Wednesday, 29 October 2014 12:42

Mallorca Mayhem

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Mallorca Mayhem

As promised we are now on the other side, and what a busy time it has been.

Monday morning-silly o’clock - Trudi and I travelled to Mallorca. We were joined for the week by Steve, Trudi’s brother, Nicola, Trudi’s sister and her family, Barry and their two boys Daniel and Benjamin. The idea was that these guys would be able to have a family holiday while I was busy checking routes, registering and being briefed.

We arrived to some rather British weather which was not what we wanted, at least we were used to it! I spent an hour or so putting my bike back together and checking that nothing had been damaged in transit. All was good, just needed to buy some gas cartridges as mine had been confiscated at Manchester airport as I didn’t have permission to carry them.

Tuesday morning - The sun was out and I took a stroll down along the front to the registration area. It was only about 20 minute walk from the hotel and was in the process of being set up. I had a good walk around to get a feel for the swim start and exit and transition area. Again all this was being set up but at least I could get a feel for it. I also found a bike shop for the cartridges, which was also going to be the start for a training ride the following morning. I walked back along the run route, or what I thought was the run route!!

Tuesday afternoon - Had a run around the run route, see above!!

Wednesday morning - Met at the transition area for a group training ride around the second lap. This was led by a guide who knew the route and I sensibly plumped for the slower group. It was a lovely ride, fairly brisk for me on the mountain but well within my limits on the flat, in fact it was like being in a mini peloton steaming along at 23ish mph.

In the afternoon I went to register for the race. Barry came down with me, he is a member of the tri club so was interested in what goes on. We had a bit of a laugh as I was wearing an ironman t-shirt with a difference, a picture of an iron made to look like a smiley face, most amusing watching deadly serious athletes trying to figure out what event it was referring to only to realise it was a joke

Thursday was a day of relaxation with a bit of sunshine thrown in, along with preparing my bags for the transitions.

Friday morning - Checked my bags and bike one last time before going to a briefing on the beach after lunch. I have to say it was a great setting, there was a bar serving beer or water, water for me, and absolutely loads of food for the athletes. Once people were settled down the briefing begin, the normal Ironman briefing but with one nugget of information that no one was expecting, it was to be a no wet suit swim. WHAT!?!? There was a general gasp of exclamation that shot around the crowd. Yep a no wet suit swim, they wanted to make Mallorca the European Kona!! I also found out that the run route had changed a bit, there would now be a long out and back loop which just happened to go past the front door of our hotel and then the back door a few miles later. Great for my support crew

Well, my immediate thoughts were that I might struggle a bit. As you know my swimming has been somewhat lacking due to my accident and wetsuits do help with buoyancy. Still, it was going to be the same for everyone so I would just have to get on with it.

A few hours later and I had my bike and bags safely in the transition area ready for the following day.

Saturday- Race Day.

05:00 - As always with days like this I tend to be awake before the alarm goes off and this was no different. There is always a few nerves buzzing around my system as well which makes it difficult to get some breakfast down, but I just have to force the food in and hope it stays there!

06:00 – Trudi and I strolled down to transition and then she went down to the swim start while I gave the bike one last check, and finally decided what to start the swim in. I decided on my tri top, just in case there was a slight chill in the water, this would prove to be a mistake though. I was ready for the day and left transition, headed down to the beach and tried to find Trudi in the dark. As the darkness dissipated I found her for one last good luck message and hug before heading into the swim start area.

07:30 – The pro race starts, meanwhile I am gently pooh-ing myself trying to get the blood moving around my shoulders. I am one person amongst 2600 starters, I know the start is going to be bedlam so I hang around near the back of the pack waiting for the hooter.

07:35 – AAAAAHHHHH, OMG. What a nightmare, there are legs and arms everywhere and the once blue sea looks more like a massive bowl of chicken soup. I’m getting bumped from all sides, I’m having to stop swimming every so often as I bump into the person in front and have nowhere to go and, to top it all I can’t see where I am supposed to be swimming because of all the yachts and arms and legs in the way. I am beginning to wonder what I am doing here and why I do these things, my throat is burning with the sea water and I am struggling to get into a rhythm.

08:30 ish – I stagger onto the beach at the end of the first loop and am gobsmacked that it has taken me so long to get to this point. The first loop is longer than the second but even so this is far too long, I need to get my act together and set off into the surf for the shorter second loop. I feel more comfortable now and am able to get a shake on, swimming close to the buoys and finally beginning to enjoy it.

09:02 -Finally, the swim is done!! I have salt rashes on my neck and shoulders from the top which are burning, a schoolboy error as I have never swum in it before. Luckily I have put a spare top in my bag just in case, my old favourite soreen top which I know is comfortable. After a run through the showers to get the salt water rinsed off I enter transition and get myself sorted for the bike ride.

09:11 – On the bike at last, I feel more comfortable now and try to get some nutrition in, a flapjack affair, but my mouth is dry and I struggle to eat it. It must have taken me about 10 miles to force it down, all the time having to swill it down with some liquid. The first few miles are pancake flat and it helps to get the swim out of the legs and settle into a reasonable pace. Soon after this though the road starts to go up. It’s a steady climb. Not too steep to honest but enough to get the heart going and it does drag on for a while. All the time there are numerous riders who are on the return leg back to the bottom of the hill.

10:23- Reaching the top of the climb is a good feeling as there is a feed station here, I top up water and then it’s a straight turnaround and back the way we have just come. I have done over 20 miles at this point and enjoy flying down the hill on a dual carriageway all to ourselves. The course is lovely and scenic with a few hills that are steady and long rather than all out steep and I enjoy the unspoilt views as I nible away on my food, which is going down a lot easier now.

12:15 ish- By now I have been going for nearly 5 hours, I feel good, I know that I have the tough part of the bike route to come but also am happy in the knowledge that I have ridden the route a few days before and know what’s in store. At this point the route goes back through Alcudia and the loops out towards Pollenca and the mountains. I get a great cheer from my support crew who are probably waiting for me so they can all get into the restaurant for their lunch, I mean they have been up since the crack of dawn, they must be hungry!! Seriously though, it is great to have the support and really does give me a boost.

13:15- Here it comes, the big climb for the day, some 6+ miles of mainly uphill tarmac, at least it’s smooth and in better condition than the roads here! As I begin the climb I have to stand up occasionally on the pedals and notice that my front tyre is a bit soft, not sure how long it has been like that but as I am going uphill I decide to carry on for a bit and see what happens as it is not going to slow me down.

13:35- It’s definitely going down and I pull over into a gateway. As luck would have it I have managed to stop just as a bike mechanic came zipping up the road, no sooner had I tipped the bike upside down and got the front wheel of and he was there. No tools required for this boy, the tyre is off, new tube in, and back on in a matter of seconds, well not really, but it seemed like that. I took the opportunity to get some fluids in and look at the fantastic view. Job done and away I went.

13:45- Or not as the case would be. As I was getting back into my stride the tyre blew. AAAHHHGGGG. It must have been nipped as it went in and decided to let go. Not to worry, my new best friend was off his scooter again in a jiffy and on to the problem. This was my second and last tube so I was really hoping there wouldn’t be any mishaps with this one. A few minutes later and the job was done…again.

13:50- Now I know what you are thinking. 5 minutes on from the last post, surely not another puncture, no not another puncture, nothing in fact. After my push of from my best buddy I sailed up the hill. Probably something to do with the rest I had. I felt good still and pushed on trying to make up for the lost time.

14:15- OK so I’m guessing the times a bit now. No more punctures, my mechanic friend has been passing me, servicing other bikes and re-passing me. We have a quick thumbs up each time we pass each other until I hit the top of the climb and began the death defying decent. I am now back at the bottom of the mountain after a great decent on closed roads, zig-zaging down the side of the mountain, having to brake hard, accelerate and brake hard again. It was a truly exhilarating few miles which I absolutely loved.

15:50- my legs have been feeling it a bit for the last few miles but I am in the final mile. My super support crew have been out in force again and I am buoyed as I reach transition for the change into running shoes. Yes my legs are tired, it’s going to be a hard slog but I know there is only a marathon to go…….only a marathon to go, who am I trying to kid? That’s still 26.2 miles in boiling hot sun, on tired legs, with no energy, sore shoulders, raw neck and 4 ½ loops of running so the scenery, although great may get a tad boring.

16:00- As I run out of transition I take a couple of pain killers to deal with my neck and shoulders thinking there was some water on the way out, oops, no water and a dry mouth full of tablets. Ergh, not nice and I end up having to spit the contents of my mouth out, wishing the first feed station would magically appear as I now desperately need some water.

16:20- Water at last, anyone would think that I had been in the desert for the last week! I gulp down three cups of water and push on. I know already that it’s going to be a long run, or should that be shuffle and that I am going to be lucky to finish in the light. Hard to imagine when the afternoon sun is beating down on me, never mind, I am protected with hat and sunnies.

17:30- I see my support crew twice on the lap, which is great. It is something to aim for as well as the feed stations. My legs are tired, and I am suffering from a lack of endurance training. I have adopted what I call the 10in10 strategy. Run from one feed station to the next, walk through the station taking on liquids, and run to the next. It’s a head down, grind it out approach, no niceties involved, just get the job done.

18:15- It’s still hot, I am still tired, I am still going.

19:30- Guess what, it’s not so hot, the sun is sinking behind the hills but I am beginning to slow up. My pace, once a sprightly 9 ish minute miles is hitting double figures. I don’t care, I am beyond caring, parts of my body I didn’t know I had are beginning to hurt, sod it, everything hurts. I suck on water and flat coke like it’s going out of fashion, I squeeze my last gel into my mouth and know that I have a paltry 6 miles or less to cover to get to the end of this journey

20:00- The light is beginning to fade when I notice a collapsed runner on the roadside, people are around him and I hear that the medics are on the way. I carry on, he is in good hands and as we loop around I see him a few minutes later, medics are with him but his determination is strong, he’s not giving up, he wants to finish, he is listening to them, they are checking him, he may be foolish but he wants that feeling of finishing an Ironman. He doesn’t know it but he has probably inspired hundreds of people to get to the finish. I hope he made it.

20:19- I grab a coke, this is my last feed station, I only have a mile to go but still I feel the need to get some sugar into my system. It’s dark now, I wanted to finish in the light but to be honest it’s nice running along the sparsely lit beach path. I can see the lights of the finishing chute ahead of me, the giant red M-Dot glowing like a beacon to guide me home, the cacophony of noise from the crowd reaching my ears, a warning of the celebration to come.

20:28- I am in the finishing chute, I have just been cheered by my support crew who have been fantastic all day, the guy with the microphone sees me coming and is about to announce to everyone that I have arrived. He is momentarily put off as I run up to him a plant a kiss on his forehead, the look of worry on his face quickly disappears and is replaced by laughter.

20:29- “Paul Dewar you are an Ironman” rings in my ears as I cross the line, arms wide open in celebration, a wide beaming smile on my face, I have finished what only a few months earlier I thought was a dream. For nearly 13 hours in scorching heat I have pushed my body to its limits once again, but wow what a great feeling it is to have done it.

21:15- I have my medal, I have my finishers shirt, I have my recovery shake, I have collected my bike and bags from transition, I have a chocolate muffin that I picked up from the food tents in the finish area, I have Trudi who is glad that I have made it in one piece, I’m a happy man, I am an Ironman.

To take part in Ironman this year has been quite a journey, a journey that was dictated to me by the massive crash I had at the end of May, which left me with several injuries that I am still being treated for now. To get to the start line has involved a few people putting me back together, others who have supported me and believed that I could do it.

In no particular order I must thank the following,

Drs Murray, Forrester and Walker for sticking me back together and sorting my head out.

Jayne Dennison and Liz Leach for their healing fingers and mobility exercise regimes.

All the guys at UTC especially Paul McKenny who’s support, guidance and motivation is second to none.

My staff for allowing me to train for 15 hours a week

Trudi, for being Trudi, supportive, understanding, loving. She knows what these events mean to me and lets me get on with them.

Thank you all

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