So the glorious in and out of Lakesman ended in a disaster of sorts.
Having been rough since Wednesday afternoon and progressively worse towards Friday, struggling to eat anything substantial and culminating in two daytime naps (including a dream about getting squashed on my bike by a van during the course of the event) I didn’t bother with either of the last two bike rides which were supposed to happen on Thursday and Friday. Everything seemingly ached, especially the knee.
That said I packed without much fuss and due to feeling pants didn’t really do anything else at all. Plain food seemed to help but nothing seemingly stuck and it felt much more than the usual pre-race nerves. The constant feeling of guts churning away and a couple of close moments where a quick march to the loo saved me, did nothing for my state of mind or the state of the toilet.
Travelled up without much fuss, apart from having to wear sunglasses even in the gloom to help ease the ever increasing headache. Managed to eat in the group meet up but it was an effort to make anything stick, felt like 50% of it went straight through, however it was great to see everyone and put some more faces to names.
As close as I would get (the day before)
Slept well, which is unusal before a race and woke feeling better but still rough in the morning, little breakfast (two mouthfuls of porridge) and couldn’t face a coffee so just sipped water. Couple more painkillers and Imodium but also three dashes to the toilet. Wandered down and set up the bike and then destroyed a loo in transition. Went down to the lake and just sat listening to my stomach turning over. Got in and warmed myself and the lake up and before I knew it, it was time to go. Quiet relaxed and found some space early on but struggled to get a rhythm for a while. At some point before the first turn I gagged and was a sick and added some of my belly to the lake. After that I found myself burping a lot which I haven’t experienced before during a swim, but nothing more came up.
The swim seemed to take ages and despite a lack of rhythm I think I was going ok. Towards the edge it was swallow and then murky and then muddy and difficult to know whether to swim or walk. Got as far as I could then climbed out in 1:10 which meant the swim was long or I really never settled at all as in training I was doing 1:03’s (the garmin measured the swim at 2.6miles, so probably a bit of both)
Saw sue and Zoe before the tent and gave Zoe a wet snog and went to get changed. Luckily I was the only one in the tiny change tent and took my time in necking more Imodium and also painkillers.
Got a shout out for my choice of cycling top, some shouts from my girls and then out on the bike. Struggled to get down on the bars early on due to it being uncomfortable for my stomach, but then that seemed to ease and I trundled on over the rolling hills. Bike course was good in the main, plenty of rollers and decent marshalling. Only negative was complete lack of toilets at aid stations and also how small they were, almost impossible to go through and grab a bottle plus a bar; seemingly one or the other if you didn’t want to stop.
On the entire route I filled my aero bottle once, had two halves of powerbar, one mouthful of banana, and had two slips of the gel bottle. I knew it wasn’t enough but I daren’t push it anymore. I just couldn’t stomach anything at all and even the slips of water were being brought back up. Luckily there were some builders portaloos twice which I stopped at and abused otherwise I would have been crapping in fields. The weather held apart from one massive downpour and we had a tailwind on the section you do twice and I was amazed I was still pushing out above 20mph for the majority despite feeling pants.
That stopped around 95 miles in when I couldn’t get anything down my neck and even the smallest rollers seemed to be like wisemans bridge with my lack of energy and the headwind which had developed and I ended up with 19.65mph overall. Given the lack of training and the gut situation I was pretty happy to be honest! Racked the bike and then got changed and destroyed the portaloo in transition before walking out to see Zoe and pip. Tried my best to look cheery but don’t think it worked to well.
I was happy to be out onto the run at 7:02; well inside my projected 7:45 but it was clear that wouldn’t count for much.
Managed to run for 600 metres before my guts advised me to walk for a bit, they seemed to settle and I trundled on for more or less a mile and a half, through the first aid station and also the set of loos. It wasn’t pretty and to be honest that was probably the point I thought sod it, I am not crapping myself in public. Walked the rest of the lap, taking Imodium again and sipping flat coke to see if it helped. It didn’t, the coke came back up in a strange series of burp / sick moments and then I knew there really was no point. The leading man and women went past me and attempt to give me support, good job they were a lot faster than as they avoided my foul mouthed responses. I really struggle with people telling me I am doing a good job or walk it off, when I feel like curling up into a ball and sleeping.
As I got back towards the end of the lap the race director sensed or had been told I was struggling and asked if I was ok. No hesitation, no prolonging the pain and increasing the after effects, I told him I was pulling out. He walked me back to transition and treble checked that’s what I wanted to do and I gave him my chip and went in the portaloo and destroyed it again. Spotted Zoe and sue and did the slightly dramatic fingers across the throat to highlight to them that I was pulling out. Zoe burst into tears, which was heart breaking but Sue looked relived. I got my hoodie and walked out of transition and we went and lay on the grass for a bit in the rain whilst I attempted to get some fluid in me, which was vaguely successful.
I was later told that I looked worse than after I got pulled out at Tenby and my lips had turned a fetching purple colour. I got all my stuff and saw the legend that is Dave and wandered back to the hostel trying not to be sick in the middle of the town.
Made it back but the other end exploded pretty much straight away, I had a shower and then promptly fell asleep for an hour, woke up had a drink and then threw up in the sink twice, fell back asleep for another hour and woke up feeling rubbish. Checked how everyone else was doing and tracked folks for a bit and was a mixture of happy and sad at the progress being made without me.
Fell asleep again and then got woken up to this from my daughter, which kinda made everything ok again.
We went for a light walk for me to get some milk ( which usually helps post events) and then to find food. I picked at it but didn’t eat much and then went for an early night. I have attempted 4 ironman distances now and finished 2; it’s time to draw a line under them and move onto something different, which won’t screw with my body so much.
Thinking maybe blackjack or drafts.
Also every long distance I have attempted I have done not being fully ready or trained properly for; Outlaw was my knee, Tenby the first time not enough sea training and attempting to blag it, Tenby the second time was my knee and Lakesman was -151 days after the knee op with a bug of some sort. All great excuses but that’s a big chunk of time devoted to 4 big races.
One thing for certain is that this won’t eat me up like Tenby did and if you don’t fully enjoy something what’s the point? I started going long to be macho and prove I can do it. I have, vaguely proved it, but now it really is time to draw aline under it and look for other distances to test myself against. I don’t think I am mentally tough enough for going long and coping with the suffering and I have always said its swim, bike, run and not swim, bike, walk.
Doing a few 70.3’s where in the past I have managed to at least run the vast majority of the last leg and with it not taking as much out of me as the full events I think it’s prudent to aim for them instead. My pb is 5:21 at the moment, could I get under 5 hours with the right training and right course? Might be fun to try, similar with olympic distances – could I improve my 2:21 PB in the future?
Looking back now do I think I could have finished it? Honestly probably, but I don’t think I would feel anymore satisfaction than I do right now having walked another 6+ marathon.