Ironman UK 🇬🇧
Where on earth do I start with this blog. There is so much to tell and so many people to thank.
15th July (the day before)
All packed and ready to head over to Bolton. The car was full to the rim with mountains of sports bars, gels and water bottles. If anyone saw they probably thought I was going to try and live in a desert for a month. I don’t know how people manage to take their gear abroad! I found it a struggle taking it an hour away. I have to admit I was rather stressed in the morning, I just wanted to be there and for the day to come already.
The first stop was registration. Everything was becoming so real now. I went to the steward who was extremely nice, got all my bands, number etc… and was starting to feel extremely excited/nervous. What didn’t settle my nerves was the fact that my girlfriend asked, ‘is his number red because he might die..’. Thanks Emma, that really helps the nerves…! Luckily enough it wasn’t because they thought I might die, it was because I was a first timer!
After buying merchandise in the expo, including a cap t-shirt. I was on my way to T1 (transition 1) with my new Ironman rucksack on my back. Which I am sure most of you will have seen on my Instgram, I haven’t taken it off yet.
I arrived in plenty of time at T1 which was at Pennington Flash Lake, and also of course, the start. I spent about 45mins-1 hour trying to work out what items I needed to put into what bag. We had been given white, blue and red bags. One for each transition and one for after the race. Each bag needed a sticker, as did my helmet and bike. There was a lot more than I anticipated. A lot of which, I can’t even remember now. It’s a miracle I even remember now. It’s a miracle I even managed to get to the start line.
Anyway, I racked my bike, made sure the tyres were pumped up and it was all working, wished it a good nights sleep and I was on my way.
As I was checking out the swim course, I bumped into a friend I met through my social media campaign. It was great because he told me all about the do’s and don’ts of the swim like the intricacies of the course and he warned me to be careful of the sharp rocks by the entry point.
After spending far too long at Pennington flash it was time to dash to the hotel. This was only a flying check in as it actually looked like we were going to be pushed for time, T2 closed at 5pm and it was already 4pm.
The Macron arena, T2, would be where I would come off my 112 mile bike ride to face the task of running a marathon. Try and get your head around that, I certainly couldn’t. This transition bag however was a lot easier to pack. All I needed really was my trainers and a fresh pair of socks. After dropping my bag off all my prep was done. All my training and preparing would come to the test the next day.
At the race briefing I could feel the tension in the air, people were either oozing with confidence or frightened to death. I was a lot more relaxed than I thought I would be, at the end of the day I had trained and there was no going back now. I was gong to get the job done no matter what. After a race briefing it was time to go into Bolton and have ‘the last supper’. Spaghetti carbonara was my choice if you are interested.
Bed by 10pm, and with barely any sleep later it was the 4am alarm.
The alarm went and I was straight out of bed eating my porridge. (I sampled so many different porridge pots prior to this day, you have no idea). I had learnt from my Paris marathon I had to eat as much as I could handle before the race otherwise I would feel the consequences. I managed to squeeze down a banana, an egg and some flapjack as well as my porridge. (I would not recommend these ingredients if you are inviting someone round for breakfast but it worked wonders before my ironman). A few nervous poos later (sorry for that mental image) the tri suit went on and would remain on for a long long time, but that was the least of my concerns.
The family and I checked out of the hotel at about 4.30am and we were on our way to what turned out to be the best day ever.
2.4 mile swim. I am a fish, this should be easy… I knew I could get a good time but the aim was to stay as relaxed as possible. Conserve as much energy as possible for the harder disciplines. The swim was a rolling start. I put myself pretty close to the front, I ended up next to a women who had seen my campaign and she said ‘I have read your blog’. After wishing each other good luck I started focusing on the task ahead. Get near the front and stick behind someone’s feet.
Before I knew it the count down had began and we were away. A full day of none stop exercise. The crowds cheering and a huge rush of excitement flooded mybody. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 then the horn blew. I dived in and began swimming. The course was two laps with an Australian exit and entry in between. (I think that’s the technical term anyway). I found myself overtaking a fair few people to begin with but soon I was nicely placed behind a good pack. I drafted for about half the lap then broke to the side as it all started to get a bit close and personal. The last thing I wanted was a big boot to the face when I was feeling so good. I had a slight sighting problem (started heading to the wrong buoy) but I corrected my way and no harm was done. I had no problem with the exit and entry for the second lap. I had no idea what pace I was doing but I knew I would be heading for around the hour mark.
The second lap there was one slight problem, I starting to lap people. For a lot of people the swim is the hardest and scariest part of the race. Sometimes taking them over two hours. A lot of people don’t make the cut off time which I believe is 2.30 hours. So yeah the second lap was pretty congested but I managed to weave my way through to a solid 57 minute time.
There was a short run to T1 from Pennington Flash lake. Where I calmly took my wetsuit off and made sure I was wearing everything I needed. Looking back I probably was a bit over cautious but I’m glad i did as I would much prefer that than forgetting something for a 112 mile ride.
Where do I start. The conditions were pretty awful to start with, strong winds and rain. Going up sheep house lane to be greeted with even stronger winds and heavier ran was not fun but at least there was no chance of me over heating… until later on… my tactic going into the race was to take the hills extremely easy. I mean a snails pace. As this was going to be the longest ride I have ever been on the last thing I wanted was to blow all my energy on a hill that would ‘save’ me a few minutes. In fact sheep house lane wasn’t the hardest hill. There was a much steeper one later on in the course. My main goal for the ride was to just get through it with as much energy as possible. I guess my Paris marathon had scared me a little. I drank so much liquid I had to stop at most of the toilets situated around the course. I can safely say I was extremely well hydrated.
About 40 miles in I almost saw someone get whipped out by a car. This car totally ignored the steward. He was parked up and obviously couldn’t spare a couple of minutes. He decided to take matters into his own hands (D!@£) and pull out right in front of a cyclist. Luckily no one was hurt! I did see one crash where someone had taken a corner too fast, I nearly fell off my bike like a numpty watching him but just about stayed on. I read that the Bolton course is either up hill or your turning a corner. I couldn’t agree more.
At mile 60 my support group were out in force! Cheering me up a hill! I have to admit I may have shed a little tear at this point. They were jumping up and down screaming my name. Utterly amazing. The next lap seemed to go a lot faster, (not according to my Garmin), but I started to struggle with about 30 miles to go. I had been sat in my saddle for a long long time now and I was ready to get off. After having what felt like the rest of the competitors overtake me, I was at t2. I had just completed my longest ever bike ride and all that was ringing through my head was ‘only a marathon to go’. ONLY a bloody MARATHON. 26.2 miles running. I’ve only ever done that once and it was awful!
T2 is by far the hardest part psychologically. Once you’ve started the discipline you can just blank everything else out and concentrate on the little goals. I saw my friend Emily in transition who had just smashed the bike which was a huge pick up. I let her set off in front of me so she could tell me what the run course was like. Well I’ll keep telling myself that anyway.
I set off from T2 with a banana in one hand and a energy drink in the other. As soon as I turned the corner there was a huge hill. I instantly thought this is going to be a run from hell. I walked up the hill ate my banana and felt refuelled. I had decided that I was going to power walk up the hills as it was probably faster than me running up them. After concurring the first hill I got into my stride and the running/walking/crawling commenced. I ran to each food station walked through them, ate and drank a mixture of everything then ran to the next one. It was a great bit of advice from a friend. It breaks the run into small segments and allows you to get fluids on board. I have to say the crisps and Pepsi were my favourite. They worked a treat.
The run course was made up of 4 loops in Bolton city centre. The first lap was the hardest for me. Once I found a rhythm there was no stopping me. I was going to become an ironman. I new I just had to stay conscious. I didn’t want a repeat of Paris where I almost collapsed. After all my training and hard work I didn’t want to fall at the last hurdle because I pushed myself too hard on a lap. Everything on the run went to plan and I didn’t even have any muscle pain, which is incredible since I’ve been extremely injury prone recently. My feet hurt but I mean I can’t complain. They did take a beating throughout the day.
The atmosphere on the run was like no other. Random people shouting your name taking time out of their day to cheer you on . A huge thank you to everyone who came to watch! Thank you to the random guy who gave me a slap on the arse when I was running past, it certainly did make me speed up…
I couldn’t stop visualising the finish line, every lap I ran past the finish line, knowing each time I was getting closer and closer. When the time came it was like no other feeling. My family at the finish line screaming their heads off, the crowds going mental, the main man saying Eddy YOU ARE IRONMAN. My dream has finally come a reality. Obviously as soon as I crossed the finish line I started crying like a baby but I had done it. I was finally an IRONMAN. I couldn’t comprehend what I had just done and where I had come from. Literally two years before on that day I was in isolation with no immune system. Then two years later I had just completed a 140.6 mile triathlon. I still haven’t come to terms with it all.
I guess the big question you’ll all be asking now is what is next… I’ll leave you thinking for a while, but chemo2cardio’s adventures and challenges have just started. You haven’t seen anything yet…
Finally I’d just like to say a huge thank you to my family who have supported me throughout, they’ve just about managed to keep up with the copious amounts of food I’ve been eating and put up with my stroppy mood swings.
Thank you to my beautiful girlfriend who has hardly seen me due to the gruelling training regime. Sorry for not being a normal 23 year old.
Thank you to Emily (Emily’s journal) and Jools for helping me prepare for my big day. Couldn’t have done it without you guys! It’s definitely worth giving Emily’s blog a read as well. The link is http://emilysjournal.com.
A huge congrats to Danni Elliot who finished her second ironman even with a broken hand and cut legs. You’re one strong lady .
Thank you to everyone who came to watch on the day. You made my day so so much easier and better. You will forever share the best day in my life so far .
Finally thank you to the Teenage Cancer Trust for all their help during my treatment and all their care afterwards as well. It is not too late to donate. If you have been moved by my story or inspired please donate as much as you can. If thats a couple of pounds that still would be amazing. I know a lot of you are at university and are living in your overdraft but instead of buying that extra pint or club entry give the money to a better cause. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/chemo2cardio
To everyone who has donated you are all legends and I can’t thank you enough.