Bolton Ironman 31st July 2011

Where can you go to get the best tasting Fish ‘n’ Chips? I thought Papa’s in Weston did the best, but oh no. To eat the best tasting Chips you need to be in Bolton at the end of July next year, and you need to swim, cycle and run a total of 140.6 miles before hand. Then, you will have the best ever tasting Fish ‘n’ Chips.

The road to Chip paradise is a long and hard one (I don’t mean the M5/6, although that was long too). My training started just after Christmas, building a strong base, and then I started to increase the workload at about 3 months to race day. Training was 6 days a week, 4 of those days were 2 sessions a day, and my water bill shot up due to the copious showers I was taking afterwards. The training increased each weekend seeing 80 – 110 mile rides and a 12 – 20 mile runs. Friday was river swimming the Huntspill, 2,3,or 4k.

Tapering off on the last 2 weeks was great, and I expected to feel like a coiled spring waiting to unleash its power, but felt lethargic instead.

Race Day started off by getting up at 3.00, meeting up with Jeannie and Mark and heading off to the start. By 4.30 we were getting our numbers marked onto our arms and legs and by 4.35 they had worn off after rubbing in sun tan cream. There was a very large tent to change in, and the joy of publically rubbing BodyGlide into your testicles was liberating. What BodyGlide left was uses on my legs to help the wetsuit come off at T1.

The usual pre race nerves didn’t appear, I was calm, as if it wasn’t me that was about to do the race. I suppose that because I had trained the distances so many times, it didn’t feel like anything special. Or, I’m just plain dumb and didn’t realise what was in front of me.

The three of us decided to walk down to the water, and as we did they started to move everyone else forward, so we were at the waters edge first. The start was at 06.00, but you could get in 20 minutes before in order to swim the 300m to the start.

The advice given to swimmers is to position yourself towards to side, and nearer the back of the pack to avoid the skirmish at the start of the race. My view was that no matter where you start you were going to get hit, so I swam to the front and prepared for the battle. Having been punched by Julian Hodge in the Huntspill and survived, I was ready for anything! Come the end of the swim I had been kicked in the face, and also had my goggles knocked half off, but fortunately my childish good looks remained. I didn’t manage to hit any swimmers during the swim, so punched someone in Transition instead.

Garrad Bailey - Bolton Ironman 31st July 2011

2 minutes in T1 and then off for the long bike ride. Bolton is an hilly course, comprising of 3 laps, but we had trained for it, cycling 30mile laps of the Mendips and Burrington Coomb. Come the end of the 112miles I felt reasonably good, sprinting off the bike into T2. Shoes left on the bike, just like a super-sprint distance event. 1.30 minutes later I was starting off on the Marathon.

Garrad Bailey - Bolton Ironman 31st July 2011

The first 6 miles of the Marathon felt hard, and the last 6 miles felt hard too. The middle 12 miles felt hard. So there you have it, 26 miles of hard. I had no Idea of my time as my Garmin only wanted to ask me if I was ‘indoors now?’ for the duration of the race. There were no mile markers, so it was a case of my legs wanting to stop, and my brain telling then to continue. At about 22 miles I realised that if I keep pressing on I might get home in under 11 hours, and the chips would be hot.

Crossing the finish line was a fantastic feeling, I soon had a lump in my throat – but that’s my fault for stuffing the finisher’s Fish and Chips down my neck too quickly. After the chips came a massage, Gatorade and another portion of Chips, followed by all three of us enjoying a glass of bubbly with our WAGs’.

Garrad Bailey - Bolton Ironman 31st July 2011 - finish

Ironman is a journey, and one that you need plenty of support, advice and help to complete. So thanks need to be said – Thanks to my wife for the weekends spent looking after children as I cycled and ran for hours on end, and for listening to the ‘broken record’ that is Ironman. Thanks to Jeannie for advice and information / tips etc (she had done 12 Ironman (I know that that sounds like a porn movie)) and thanks to Mark and Jeannie for all the hours of training together, pushing each other and encouragement.

Bolton Ironman 31st July 2011

I finished in a time of 10hrs and 49 mins (1.02 swim, 6.02 bike and 3.39 marathon). I was 11th in my age group (out of over 200 I think) and 140th overall – 1200 competitors. Happy Days!!

And finally, a few tips if you plan to do the big one

Tip 1 – I put Vaseline in the toe of my socks, and talc everywhere else. At T1, even with wet feet the socks went on reasonably well. I didn’t need to change socks a T2, and the Vaseline meant that I didn’t receive even 1 blister!

Tip 2 – I didn’t think to put talc in my cycling gloves, and wasted time trying to get them on. Why wear gloves anyway? Because when you are eating so many gels you WILL get some get on your hands and it WILL annoy you. With gloves it does not matter.

Tip 3 – I squeezed all my gels for the marathon into a small running bottle, taking a mouthful at each aid station with their water. I didn’t have to worry about carrying a handful of gels, and struggle with sweaty hands to try and open them whilst running.

Tip 4 – Don’t ask for ‘extras’ during the massage. It was embarrassing for me, her and the police officer.

Garrad Bailey