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Race Reports 2012

Forestman - Steve Wallace (June 2012)

Well some highlights of my Forestman............

The Ironman has been lurking on my things to do list for a few years, and Forestman attracted me after all the rave reviews.  45 years old this year so it had to be done! Also it is only a 50 minute drive away which helps.

I was lucky enough to be able to take some leave  between jobs this month, so really hammered my long neglected bike legs. Early morning swims at Mytchett meant I was much more relaxed at alfresco swimming.

I ran a couple of marathons in April so had some reasonable base endurance. My main focus for the last 6 weeks before was long steady bikes almost daily at around 75% max heart rate. I even  managed some ‘double session’ days which I think really helped me. I practised eating on the move and mini-cheddars went down very well I found!

“Overtraining” to many of us is perhaps but a dream, but I did have to lay off a couple of days as my body just flaked out! My dodgy back condition means anything over an hour on the bike is not easy, but it got better with practice. I have suffered from numb bike feet for years but I seem to have cured it by ignoring it!

As race day approached angst turned to the weather, equipment and the uncontrollable factors– you just want to get on with it! Paranoia about getting an injury or lurgy as well!

I had to get up at 0230 to get to the bus at 0400 and it was blowing  a gale. Transition was fairly wet! Previous day I enviously eyed Mark Richardson’s and Dave Tiplady’s Ironman ‘bike bags’ – they politely reminded me you needed to do an Ironman to get one!

Ellingham lake if you don’t know is a dream to swim in. It was 16 degrees and sighting was so easy and the rain cleared yahoo! I had read all about drafting on the swim and ruthlessly slipped behind my chosen target ‘stripy arms’ – I felt like a U boat stalking a victim! After he tired on lap 2 I showed no allegiance and dumped him without mercy -  I chose a new ‘partner’ and drafted ‘ red strap goggles’ for lap 3. Best bit they probably didn’t even know and you get great anonymity in wetsuits!

After sorting through my 6 kit options for all weathers I jumped on the bike very relaxed. My nutrition strategy was a malt loaf duck taped on to the handlebars with a banana akimbo - very arty! Having never done 180k on the bike I was a lttle anxious – I had read repeatedly in ironman articles to take the first 40 k steady and not to race at all. It soon became clear the heavy rain had washed gazillions of razer flints onto the road. I lost count of how many punctures I saw but I escaped – I remember Mark R recommending Continental Grand Prixs and they passed the test!

The weather gradually improved. The bike course has been revised to take out the A35 (aggressive drivers) but was certainly undulating.  To last 10 k back to ‘Sandy Balls’ was straight into the wind and was really hard work especially with my “upright” style! My little plastic isotonic bags worked well (Torq) along with the malt loaf, brownie, banana and cheddars! A ‘rolling buffet with friends indeed’!

Mild jubilation washed over me at T2. At the briefing the advice was that the run course “rewarded sensible pacing”. I had also read on tinternet that only 1% of first time iron athletes don’t walk on the run. This became my goal!

I had heard the rave stories about the FTC aid station, but what a welcome after the long climb up . They had everything ready an athlete could need if they wanted and made you feel like a pro – even a burger available! The off road run course was my kind of running and the support was “dope” from the public and fellow athletes. The aid stations at each end of the three lap run were also great mental pick ups. As the miles ticked over I started to realise I might make it! I hit the gels, isotonic and jelly babies even when I did not feel like them and seemed to work.

The last three miles down (and up)to the finish were a slight blur but I was not going to walk no way – Chrissy Wellington recommends repeating mantras – sadly mine was “I am titanium! (sung)” but hey it worked so who cares!

I crossed the line and it was such a magical feeling to finally nail the ‘big one’ – no anti-climax for me at all I must say! What a team they are at Racenewforest and the marshalls were all truly outstanding. Why more don’t do this race I don’t know, but selfishly I am glad – also outstanding VFM and on our doorstep!

13 hrs 50mins 12 secs are the hard numbers but frankly it was about finishing for me and completing my triathlon jigsaw!

Yours in tri

Steve Wallace.