Monthly Archives: August 2013

Recovering From IMUK

As I mentioned in my race report from Ironman UK, it took until the Tuesday after the event to finally let my race sink in. Sunday evening we went straight for dinner in Manchester with my folks and my girlfriend. Monday morning I had to go and collect my bike from T2 and then I attended the awards ceremony at the Reebok Stadium. My parents hung around for the afternoon and then I slept like a baby Monday night.

IMUK Awards dinner - before!

IMUK Awards dinner

Time to look at the Time:
First of all, I recommend attending the awards ceremony the following day. The Kona Rolldown is a great spectacle when you see people claiming their dream spot in Kona, just a few weeks away in October. Pretty decent bacon butties too, as a mass of hobbling athletes move up the queues like the March Of The Penguins.
So it wasn’t really until I had some time to myself on Tuesday afternoon when I finally sat down and looked at my times and the breakdown of splits and also check out some photos. It was great to look back in detail at the race and be able to look at the breakdown of my day.

My 11:31:50 falls at 119% of the winner of my Age Group (Male 30-34) New Zealands Graeme Buscke with 09:40:55. Results here

Ironman UK is defiantly one of the more challenging courses on the Ironman European circuit. Jeremy Turner’s Strava data from the same event shows the details of the bike and run course:

Ironman Sweden took place in Kalmar shortly after IMUK and the course was notably faster and this is reflected in the times. Much flatter bike & run course. My Age Group winner going round in 08:52:44. I finished 49th in my Age Group at IMUK and to have achieved that position in Kalmar I would have had to do a 10:32:06! Also the overall winner was 30 mins faster in Kalmar compared to Daniel Hawskworth’s IMUK victory time of 8hr 45min.

IM Kalmar Age Group Results here

I am keen to do another Long Distance Tritahlon in 2014 so I am having a scout around for a nice European event to make a trip out of and use IMUK as a starting point for more Iron distance events.


I got stuck in the bath on Tuesday. I had to roll out. It wasn’t particularly graceful. My hips and calves had seized up almost immediately after the journey home from the race. The only thing on my body that didn’t hurt was my face.

By Thursday I had reached the point where I could manage a walk to the cinema. It took my nearly 40 minutes to walk a mile and I found myself becoming short of breath after too much exertion. Once I began to recover, I did so quite quickly and by the following weekend of the race I was off on holiday and walking and swimming and lying there quite happily.
It was important to take both my mind and body away from Tritahlon. It was good to have a drink and eat loads. I had abstained from alcohol 7 weeks prior to IMUK so that first pint of Guinness went down a treat.

So although I have absolutely no formula or particular advice as to how I recovered, I just listened to my body. I kept everything really light and tried to walk as much as I could.

It was 2 and 1/2 weeks until I did any meaningful exercise. I went back down to uSwim Open Water on the Wednesday. And had a first run back of 4 miles. I then had a coffee bike ride in the sun for 40 miles, really nice and easy.

I have returned with a focus on my running at the minute, trying to get some stamina back in the legs while they are feeling good. I need to develop that running engine and then begin to add some speed later down the line.

I’ve left the Turbo to one side for the time being. I don’t want to hate the trainer before I go into winter where I’ll I’ll be spending most of my time on it. So I am only riding outdoors and when I have the time to enjoy it. I’m also back on the Specialized Road Bike, leaving the aggressive TT bike to one side for the minute. Similarly with swimming. I have always enjoy the open water swimming so I am currently avoiding the pool and the stopwatch for a few weeks.

Now my 1st Ironman is out of the way, my ethos is slowly shifting from Completing to Competing.


Race Report: IMUK: My First Ironman

Race Date: 04/08/13

Race Type: Ironman

Result: 11:31:50

Performance: Ecstatic 10/10

My first Ironman experience could not have gone any better. It exceeded all my expectations. The whole race week felt like it lasted for ages and it wasn’t until the Tuesday after the race when I was on my own that I finally had chance to reflect on the event and let it all sink in.

Crossing the finish line

Crossing the finish line

I went round in 11:31:50 and was astonished to obliterate the originally planned 13 hour mark when I began this project. I simply stuck to the plan and enjoyed the experience. It all came together and I had beyond the perfect race, a rare feeling no doubt, so I’ve been savoring every moment. Even when I went out for dinner the Sunday evening after the race a chap in Manchester shouted across at me and could tell by my walk that I’d just done IMUK and offered his congrats.

The week leading up to the race came around very quickly and heightens every sense in your body. Random injuries occur, the bike just isn’t in perfect order and – as my Irish girlfriend would say – you become “minus craic”.

I was consciously trying to relax and forget about the weekend, but it consumes you so far in advance (when they take £400 off you at registration) before race week that this week actually feels kind of normal.

Training Log

Training Log

I tapered with a swim session and a 6 mile run and switched my eating attention to white bread, white pasta and cake. A premature indulgence to get the simple carbs & sugars on board two days out.

I had massage and a final chat with my physio and coach Paul Savage who answered a lot of stupid questions of mine and also loosened the legs up nicely.

The day before can be quite stressful

The day before can be quite stressful

Friday registration and bike racking went smoothly, but it is worth baring in mind the stress of all this. There is actually a lot of driving involved and a fair few nerves and excitement at each transition the day before. So, I turned to cricket. The Ashes were on BBC 5 Live Sports Extra Radio so I had that on in the car and as soon as I heard the stress and chat among the other competitors ‘The weather isn’t good for tomorrow’,What tire pressures are you running? Do you have enough spare tubes?’. This was background noise I didn’t want to hear and mess with my head, so I simply put the headphones in and listened to more cricket as I racked and hung my bags. It’s compelling listening when England are smashing the Aussies and at the same time you are leaving your beloved bike in a field in Leigh for her first night away from home.

I felt quite relaxed on the morning of the race also. I got a lovely card from said Irish girlfriend which she told me not to read until I was getting out of the car at the start line. She stayed in bed naturally. It’s a strange feeling even when you say ‘goodbye’ knowing you’ll see them in a very different context later that day. Moody and irritant to sweaty and euphoric in a matter of hours.

Exiting the swim. Furthest right

Exiting the swim. Furthest right

Swim 1hour 07minutes:

There isn’t really much you can say about the swim? It wasn’t as brutal as I had anticipated, with not too many arms flaying and I tried to start as near to the front as I could. The water was warm, a reported 22C, and despite going slightly off track on the second lap after the Australian exit, I felt strong and in control, never panicking and pushing when I felt I had the energy and had the space to do so.

On the bras up Sheep House Lane

On the bars up Sheep House Lane

Bike: 6hour 02minutes:

I had been lucky enough to train on the course so I was familiar with the route. Sheep House Lane 3 times was always going to be tough, but I managed to hold a good pace and beat my predicted time by a good chunk. I later took into account my training rides had been on my aluminium Specialized Allez Sport road bike, with a 1.5l camebak on and I had been riding a hillier and longer route. I had hoped to complete in under 7hours, so be closer to the 6 hour mark I was more than happy.
I had one low point, when my hips began to strain and I was about 70miles into the ride. It was tough mentally to keep the mind on the game and away from the pain. I just told myself ‘it was meant to hurt’ as its an Ironman and to just ‘shut up moaning about things, it’s too late now’. I tried to think of every motocross track I had ever ridden on, in chronological order, to take my mind off the pain and put it somewhere where I associated with success and nostalgia.

Nutrition wise, I began with 2 bottles of Lucozade and once I had the first one out of the way I kept taking water bottles from each aid station and continued to sip on the second Lucozade.
I had 7 SiS Go Bars (65g), grazed on a bag of Jelly Babies and took a Salt Stick tablet every hour.

Heading into the unknown after 12 miles

Heading into the unknown after 12 miles

Run: 4hour 12minutes

I took a gel in T2, just sucking on it while I was getting into my running shoes. I was very relax through both transitions, just walking through and concentrated really hard on the order of things I had to do. I was very deliberate and didn’t waste any energy. I kept both transitions to 5 minutes and never rushed myself to a panic.

3 miles in to the run I wrote off any ideas I had about a 4hour marathon. I had gotten off the bike thinking I could now go around sub-12 hours and just hold it together on the run. Then from nowhere my running legs appeared! I settled into a good pace and made sure I took on fuel – water, coke and a gel at each and every aid station & Bananas every other station.

I identified two places on the course that I could target, breaking the run up. The town centre where my family were and also back out at the beginning of the loop where the lap bands are handed out. Two places to aim for where I could gain either encouragement from some familiar faces or tick off another checkpoint passed with an arm band. I broke the race down into 4 x 10ks and having not been over 12 miles in training, I was heading into the unknown from thereon.

The red carpet

The red carpet

Coming down the chute and on to the red carpet was a great feeling and one I shall never forget. The legs just never gave up on me and I managed to hold out for a time that I am immensely proud of. I surpassed all my training PB’s in the swim, rode over 100 miles for the first time ever and also ran my first half marathon and full marathon!

See all my pics from IMUK here