3am - Woke up 5mins before my alarm went off (surprised I managed to doze off so quickly in the evening!), I quickly put kettle on for a cuppa and down some porridge while making final checks of what I was going to be taking with me and putting in my white transition bag for after the race. 4am came round very quickly so waited outside for my taxi that I booked.....10mins later nothing.....text from the taxi company saying its here waiting for me! A young couple ask me if I would like a lift as they was doing the race too, so took them up on the offer as I didnt have time to wait for the taxi company to fix their screw up.
I thanked the couple who gave me a lift (Number 321! how could I forget that!) and made my way to the transition area to put my bottles on my bike and nutrition on my bento box. Now its was edging toward 5:15am....my friends from Lincoln said they was on there way and was going to try see me before the race so got changed and hung around like a billy no mates... one last check of my phone before putting it in my white bag and got an sms they had made it!! handed my bag in and waited to see them just before being ushered into the water, quick hugs of good luck and there we was...slowly marching toward the water....here we go....
6am - Hooter goes off!!! and its a mad rush of arms and legs kicking, punching and fighting to get to a clear space to swim, I positioned myself toward the back right...well so I thought but didn't have time to check and just went with the flow....managed to get halfway down to the first buoy an realized......I hadn't started my watch!!! oh FFS!!! its the Dambuster all over again!! so quickly started it and would work out the difference when finishing the first lap....going out was ok but coming back the sun had started to rise and with my goggles steaming up I had no idea where the hell I was going so blindly followed some feet....eventually made it back to shore...."Well done!! Well done! 40minutes guys you're doing well!!" shouted one of the volenteers as I was being pulled out of the water, ace! 7mins up on my PB! round the corner and back in for lap 2....not much different from the first, got winded by a sharp kick and almost puked in the water, but held on to it as I would need that energy!....came in at 1h 25mins, a new PB!...
Swim - 1h 25min
On to transition....
T1 - 11:56
Took my time in transition as wanted to make sure everything was good to go for this 112mile bike ride I was just about to undertake! dried myself off, put my jersey on, race belt, shoes, helmet, shades....lets go!...grabbed my bike and headed out....just before the mount line I saw my Lincoln Tri buddies Clint, Jo and Shelley with a banner screaming and shouting at me to go go go!!! :-)
Bike - The little journey out to the 3x loop was very calm, chatting to a few of the guys on the way down (being careful not for too long as didn't want to get a penalty for drafting!) Got chatting to a cheeky scoucer, who was bigging up the supporters on the side of the road to give us abit more a cheer...eventually decided to leave him as was going at a pace too slow for me...and before I knew it we hit the bottom of the noturious sheeps hill lane, supporters was a little thin but enthusiastic, clapping and cheering as we slowly made our way up, soon I got to the hill and hit the high gears and made my way up slowly...not too bad, but see how I am on the 3rd attempt!!! got to the top, saw some crazy dudes in a VW camper van having a BBQ and dancing around in mankini's and big afro wigs!! defo brought a smile to my face! nutters......after that is was a nice down hill affair and long roads to make it to the next aid station, but this point i didnt feel really hungry, but took a few gels and tried to stomach my sorean loaf which I had used on training many a times with no issues...today, it made me feel abit sick, but I got some down me and sailed through the halfway mark food station not taking anything on (big mistake!)....Soon I got back round again to start the 2nd loop, starting again at the bottom of sheeps hill lane and now the crowds was out in force!! It was crazy! just like the tour de france, people inches from your face ringing cow bells, blowing horns! PA systems blasting out queens "another one bites the dust" EPIC! really got me in the mood....
yet again the food station came into view and decided I was ok again on my sorean loaf so just took on energy drink and water....up the steep sheeps hill lane...now it was getting tough!...still the crowds of supporter was running along side me shouting "Oi!! stop smiling! this is pain you not meant to be enjoying this!! keep it up lad!!"
By the time I got to the top....I felt very tired, I knew I was about to start running on empty!!....and then I bonked, I was struggling....15-20miles till the next food station, I crawled along watching riders over take me and I cruised along trying to save what energy I could, until pulling up at the food station putting my bike down and heading for the portaloo for a quick pee....I could tell I was dehydrated and needed to take on more liquid so without further a do, I mounted my bike grabbed some energy drink and some bananas (Clint had advised me in his Outlaw race that he got sick of cliff bars and switched to bananas so thought I would give them a try)......10mins later I was back in the game!!! felt amazing!...soon it was the final loop, I stocked up on bananas at each food station, by now the crowds at sheep hill lane and the villages was staggering, this is what really kept me going, raising my hands and the crowd chanting my name....brilliant!!! loved it so much!! third time up the hill was a real killer!!!
I was determined not to get out an walk...the same guy came along side of me saying I was still smiling and was obviously finding this hill too easy!!!! made me laugh and too my mind off it at least....reached the top and knew it was down hill all from here......eventually coming back round again and making it into T2 at the school, ready to start the marathon!
Bike - 7h 16mins
T2 - 8.33
Gave my bike to the crew and slowly made my way up to the school to get my run bag, sat down took my cycling shoes/jersey off and changed into my running shoes, took in a gel or two, fuel belt on, downed 2 cups of coke and hit the road!
Run - A slight shuffle to get the feeling back in my legs after being on the bike so long, as soon as I knew it I got my running legs going, my plan was to stick to 5min run/1min walk as didnt want any injuries to stop me from finishing this race! plus my training had only got me as far as 12miles!! 2miles in and I was feeling great, got to the first food station, more coke and water....and off I went heading down the roads and riverbank, several women spectators commenting on my body and calling me a "fitty" raised my spirits!! loved it!
Eventually made it to the town center to start the 3 loops...first loop went without an hitch..came into the center of Bolton near the finish line to see my Lincoln Tri buddies waiving my banner again!!!
Quick hug and got back on with the job in hand, now it had started to rain heavy and I really felt sorry for my supporters coming all this way out to support me in the pouring rain!! So I wanted to get this race over and done with asap!...back out for the first loop picking up my green band! it was so hard not to look at other peoples arm with all 3 knowing they could walk down the finishing chute on their way back....hit the 1/2 marathon mark about 2hrs 15mins in, now I could feel some pain in my achillies as it started to get tight! I had to resort to walking abit to save it and pray it would not cripple me and finish my race off!! eventually I made it to the food station got some water and downed some painkillers, off I trotted again and made it back into the town to tell my friends I may be a while to which they asked me to MTFU and get going! so back out for loop 2...red band this time....walking/running was getting me though every time I felt a twinge I would back off and rest...the walk breaks was getting too frequent but there was nothing I could do....soon I was the final loop, my friends said they would see me at the finish line, so one final time I went back out...picked up my final yellow band and tried to run as fast as I could on the 5km back into the town square....until I saw the finishing chute!!! I now had the right to walk down it!! there was people with there hands out wanting high fives! cheering it was crazy!! so much going on I was dazed and confused I walked past my friends waiting for me!!! I managed to hear them and went over for one last hug off them all and proceeded down to the big archway....where I heard the words I had been waiting for since 6am....
ANDREW ROBERTSON..........YOU.......ARE....... AN IRONMAN!!!!
Finish time - 14hrs 8minutes - Run - 5hrs 6mins
I walked into the finishers tent, picked up my finishers t-shirt and sat down with 2 huge slices of pizza, downed a cup of coke and just looked at my medal......I had done it!!! Quickly woofed down my food, got changed into my street gear and met up with my amazing (very wet!) supporters! Without them my Ironman experience would of felt a bit empty with no one there to celebrate it with me as I crossed the line, so a big THANK YOU!!! goes out to Clint, Jo and Shelley!!!
So where do I go from here? Is this the end?........its only the beginning! having learned from my mistakes I now want to get a better time for Ironman UK and the ultimate goal in 2-3 years time....start gunning for a slot at the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii!!!