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They don’t call it Easy Man…Outlaw Iron Distance Race Report 2012 – Kevin Mellett

January 20, 2017

I signed up for this event way back in October 2011. I completed in my first triathlon in 2010 and by the time the Outlaw rolled around I would have completed in 4 half iron distance races. I felt that I was ready for a new challenge but was glad I had the experience of the 4 middle distance events before embarking on my first long distance race. I would encourage anyone thinking of signing up to Iron distance to make sure they are comfortable at middle distance first.

Why Nottingham and not Austria/Roth or Frankfurt? I wanted to be able to drive to the race venue and remove the stress of flying with my loved one bike, and gear. Plus the swim at the Outlaw is held in a man-made rowing lake and the (supposedly!) simple format of two lengths of the lake essentially removed the need to sight and should help make for a good start to what is a long day. In addition I knew deep down that if I signed up for Roth or Frankfurt I would be gunning for a certain time on these reportedly fast courses which would risk removing the enjoyment of my first long distance race.

I had put in a lot of work over the previous 6 months to ensure I had a positive experience at this race. If anyone has seen the video of ‘Training for an Ironman’ then you will see exactly what my life was like for the past 6 months. Think all consuming and then double it! I made the decision early doors to engage the services of a coach and I think this had by far the biggest single positive impact on my progression over the course of the 6 months. My coach, Will Newbury of http://www.trainingbible.co.uk/coaching/find-coach/details/?id=11 was a source of huge support and knowledge over the period. There are lots of highs and lows over IM training and its invaluable to have someone with experience to tell you when to push through and when to hold back. If you are serious about giving the distance your best shot then I cannot recommend a coach highly enough.
We drove over to the UK on the Thursday before the race, a journey of over 500km and taking almost 10 hours. The enormity of what I had signed up to dawned on us when we realized that as long as the journey felt to the race and as tired as we were arriving in Nottingham on Thursday night, the race itself would be an even longer day for me in terms of duration! Anyways I won’t bore you with details of what we did on the Friday and Saturday suffice to say there was plenty of mini – panic attacks over aero bottles, power meters and tri shorts.. the now normal trend before any big race!

I got about 4 hours sleep in on the night before the race and was up at 3.30am for the porridge, bagel and strong coffee. I knew that there would be little sleep the night before so wasn’t one bit worried and arrived at the race venue full of excitement, anticipation and caffeine!. It was a beautiful morning and the sun rise added to the electric atmosphere amongst the almost 1,000 competitors.

Pic: Swim Start – organised mayhem

The Swim (1 hr 10 mins – 251st)
I said my farewell to Jacqueline and took my position amongst the 60 minute to 80 minute swimmers and before I knew it we were let off. The swim start was the least aggressive I have experienced to date and I have often been in more of a melee in amongst less than 100 swimmers in other races. I felt good in the water although my attempts to draft off feet in front of me were to no avail and every set of size 10’s I tried to sneak in behind disappeared like a couple of startled brown trout in Callow Lake! The swim was basically 1.9km up the manmade lake and the same distance back down. I somehow managed to overshoot the turning buoy at 1.9km by about 50 metres which was a pretty amazing feat given the simplicity of the route and the size of the turning buoy!! Anyways whats a couple of minutes over the course of a long day and as I glanced at my watch I could see I had reached (and overshot!) the turning 1.9km turning buoy in 32 minutes. A strong headwind on the return lap meant I got out of the water in 1.10 which was bang on goal time. I was delighted with that as the swim is my weak discipline and I had put a lot of hours in the water to improve it over the course of the 6 month training block (swim training hours equaled my run training hours over the 6 months). I did manage to zig zag the route somewhat and my Garmin tells me I swam 4.03km – obviously not ideal for an already slow swimmer! I exited the water in 251st position and the chase was on!

T1 (3.38 mins)
I was helped out of my wet suit in T1 by an enthusiastic volunteer who ordered me to sit on the ground as she whipped off my suit with one strong thug! I grabbed my bike bag from T1 and before I knew it I was on the saddle with a huge smile on my face, glad to be out of the water and exited about the 180km ride ahead of me.

The Cycle (5 hrs 23 mins – Av Power 210W – Av HR – 150bpm – 27th fastest split)
I had two goals in the day. Goal 1 was to keep my bike effort controlled in the first hour with average wattage less than 210W (met). [My other goal was to keep the first three miles of the Run at less than 8.10 pace (failed)]
Anyways I felt great on the bike for the first hour and started picking people off. The benefits of being a slow swimmer means that you always have people ahead of you to pass on the bike. The only glitch came about an hour in as I went to change to the small ring for the only real climb of the day my chain slipped off which necessitated a quick stop to get the chain back on. I made sure to get plenty of fluid in and over the course of the 180 km I took in 6 x 750ml bottles of fluid. They say you learn something new every day and my lesson learned this particular day was how to pee on the bike, something I became quite an expert in after consuming that amount of liquid!
The bike route was really enjoyable although parts were very exposed and as the wind whipped up there were stretches where you really just had to drop the head, grit the teeth and grind it out. The high point of the route and for me, the high point of the whole day, came at the halfway point on the bike where there was a big crowd of supporters camped and cheering. I was feeling strong, really enjoying the day and to see Jacqueline and other Irish supporters complete with tri colours was very emotional and gave me a huge lift for the second half of the bike. So much so that I probably pushed the power too much at this point which made the last 10 or so miles a bit of a struggle. I got off the bike in 5.23.24 which was the 27th fastest bike split on the day and was told I was in the top 40 as I put on my runners.

T2 (3.31 mins)
I seem to recall there being a few laughs from marshals and spectators as I dismounted my bike and tried to walk upright – not an easy thing to do for someone with a dodgy back at the best of times let alone after 5 and a half hours of riding! Anyways as I hobbled into T2 I was glad to be off the bike and looking forward in a perverse kind of way to the marathon.

The Run (3hr 37 mins – Av HR 145 – Av Pace – 5.05m/km – 30th fastest split)
I was feeling so-so during the first few miles of the run and was really holding back on my pacing to slow it down as best I could. The run format was 4 laps of c. 7.5 miles each with aid stations very couple of miles. I was running c. 7.40 pace for the first 6 or so miles until stomach issues started surfacing. This slowed me down considerably and miles 8 to 11 were probably the toughest I have ever ran. Toilet stops were necessary and I was forced to take 5 over the course of the run. There were multiple highs and lows over the course of only a few minutes and it was a real roller-coaster emotionally. I had to dig deep in places to maintain pace. Mentally I just broke the race down to the couple of miles between aid stations and promised myself I would not walk in between these aid stations. I was not becoming a dab hand at efficient toilet stops and had it down to a fine art for my last stop at 20 miles although after this stop my back had seized up and I was forced to lie on the ground and stretch it out. At this stage time and placing is irrelevant and its simply a question of survival. I actually felt better during miles 20 to 26 than I had at miles 8 to 11 and seemed to be through the worst of the stomach cramps by the end of the race. I met Jacqueline with a half mile to go and was pretty emotional – she had miscounted the laps and thought I had another 8 miles to run so feared the worst for me and my mental state!! I finished out the run with a time of 3:37.11 which was the 30th fastest split of the day and an overall time of 10 hours 17 minutes leaving me in 22nd position overall and 7th in my age group which I was beyond chuffed with.

Pic: Running between portaloos!

I wasn’t home 5 minutes and I had the lap top out trawling what race I would pick for next year which is obviously a good sign!
I would highly recommend this race for all those who are competing in their first race and indeed for veteran IM’s also. It’s a great course, really well marshaled and you feel the organisers really care about the welfare of the athletes taking part.
Big thanks to family and friends who not only showed huge support but also forgave the lack of contact and early nights I was inclined to take! You can’t sign up to an event like this without the support of friends and loved ones so thanks once again for allowing me to indulge in this one! I’m informed the tables will be turned for next year as Jacqueline is now gunning to race the distance! Not sure if there is room for two obsessed, self-important IM’ers under the one roof!!

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Mark

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