By the time of the second lap – it was raining hard, and riding was getting very tricky. People were getting tired and the accidents were starting.
Fortunately – I know the route well having finished Ironman Wales 4 times before. I had to act early to dry the brakes out before the bends and downhills. Modern bikes with disc brakes were passing me as they are better in the wet.
Saundersfoot came around again, the slightly damp crowd was still there so I wound them up once more –
“C’mon Saundersfoot – I still can’t hear you!” – Cheers and laughter again.
I was starting to overtake people now, as a result of taking things steady and not being disheartened by a bit of Pembrokeshire rain.
Getting back to Tenby meant it was time to change to the next step, running.
You have to be careful to obey the rules. Dropping litter, cheating by cycling right behind another rider, or even putting your bike back in the wrong place can get you disqualified. That would be a waste after months of training and 114+ miles of serious effort. I had taken note of where my allocated bike racking place was, and hobbled there trying to look as if I was still racing.
The rain had almost stopped, the bike safely stashed and now it was time to change to running shoes.
Ahead lay 4 laps of Tenby to New Hedges totalling 26.2 miles. I felt really sick. You can burn 6000 to 8000 calories on an event like this. Flapjack, sports drinks, bananas and all sorts. It wasn’t lying well on my stomach this time. I focussed on walk, run, walk, run, keep going, minute after minute. It is so easy to give up, go into the dry, stop the pain, but this is Ironman and there are tens of thousands in Tenby to watch. I don’t know if it was the rough sea, or the result of a spill off the bike four days earlier, but I felt dizzy and was leaning a bit to the left as I started to run.
It took 2 laps before I felt better, Let’s do this. As it got dark I saw my training buddy Simon on the other side of the road and tried harder to see if I could catch him. The competition was good for me and took my mind off things. As it was – I couldn’t catch him but finished and was happy to see my family right on the line.
13hours 46minutes 24seconds after entering the water, I was back in Tenby, sore, tired, desperately fed up of sugary calories. My race number 668 was torn, soaked in sweat and will get pinned on the wall to remind me of the day. I loved it, especially the swim. It looks as if over a hundred people did not make it. They may not have trained well enough, they may have been unlucky with breakdowns on the bike, they may have had accidents on the slippery roads, so lets hope they pick themselves up and decide whether they want to have another go. All it takes is preparation, determination and a focus on working one minute after another after another.
Pictures courtesy of Julia Barker Photography and Tracey Spivey.