Usual Saturday morning bike ride until my club-mate Alan Robertson suggests Ironman Frankfurt for 2016. Before we know it there’s 8 club members in for it…and five of us will be over 50 at the event. The banter starts then and continues over the winter as we get ourselves fit for the event.
Ironman is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and then run a marathon to top it off. Each leg is tough enough in its own right; combining all three is downright hard! To most friends & neighbours I was doing a lot of training but it was all a bit patchy; some weeks good, others virtually nothing as work and things at home got in the way. Conditioning over distance is critical and I wondered if I had done enough long stuff. A couple of 30k Sunday morning runs with my buddy Graeme Scott and swimming virtually every day in the last few weeks were the best I could do. I had a great 4K swim at Bardowie Loch on last the weekend before leaving and I finally felt confident I could do the swim.
Like everyone else in the club, my weight was steadily falling and I came to Frankfurt nearly two stone lighter than I was at New Year; not in bad shape. If you want to lose weight, just enter an Ironman and live a life of exercise and abstinence for at least 3 months; doesn’t take much!
Off to Frankfurt with my club-mates, wives and families. We had a good few days in Frankfurt before the race including being ridiculed by Wendy Galbraith for enjoying an alcohol-free beer or two.
On race morning I had to avoid Graeme as the wee man is a bag of nervous energy and I'm j Just trying to stay calm. I
managed to find a respectable portaloo which is an achievement in its own right! In for a warm-up swim and the water was fantastic; I felt good! I went to the >1:30 pen and was first person to go in it which earned me a good cheer from the crowd.
It was great meeting Graeme, David Arthur and Tony Marlow for man-hugs and into the water at last. Kept wide up the right of the course then realised at the first turn that I'd gone about 100m wide; that's a long swim for me just to get back to the buoy! I started taking a more direct route and the rest of the swim went well. Last 500m and I'm swimming past people; a new sensation! Into T1 and noticed it was only 8:30am on the clock; I must have swam under 1:30 (it was 1:28) and was delighted!
Out on the bike; I’m enjoying the course and going well. Another club mate, Michael Martin, who wasn’t competing but is a great cyclist, had drawn me in the sweep and I decided I was going to cycle like Michael for the day. The first lap went well and I bounced-up Heartbreak Hill out the saddle in time to the music; carried-away with the crowd going mental Tour-de-France style. Great fun!
Second lap and I'm having a bit of a ding-dong with another cyclist on the first main climb. A marshal pulls-up level with me and yellow-cards me football style. Also in football style, I reply, "Me, what for?", "Littering" he says. In the last half hour I've only had a gel and I pull the empty wrapper from my pocket to show him he's wrong. Like a proper ref he insists he saw me throwing rubbish away and I've got to stop at the next penalty station. The injustice spurred me on though and I rode hard from there. Was only a "Stop-go" penalty but still lost a few mins.
Like the rest of the guys, I got really cold and soaked through on the latter stages of the bike. Into T2 freezing, soaked and thinking "Glad that's over…oh shit I've still got 26 miles to run."
Started the run and felt OK. 4 laps of 10k, "One at a time" seems like a good plan1! First lap done but, man, it was a long 10k...and 3 more to go. My expression says it all!
Next lap started feeling ill. I thought I was going to throw up and was getting dizzy too. I felt that if I kept running something bad was going to happen. I went to First Aid but they told me that if they gave me anything I’d be disqualified so it’s a case of "JFDI Derek"; there’s no way I'm letting the guys down with a DNF (Did Not Finish).
I walked almost the next full lap and I felt like a fraud. All these spectators clapping and cheering and I'm walking 13 miles. On the last lap I made myself run again. Once I started I said to myself "No more stops, get this finished". Finally got my 4th band and the end is in sight.
I run up the finishing chute at last. Alan is hanging out the stand to high five me. Graeme gives me the saltire and off I go
to the finish line. Best sense of relief ever! Huge hugs from Sam and Sarah Rose are great too!
Young girl marshal doesn't think I look to healthy so off to First Aid tent. Drip, ECG, blood test; all good and I'm feeling much better after the rest!
13:54 all-in after a 5:24 marathon; not the time I wanted but I was happy just to finish eventually. Might need to tackle another one though; not sure I can bow-out with that.
We had a great Monday night out and thanks to Davie for nominating me to pick the venue. I thought Tony & Graeme were going to die laughing at Davie & The Dambusters tune; maybe not the best suggestion for a song mate.
I had a great time all-in, even including the months of training. I hope to get in the mix next time but the fitness-levels in our wee club are pretty dam amazing!