Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Forestman 2011 - THE big day!

For my own records I wanted to write up the whole weekend so I have split it in to two parts so you don't all have to read everything unless you want! Also because there are so many different groups of people that I have met/spoken to etc across various networks that I have just used their names and you either recognise them or you don't!

So Saturday is here: -

And the race starts here: - the alarm went off at 3.20am and I got straight up and got straight on with my breakfast of porridge and muller rice mixture which went down fine, I then got lubed up and put on as much as my kit as needed, checked all my stuff over and headed to the lake at about 4.20 ish! Once at the lake (about ten minutes later) I set-up my bike, filled my bottles, put all my gels and flapjacks on, pumped up the tyres etc etc, once done I stuck the bike bag in transition, went to the loo and then headed down to the shore to slip on the wetsuit! As we waited I had a chat with some of the other racers with everyone getting more and more excited! More of my friends turned up which was cool and as became a theme throughout the day I already had the biggest and loudest support of anyone!

After a gel, mini briefing and a blessing from a local priest (last rites??) we all entered the water...

Swim - Chip time 1.02 including transition, about 55 minutes for the actual swim

The mist was pretty heavy on the lake so they delayed the start by ten minutes and checked you could see from one buoy to the other which was fine so we all got in and lined up - the water was a relatively warm 17 degrees which is perfect for long swimming!

I sat in the middle near the front and got ready for the hooter to go....a count down and a cheeky wave to the supporters and off we went...there was some bumping for positions and a few close shaves but nothing bad that I imagine you get on the big IM swims! I tried to find some feet to draft behind but they all seemed to be pulling away from me so I just headed for the next buoy each time and settled in to my rhythm! I could still feel people passing me on either side and felt as though I was going slow, but concentrated on a catch and pull all the way to the thigh, high elbow and drive forward using the body rotation, this totally took my mind of things and after a lap I was in some space with a few about 20m behind and then a gap of 20m or so in front of me! On both the 1st and 2nd lap I was sick a bit about 3/4 of the way round, but not badly, just a bit of breakfast saying hello! The first thoughts I was going quite quick was when I started to feel a bit burpy which usually means I am pushing harder and not breathing correctly so focused on this and carried on.

After the first lap I thought we were supposed to head back to the start buoy (in fact I know we were) so headed that way before getting re-directed by the canoes - turns out the leaders had got it wrong and not been corrected so everyone now went that way, lost about 50m but so did a load of others so no dramas! On the third lap I caught up with someone feeling very slow and it was only when I caught a few breaststrokers that I realised I was doing okay!

Lost a place in the last 300m and felt good coming out the water, with a hand from a marshall! it was cool running through the tunnel of supporters and through the crew though the sandy ground was not good!

In to transition and Jen mentioned that she thought there were only 7 or so in front of me (turns out I was 11th out of the water) so immediate panic that I had gone to fast (actually I was chuffed to bits)! I had sandy feet but stuck my socks, shoes and t-shirt on and cracked on! Out to the bike and put the rest on before heading to the road and getting started

Bike - 6.34 chip time (17mph ave. inc stops) HR 134 bpm ave

Out on to the bike and I felt amazingly good and the temptation was there to smash it but I'm well aware of the ironman graveyeard after big bikes so I stuck in the gear I knew would keep me fresh and set off on the first lap, at around the 18 mph mark, the weather was perfect for long cycling with the mist keeping everything fresh while it was warm and no wind at all.

The trouble with being a good swimmer, average cyclist and poor runner is that you get overtaken alllllll day but I soon got used to it and it just made catching people more entertaining for me! Fuzzy overtook me at about 6 miles and zoomed off like a rocket and then a pee stop after 10 miles saw a raft of people go flying past but this was fine.

Someone came past me a 15 miles and we had a brief chat about the swim - he commented he was out the water bang on 59.59 so I reckon 55 mins was about right - I was pretty chuffed with that!

On to the A35 which was the bit I was dreading but actually was great, the hills weren't bad and the long fast downhills were great for some free speed - so this went well on all three laps even when it got busier! Up the Ornamental drive was all fine and the first aid station at Ocknell came at the right time, I filled up my aero bottle at every station and forced myself to drink the while lot in between them which worked really well in the end, plus highly concentrated salt tabs in my bottle which I sipped when it got hot.

Nomansland hill was fine as well and I still felt really fresh which was great! It was definitely tough reining it in across the top of the forest which is fast and very slightly downhill to Sandy Balls (SB), I stayed rigidly in my gear here but span pretty fast, by the time I hit 38 miles I had averaged 20 over the last 8 and overall my average was 17.7 inc stops so I eased back on the run to Frogham and up to the Forresters where it was nice to see Martin and Jane G! The rest of the lap went fine and as I came in to Poulner I sat up eating a gel whilst riding no-handed...just at the time I happened to past beefy outside his house with a sign! Guess he may have though I was taking it quite easily!! It was great to see him though and I got a massive boost every time I saw my supporters!

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful, it dragged a bit as I approached the 56 mile mark but only psychologically and the bike was performing fantastically so counting down the miles in my head was great! Knowing you've only got 30,20,10 to go etc is a good feeling! I saw a few accidents which was less cool and I hope they were all okay.

The final stop at Ocknell aid station was great to know that there was only 7-8 miles to go, it was very hot by this time and my overall speed had dropped to about 17 average which was great, I had planned for 17.5 exc stops so 17 inc stops was about the same. Back towards SB and some annoying guy on one of the relay teams overtook me on one of the hills and then slowed right down....grrr...couldn't be bothered to overtake him and wasn't slowing down so I was right behind him for about 50 yards before he got going again....if you read this...don't be a  plank!

Across the top and I took it steady to try and freshen the legs, they were tired but when I stood up there was plenty of power still there so all good, I wasn't sure about the run though and was feeling apprehensive...however I normally run well off the bike so tried to remember that. Coming over the rise before the Fighting Cocks was great and to see such a big crowd of all my supporters was a phenomenal boost! It was amazing!

In to T2 and I handed my bike over before getting in to the tent to see Bungleduck who brought me some much needed water! My feet were burning and I could still feel the sand in there, I had a dilemma about whether to change socks etc but couldn't be bothered so stuck my trainers on, more suncream and my hat and set off! Louberforce and overtaken me a few more miles before on the bike and left T2 as I entered looking fresh - big shame about the DNF, no accounting for Bee's!!

Breakdown of the ride per garmin

Run - 5.45 chip time, 5.43 per Garmin

Out of T2 and the tannoy gave a big shout to all the runners, as I passed them I heard him say I was a local hero (that was very cool).

After about 500m I was running about 8mm pace which is way too fast so backed right off, by the time I reached the pub and my support (about 1k) I was really suffering and was super hot but again amazing to see so many people out there! As I turned off the road on to the Forest tracks I grabbed some water and scooted down the first hill, at the bottom I began the walk up the first long hill, this was THE big low point of the day, I was really hot and didn't know how I would get through 26.2 I walked up the hill and began to cool slightly and by the time I hit the top at 2 miles, I realised it was only 24 to go so I ran on across the top and down to the stream which marks the steep hill up to the main aid station in the middle of the race course, I stopped for a pee here as was feeling a bit full! At the top, I ran on to the next aid station and then down in to the Forest feeling a bit better minute by minute, at the Fritham turn around I had my gel, water and coke and set back along the course, my stomach was feeling pretty dodgy and eventually I just found a big bush and hid behind it, a few minutes later and I was feeling a whole heap better (turns out I was far from the only one disappearing behind various bushes and trees on the course) I also dropped my tri suit arms and ran in my white t-shirt only which was much cooler! Back on the top of the course and its a flat run toward the hill down to the aid station at Abbotswell, although in the sun there was a nice wind blowing and I always felt best running back along this bit!

When I hit 8 miles just before getting my red band marking the first lap I knew I would be finishing the race...I calculate how long I have got etc all the time while racing to take my mind of things and even if I walked all the way I had it in the bag within 16 hours! This was an amazing feeling to took the pressure off and I relaxed in to it! Running down the hill to the cheers of my support was fantastic and back to Fritham I headed....

I had more support out in the middle of the course which broke things up nicely and it was always a boost to see a friendly face! I was also being recognised as 'Donkey' from a guy who had seen the support crew and 'Twitterman' by another lady! It was a really friendly place to be with all the competitors willing each other on, high-fiving and rooting for each other! I was running next to someone about 9 miles in when the leader or 2nd place (blue shorts, black top or vica versa?) came past on his way home and HE wished US good luck....! Amazing! We both commented that he couldn't do the ironman shuffle like us though (tri-joke...I apologise)!

Anyway it seemed to take a while to get back round to my white band (2nd lap) at I had a wee bit of cramp at the top of my calf from the hills, I was still running all the flats but had slowed down a fair bit elsewhere by the time the white band came! One more more lap! Off again and round with slightly more walking and my time was dropping slightly and at the last Fritham stop I was significantly tiring, however I felt really positive and was genuinely excited about getting the blue band....although by this point the sand in my shoes had caused blisters which burst...quite nicely!!

My original plan had been to get as far as possible before I hit a really bad patch and then just drag myself the rest of the way, but it never really came after the first two miles, when I realised that I would complete it I relaxed and enjoyed it in an odd way! Yes, it hurt and yes I felt really bad at times but just moving forward was always possible, especially as 9, then 14, then 18 miles came and went seemingly quickly! As I got the final blue band at 21.5 miles I said good bye to my support crew, picked up my charity t-shirt and headed for home!

My legs were really tired now and that cramp was pretty bad in my calves so that I was running with straight legs where I could and walking everywhere else! The turn for home was very welcome and the steep downhill to the stream was an odd experience, I caught up two others here and we had a good chat as we walked up the other side, we then ran off down the next hill and walked up the other side, annoyingly we walked around the loop of the path where as two people cut the corner off and over took us...I didn't mind losing places but it felt a bit like cheating!

Back on the road and I put my trisuit on properly and the charity t-shirt, then it was a downhill 1.5 miles to the finish, which was nice and easy even with my funny shuffle I had going on! I saw Soobeedoo and another lady at the gate who also referred to me as Twittertim due to Mat's updates from the day that had been keeping everyone amused!

As I came towards the finish it was great to turn in to SB on my own and see all my friends and family there with big cheers and what an amazing day all round!  the breakdown of the run as per garmin!

Finished in 13 hours 22 minutes!

I can't thank my support enough for everything during the day - its been incredible! Especially Kel who was in tears as I came in!

Thanks to Clare - who put loads of photos on here

Its been an amazing 18 months and worth it, yes on one of the easier European courses I would have gone faster but nothing could ever beat the atmosphere and experience that a small event can put on!

As at today with most of the sponsorship the total raised for both charities stands at £4,165.22 inc gift aid ....I am absolutely blown away by everyone's generosity and can't thank you all enough!

I am now feeling better as Tuesday was a tough day with the blisters but I'm getting there!!

Now that the race is done I shan't be bothering you all with my e-mails (I'm sure you are all desolate) but it has been incredible! I won't do another in the near future, partly because Kel would kill me and also because nothing would ever live up to that experience!

I do have other plans though!

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