OSB Outlaw Nottingham completed in 12 hours and 14 minutes! So I missed my target time and the autopsy into what went wrong is under way. What I do know is that going over my target time by about forty-five minutes was partly attributable to my race nutrition strategy. The swim included the usual punch up for the first 500 metres and I thought myself lucky to escape with only one bash over the head. However, I fear I may have dished out far worse to others. The bike went generally to plan, although my average power ended up below target, down to lack of concentration. I blame this on Ed Sheeran’s Castle On The Hill replaying in my head for six hours. Keeping concentration will definitely be something to work on for next time. My stomach started complaining almost the instant I got off the bike. That sick feeling told me I had gone overboard with the gels. To add to my woes, tingly fingers, swollen to the size of sausages, suggested that I was experiencing dehydration. The result: a slow run, stops at every feed station taking on liquid to combat dehydration and help those gels digest.
Nevertheless, things went from bad to worse, and being nowhere near the WC’s situated at the feed stations, I had an awkward vision of having to do a ‘Paula Radcliffe’. Luckily, things settled down before things got messy. I kept plodding on, and on, and still on, and on a bit more; never had I seen a more welcome sight than that finish line. Having crossed the line, I thought to myself ‘Never again, you silly old fool!’
A week later, I am able to contemplate doing another without breaking into a cold sweat. After all, I did improve on last year’s time, so I should be happy, right? This brings to mind a question that I was asked recently: what motivates you? For me, it is the desire to beat my previous time in search of the perfect race. Another (perhaps more compelling) reason is that I hate the gym with a passion, so without triathlons I would be the size of a house, especially in view of my cake and pie habit.
It turned out I was not the only one who struggled. Out of 1,500 entrants, fewer than 1,100 finished the event. What was interesting was that the organisers did not list the 400 odd people who did not finish. Normally against every entrant’s name there is a finishing time or DNF (did not finish), DNS (did not start) or DQ (disqualified). I contacted the organisers to see if in fact fewer than the 1,500 entrants took part, as I was curious. OSB confirmed that there were indeed 1,500 but then went coy on me and seemed rather vague about the “missing” 400 – all they would admit to was that some did not start and some did not finish. I suspect the vast majority of those ‘missing’ were DNF and maybe the organisers didn’t want that sort of negative publicity – almost a third of the field not finishing doesn’t look particularly good. It shows that long distance triathlon is not an event to be taken lightly and putting in the groundwork is essential.
A big motivator for doing the Ironman/long distance triathlon is the finish line photo. You have probably seen them, hands aloft, all smiles with the finishing time on a big display above their heads. The long distance triathlon I did last year was a small event and the finishing line photo showed only about four people watching and no digital display showing the time. This year, the crowds were impressive and the overhead gantry showed competitors’ finishing times. I couldn’t wait to see the results and made what I thought was an impressive effort to smile and get those hands up waving in celebration as I crossed the line. Imagine my disappointment when the official photographers confirmed that there was in fact no photo of me crossing the finish line. Doh! Oh well, there’s always next year …
Pre-race nutrition is a big deal, of course. Before I took on my first Iron distance race last year I had my diet analysed. I have been attending an early morning circuit/strength and conditioning class at a local independent gym ( www.arenafit.co.uk) and my trainer there, Aidan Hudson, is a qualified nutritionist, so I sought his advice. Not a little smugly, I produced my week’s food diary, pretty convinced Aidan wasn’t going to be able to tell me much. However, a long drawn-out sighing sound and a sucking of teeth did not bod well; you know that noise, the one your mechanic makes when you take your car in for repair. “You aren’t eating enough,” was not what I’d been expecting., Naturally, my heart leaped with joy, as visions of daily cake-eating scrolled through my mind and I pondered whether this meant I could eat two pies in one sitting. The bad news was that the extra calories had to come from lean protein. Oh! To up my protein, I introduced nuts, seeds, peanut butter and protein drinks to my diet to help with strength and recovery ahead of the big race – but no extra pie.
Not withstanding the above, I have made Jamie Oliver’s Bun and Butter pudding this week
. Tasty but filling, it seems probably more of a winter dish. I made the mistake of “pointing” a portion (a sixth) of the pudding which came out at 42 points, well over a day’s points in one go, so I couldn’t ‘hand on heart’ recommend it to those trying to shift the pounds.