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Outlaw 2014 PB #BOOM!

Ironjediby IronjediAug 13th 2014
So the Outlaw was upon me quite quickly after Ironman UK 70.3. I had planned to get around six open water swims in before the race. Sadly with one thing and another including work, I never managed to get up to Vobster Quay for a swim. Disliking the pool I spent more time running and cycling. We had decided not to take the kids with us and instead Wendy and I invited her sister, Nancy, and her partner, Ben, to come along. They came up last year and really enjoyed the event. So the four of us thought we would make a nice break of it.

The week running up to the Outlaw was supposed to be an easy week of tapering before the race, resting and staying off my feet as much as possible. The week couldn't have been further from this. My car had to go into the garage which meant commuting to work two more days than I had intended. Both of these were busy and I was off late both days, riding home in the dark. I then had two night shifts on Thursday and Friday and finished work at 7am Saturday morning. I was relieved to finally drive home but then headed straight up to Nottingham. I had wanted to get there for the practice swim but traffic was not great and I missed that. Managed around 1 hour of sleep in the car with my inflatable travel pillow. Pure luxury all the way! So as you must have guessed, it was not the most relaxing of weeks - not a great deal of sleep.

We had opted to stay at one of the hotels linked to the Outlaw (one of the Outlaw packages) - Jurys Inn, Nottingham. A cracking choice we were later to find out. This was only around £65 for the two of us and there was the promise of an early breakfast before the race. There was some parking nearby linked to the hotel for around £6. Great!

So after an easy registration and having racked the bike and sorted transition bags, we headed into Nottingham. Whilst the girls had a shop, Ben and I sampled some of the local pubs. Strictly soda water for me. The pubs we found were pretty grotty but the beer was remarkably cheap (so Ben told me). We then went to Zizzis for pizza, pasta and lots of bread. Not a bad meal really, the place was filled with nervous looking people wearing orange wristbands advertising the fact they were hoping to be OUTLAWS!

This was going to be my third time at The Outlaw so I felt like I knew the course pretty well. It's a great race for spectators and competitors. Very friendly and helpful marshalls. The route is well marked and supported both on the bike and run. I had had a time the previous year of 11:19 after a 2 minute penalty I received for drafting which I still dispute. My goals this year were very ambitious to say the least. I was looking at 10:45 but certainly under 11 and a place in the top 100. Apart from the swimming I had worked hard at trying to speed my race up, after last years' long distance training.

Back at the hotel early and in bed by 10pm. The following day we woke early and headed for the early breakfast at 4am. The place was rammed with potential Outlaws and it was a really funny scenario where all these "athletes" were queueing up to get their breakfast before a day of racing, meanwhile there were numerous drunken people just coming in after a night on the town trying to get breakfast. Thankfully Security kept them out. You could not mistake Nottingham as being a magnet for various Stag and Hen parties, dressed for an eventful weekend.

We headed over to the venue, parking was straighforward, right next to the venue. I calmly got ready with time to talk with Wendy and the others. I was remarkably calm, felt cool and ready for the day. It was clearly going to be another hot one.
I hung back and took my time to get into the water. One guy came running past away from the water. His wetsuit was the wrong way round with his zip at the front. The guy on the microphone saw it and couldn't help but point it out. A couple of minutes later he came past me again breathing heavy and was clearly in a state. I stopped him and did his suit up for him, wished him a good race and jumped in the second bay for swimmers 60-80 minutes. Before I knew it the claxon was sounding and we were off. The swim was bedlam, this was the worst swim start I had ever had, there were hands and feet everywhere, people all over me. I couldn't breath, felt a wash of panic smother me and thought the day was done. We must have only been around 300-400 metres in and still people were climbing all over me. It was ruthless. I had clearly chosen the wrong place to start but there was nothing to do now. I headed towards the left and the side to try and get some space. I now had laboured breathing and could not get into any rhythmn, panicking that the distance was simply too far. For the second time ever (the first being at the London Triathlon in 2006 - my first open water swim) I thought about giving up, doubting that I could do it. I stopped and thought about what to do. I then thought of Wendy and knew she would be so mad with me for dragging everyone up to Nottingham. I felt stupid for thinking I could turn up and wing an Ironman swim. After what felt like minutes of treading water, I told myself to "man up" and get on with it. I headed back into the centre of the swim, found some clear water and sploshed on. The buoys seemed so far away but I kept my head down and carried on. It was a relief when I got to the turnaround and headed back. Every year there seems to be a small current against you on the way back and this year was no exception. However as I approached the stadium I was sure I would make it and looked forward to getting on the bike and putting by far my worst ever swim to bed.

I exited the water at 1:16:54, disappointed with my time and knew I had some time to make up to achieve my goal. I spent extra time in transition 1 taking time to put sun cream on. I relied on the helpers last year but suffered with missed burnt parts. I then calmly got onto the bike and started out, telling myself to slow down. My aero bottle failed me before I had even finished the lake lap as the sponge flew out causing my drink to spray all over the place. Luckly I saw Ben just by the main gate before I hit the road and offloaded it to him. I had sensibily packed another bottle on my bike so had some fluids. I spent the first few miles refuelling and taking on fluids. It was getting hot and there was a bit of wind up. I seemed to be passing people with ease and settled into a nice steady pace.
I maintained a good pace averaging over 21mph. I continued to pass people. There were only 2 people who passed me and stayed away. I was really pleased with how my legs felt and after a minor gearing issue going up the only real hill at Oxon things settled down. The course is a mixture of fast flat and undulations, the real issue was sometimes being caught in the wind. With the lack of proper hills and any real serious ups and downs, your legs don't get a chance to rest, so be prepared for spinning legs for the full 112 miles. I had great support going through Car Colston and saw the guys three times. It was a real boost and after the last time with about 10 miles to go it just helped to push me on. As you head back and past the impressive house, you have to go over some speed bumps. This year the Outlaw had attempted to make wooden structures over a few of them but to be honest this did not help at all and I found them quite severe. I came into transition and offloaded the bike. To my surprise there were not that many bikes there. I realised I had had a good bike and later found out that I had the 45th quickest bike split. Bike finished in 5:19:46 with a wide smile on the face.

Again extra time spent in T2 putting on sun cream, swapping last years' black hat for a white one to help reflect some heat. My first mile was far too quick running it at a 7:22 pace. I had to slow down so I planned to run a sensible pace that could get me round the marathon in 4 hours.

I felt pretty good and headed out, walking every aid station to fuel with a mixture of coke and water. Didn't really feel like eating much but would later eat some crisps. The run was initially pretty empty to start with but it didn't take long to start filling up. On every lap past the undercover area by the Nottingham Forest Football Club a chap was there clapping everyone on, he stayed there all day and I found his cheers a massive boost. Wherever I could I ran on the grass to save my legs. Wendy, Ben and Nancy remained in the middle of the run by the large score board. This was a great place for them and seemed to give me maximum time to see them. The course is great and I prefered the set up of laps they opted for this year.
Outlaw 2014 PB #BOOM!
With 3 miles to go I had 30 minutes to get in under 11 hours. I upped the pace and got running with a guy in a mad colourful Tri suit, we both wanted to finish in under 11 hours so helped each other along. He was one of the only two people to pass me on the bike. He seemed like a good guy and without the extra motivation I might not have made it under 11. As I ran the last half a mile I was relieved to look down and see I had four bands, it's funny how you begin to get wrist band envy of people. Everyone you pass you find yourself looking to see how many bands they have.

So with 4 bands I was ready to hit the finish mat in a run time of 4:10:55. I had discussed it with Wendy and had asked her to run down with me, after all I owe her a lot for her support and encouragement throughout the year.
So I hit the mat with Wendy in tow. It's amazing how much energy you find to reach that goal - the finish line So we flew down, hitting the line in 10:57:40 - a PB by around 22 minutes. I was made up. What a day. I had a little collapse of the legs after the finish line, managed to collect my tshirt and medal and then made it up the stairs for a photo and then went into the massage tent. Walked straight in, got on a bed and had my quads worked over as they hurt the most. After this I felt quite unwell and limped into the medic tent for a 15 minute lay down, was checked over and given water. You finish and get moved through the line quite quickly and I think I just needed to stop. Once I had been given the all clear, I was given food, non - alcoholic beer and then went off to greet my loyal supporters.

I managed the race with around 4 zipvit gels, 2 Jackoatbars, a handful of crisps, a banana, water and coke. The day was finished off with a burger king on the way home and bubbly when we got back to Devon. A great couple of days and a far better result than I had imagined.
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