Aug 18

The Big Brutal Swim

swimmersSo an open water swim, mid August in South Wales,it’s called “” but swimming steady stroke rate low impact how “brutal” can it get, even over 10km…Well that was the thinking anyway and why Rosie Brister, Andy Parratt  and myself found ourselves heading across to North Wales this weekend to Llanberis commonly known as home to the Slateman.

I elected to spend an evening in Rhyl about an hour away on account of that being the cheapest hotel I could find and get up a little earlier in the morning for registration.5:15am, alarm goes off and I awake to the sound of strong winds from the seafront,hmm a little ominous but surely the lake is more secluded than the sea from the strong westerly wind?Time for the transient athletes breakfast of instant porridge in a pot, and onto the  road looking out the sea looks a little calmer now,yay!
I’m a bit early so wander down to the start, talk to Richard the race director who’s taking the water temperature – 16.2°C impressive based on the overnight rain.I’m also informed it’s a deep water start and not a running entry as advised in the race pack. It’s windy but not as windy as when I left the hotel. I wander back, register collecting the tag and the wonderful lime green cap, very fetching, and find Andy P arriving.It’s a good 1.5 hours before the start so I fuel up, more carbs and caffeine before donning the neoprene and lubricating up(including the underarms considering the distance). Wander back past registration and find Rosie getting changed, so the full ‘team’ are here.

Race briefing highlighted the usual rules, confirms it out every 2 laps which are 1.25km a piece, shout your number and then back in for another 2 etc depending whether you’re in for the 2.5, 5 or 10km events. Ok competitors you can enter the water – actually quite please, but that winds up and it’s coming down the lake,  each out leg is going to be tough. Moving out into the deeper water you can feel the swell, that’s going to be tiring.At this point I should confess I harboured hopes of a 3:15 type of time based on earlier 5km performance but these conditions aren’t conducive to hitting that,lets aim 3:30. 

And we’re off,somewhat more civilised than the average triathlon getaway – a little feet tapping but no punches or kicks.I can see Rosie setting off well but I’ve lost Andy in the mix.I start calm,into a steady stroke and kick nice and early but as we move further up the lake the waves are remarkably large, it’s ok breathing on the right but the left is more risky but I continue with it for the time being. Couldn’t find a decent draft – with everybody setting off together there’s a mix of speeds around so just settle into my own pace. It’s not easy going but hey this is the ‘brutal’ you signed up for. Laps 1 & 2 pass reasonably comfortably and I swim in close for the first exit. It’s shallow and some others are walking through – nah this is a swim!  So it’s first mistake time in my enthusiasm to get back in I catch my feet on rocks in the shallows at entry. As I get try and recover my rhythm I’m feeling the pain in my foot – damn, have I cut it? Just keep tapping away it’ll go with the cold surely, out leg feels tougher this time, those waves can’t be bigger, can they?Around the 3km mark I start doubting the sanity of this the buffeting is incredible, sighting is a hit and miss but at least I’m going straight.  Reminding myself “it’s the BRUTAL” and dig in and complete the next 2km, but it’s getting rougher out there. Halfway and it is1h48

And it was – the waves somewhere between 2’ and 3’ high, a sea swim would have been easy. You can feel it lift you around in the water, so is this what swimming uphill feels like? The next 2.5km really hurt, I develop an interesting flatulence issue(handy for extra buoyancy I suppose) and can feel fatigue starting to affect my stroke, the left arm recovery barely leave the water. Getting past that I exit/enter for the last time,right big push time. Decide to not use my kick on this lap,waves really bad now, hope the other guys are going ok. Given up on timing, it’s survival get round mode. I press on through the washing machine effect and onto the last lap and those horrific waves, my recovery stroke isn’t even leaving the water at times but not giving up at 9km even if I feel like I’m going backwards. Buoy 2 left turn across the wind, Buoy 3 left again, this is the home straight. I kick now but I feel static but the gradually the finish beckons. Another battering swell and now it’s the shallows and I stagger out,forget to stop the Garmin(which lost signal anyway)photographed by Emma who tells me Andy is half a lap behind(circa 4hrs) but Rosie was beaten by the swells and pulled out after an awesome 7.5km. A quick look,stop the watch 3h51m15s,more than happy in the conditions which I’d happily describe as bl**dy awful! 

Still always next week at Manvers to break my 10km PB now, let’s hope it’s nowhere near as windy!

Jul 27

From a Non-Swimming MTB Rider to IRONMAN

From a Non-Swimming MTB Rider to IRONMAN, Mike Catley’s IM Bolton race report.

Mike 1


2.45 am Sunday , I got out of bed . Notice I never said woke up as I didn’t sleep. Poked down my trusty 100g of porridge and a black coffee, toilet trip then in the car to the macron. Waiting for the bus not much was said between me and Ric, nerves/excitement/anticipation of the unknown. Who knows ???

Final check on the bike, get into wetsuit and walk down with 2,000 others to get into the flash, I was excited and keen to start. BANG!! We’re off. Punched, kicked, pulled and that was just from Andy and Ric !!! Never really got into a good flow or found someone faster to get on the toes of. Total madness at the first buoy I didn’t enjoy that! Out and round for the second lap, I had lots of water in my goggles. I emptied this out but had pushed them on too tight. Back in the water my eyes felt like they were being sucked out. I did the full second lap with a banging headache and dizziness, not in a good place, can I do this ? Why am I doing this?? Come on Catley get a grip!! Just get the swim done and you can take the goggles off. This turned out to be the only dark place I found myself in on the full race, so in hindsight I was lucky / mentally strong .THANK GOD THATS OVER!!

Mike 4Now to the bike, good transition for me. Over the speed bumps to find a crash just before the main road out of the flash, thankfully I avoided that !! Still feeling dizzy from the swim, I took it easy and calmed myself down and into my rhythm. The bike is by far my favourite discipline.

We had ridden the bike course 3 weeks ago and I decided that 16-16.5 mph was going to be my average on the day. This would give me a 7 hour bike split. I never got out of my comfort zone on the first lap and to my surprise, had managed an 18.1 mph average for my first 60 miles. Calm it down, I told myself , even though I still felt great .

I hadn’t managed to stick to my nutrition plan of flapjack every 40 mins. As it turned out I didn’t eat much of my food. Not sure of the reason but I couldn’t stomach my flapjack, my watch had beeped 4 times, worry that’s 2 hr and 40 mins in. I couldn’t stand anything apart from liquid in my mouth!! PANIC. Was I going to run out of energy?? Time passed, remembering how much I had carb loaded over the last 4 days , I relaxed and decided to just keep going . I finally managed 2 half pieces of flapjack by the end of the bike. Was the lack of food going to come back and bite me during the run??? I decided to drink loads. I tried a couple of banana halves near the end of the bike, they went in ok :-)) After 107 mile in my neck was killing me. I was ready for getting off my bike . The final downhill into transition came, only to see runners / walkers coming back up the same hill . GULP!! Quibell park hill x 2 in length. My family cheered me into T2 and my chin started to wobble. This happened every other time I saw them :-). Sub 8 hrs and bike and swim were done. I knew at this point I was going to finish no matter what, 9 hrs to do the marathon?

Mike 2

Onto the hill, I remembered Phil’s advice so didn’t feel bad about walking up this hill. Got into my steady pace 10 min/ miles and felt terrible, hot, stomach ache, hot, hot and a lot more hot. It was at this point I met Mark a sub 3.5 hour marathon runner (normally), reduced to walking. We ran together for a while keeping each other going , 4 miles in we decided to walk a mile, run a mile . Running strong at 7:45-8:00 min/ miles .another couple of big hills got us to the 3 lap section :-).

I took charge at this point as Mark was struggling, we started running up hill and walking down as our mile plan fell apart ! I decided we’d walk up the hills and run down the descents. Pretty simple I know, but when your brain dead it feels like you’ve invented the wheel. This was an improvement, the miles dropped off. First time through the town centre Mark had to walk. We passed the Dobbers and Em Clark, then Clarky around the corner all telling me to run, then my family. I told Mark we wouldn’t be walking through the town again, we didn’t :-). This time it was back past the Lincsquad massive and was loving the high 5′s Clarky had promised me out in the course. Finally, the first band in the hand felt great.

Looking for Ric and Crofty, hoping they were ok, had no idea I was in front at this point. Ric came into the run course. Relieved to see Ric had made it off the bike course safely, now into the run and he appeared to be going well. Run/walk was going great, walking 12:45 m/mile and often running 8:00 m/mile. This was a good plan in the heat for me. This would still give me a 12 hour IM amazing :-))).

My brain struggled to do the maths, but we kept on working it out. This served a purpose as it took my mind off from what I was doing. Second band for me but still no Crofty on the run course? Next time past Linzy I asked her about him yet she had no info. Finally he came onto the run course, massive relief. Knowing we were all safely off the bike and into the run I felt I could finally relax. We were all on for the finish.

Mark said he would let me go over the line first as I had been the stronger one, that made me feel great. I kept passing Ric and Crofty offering them my support . Ric was making good ground on me at this point. I didn’t care as I knew I was on for a 12 hr at the start of my finishing time if I could just keep steady and regular (thanks to my father in-law for that saying) .

Mike 3

Into the finishing Chute, crowd screaming , looking around for family / friends , Gem Eddie and Mollie !! Spotted them up in the stands, arms in the air I waved, then pointed to my race number. MIKE CATLEY YOU ARE AN IRONMAN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:-))))))

The lady screamed, joined by the massive crowd!!! What a buzz, I was in heaven

12:54:29……… Get in !

All my mates who had travelled to support me were at the finish line. I went over for hugs and congratulations !!! This was my moment, my time, my glory!!!!!!!! 

It was all worth it, my military style approach to training had paid off.




Swim ; 1:23:01 Mike 5

T1 ; 07:15

Bike ; 06:20:37

T2 ; 06:14

Run ; 04:57:23

599th out of 2000 :-)))


Massive thanks

Thanks to Phil Binch, my inspiration, coach and ‘Go to guy’.

Ric for planting the seed and both Ric and Crofty for the countless texts and training banter.

Grocock and Clarky for destroying me on the bike on several occasions :-))

My kids and most of all, Gem, my wife :-)). Who had been sooooo supportive throughout my full journey (9 months worth). Never complaining or moaning ONCE. I LOVE YOU :-))).



Jul 27

IM UK by Andi Croft

I keep having a recurring dream (or nightmare you could call it) where I’m in a triathlon. The swim feels like the inside of a washing machine, the bike has hills that go on forever and the run seems no matter how long I’ve been moving the finish line never actually gets any closer. Only for some reason this dream is actually happening. But how did I get here?
I’d dipped my toe into triathlon by completing 2 sprint triathlons. I was hardly going to receive a knighthood for services to triathlon with a record like that. When I first heard about Ironman it sounded the most insane event I had ever heard of and I wanted to complete one. I found out that Mike & Ric we’re entering it as well and not that I’m competitive but there was no way they were doing one before me.
So around November time my training started with the focus of 20th July Ironman. Having Mike & Ric to train with was a great help and I just want to thank you both for all your help, guidance and friendship you have given me. That said, I certainly won’t miss the 6am runs in Central Park and as Ric mention in his report mikes see through tri suit is an unfortunate sight I will never be able to erase.
During our training sessions we’ve shared some great memories that have brought us closer together and I fondly remember these times. The time I was band from a turbo session at my own house because my turbo trainer was too noisy. A day in the peaks seeing who could get the fastest speeds on the downhills only to have a monster of a rear tyre blow out. Or mike refusing to run intervals as he didn’t want to lower his strava averages are a few of the laughter we’ve shared along the journey.
The ironman weekend began for me on Thursday. As somewhat of a natural born worrier a chance meeting with Steve Clarkandy IM in Scunthorpe high street changed me from being nervous to pure terror. Then late Thursday evening I got a phone call from Ric. A routine service of my bike had home horribly wrong and I now needed a whole you drive train (in truth it was just a gear cable but like I said I tend to worry about things)
I arrived on Bolton Friday morning (with my new gear cable.) Registration was great, the Ironman logo’a and banners everywhere let’s you know this is a big deal. At the race briefing Paul Kaye does a great job of building up the hype and getting the adrenaline flowing. The pasta party rounded off a great night. I want back to my hotel as Linz was coming over Friday when she’d finished work.
Saturday I woke up to rain and lots of it. Whilst the rest of the country was experiencing a heat wave Bolton was getting flooded. I packed my transition bags, checked them, re packed them and my packed them once more for luck. I went to rack my bike and hand bags in. It’s a strange feeling after you’ve done that as you can’t get access to any of your bags but you can’t help feeling helpless or like you’ve missed something out. I panicked I would open my cycling bag to find a pair of running shoes and swimming goggles. I had tea with my parents and Linz then off to bed to attempt to get some sleep.
Race day. I got dropped off by Linz at Pennington Flash at 5 am. A quick check on my bike then into my wetsuit. I meet up with Mike & Ric and we headed down into the water. I was floating around in the water looking back at how many people were behind me. Or in my mind ‘my what a lot of people will swim over me’ when the starters horn went off. So at 6am whilst I looking the wrong way my big day out started. Hardly the start I was hoping for. The first 300m of the swim we’re ok. That was until the first person swam over me. When I surfaced I looked to see it was my training partner and ex friend Ric Longcake who’d done this to me. Out of 2000 people you had to pick me didn’t you? The second lap of the swim could of been a bit nearer, I stuck to the outside route to keep out of trouble but went a bit wider than I should have so I ended some extra distance but at least I was safe.
im uk swim
The bike. I was relived to get the swim part out of the way and was feeling relaxed heading out on the bike. I knew Linzi and my parents were at Rivington village so I was looking out for them. Linzi had got an ironman T-Shirt made up which I didn’t know about and her and my dad had made signs they were holding up so this lifted my spirits. The rest of the first lap was relatively un-eventful. Come the second lap that would all change. Second time up Sheep House Lane my legs stopped, I couldn’t turn the pedals and I was going nowhere fast. Had I not eaten enough? Had I not trained hard enough? Was I running the wrong gear ratio? All these thoughts went through my mind but all I knew was I was in trouble. I had a mini crisis on the 3 mile stretch of hill and I don’t mind admitting I she’d a few tears. I would like to go back in a few months and ride that stretch again to rest a few demons I have. Finally I crested the hill then immediately my thoughts turned to hunters hill in another 30 miles.
Hunters Hill second time round was completely different. The crowds were a lot bigger this time, they had cowbells, tambourines and made loads of noise. Lots of people were off their bikes pushing up the hill and I gained extra strength from riding past these people. The TV camera even filmed me from the back of a motorbike, for them 10 seconds I was Chris Froome. I got to the top and once again cried although these were tears of joy and relief. I arrived back into T2 and handed my bike to the marshal for racking. I told him he could keep it I never want to see it again.
The run. I would love to write a detailed account about the run but the truth is I honestly can’t remember that much. I think I was in a bad place. I’d hoped to run a 4hr 20 marathon but after the first 2 miles I realised that wasn’t going to happen and it became a case of just getting to the finish line. I ran with a few different people along the way and at various points they to we’re battling their own troubles. Ask Ric mentioned I to was concerned by the number of people collapsing or being treated by St Johns. Considering how I was feeling I thought it’s only a matter of time till I’m joining them. Once the lap course started things slightly improved, I liked being able to count down the distance. Past this gate 3 more, 2more times etc. Also on the lap course I was able to see Ian McBride, Mike Catley & Ric Longcake. We high 5′d and exchanged words of encouragement each time we past. I grew great strength from this and would look forward to it laps. Thanks guys. Lap 2 was where it nearly all came to an end. I walked through a feed station and could not get back running (running is a generous word for what I was doing more like shuffling in slippers) my mind wanted to but the legs wouldn’t listen. I was feeling really guilty for Linz, my parents as it was such a long day and for all the people who had sponsored me. I so Linz, mum & dad and I stopped to talk. They told me how proud they were and amazing I had done just to get there. My legs started again!!!! Finally I’d collected my 3 ear bands which meant I was off to become an ironman. I’d love to tell you how the carpet felt under my feet and the smell at the finish line but sadly I can’t remember it. In training I expected crossing the finish line would feel amazing, hearing those magical famous words. But for me it’s wasn’t like that. I crossed the line completely empty and spent. If given my all and it nearly broke me but finally my day was over. All I felt was relief. Relief it was over, relief I’d completed it, relief I’d not let anyone down. My two friends and training partners were waiting for me at the finish line, we hugged each other and I will treasure that memory for a long time. I’d like to think we exchanged wise words in that embrace about what we had achieved on this journey however I think we were all just drained.
I would like to thank everyone from LincsQuad (especially the coaches) Mike Catley, Richard Longcake and mostly my wife Lindsay Croft for supporting on this long crazy journey
Swim 1:36:44
Bike   7:24:14
Run    5:20:23
Total   14:38:04
now its time for a holiday in mexico
andy holiday

Jul 24

Ironman UK by Ric Longcake

My Ironman Experience.

Where do I begin? I can’t really remember the exact time that I made the decision that I wanted to do an Ironman but I can remember the first time I made it public and from then on it was going to happen. I was in Portugal on holiday with all the family sat round the pool on a hot summer’s day probably with a beer talking to Mike. I announced then that I was going to do an Ironman. I can’t really remember what was said from that point but the seed was also planted with Mike. I have a great friendship with Mike so if he was to also do it, I knew it would be an amazing experience. Why? Overweight, wanted to see if I could do it, but most of all probably because of all the great Ironmen in our club. I was going to name a few but didn’t want to leave anyone out and that would have taken too long to do as our club is brimming with Ironmen. Anyone would have thought it was easy to do with the amount of Ironmen our club has!
Skip a few weeks and Mike and Andy had also decided to do the Ironman, so we all entered. I’ve only been doing triathlons for a couple of years so the honest truth was where do I begin? I had a rough idea but I needed structure and it mapping out so I was clear on what and how! In stepped Phil Binch. I cannot thank Phil enough for what he has done for me. He helped me set goals and then broke everything back into little steps and goals to achieve throughout my training right up to the day itself. Without Phil’s input I wouldn’t have had such an enjoyable day on the 20th July! Yes enjoyable the hard work was done all I had to do was keep moving forward on the day.

Training year to date:-
Swimming – Unknown too many hours to remember.
Bike – 1731.1 miles
Running – 293.5 miles
My training started officially November 2013. Plenty of running and biking with core workouts. Basic but effective plan of 2 runs a week, 2 Bikes and one swim to start. Over winter I would train between 7-8 hours a week upping it to 10 hours April to May and from then on 12 hours a week until taper. This didn’t always happen but having this sort of focus, and knowing when I needed to go long, or recover, or push myself into dark places, all helped more than I realised it ever could come race day. I also put myself through long training sessions on little food on some occasions as some of you may have seen on Strava “60 miles on a bowl of rice Krispies”. I did this so that I would hit the wall. It uses to wind Mike up but knowing what running out of energy and hitting the wall felt like made me stronger and able to deal with it when it happened. I now think it’s amazing just how far you can get on a bowl of rice krispies!
It was great having Mike and Andy to train with, we would plan our sessions around each other the best we could so we could push each other on. We would do group turbo sessions over the winter with runs off them through the week then plan long rides or runs at the weekends. We did a lot of our rides in the Peaks to get use to climbing. We also did the Dales with Conoco Phillips and some Lincsquadders, kindly arranged by Paul Fycher and Stevie G which was an awesome weekend. We started to invite ourselves out on rides with the likes of Stevie G and Clarky, purely to hang on to their back wheel. We thought this would make us faster and stronger. I remember one session we went out on, and it was like a tag team between Josh Jones, Stevie G and Clarky all taking turns on the front putting the hurt on. My god that was a long day. Going to the Peaks with Stevie G another hard day in the saddle yet some of the best routes I had done with some bloody horrible climbs in. Other rides with Phil Binch doing village sign sprints and chain ganging for miles and miles into the wind until I literally felt like I could do no more! Long runs this is where the fathering Law came in. His constant pace at 9:30 to 10 minute mileing was perfect for what I wanted. Whilst he didn’t do the whole run them first 8-10 miles at a slower pace meant I felt like I could run forever. I’ve enjoyed the banter with Mike and Andy on some of our training sessions and I think the whole experience has brought us closer together. I know more about these guys then I really should do. Mike insisted on wearing a very tight tri suit, so if you were behind him you could see the crack of his Arse as clear as you could see the seam on the tri suit. That’s one way to stop people drafting! Andy who is very nimble on his toes unfortunately runs like Andy Pandy, which gave us hours of fun. My wife can even spot Andy running in the distance just from his unique style! I have some amazing memories.
I can’t lie there’s a reason why I’m a little bit overweight and that because I’m lazy when it comes to food! I eat quick and easy rather than taking the time to prepare good food. You cannot out train a bad diet, god knows I have tried! I made sacrifices and lifestyle changes which needed to happen. I did this by setting myself little challenges, such as no chocolate for a month. I picked February for this one as it’s the shortest month. I cut sugar out of my hot drinks my god this helped weight fell off when I did this. I also didn’t have an alcoholic drink from 28th December 2013 until after the Ironman on 20th July 2014 as I didn’t want to be too rough at any point and lose training time. My diet still wasn’t all that great but I lost 2 stone so I am pleased.
Race weekend
The weekend started early for me as I took the Friday off work, I may as well have took the whole week off as I was useless the week running up to the Race. However things got worse from here on in. It was like somebody had cut the top of my head off removed my brain and stitched me back up. Work was hell that week with some late nights which meant I hadn’t fully packed by Friday morning. Also I had a puncture and split my front tyre on a training ride that Wednesday with Phil. Note to all Vittoria TT tyres are pants! Only had them 2 weeks!
So Friday morning came and I needed to finish packing, shave head take kids to school, buy new inner tubes as didn’t trust old one now tyre had split and needed a spare anyway. So this is how it went. Got up, dressed kids, got them having breakfast, made pack up, shaved head, showered, took to school, went to Halford got tubes, back home and packed, all for 10am. I was meeting Mike and Martyn, Martyn kindly lent us his Caravan and had taken the Friday and Monday off work to take it set up and tow back after. Whilst they rigged the caravan up I went to put petrol in my car. I did just that! I put £4 of petrol in my diesel car! I chuntered some quite strong words at this point and left the fore court to call Martyn to ask for advice! Because the tank was empty and I was filling it right up with £90 worth of diesel we decided to risk it. Cock up No1. We’re off, Mike and Martyn in the car towing the caravan and I in my car following so Martyn had a ride home. On the way down and bloody car driver on his phone drifted across the lanes and hit the caravan. Martyn pulled over and so did the driver. However the driver then sped off. I was a little behind at this point and didn’t see what had happened only a car skidded about as bits of caravan covered the motorway. Cock up No2. Caravan had minor damage but still very gutted for Martyn who took it in his strand. Final got to the campsite which was beautiful with very little around us and on Sheep house lane climb. I check us in, we got the caravan sorted and then Mike told me very smugly that I had missed a bit! Yes my hair, I had a bloody mohark up the back which I had missed. So I had took the kids to school speaking to people there, gone to Halfords, been to the petrol station, checked in at the camp site. Andy had also turned up at this time and they all thought this was funny. I didn’t really see the funny side at all. Cock up No3. Luckily I packed the clippers, don’t know why but as I was rushing and I just packed everything. Once all settled in Martyn wished us luck and left, and I sorted Andy’s bike. Andy left and we arranged to meet down at the Micron stadium later to register and eat.
We registered and attended the first race briefing, after the briefing we bumped into Steve Clark and arranged to meet up later at the pasta party. This made my weekend. Whilst Steve is a friend to a lot of us he is a professional triathlete. Personally he is my favourite triathlete as he also holds down a full time job saving lives and helps other achieve their dreams on the side. This to me is a big deal and in years to come I will be able to reflect back on my experience and tell everyone how we had lunch with a pro! How many people can say that? We have the added bonus of him being our chairman and willing to help us all, constantly helping and coaching us all. My only regret from the weekend is not getting a group picture with Steve.
Saturday. One day to go. This was a very busy day. Have you ever tried preparing for the biggest event of your life when your brain isn’t working right? We did a 5k run first thing, and then prep our transition bags. This is nerve racking, what if we forgot something? We sorted the bags and as it was now raining heavily we decided to take our run bag to T2 then meet up with the family for lunch before racking the bike and handing in our bike bags at T1. This turned out to be a good move as we mostly dodged the rain. Well done Mike! Mike thought of this as his brain was obviously working slightly better than mine. We got back to the Caravan as planned to relax from 16:00 on as it would be any early start. We planned to watch a movie. Something easy watching so we could relax. However we watched 300 which whilst a great film isn’t relaxing. Had my final bowl of pasta (Thank god) and sat down to watch the Inbetweeners. Again took my mind off the Ironman but not really relaxing as your too busy laughing. After the film finished I got into bed and laid in total darkness counting sheep. Not much sleeping going on at all. 02:45 and alarm goes off.

im uk swim


Race day. Up and on sat eating porridge at 03:00 in the morning. Got myself ready for the day, in car and on way by 15:45 I think. To be honest can’t really remember too much about the morning. I do remember been relaxed though. Everything was done, and I was all worried out there was a job to be done. Parked up at the Micron and got on the 04:00 bus to Penington Flash. I checked my bike then went to find an unofficial toilet far enough away from the officials. Whilst taking a wee I realised I wasn’t alone in there as there were 3 sets of eyes looking at me. However none of them were taking a wee! This is the un-glamour’s side of the sport! Back to T1 and got ready for the race. Handed my white bag in and queued to get into the water. 2000 people getting into a lake takes some time. Water was a beautiful temperature and I thought this is going to be a good swim. At this point Mike, Andy and I were all still together. We made our way to the start line and waited in silence! My goggles had decided to start steaming up. They never did that, why had they started now bloody things. I had a word with myself and thought that things will go wrong just deal with it. I decided to wave at the camera in the water, whilst doing this I suddenly realised I probably looked like I was drowning as I don’t tread water well. So if it is on TV, look out for a man waving his arms around and his face disappearing under the water, stop waving, re-surface, start waving again. I repeated this several times before I realised.

Start of the Ironman. The start horn sounded and within seconds I realised I was in a very hostel place all those lovely friendly triathlete turned into high turn race machine with a win at all cost mentality. My word I’ve been in friendlier fights. Punched and kicked in the face several times within the first 10minutes. We hit the first turn boy and 2000 triathlete minus the fast as ones all wanted to get a close to it as possible saving time and making the course as short as possible. This is where I realised breast stokers are they worst (Sorry Dobber). People were swimming front crawl until the boyes then breast stroking round it. Breast strokers kick like mules. A couple of them to the chin and goggles and you know about it. All so they seem to manage to kick to in the balls! I don’t know how but they do! There’s one thing worse then been kicked in the balls and that’s been kicked in the balls whilst your face is under water. You have to wait to gasp for air on your first time breathing then scream on the second time you come up for air. I thought twice about going near a breast stroker after this. I pressed on and got the swim done.
T1. Right the swim was behind me. I just needed to compose myself make sure I am comfortable and enjoy the bike ride. I had spray sun cream in T1 which worked well and I made sure I was fully lavered up before setting off on the bike. On the bike the weather was over cast and temperature was quite cool. Well pleased I put the expensive spray cream in T1 bag. My plan was to average between 16-17mph on the bike as I knew I would be able to run ok if I stuck to this. So I stuck to this. I hit Sheep house climb for the first time and just podded up no issues but at this point there was no point pushing on and blowing up later in the ride. On the decent I felt something hit my hip, I looked down and one of my arm pads on my skies had fallen off. Gutted about 30mile in and I would have to put my arm on the metal. Right, deal with it. these things happen. So I rolled my arm warmer up and positioned it on my arm where I rested on the ski. I hit the bottom on the decent and was greeted by team Dobber. Thanks guys.
I had an eating plan however after my first wrap of peanut butter and Nutella I took a powerbar bottle and drank half of it. The stomach issues started, which totally knackered my eating plan. However I knew I had to eat so I force feed myself. Towards the back end of the ride I knew I needed to eat so I went back to what I knew worked, winegums and water. It was starting to heat up at this point so I was taking bottles of cold water putting them in my tri suit just to keep me cool. No drama other than hitting Hunters Hill for the second time at 93/96 miles in which I think is twice as bad as Sheep house purely as it’s so steep. One guy shouted 400 meters to the top mate and I thought, f**k off I know it kicks up again. Made it to the top and thought right just get back to the Micron now. I had one more climb to go to the bottom of the Sheep House climb. At the foot of this I saw more friends and family all cheer and screaming at me which was great. I hit the climb and the crowds were amazing. There was only room to be in single file now and I felt like I was on a mountain stage at the TDF it was amazing. After that it was literally downhill to the Micron.
T2. Again more family here, shouting at me which was great. Handed the bike over at this point I was told Mike was out on the run. I hadn’t seen Mike at all since the start but I had guessed that he would have been out the water before me. I still didn’t know by how much time but to be fair I wasn’t interested!
I had packed my cheaper sun cream which was actually a cream so I set about applying this to myself as the sun came out just in time for the run. Ever tried applying sun cream to your back yourself? Not easy! Quick toilet stop and I was out running.

The Run. I had stuck to my plan on the bike averaging 16.8mph so I felt fine on the run. I eased into it sticking to my 9:30/10 min/miling plan. I had put caffeine energy gels in my running bottle which tasted crap, but it was all I had until the feed station. I had planned not to stop until the first feed station on the loop and I had gels as well as the horrible gels drink so I ran through the first without stopping. I also planned to save energy on the run by walking the hills. So the first walk came up to the loops. I turned on to the loops and started running straight away. I saw Mike at this point but still had no idea how far in front he was. We cheered at each other and cracked on. I hit the first feed station and the turn point. This is when I worked out Mike was at least 4 miles maybe more in front. I had a chose to make. Run hard and catch him or stick to my game plan. Phil had said don’t break plan until the last loop. So I thought just stick to the plan.
The crowds were amazing and I was feeling good. My mum was on her bike with my step dad and a couple of their friends so they shouted and cheered me on as well. Every time I saw somebody I knew and they cheered me on I felt like crying. On one of the laps my mum shouted that Amy and the girls who could not come as they had a show they were so proud of me. My god that was it my chin was wobbling everything. I had to tell myself to man up! Emotions were defo high when you are putting yourself through this much pain. I completed the first lap. My god this was going to be a hard Marathon! The flats weren’t really flat more rolling and there was a bloody monster hill in it. Well it felt like a monster hill after swimming 2.4 miles and riding 112 miles.
My nutrition was good on the run and I was staying well hydrated. There was people collapsing on the course which was quite scary, also people running and vomiting at the same time. However I felt fine and comfortable apart from I was starting to realise I hadn’t covered all my back with sun cream or the backs of my arms! I hate sun burn with a passion and this is a mistake you can’t afford to make so I was mad with myself for this. However I couldn’t do anything about it now I had to finish.
Second loop between 14 and 20 miles the wheels fell off! I needed the mother of all wee’s but my brain wasn’t working so I every time I got to the toilet and there was queue I just pressed on! However I could run as I was so desperate. I saw Andy at this point just starting the loops. He didn’t speak much, he was in a very dark place! I felt for Andy but I knew he was a good runner so expected him to still pass me any time. This didn’t happen. I had to stop and go. I thought just stop and the next feed station and use the toilet. I walked to the next station and queued.
Finally my turn. My god what the hell had the guy before me eat!! Also he could have flushed!! My next question was how long can I hold my breathe? Anyway I got over my ordeal and cracked on. I saw Andy on the second loop again and he had picked up which pleased me. I ran the town centre everytime, people had travelled to see e do this so no matter how painful it was I was running.
On the way out on the last lap I saw Mike at the top of the hill. My god he must have been flying on that last lap as he met me at the top of the hill. We high fived and he said “finish strong”. Right I was running and running as hard as I could. The only time I would stop was at the feed station at the far turning point. Take on more food and water then continue running. This worked a treat and I just got stronger and stronger. I got my 3rd and final band. At this point I was telling myself I’m never gonna see this point again, I’m never gonna have to walk that hill again, I’ll never see you cheering me on again, thank you but do one. I was on a mission, I was gonna be an Ironman nothing was gonna stop me! I was over taking everyone. I hadn’t felt this strong all day.
Finally I hit the last downhill, I checked the time 19:27. I had predicted 19:30 for me to finish. I wasn’t gonna let this slip past. 19:30 it would be not a second longer. Head down, press on. I saw Andy at the feed station at the bottom of the hill and I tried to do for him what Mike had do for me. I slowed and shouted at him to crack on. The last lap is the shortest and easiest! I continued.
I hit the carpet everyone was there. The crowd was chanting Ric you are an Ironman!! It’s one of the best feelings ever. All these people had come to watch use all achieve this massive feat. I was so pleased with myself.
I finished at 19:29:18, Swim time 1:25:20, Bike 6:40:25, Run 5:04:59. My plan was swim 1:30, Bike 7:00, Run 5:00. So pretty spot on. T1 bang on 10:00, T2 8:34, to long, but this was my first Ironman and I was always gonna PB!
Total time 13:29:18.

Jul 24

The Cleveland Steelman

A busy weekend of racing saw many a Lincsquad member embark on the journey up North to what has now become (for some) an annual pilgrimage for the Cleveland Steelman. This event has always proved popular with the Club and as its title suggests, is a toughie. If the free T-shirt is to be believed the swim and bike distances are slightly more than your standard Half Ironman races at 2000m and 58 miles. The half marathon run is somewhat off-road as you vault 6 gates and two stiles whilst meandering through woodland and lakeside trails. Another unique appeal to this event is the cost of the entry fee. A budget price of £45 for an Half Ironman event! This has surely got to be the cheapest triathlon in the country? Massive respect to the Cleveland Tri Club for hosting a quality race whilst keeping prices so low.

group swim

 Unfortunately, something the Organisers couldn’t control was the weather and of course some pesky temporary 3-way traffic lights! Doing a reccie the previous night it was evident that some people could be lucky but others would find themselves staring at a red light counting the precious seconds as their previous hard efforts were being whittled away! As it’s a two lap course it’s ‘Swings and roundabouts’ I suppose?………………….but it isn’t is it? Some people can get lucky twice and others unlucky twice! Oh well! Introductions, handshakes and pleasantries were passed pre swim between the club’s old and ever increasing newbie contingent. Right on cue, the heavens opened and the klaxon indicated the start of the mass swim/paddle/splutter fest! Thumbing through the results sheet it was the old-hands of Steve Grocock (4th), Rob Wood (20th) & Tony Philbin (22nd) using their experience to feature at the pointy end of the race. Using this as a training session for next week’s Outlaw Rob found himself having to play catch-up to follow Tony’s much improved swim. Hanging on to Tony’s blistering bike leg before putting in a measured run saw Rob, on this occasion, just getting the better in this friendly rivalry. Second out of the water for Steve Grocock with a rather flattering time of 26 minutes suggests the distance wasn’t quite the full 2000 metres, sorry folks! Pushing too fast on the bike in the rain resulted in a heavy crash for Steve. A tough few miles followed trying to resist the urge to throw in the towel whilst coming to terms with losing his hard earned advantage. Leaving T2 with the race leader may not seem the end of the world but a healthy buffer off the bike was always going to be needed to fend off the nippy runners. A comfortable 3rd place unfortunately went pear-shaped in the final furlong as out of nowhere some Ussain Bolt like character took the final step on the podium & even worse, age group gong!

David Gibbs, David Gibbs, David Gibbs (64th)! What has this boy been eating for breakfast? With so many admirable performances by the half Ironman newbies Dave’s result still gets the ‘Man of the Match’ award. I’m sure Dave would be the first to agree that a quick google search of his previous results from times gone by would not have seen him challenging in such a lofty position. Coaching and damn hard work certainly paying dividends for this athlete. Less than two minutes separated 79th placed Mark Clements and 81st placed Gareth Crabb. Both stepping up to the longer distance for the first time the ex-mountain biker & ex runner certainly made the jump to multi-sport look easy. Both athletes cashed in on their preferred discipline to set up a close finish.

Poot swim

It was our pleasure as always to have Paul Ralph (85th) back racing with his old chums. Paul, fresh from his Tour de France trip still found the time to go back to his roots despite recently dining with several notable VIPs, Actors, Politicians and TDF dignitaries. A solid performance saw Paul finish comfortably within the top half of the result sheet. Paul wasn’t available for interviews afterwards as the Champs de Elysees beckoned.

Apologies to our next Club member Kev Jackson (100th) for not receiving the usual warm Lincsquad hearty handshakes. Kev has recently joined the club but wasn’t donning the instantly recognizable Lincsquad (or OTCF) kit. Three very respectful disciplines saw the marathon runner’s target time of 6 hr 30mins smashed by almost ¾ of an hour.

Stuart Grocock (107th) another making the big jump from sprint tris managed to achieve both of the goals he’d set himself. Raising over £500 for the cancer charity and getting under his 6 hour target time by a good 5 minutes was mission well and truly accomplished for the Gainsborough man. What he described as an absolute nightmare first open water swim (in a race) didn’t appear too bad to most as Stuart posted the 3rd fastest Lincsquad swim.

The second fastest Lincsquad swimmer was keep fit instructor and ex Euro Champs kick boxing expert Adam Johnston (113th). Unfortunately Adam’s race was marred due to chronic cramping during the run. Adam ( Ah, Grasshopper) managed to chop a few bricks in half to help block out the pain! After a bit of spiritual regrouping he rallied and still found himself sneaking under that 6 hour barrier. I’m sure it won’t be long before Adam finds himself featuring at the sharp end of these races as so many of those that have competed at a high sporting level often do.

Heavy work demands weren’t enough to deny Steve Beevers (115th) his day in the sun (or rain)! The popular Scotter Squadder used his tried and tested tactic of talking to every competitor in the vicinity to help pass the time. The recent disruption to training didn’t stop Steve from posting a respectful bike time and certainly wasn’t going to prevent him from racing wearing that broad grin.

Rob run

Next up, was Sam Martin (137th), another newbie that threw himself straight into the Half Ironman deep end with no previous triathlon experience. A clever move to introduce himself on the forum just prior and wear the Lincsquad livery ensured Sam got his fair share of cheers and extra encouragement. Sam’s running off the bike seems to be his strength as his half mara time puts him into the top half of the field.

As well as Mark and Amanda Clements Gareth Joseph (142nd), was also following in his wife’s footsteps at this family friendly event. Gareth, another mountain biker, making the step up to Half Ironman has clearly got the bug as he’s already planning his new training schedule to include the bigger distances. Gareth was probably being a little harsh on himself in his post race summary. These events aren’t easy, at least not as easy as he appeared to make it look.

  Everybody’s favourite cycling coach Steve Cannings (161st) received the biggest cheers of the day. Still nursing a broken toe, Steve surpassed his own expectations by destroying the time he’d set himself. An achievement that was made to look all the more impressive when you consider the extra weight Steve was lugging around  the course as he used this race to trial his nutrition for his upcoming ‘around the world trip with no stops’. The crowds went home happy as Steve tossed them free energy supplements from his multiple drink holders and ‘Tommy Walsh’ utility belt. (Sorry Steve but it’s captured on film).

Even more so than usual (as the weather was absolutely lousy) big thanks goes out to our supporters. Standing all day in the rain you must question why you give up your weekend to follow us around the country. We do appreciate it. 

As a club that also hosts our own events big thanks go to the Cleveland Triathlon club for hosting a quality race to which a lot of us hold a lot of affection. 
Camp site

Older posts «

You might also likeclose