Deep down I knew I shouldn't have started but it's hard not to when you are there and desperately wanting to race. We drove to the race start and hid the car keys as I planned to do 30-40k of the bike and then spin back for the car. I felt shocking in the swim but actually swam ok so decided to start the bike. On the bike I felt good on the flats and terrible on the climbs which direct is the opposite of what I usually feel. I kept going until the end of the bike and was in 4th place so started the run, that's when I knew fore sure that I wasn't ok. I struggled to run at all so not long after I dropped out and that was the end of my day. It's a horrible feeling not being able to finish but it probably would have felt worse if I hadn't tried at all. I would like to say I have learned my lesson about racing when not completely healthy but I seem to be a slow learner when it comes to things like this!
I felt really bad after that both mentally and physically but over the next week I begun to improve and was ready to get back to training in preparation for Ironman Lanzarote at my favorite training location Ferrer Hotels in Mallorca. However, now I had an injury creeping up though as usual I thought if I didn't talk about the niggle it would go away. It was hip/hamstring problem which I have had before but in the other leg, usually caused by my saddle being too high. I ploughed on through the training with the focus on Ironman Lanzarote. It hurt but I put my head down and got on with it. I was running pretty badly and it felt really strange, there was no bounce in my step, and it felt like my left leg (the sore one) was shorter than the other one. It was like running on dead legs.
It wasn't until I arrived in Lanzarote that I made an appointment to see and osteopath (Gunter at Osteo 43). As soon as I saw him and gave him a brief explanation he described what he thought the problem was and it completely made sense. I trusted his judgement and he clicked nearly every part of my body back 0in to place (at the same time shaking his head at how I had let myself get in such as state). It made a massive difference, I could now move my legs and hips in a normal way and the pain was reduced when running. It wasn't perfect but a lot better and I knew it would be good enough to get me through the Ironman.
So I prepared for the race and was on the start-line on Sunday morning ready to hit one of the toughest ironman races on the circuit. This time the toughness was multiplied by the ridiculous wind which had been howling most of race week. The swim was a mass start and for me it was horrible, by the first bouy I was swamped by the age group athletes and the rest of the swim was a punching match. At one point I was between two men getting smacked on both sides, I was thinking I'd be lucky to make it out without a broken nose so my only option was to literally swim over the top of one of them (sorry about that)!
On to the bike I planned to set off at a steadier pace for the first 90k then to go for it in the last 90k. The first 90k was terrible for me. I was being passed by what felt like everyone and there was nothing I could do, my back and hips were so stiff and sore and it felt awful just turning the pedals, the wind was making matters even worse. I kept going in the hope that things would turn around. I was in 10th after the first 90k and suddenly something clicked, I pushed on and I felt like I was actually moving now. I started to feel really good and within the next 30k I had ridden back up to 4th place and was getting excited about the prospect of the marathon (normally that’s right about when I start to dread the marathon!). It was just then when I was finally really up for the battle my rear tyre went down. I tried using Pitstop to fix it but it didn't work so it was game over!
I couldn't believe that my brand new tubular had punctured but I guess it just wasn't meant to be. When I got my bike back I couldn't see a cut or hole in the tyre, I took it to a mechanic who checked the valve and it turns out that the valve and a long piece of plastic stuck inside it which wasn't meant to be there. It was disappointing not to be able to finish the race especially when there was loads of Irish support there, but this was my first proper mechanical in a race so I guess I've had it pretty good. Looking back I think it might have been a blessing that I didn't make it on to the run as my hip really wasn't in good enough shape to run a marathon and who knows if I had run it may have been the last race of the season.
Now I'm heading back home and will reluctantly be taking some time off running to try to sort out the problem and I'll also try to get to the bottom of my ongoing stomach issues. I love racing and am very frustrated that I haven’t raced much so far this season. I have entered a couple of races so hopefully after a bit of recovery time I'll be back to it very soon.