loop, which we did twice, really pleasant.  The northern loop was really busy with traffic, and with no closed roads that made for a few interesting moments.  Most drivers were very good, but there were a couple who acted like dicks.  A couple of cyclists too, sorry to say, and I saw one woman almost wiped out by a Range Rover when she pulled out right in front of it on a roundabout.  Close call.

 

I was trying to keep my RPM between 80 and 90 and keeping an ye on my average mph, and for the bulk of the ride I hovered around 18mph.  This was definitely the high end of what I’d hoped for in my plan.  Indeed, that fantasy sub-12 finish was teasing me.  I’d always hoped that if I had a great ride and got off the bike after 7:30, I could maintain a ten-minute mile marathon and go sub-12.

But there was a long way to go yet!  The heavens opened and the promised rain began, and at times it was torrential, so heavy that it hurt.  I was really glad I’d taken time to slip on a skin over my tri top, and then a cycling jersey.  I saw plenty of people racing in just tri suits, they must have been bloody freezing.

 In the rain, I finished the ride in 6:19, averaging just under 18mph.  Very pleased with that. I’d been really careful with nutrition, eating ham and cheese slices, granola bars, IsoGels, sports drink, and I’d also tken a few salt tabs to ward off cramps (it worked for the whole race.  Result).  Now was the time to discover whether I had enough fuel left for the run.  After doing such strong a strong swim and bike — in fact, just about as good as I could have hoped for — I didn’t want to screw it up on the run.

I’d been debating what to wear on the run as it was still hammering it down, but I went with just a tri top and shorts.  Shivered for the first mile, then I was into it.  I was also pretty comfortable running at 9:30 per mile, so I did some mental arithmetic.  I decided to go for it, try to maintain that pace.

Wow.  The run was long.  Nobody told me there was a bloody MARATHON at the end of this!  Well, they did.  As the laps passed by — around the lake, and out past Trent Bridge — the efforts of the day started to hit.  I saw Superman.  I also saw Wally.  There he is!  It was great passing Lee and Rich from NEWT, always good to see a friendly face and high-five a mate, it’s a big boost.  The two of them were really smashing it, too, and they’d go on to finish in 10:55 and 11:10 respectively.  Top bloody job, chaps!

 I was slowing down.  I was tiring, my knees were aching, I was finding it hard to force down any food, and I was constantly thirsty.  I didn’t overdo the drinking, and after having to stop for a piss at mile 80 on the bike I was pretty confident about my hydration efforts.  I was just flagging.  That sub-12 drifted away, so I concentrated on pacing to get home before 12:30.  I’d be VERY happy with that.

The rain beat down.  I focussed on my run technique, tried not to slouch too much.  Saw Superman again.  At least I think I did, or maybe I was delusional. My Garmin packed in.  Piece of crap, it’s let me down at least half a dozen times now, but at least this time it was only a few miles from home.

On my second-to-last lap of the lake I saw Andy Holgate, the man who’d inspired me to try an Ironman two years ago and who’d been my mentor.  Top bloke, and it was brilliant to see him.  I think I’d heard him on the bike too, screaming, COME ON TIM!  Can’t mistake that shout.  On my last time passing the finish line (cruel to see people finishing when I still had three miles to go) I saw Tracey and Dan.  That was a great boost too, and I tried signalling tahat I had three miles left.

One more lap.  I checked my watch.  And I belted it.  I found the energy somewhere, and although my Garmin had stopped, I reckon I ran a 9 minute mile pace for the last lap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Closing on the finish, I knew I had it in the bag.  From the 1k marker I was smiling.  From the 500m marker, I was grinning, and when I saw Tracey and Dan waiting at the beginning of the red carpet I gave then a big, wet hug and kiss.  Dan ran down the carpet with me and that was the best moment of the race, hearing the commentator yelling’Tim Lebbon you are an Outlaw!’ and crossing the line with Dan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Job done.  12:23.  Bloody hell, I’ve done a 12:23 iron distance, and that’s almost 2 hours quicker than I did IMUK in 2013!

Brilliant. I’m so chuffed with the race, it all went well on the day.  I trained really hard and it paid off.  Nice one.

A shout out to the volunteers.  They were magnificent.  They always are, in every race I’ve done, and at Outlaw in particular they were always encouraging and upbeat, even when it was pissing down for half the day.  It was OK for me, I was running and keeping warm.  Great people.

So, post race.  You know what it’s like.  Could I have done sub-12?  Probably, if I’d rushed transitions, taken wiser toilet breaks, perhaps pushed a little harder on the bike.  But I’m thrilled at how the whole race turned out.  It really is the best sport there is, inclusive and friendly, and if you feel a little pride in yourself and what you’ve done ….?  You’ve earned it.

Next year … perhaps Ironman Wales.  For now, there’s still cake in the world I haven’t yet eaten.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>