So this time last year I was deciding on which race to partake in 2017. Meanwhile Karen was reading triathlon 220 and came across an article on outlaw and decision was made.
First up was to get myself back running and my run coach (Danny) did up a simple plan to get me going again. The first few months were just getting into a routine and building a base across all 3 disciplines ready to start race program in Jan/Feb. I decided on Don Fink's 30 week program which allowed me to work training around kids/family and work commitments. Training went well on the whole but there were tears shed too.
Finally race day was closing in and on Friday morning we set sail for England. After a long day travelling, ferry delayed due to stormy seas, major roadworks, traffic jams, we finally arrived in our Premier Inn. The reigning Outlaw champion was staying in same hotel so looks like we made a good choice.
Saturday morning was spent registering, attending briefing and checking out the race venue, then off to rack bike and hang bags in transition ready for the morning. Then off to Smyths & Decathlon for a bit of retail therapy purely for Declan & the kids.
Taxi was booked for 4am and arrived promptly and drove us to the venue. Then it was a case of checking bikes and gear etc ready for the 6am start. Waiting in the transition area to be called to enter the water was when it finally hit what I was about to do....
No time for nerves though as we were all called forward. The swim area had 4 bays to enter and each bay was given an approximate finish time (60min / 80min/ 100 / 120) so we both entered the 2nd bay (80min). From here we were given our 5/4/3/2/1 min warnings until finally it was time. With 1200 swimmers I was expecting utter chaos but thankfully this wasn't the case as everyone was careful not to swim over someone or knock them etc and if they did they were quick to apologise (nice friendly swimming). It took me a few mins to get going and to find some space and then it was clear water. Counting off the buoys as couldn't see the turning point in the distance. Finally got to the 5th buoy and got to turn around. At the finish there are an abundance of marshals to assist you from the water and plenty of "strippers" to aid you out of your wetsuit - all wetsuits had to be removed before entering transition tent. Checked watch and was 1:14 so off to a good start.
Quick change into cycling gear, arm warmers not easy to put on when wet, and quick bite to eat and then off to collect bike. Start of bike is a lap of the lake where you could still see plenty of people still swimming and then out on to the open roads. The bike course is fairly flat with just 1000m of climbing on a mix of open and closed roads. Road conditions similar to what we are used to here at home and the wind was out with us too. Plan on the bike was to collect a new bottle at every feed station (25/30k) and to make sure I ate every 10k ((Mini Soleen Loaves/Fig Rolls/ Bananas / Gels / Dextro Tablets) which seemed to work out well. We pass through the area of Car Colston 3 times and the supporters were out in force with their signs/banners and cheers. The food stations were all manned by different triathlon clubs all trying to outdo themselves with outfits and cheering. The sun finally decided to make an appearance after 170k which was very welcome as I had found it quite cold and windy up to this point. The bike course enters the back of the venue and takes you over a course of speed bumps in to transition. On dismounting a marshal whisks your bike away to re rack it for you (another bonus) so off into tent to change for run.
After exiting the tent you meet the "slappers" who are ready to apply the sun cream as you pass them by. Off to start the first 5k lap of the lake and am greeted by my support crew (Declan, Bailey & Emily) ready to cheer me on. Found this first lap very hard lot of walking and very little running but at the end of the lap I collected my 1st band and went off to start the big loop around Nottingham and the River Trent. The 11k loop starts off on a tow path and finally out onto roads/path under the football stadiums and across the suspension bridge to start the figure of 8 loop before returning to the lake. This loop was extremely hard mentally as you can see people running in all directions and you watch everyone running past you to see how many bands they have. There were plenty of food stations on the run with High 5 and High 5 zero which I alternated between, flat coke & water. Then they had jaffa cakes (couldn't take anymore sugar), ready salted crisps (eugh no thanks) orange segments (yummy) and high 5 gels (too sweet). I'd brought 4 kinetica gels with me - stuffed up the legs of my shorts - which I consumed over the course of the run.
Anyway enough of the food, at this stage I was finally managing to run more then I walked which was good. Back at the lake and the kids were back cheering me on to do another lap of the lake, pick up a band and go off to do another big lap - yay!!! Kids were off to play crazy golf and go on the high wire course while I did another 11k. This loop was easier 2nd time around probably as I was running more and also knew where I was going. Then at about 27k I could feel old injuries resurfacing so had to make the decision to walk the remainder. Remembering what Ms Humby had told me I started pumping those arms and taking purposeful strides and soon was catching up to people and passing them. I was probably moving faster walking then I had been shuffling. Back to the lake and have to go around just 2 more times, at this stage am sick of this lake, but on I go and finally with 3 bands on my arm I begin the final lap and then it's 200m to go. The kids are waiting "patiently" for me in the family area and they get to join me as the 3 of us get to run the red carpet to the finish line together.That's what made it all worth it!!!
Big Question: Would I do it again? If Declan asks the answer is NO, but who knows, never say never!!!!
Overall it was a great day and one that I would recommend to anyone looking to do a full distance event, it's not as competitive as IM but it's a great race to do!!!
The following user(s) said Thank You: Darren_S, Paul Evans, steve_mc, michaelp, RobS