My MRI scan results came in on the Monday before Ironman race day and I discovered that I’ve got a double tear to my cartilage and a micro fracture to the bone in my right knee, so that explains the pain when running. The verdict is that there is a chance that a piece of bone could come away from the joint during the race and stop me running but I decided to go ahead even with the risk. The risk was an operation and missing IM Austria in 2014! But the knee is fixable so I opted to race and risk it. This meant that I will be running a marathon in IMUK after no run training for 6 weeks!
For the swim start I positioned myself to the far left at the front. When the gun went I pushed hard and I was ahead of the big groups by the time I had got the first buoy (900m). Swimming back towards the end of the lap was directly into the low sun but I couldn’t see anything. I could just make out a few people ahead so I followed them. First lap was quick (26mins) but I had started to feel cramps coming on. By the time I got out of the water on lap 1 my legs were not right. Jumping into the water caused my calves to cramp. I pushed on but felt I was managing the cramps which forced me to lose speed and technique. At the first left at the end of the lake I was really slowing up as I had to stretch the muscles. Other competitors kept on hitting my legs when they caught me and were climbing all over my back. But this made the cramps worse. The swim back from the other side of the lake was slow and everyone was over taking me. I tried to keep pushing as much as I could but my feet were dropping down low in the water. At the swim exit I had to walk to T1. When I sat down to get my wetsuit off I was cramping more. Oh no, why now! I was so annoyed that words cannot describe it. The only difference to my preparation is that I used High5 Zero electrolyte and not PowerBar Isotonic leading up to the race. A big mistake, obviously. T2 was slow. Rubbish!
Bike – On the exit of T1 ‘Sammy the Wedge’ (The man that got me into Ironman Triathlon) shouted 14th in AG and 5 mins behind 1st! Right….time to smash the bike and get back up to the front. I was counting down the places as I passed them and I was overtaking people with ease. I worked up to what I thought was 4th in AG but my trainer (Tom Williams – Marathon Talk Podcast) said 7th on my second bike lap! Oh no. I was starting to struggle out on the bike course and I felt that this was going to really hurt with a slow entrance to T2. I pushed on, over taking Steffan (a German 30-34 ‘C’ Age-Grouper) on the hills but he would catch me on the flat, we made encouraging gestures as we swapped places. 15 miles from home Steffan had got away from me and I was no longer able to keep the same pace going. I was really hurting by now and struggled to T2 completely exhausted. T2 was quick enough and no sign of cramps since the swim.
Run: I grabbed my bottle of coke from my bag, put my cap and trainers on and pushed hard out onto the road. I saw a friend taking pictures which was great. A big smile and a shout got me fired up. I ran passed the first aid station and drank some water. Within 10 meters of running past the aid station I cramped….rubbish….I had stopped running and a B and a D Age Grouper ran past. Fortunately I still had the coke in my hand (I have this as I have previously has stomach cramps at the start of a run and coke fixes instantly). I drank it all which really helped my hamstring cramp, massaged it a bit then walked, jogged and started running. The cramps went. I think this will be the theme of the day! Within 5 mins I had overtaken the two guys that got past when I was stationary. Then I worked on closing Stephan down who was in my AG. I got past him just before we joined the laps on the run. Just after I did the
overtake I saw my older brother spectating. Brilliant J. Hi bro…and gave a high 5. Then just around the corner was @emmasnews. Woop Wo
Right, it was time to get a wriggle on to catch a few people. I was running around 7-7:10 min miles for the first half of the marathon. Wicked, if I can keep this going I will be catching the leaders. But my body started to break down with blisters, ITB pain, cramps and my calves were on fire! I knew now that the lead is impossible and damage limitation was on the cards. Fortunately I kept it going for a 3:24 marathon, 4th in AG and a ticket to Kona World Champs. Yippee. The finish line was awesome as I had a little bit of time to hug friends/family and weave down the finish to high 5 random people like the Brownlee’s do. I gave a bit of Usain Bolt on the finish line which was televised on the big screen. Lol.
My legs were toast and the post-race DOMS are like nothing that I have experienced before. But it got me 4th which was enough. I’m very happy. Now it’s time to get the knee fixed and ready for Kona, Hawaii on the 12th October.