It was a long time coming (even longer than this blog entry) but I finally finished Ironman. And stoked to do it on my first attempt.
I've wanted to do this race since I was 16, so you can imagine how much I had played it out in my mind. I guess it's kind of how girls have an idea of their wedding day... As Ironman UK played out nothing like I had expected, it was bitter-sweet; until the finishing straight, where it was better than I could ever have imagined.
Between the half Ironman in late May and the full IM on 1st August, I had done such little training that the swim and ride were actually further than I had trained collectively in the previous 8 weeks! Luckily I had run more than the race distance as I expected that to be the tough part.
Despite the fiddly aspects of UK IM (2 transitions areas 20kms apart, setting up on Saturday which takes a whole afternoon, and having to drive to a bus which takes you to the race on the Sunday morning) I felt incredibly calm. I knew I just had to go through the motions, eat consistently, not push too hard on the bike and then hope my ITB stayed together on the run and then I'd be at the finish line 12 hours later.
Jumping into the lake before the start proved even more calming. Here I was in a line, 1600 people long, surrounded by pansies squealing as they dipped a toe into the cold water. I'm no waterman, but at least I'm not 100% British. Instant confidence boost. At the end of the first lap of the swim I finally got some clear water and a nice rhythm and was surprised to exit the water in 1 hour 8 minutes.
Ironman is so much calmer than short course racing. Transitions are an absolute dogfight in faster races but everything was fairly relaxed in my transition but I still came out on the faster side. The bike was all academic for me. I have never planned anything more meticulously. Drink this at this time, eat that and that time, stretch here, blah, blah. My plan hit a minor hurdle when the drink bottle cage behind my seat fell off, losing one of my precious custom made calorie drinks (thanks www.infinitnutrition.eu You rock!). I had no choice but to push on and did fine. Only once in the whole race did I feel hungry, but never felt weak.
Coming off the bike I was well and truly ready for a run. The 3 x 60km laps of the bike were incredibly boring! I knew now that I was beginning the toughest part of the race. The part where I would be breaking down- mentally and physically. I lasted 6kms before my ITB blew up. But this time was different. My left ITB (which has been a problem since I was 16) was perfectly fine. My right ITB had been a problem for a few weeks and was killing. I managed to get about 14kms before having to walk because I knew if I kept going it would lock my knee up. I decided to run for 5 mins then walk for 1 min. This worked ok because my ITB (strangely) went down fairly quickly but this method did give me a disgraceful 4:47 marathon time.
But none of this mattered when I turned the last corner and saw a huge red carpet, 5,000 people screaming and hearing the MC announce "representing Australia, Nathan Fenton". He even gave an 'Aussie, Aussie, Aussie- oi, oi, oi" which I haven't appreciated since the first time I heard it at the Sydney Olympics 10 years ago! So despite a terrible time, my parents and Deneil not being there, losing to Angus and the race being nothing like I had imagined, I was over the moon when I crossed the finish line. This was one of the few things left on my list of things to do before I die, and I think I might do another one. I won't be happy til I get under 12 hours. I kind of knew I'd find another reason to race again...
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