After deciding to go long in my second season of the infamous sport Triathlon I finally opted for Bolton. Why Bolton?
Well there was plenty of talk towards the later part of the 2011 season and all sorts of different venues had been discussed. Including Germany, Austria and as far away as Australia. All of the mentioned would have been fantastic and indeed a little holiday away with the family and other team Lincsquaders however I thought as this was going to be the biggest challenge of my life, I needed some home support around the 140.6 mile course. Bolton it was with just a short trip down the M62 for anyone who wanted to come and support!!!!!
Out of many going long this year there was 5 from the club who also opted for Bolton, making it a great atmosphere to train in for several months prior to the big day.
Training did indeed start in Ernest some 4 months ago shortly after the early season duathlons both at Rutland Water and Clumber Park.
Long rides on my newly acquired TT bike and flashy dip rim wheels allowed me to cut through the Lincolnshire wolds with vigour……..Shame about the amount of bloomin punctures I kept getting in my ‘TUBS’ which have now set me back a small fortune.
Knee troubles had slowed the long distance running down and failure to crack the favoured and speedier front crawl would indeed force me to go with my favoured breast stroke as I knew I could battle through a 2.4 mile swim with my head above water!!!!!!!!
My season to date had all been geared around long distance so I had planned to do a couple of ½ Ironman distances both 2 weeks and 4 weeks prior to the big one. The first, ‘A day in the lakes’ went very well followed by 2 weeks prior to IMUK being the Cleveland Steelman. Unfortunately this race for me was the worst race I had competed in to date. Getting everything wrong from my nutrition and hydration prior to the race and all the way through it to getting stuck in my wetsuit in transition then attempting to make up time in the first 20 miles of the bike course!!!!!!!! I look at this now as being a fortunate incident as it made me realise that the race is not about how fast you can go whilst you are on stage but long before that the race actually begins!!! Days in fact………………
Listening to a couple of very experienced long distance and stupidly long distance athletes in the club, no points for guessing who they are!!!!! I gained some great advice about nutrition and hydration before, during and after the event. Applied this to the race and Bingo!! All my energy pots had been maxed out and enough to carry me through an event which was more than double I had ever done before.
The evening before the race saw a gathering of friends and family enjoying a Frankie and Bennies. Socialising, chatting and taking even more advice on board. This was followed by a relatively early night as the alarm clock was set for 03.45 on the Sunday morning. Needless to say I didn’t need the alarm clock as I woke up just passed midnight and at the point there was no chance of me getting back to sleep!!
The Dobber family was up and out for 4.45 leading a chain of cars and support crew through to Pennington Flash. Car park spaces was going to be a premium so we had to get there early. Just as the other 1600 competitors did!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sneakerl y spotting a little grass track we headed down and dumped the cars. I was sure the NO PARKING signs applied to the opposite side of the lane as that were where they were!! (Pleased to say we didn’t get a parking ticket!!)
It was now time to get to transition and give the bike the final check over before it was time to jump in the water!
Bike checked and final toilet stop.! Boy was that queue big!! The PA sounded out that there was 15 minutes before the start!! Jeez……must get the wetsuit on and dump my ‘white bag’ (the one that you get at the finish line with your dry clothes in)!!
Time to get in the water. As you would imagine……1600 people channelling through a 2 metre gap took some time and we ended up starting about 15 mins late so this meant treading water for that period of time waiting for all the future Ironmen to get in the lake.
The hooter went and it was game on. My strategy was to take it easy on the swim leg as I didn’t want my breaststroke to weaken the legs for the bike or the run!! Sticking to my plan I let the fast boys get started and then followed on behind, thinking to myself….These lanes are a bit busy!! Wak!! Ouch that heart as a thump to the head and a kick to the back!! Anyway stick to my game plan…….. It wasn’t long (1hr 29mins) before I was out and heading towards T1. ‘Bump’ who was that I just barged out of the way! Whoops…….”Hello Jamie! How was that………” Rubbing his head!! We trotted in to T1 together and with a few minutes of flesh baring I had got myself vaselined up and ready to go and get my bike. T1 time was fairly slow but I now know what you have to do etc with your kit bags as its nothing like a normal T1 transition!!
On the bike and a few high 5’s. (That’s the hand slap and not the energy drink/gels). Bike game plan had to come in now. Eat was the order of the day. A nice big fat chicken wrap at 07.30 in the morning then alarm set for every 30 minutes to remind me to eat again. Alternating between Soreen malt loaf and Jam sandwiches. The customary gel slotted in the midst of my eating frenzy!! It was a great ride for me, overtaking approx. 600 people and taking in some beautiful countryside……That was when we got out of Bolton!!
Mrs Dobber, mini Dobbers and a load of family was out on the course shouting encouragement about half way round the loop which we tackled 3 times amongst other thousands of other supporters. Phil Binch, Dave Hinch and Marcus Plume had also made the journey over to Bolton and was offering some amazing support around the course also. You will only need the one guess to name the one that replicated the red devil on the tour de france!! Or the many mankeany wearers equally on the tour!! Yep that infamous Hinchy, running alongside me shouting numerous obscenities (think this was meant to be encouragement!!) and one that ended in ……………………….you great big sack of lard!!………..Whilst waving a flag, running uphill and taking in some local oxygen!!
A little more sedate was Binchy and Marcus definitely shouting words of encouragement……Cheers guys!!
The undulating (hilly) course offered everything though with different quality of road surfaces, slow up hills, fast down hills cross winds and head winds and never a back wind. The sun also shone for most of the day bringing the temperature up to a nice 25 degrees !!!!!!!
50 miles in and slamming down a hill I glanced over my shoulder to move over in to the centre of the road!! Whoops……..as my front end went from underneath me!! How I managed to stay up right I’ll never now but talk about knocking the stuffing out of yourself!! My adrenalin had fallen down to my boots and the next 20 miles all of a sudden became a whole lot tougher. Thankfully I had previously gave Mrs D a full itinerary of when I was going to be where so that she could rally the troops up and be prepared for me coming around the corner so I managed to hang on to that bit of focus and get back in to my rhythm. 20 litres of water/energy juice and 6 hours and 10 minutes in the saddle and it was time to say goodbye to my trusty speed machine and hello to the racing shoes!! Not so much racing it’s just that they weigh a tad lighter!!!!!
Transition 2 went a little bit like this. Leave the bike with some bloke who was going to rack it up for me. Trot over to the sports centre to get changed whilst having a little dance with the lady pointing me in the correct direction!! “You’re a nutter” she shouted at me!! Then it was in to the main hall to collect my red bag with my shoes and dry trisuit which I was going to change in to.
It was to be another transition with a fellow Lincsquader as Chris Spavin was also in there having already got himself ready and shortly was leaving to go out on the run. I thought to myself, stick to my game plan. This was to pop in to the changing rooms and get some dry clothes on, re Vaseline up, eat something light and take a little more fluid on. This was after the biggest wee stop ever!!!!!
It was time to go and face the roads for that gruelling marathon!! Dropping my kit bag back in to its correct position I was heading out on to the course.
The first 12k was a steady jog, running through to the loop at around 9.30 min mile pace, pretty steady and feeling good. I had made one big mistake though which I was going to pay for later in the race. Taking a couple of FREE gels which I was not used too!! Anyway the loop had started and yet again the travelling support crew was there again!! Words of encouragement from Binchy, Mrs D and the mini dobbers made me feel a million dollars. Chris Brown had also made a special detour from the lakes to give words of encouragement on the run course!!
I passed through the half marathon point with relative ease, taking in the massive amount of support from the crowds of people who had turned out to enjoy the sun whilst drinking beer!!!!! How cruel was that!! Never mind I was going to have one of them in a few more hours!!!!!!! (Beer that is)!! What was also helping was the fact that the loops gave us ample opportunity to high 5 our fellow lincsquaders and offer further encouragement to each other on the 3 loop course.
All that being said it was soon to turn horribly wrong with my stomach exploding from what I think was the gels at the start of the marathon. Yep my pace had dropped down by 3 mins per mile and my focus had gone completely. Mile 15 through to 21 was the hardest 6 mile I had ever run, visiting the loos on several occasions at the water stations. Ritz biscuits and water was the only thing at this point which I could consume as even the flat coke was turning my stomach!!
The last lap had finally come around and the only thing in my mind was that if I kept moving forward it would be the last time I had to cover that piece of tarmac again!! Family and friends had made their way down off the course towards the finishing area and was preparing the voice chords (with yet another beer) for the finishing line…..
5 mile to go and yep I was walking…….Not for the first time may I add, but this time I was nearly on my knees. It was then that a monster descended on me and gave me some serious abuse!! I mean serious abuse too………Guess it was payback time for when the shoes where on the other feet a couple of months ago!! Yes you got your own back, but that Gorilla got a pounding too!! I finally started running again thanks to the ‘good cop bad cop approach with Marcus being the good cop, well it was more of a shuffle but hay I was going in the right direction!!
3 mile to go and a final trip to the loo!! Some crazy sounds were coming from the other loos. All I could here was the sound of night club loos early on a Sunday morning!! Anyway, back on the road now and I could See Chris Spavin in front of me. One final drink of water and one over the head and I mustered up some more energy to crack on and get this race over with!! I remember looking at Chris and saying “come on buddy only 2 miles to go” and then had to focus on my own race as for the last 8 miles I kept getting dizzy and yes it was coming back again!! I kept focusing on land marks as goals to run too and I was soon running down the final hill!!
Yes I was in to the last mile and through the last water station where I gained my composure enough to give the last 800 meters some real welly!! That’s what it felt like anyway!! The race carried on getting better from this point as Hinchy had located me again and through running through the crowds of people like a mad man managed to get me a Union Jack flag to wear over my shoulders to come over the finishing line. Finally taking the exit funnel it was my time….. My time for the words to be bellowed out over the PA system! I had made it…………………..”Steven Dolby…………….You are an IRONMAN”
Special thanks go out to ALL who know me that shared the journey and travelled over to Bolton to support and especially Mrs Dobber who has let me get on with my training for the last 9 months without even one word such as “come on babes, haven’t you ignored us all enough now!!” nope not even a little one!!