The results from the Steelman are available here: http://www.raceahead.net/SearchResults.aspx
I came 94th out of 113 in an overall time of 6:04:45.
Swim: 52:52 position 108
Bike: 3:21:00 position 95
Run: 1:50:54 position 83
Well I’m sat here watching the 1st stage proper of the Tour De France and recovering after my exploits yesterday. Exciting stuff and great to see arguably the worlds greatest annual sporting event on English soil. I’m having a day off today, although later we will be choosing our wedding music…..might be easier going for a 10 mile run ha ha.
Well after a great few days in Cologne ( great city ) I returned home on my own ( Em stayed in Liverpool for a dress fitting ) and prepared my bike and gear on Friday afternoon. Suprisingly I wasn’t as stressed as I was before Chester the other week, maybe my performance there had given me the confidence that I could complete the steelman. The Cleveland Steelman is a half ironman race ( 2000m swim, 56 mile bike and a half marathon) and would be the longest race I’d ever competed in, my longest ever race had been a half marathon on its own !!
My alarm went off at 5:30am, grabbed a coffee and a couple of weetabix, loaded the car and was away at 6am for the drive across the country to Ellerton near Catterick. Hit the top of the A66 near stainmore and was greated by heavy rain and thick fog, was this a sign of things to come? Arrived and parked next to leahnp from Tritalk, good chatting to him, he had a gorgeous planet x carbon bike, looking round all the bikes on display were real dream machines and many people were changing their disc wheels for bontager deep rims given the severe wind conditions. These were very serious triathletes and I felt somewhat like an imposter, but sod it. At the end of the day I wasn’t competing against them, they were premier league ( including several GB squad members ) and I was conference, but this was about me racing me.
Got the wetsuit on and got into the lake, it was 14 degrees, it was a deep water start and there was about 115 people. I started at the back as I didn’t want to get battered. Away we go on the first of two laps, and I get into my stroke quite well until some big bloke swims right across the front of me in the first 100m, BANG, he full on kicked me on my left hand and I was in agony. I really thought he’d broke my fingers as everytime I placed my hand into the water pain shot through my arm. This lasted into the second lap and then thankfully it eased off. The strong wind created pretty big waves and this was the toughest swim I’d ever done. Somehow I’d managed to lose my left earplug and water was sloshing around inside my head, think it was caused by the thin swim cap riding up and pulling the plug out. I think at the big woody i’ll wear my own cap underneath as I know that doesn’t ride up. As a result as I exited the water I had no sense of balance, I fell backwards into the water and then couldn’t straighten up. I wobbled all the way to my bike, and then fell over. I had to sit down to take off my wetsuit and felt really dizzy as I got on my bike. Thankfully that soon wore off. I was away on my bike in about 52 minutes.
Off out on the bike for two laps along fairly quite roads, no real testing hills, but the course was undulating. The wind was unbelievably strong and I just couldn’t get into my riding at all, I just kept getting battered. Got halfway round the first lap and it started raining, think I’d just dried out from the swim and then got soaked again. Picked a couple of people off as I started my second lap and managed to get a few more. Got to about 40 miles and it started hail stoning on me, felt like someone was sticking needles into my bare legs and arms as the strong wind was driving them almost horizontally into me.
Was pleased with my nutrition on the bike, drank energy drink for the first 20 miles, then alternated between malt loaf and gel every 10 miles until the end. My average speed was 17mph and I completed the course in 3:21:55.
Quick transition, put on my bottle belt and away on the run. The route was mostly off road on ankle deep rough grass, pot holed and flooded dirt and pebbled lanes and across a flooded meadow where my shoes went completely under muddy water. Several styes to climb over and a gate to open and go through, so it wasn’t really a fast run course. I just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other as I plodded my way round the two laps. Had to stop to water the plants on the first lap and lost a bit of time but I felt better afterwards. I speeded up on the second lap and think I was probably about 10 minutes faster, took me an hour for the first lap and about 50 minutes for the second. The sun was beating down now and as a result I have really badly burnt arms and shoulders today, also bizarelly I have cuts all over my chest ( no idea where they came from??).
I managed to run about a 1:50 half marathon to finish in 6:04:48. I was very pleased as I’d hoped for about 6:30. Had a great sense of achievement as I crossed the line. Last August I’d completed my first sprint triathlon, and now I had a Half Ironman under my belt, and suprisingly I didn’t feel as knackered as I had when I finished the Chester Olympic.
It was a lonely experience on the bike, and it takes a bit out of you mentally as the wind saps your energy, and you have to pick yourself up for the run but you just have to keep telling yourself “You can do this, keep going.” It was tough because of the weather but I have no doubt that I can complete an ironman after my performance yesterday……I’m half way there.