So….Where do I start this?
I know, with my Training. I started three weeks ago with one Tuesday night swim, a gentle run/walk with Kirsty on Thursday and Loch Lomond Sportive on Sunday. Two weeks working away in Scotland (they deep fry everything up there, even Pizza!) and now it’s race week….oh dear!
They day we flew out the scales read 123.6 kg. That’s 19st 6 pounds and a few ounces for anyone over the age of 30!
On race day I woke up at 5am, stumbling around the kitchen making breakfast for me and Kirsty. I put bread in the toaster, coffee pot on, I turn round to check the toast to see 2 ft flames firing out the toaster!!! Disaster!
Mr Ley turns up at 5:55, kindly drives us to his hotel which has become a COLT meeting point. There were lots of nervous toilet visits, lots of nervous faces, I felt more nervous about this one than Lanzarote. We walked down to T1 and spent 20 mins tinkering with bikes and bags, and I was ready.
I got in the change tent put my legs in the wetsuit and handed everything over to Kirsty (you can’t ask for better support). After a short walk to the swim start we stood, chatted, Andy took the piss out of every man and his dog. We posed for photos, I took selfies. The same as every race really. The starting pens started to fill and the nerves kicked in. Me and Captain were discussing starting pens, he chose 30-35 I went for 20-29 (I knew I was nowhere near) with Andy, Kerry and Brett. We all went our separate ways to the pens. Andy and I were stood discussing our race tactics when all of a sudden El Capitan rocks up. He changed his mind, this was great for me, another friend! I’m now stood next to two guys with 20 plus Ironman races between them. We shuffle to the start pen, 5 athletes (if you can call me that) set off every 3 seconds. I kind of miss the crazy mass start, it was fun when you would fight for position but I totally understand the new way of doing things.
3,2,1, Beep! Off goes Mr Ley, 3,2,1, Beep! Off goes me, as I started to jog down the beach I can hear 3,2,1, Beep! Off goes Captain. Now I’m walking in knee high water, 10m out, 20m, 30m I can see the first buoy, I’m still walking. “Come on Podge” I turn to see the captain, right behind me. For some reason it gave me such a comforting feeling, I put my hands together and dolphin dived in. I started strong. I was thinking to my myself that I’ve still got it. I could feel the captain stroking my toes, this reminded me of Tuesday night swims when we both used to go. After about 10 minutes he stopped. I thought “ahh well I must of dropped him”. How wrong was I. I came out of the water, looked at the watch…33 mins. Now a lot of you would think that’s not too bad but for me quite honestly it’s shit! Disaster!!
T1 was uneventful, I changed fine dropped off the bag. Couldn’t see my bike (I don’t have glasses until I get to my bike) but I can hear Kirsty, Mum and Dad cheering and waving like caged animals at the zoo! I head towards them to see the only baby blue bike in a mass of black bikes. I pick up “the Dale” and off we go..
The start is the same as ever, 20 odd people falling off their bikes because they already have their shoes clipped in! I highly recommend anyone to practice this over and over for a few hours if you ever decide to do it. The starts can be a nightmare because of it. The bike was ok for me, Balesy past me after an hour, completely ignored me. #beatthebales was not on the cards but I think we all knew that anyway! Anne Greenney was next to fly past on her debut and looked strong. The climb was going on and on and on a bit like this race report, my moral was at an all time low until Sarah Pat pulled up along side me. Every M dot I’ve done so has she and this woman is nearly twice my age (Sorry Mrs P) but for me she is an absolute legend. Mrs P never fails to amaze me. She writes up all our races in the local village magazine and now we have a small fan club, I can’t thank her enough. Anyway she flew past, her parting comment was “you will catch me on the decent” and sure enough I did. Sarah then passed me again coming in to a little village, I then passed her on a long straight flat, she then passed me again it was great fun! I rolled the bike in at 3:51.18 and my NP was 194 watts with a target of 208 watts. Another Disaster!!
The Run…well not my favourite discipline by a long way and never my fastest by a long way. As I set of I felt like giving up, after about 5 min Captain came past and tried to motivate me. I then started to walk. Yes, 5 minutes into this I’m walking. Next to pass is Kerry I couldn’t even say a word. Then Dawn McCracken skipped past she looked amazing, the sun got hotter, I might even say hotter than Lanzarote! I had a word with my self. 2 mins walk 2 min run. Let’s do this…I stuck to it it was working. I was moving forward. John Clarke trotted past, bearing in mind he’d had quite a bad off a few weeks ago, that lad is tough! 2 on 2 off I was still going. I was averaging around 15 min miles. I then checked my watch, 8 hour cut off…hang on, 5 miles, 5 times 15 is 75 mins. It’s 14:52 now. Plus an hour is 15:52 then 15 mins that equals 16:07 or in Ironman terms a DNF! I need to pick up the pace but I genuinely couldn’t. In the distance I could see my Dad walking up the run. I asked him if I was going to make cut off. He walked with me, advised me to pick up pace a little. I ignored his advice (apparently as I have done for the past 30 years) I actually started to cry, but I didn’t want him to see so I started to run…walk, run I was now down to 90 seconds of each. 3 km to go. Disaster number3!!
“Aye aye PODGY” You always hear him before you see him. Andy Ley. Walking the other way down the course. This man had just gone under 5 hours in baking heat on a broken bike. He is now coming to save me from a DNF. We run together, for a minute. In the aid station he shouted “Water, over your head, coke, drink, sponge” now we walk to the zebra crossing. We turn the corner, “you run to get your band” so I did. We walk together for a couple of minutes. He gets me to the final corner the COLTs are on mass shouting me on, “Run it in” Andy shouted as he left me for the last 400m. The crowd was booming, screaming my name. I check my watch, it was passed 4. I was fully expected a DNF. I crossed the line, turned to see my time…
John Hodkinson 7:48:47
I was ecstatic! By far the hardest day racing in my life. I can’t thank the COLTs enough. Now to epic man…three weeks and counting!