The Outlaw - 24 Jul 11
by borobhoyJul 24th 2011
This was my first A race of the season. I had been working towards this since the start of the year. I had completed the inaugural Outlaw in 2010 so knew almost the entire course (there was a slight change to the bike route) and as I had got my best ironman distance time here (11:57:26) I was hoping to improve on this and possibly go sub-11:30. Training had gone well in the weeks prior to the race until 9 days out when I had a touch of flu that laid me up in bed for 3 days. This resulted in absolutely no training for the last 9 days - not the best preparation for the race!
The swim takes place in the rowing lake at the National Water Sports Centre, near Nottingham. As such it is a relatively easy swim - straight down for just under 1900m, turn right for about 50m, then turn right again and continue for just under 1900m. This makes it easy for all swimmers to sight - especially as there are markers giving the distance every 250m. The one downside to this is that you can see the faster swimmers on their bikes on the return leg! I completed the swim in 1:22:01 - about 4mins slower than last year, so not a bad start to the day all things considered. T1 is only a few metres from the swim finish and, although a bit crowded, passed without any dramas in 5:06.
The cycle route begins with a lap around the rowing lake allowing cyclists a nice easy introduction to the 112 miles. The out section of the lap is quite fast and I tried to hold back, knowing that if I pushed too hard in the first 20 miles I would pay for it later. I did pass a number of other cyclists though so I may not have held back too much!
The majority of the route consists of a roughly 25 mile loop. This begins with the main hill on the course - a 12% hill but it only lasts for about ¾ mile. On the first loop this wasn't too difficult to get up but was quite a struggle on the final lap by which point it felt that I had come to a standstill. Once at the top of the hill there is about 6 miles to the small town of Southwell which is a gradual descent and a time to get some decent speed. As you come into the town there is a good sized crowd cheering you on as this is where the organisers provide free buses to for supporters making it the best supported part of the course. From Southwell the support is quite sparse. The route is quite undulating from this point on and I struggled against the wind around the most northerly section. The final section of the route follows a local time trial route on good roads and is again ideal for making up some time.
I felt okay during the ride until about half-way. I couldn't stomach my usual energy gels and hardly drank anything apart from water and had a serious lack of energy from the 56 mile point onwards. This was probably due to my illness as they were the gels and drink that I usually used and had trained and raced with previously. From this point onwards it simply became a case of surviving the bike and making it to the run. It wasn't enjoyable and I was very happy to be on the final run in to T2, finishing the bike route in 6:05:06 - just over 7mins slower than last year. T2 was pretty clear by this point so there was much more room than in T1 and passed through in 5:22.
The run is an accurately measured marathon course and is almost completely flat. It consists of almost 4 laps around the rowing lake with 3 out-and-back sections along the River Trent, passing under one of the stands of Nottingham Forest's City Ground. Aid stations are between 1 and 1.5 miles apart so there is not much between them and were fairly well stocked. After getting off the bike I was happy to be running but this only lasted until around the 7 mile point. From this point onwards I seemed to be walking more than running and, with the heat, really suffered for the rest of the race. Even with two lots of sunblock on I still managed to get badly burned but finished in 4:41:13.
This race is great for those chasing a personal best at the iron distance. The swim is simple, the bike has enough variety to keep it interesting and the run is flat. With over 600 competitors there are always plenty of others around to try to chase down. The one advantage this race has over an M dot race is the fact that you can cross the line with your family if you so wish, which my children love to do. Finishing in 12:18:46 I was around 21mins slower than last year and way off my target of going sub-11:30 but this just sets me up for a good race at Ironman Wales in September.
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