Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Outlaw - 5/5 - Reflection

It is now 10 days post Outlaw and my retelling of the day have not slowed, nor have my random fits of smiling into space ceased. To many people the way I spent 1st July 2012 was a crazy waste of time. Why put yourself throughout that voluntarily?

To those people I would say do it. Maybe not an Ironman, but something physical that pushes you outside of your comfort zone. Way out of your comfort zone! I may not have been the most dedicated trainer, I may not be the strongest mentally or physically, but on that day I found a way to work through problems and to just tough it out.

The Outlaw was a day of firsts for me.
- My first Triathlon
- My first Open Water Swim
- My longest ride ever
- My slowest Marathon ever

Now if I could have the time again I would have got down to Lakeside and down 10 or a dozen swims in Openwater. I would have gone for 5 or so rides of in excess of 100 miles. I would have maybe ran a little more consistently.

But when I was bobbing up and down in the water at 6am I hadn't done those things, and there isn't a thing you can do about it. This is where you are fitness wise, this is where your prep has got you. Now shut-up and do it or get out of the swim, get off the bike or take your running shoes off and put your feet up.

There were lots of times during the course of the day that I considered those things, but I fought the urge and carried on and for that I am very proud. I was talking to Lauren about it after the race and it is just one of those days along with your wedding, birth of your child etc that you just want to stay with you forever in HD crystal clear and not forget one single detail. That is one of the reasons why I have chronicled in such painful detail my experiences in the build up and during the day itself so that I can look back it and remember it.

It wasn't just a personal journey though, and the texts/Facebook messages of support, my cheer squad of Lauren, Mum, Dad, Jan, Luke and Amber, the Marshalls, supporters on the road and my fellow competitors just took it to another level. We all live in very small groups of people we hold dear, and you have the joke about people not meeting each others eyes on the tube, but at the Outlaw I felt part of something much bigger and everyone was so keen for me to do well. It really is all a bit sickly, but it really was how I felt.

So to my supporters:

Amber - Thanks for making a special trip to see me ride. You and Luke were in a car/ on a train pretty much all weekend and it was amazing that you got to see me both when I was riding strong and when I was hanging on.

Jan - For being a great Mum to Lauren when she was in bits worrying about me and for being a fantastic Mother in Law and supporting me in my stupid hobbies.

Mum & Dad - Sorry for scaring you and not being as dedicated to my training as I should of. Next time I'll be in much better shape and it will be a breeze. Thanks for giving up a weekend at the Caravan to see me slog it out for 16 hours.

Luke - Again thanks for running around the country to see the completion of my Outlaw Journey. Your enthusiasm and support were incredible. The kids of Dover are very lucky to have a PE teacher like you heading their way. You kept me on track when my head was all over the shop, you were a megastar. So excited to return the favour at your Olympic Triathlon and again when you go long.

Lauren - My beautiful wife, sorry to worry you. I can't promise I won't do it again. You support me 100% in all of my stupid running, triathlon, challenges. Running me around in the car, getting up crazy early, sorting out my kit and food and never complaining. I couldn't ask for more, you're my number one supporter and I'm your number one fan. No amount of dinners out, flowers or presents will every say enough thanks, so I won't bother :-) Love you loads.X

Sorry to my other readers for that little love in, but us guys just aren't great face to face. Thanks for those of you that have made it to the end of my five blogs, your mental toughness and stamina make you ideal candidates for an Ironman. Until next time....

The Outlaw - 4/5 - The Run

I began the run very steady, I knew I could now make the cut off and so wanted to make it as painfree an experience as possible. I jogged gently round the end of the lake and saw my supporters for the first time, they would be a huge boost over the whole of the run. After I had said thanks to everyone I headed for the marshalls handing out the wristbands. Number 1 of 4 was duely received and I set off for the first 3 mile loop round the lake.

I walked for the first time here, I had hopes before hand of running for 5 minutes walking for one or something similar. But from early on in the run I knew I would be needing to walking much more than that. As I was taking my first walk break, a guy started talking to me, saying it was nice to see someone else walking. I knew I was near the back and so he was probably on at least his second lap, so I looked down at my Garmin and said but I'm only 0.3 miles into my race and I'm walking. We then chatting for a minute or two and he explained he was running for his wife who had died 4th July last year and that he had set-up a foundation called the Karen Green foundation. I had seen loads of other athletes riding with the Foundations jerseys during the cycle today and so it was good to meet the guy who had set it up. After a few minutes he told me to go on as his walk breaks became more frequent.

The first landmark that I was keen to get to was the first feed station after about a mile and a half. The only thing that got me through the last 10 miles of my cycles was the thought of the feast awaiting me at the first run feed station, and it didn't disappoint! There were smiley marshalls handing out Oranges, Bananas, Crisps, Jaffa Cakes, Water and Coke. I took my time walking through grabbing everything I could, I almost went back for seconds!

With some renewed energy I got running again, into the wind on the other side of the lake. The wind was so strong that it blew my hat off, and with weary legs I started running after it, another runner told me not to bother and I told him in a minute I might just leave it. I did manage to grab it though before it got blown into the lake and put it back on my head, a spectator told me to put it on backwards, which I did. Although it didn't work as a fashion piece the backwards hat definately saved my head from the brunt of the sun. I didn't want my race to end prematurely due to heatstroke.

The run, shuffle, walk continued on for the rest of the lap round the lake. I then saw my team at the start of the longer loop which headed towards the city. There was a little slope with an aid station at the top, and in an effort to save my legs I walked this everytime much to the disappointment of my legion of fans wanting to see me run. But once at the top of the hill I ran with my wife down the other side and through the carpark ready to start to the loop proper. Lauren was very excited, and pleased to tell me that she could run as fast as me and I wasn't strong enough to argue.

My support team had shrunk slightly as my brother dropped his girlfriend off at the station so she could get home, but on that first lap my wife, Mum, Dad and Mother-in-law were all there cheering me on. Whilst I was slogging it out on the run they were enjoying a picnic and a good book, but my wife was too worked up with worry for my well being and so just prowled around until I returned.

My steady/slow progress amounted to something like 13.5 minute miles a speed I could never imagine doing on fresh legs it would just feel pitifully slow, but on my weary legs and low on energy it felt plenty fast enough. I slogged on through and with 8 miles on my Garmin I picked up my second wrist band, I checked that I was doing it right because I felt like I hadn't really earnt the first wristband after only running 500m or so but was assured that I was doing fine.

My garmin then decided to reset itself, all that saving of the battery during the cycle for nothing! I left the Garmin off until the 10 mile marker and then reset it again. The stats wouldn't make for pleasant reading afterwards, but it was good to have some idea how far I had left. It was around this point that my brother returned from dropping Amber off, and he would provide invaluable support to me throughout the remainder of the run.

Luke was unimpressed by my run when I want, walk when I want strategy and so tried to get me into a pattern. For much of the second half we ran for 0.35 miles and walked for 0.15 miles. It wasn't all straight forward though, my Garmin again decided to give up after another 8 miles but then came back to life. Whilst my mental state was as fragile as the Garmin. With only 8 miles left I said to my brother I didn't think I could face it, at my slow speed 8 miles was nearly two hours of effort! 14 hours in and I was complaining about another 120 minutes of work.

These feelings of giving up, or my pace slowing would always be when I was hungry, and the spikes of eating pretty much sugar all day were making Simon a moody boy. Luke was brilliant though and rolled with my moods and urged me onwards. The cheer squad were also camped out at the start of the lake and were another brilliant pick me up every hour or so.

I was heading round the lake, coming up towards the finish line and I was struggling when a guy in a black tri-suit came past and encouraged me and told me the finish was just around the next corner. I smiled and thanked him, but looked down at my 3 wristbands and said the finish might be round the corner for you but I've still got a way to go. He looked down at his 4 wristbands, said sorry and jogged off a little sheepishly.

My pace had started to pick up though, and I was starting to feel really strong. I was still taking walking breaks but when I ran I really ran. I was now picking off people in front of me on the last lap, everyone was now in the same boat. Where previously you would have people on very different laps, anyone you now saw was on their last lap and going to the finish.

It felt incredible to be running so strong, and as I passed people they all commented on how well I was running and to just keep going. It was fantastic, and the support from my fellow competitors had been great throughout the day. The impression I got is that it wasn't just us lot at the back, but that throughout the field people were encouraging and supporting each other.

My brother was still running with me and had more energy and brain function than me and so was counting people off as we passed them. He got to at least 15. Out of a field of 1050 that isn't alot. My wife had told me they fished 12 people out of the lake, and we reckoned another 30 or so had not completed the bike, and although it was sad to hear they hadn't completed their race it made me feel a little better. So having beaten perhaps 2 people out of the swim and the same 2 off the bike it was brilliant to have made some progress on the run my strongest of the 3 disciplines.

Throughout the run I was aiming to get myself in a position that I could walk at 20min/miles and still get home for the 17hour cut off. This goal shifted on that last lap and sub 16 hours looked like it may be a possibility, all be it a distant one.

I made a real effort on the last lap to thank all of the marshalls and to top it all off the marshalls handing out the wristbands let Lauren put the final band on me. The moment was spoilt a little bit as I saw the cheering crowds I lost my footing and nearly went face first into the gravel, I managed to right myself though, and then with the crowds massing around me I told them "ever so sorry but I have to go to the loo." I had been dying to go! As I emerged from the Portaloo, Lauren got her moment and proudly put my final band on, a quick kiss and a wave to the rest of my cheer squad and me and Luke were off for a final go round the lake.

Luke and I had chatted throughout the second half of the marathon, talking of the challenge that had been the Outlaw, future plans and all sorts in between. It was brilliant and took my mind off the discomfort and the tedium that is running a slow marathon after 10 hours of exercise as a warm up.

We ate and drank at the last feed station, the cut off was miles away and 16hours had just slipped by so we had time to shoot the breeze. They teased me asking me if I was doing a recovery run in the morning. I told them that wasn't going to happen, the bike was getting packed away and I wasn't doing a thing for at least the next week. I waved goodbye and thanked them for all their efforts then headed off into the darkness to complete my epic journey.

Luke left me a few hundred yards from the end and let me enjoy the run down the finishing funnel by myself. It was everything I had hoped and more, Lauren went ballistic and shouted and cheered at the top of her voice. The video of it afterwards is brilliant, her screams having marshalls jumping out of their skin and her voice has only just recovered. I was so emotional as I crossed the line, an unbelievable end to an incredible journey. There were times I doubted whether I was going to make it. The cramp in the swim, two or three times during the bike and at dark times during the run. But in just over 16 hours I had done it 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 miles of running! 10 days after that fantastic Sunday I still can't stop smiling when I think of the Outlaw.....

Friday, 6 July 2012

The Outlaw - 3/5 - The Bike

I was on my bike and away, a gentle 3 mile trip round the lake for starters to let us settle in and get ourselves ready. The sun was out, and I was smiling, legs were fresh and no apparent ill effects from the cramp in the swim. I passed a fellow competitor early on which was a good confidence booster and my speedo was reading 16mph, 18mph, 20mph. Steady on Simon! I thought to myself. But having completed one side of the lake and then turning to go down the other side I realised why the speed had been so high, it was that wind again! Coming back down the other side of the lake was hardwork and definitely gave me a taste of what was to come.

I was now coming up to a couple of tight turns to get out of the Water Sports Centre and out onto the open roads. As I slowed for them, I saw Lauren cheering wildly and that was a lovely little lift as I knew it would be a while before I saw her again.

The first quarter of the bike couldn't have gone much better, the weather was good and there was a small group of 5 or 6 riders who I would see from time to time. Each of us leap frogging the other. There was a pirate, a guy in black, a guy in red with a very expensive looking bike and another pirate called Martin who I would continue to see through out the ride, as well as a couple of other riders.

I had read about drafting before the race and so whenever I passed someone I made an effort to get clear. Alternatively there was a period where I would get passed but they would then slow up and not clear the draft zone so instead of slowing myself down and creating the gap I then decided to take them over again. I was very close to the back through out the ride, but I didn't want to get disqualified and miss out on the chance of finishing the race.

My average speed for the first quarter was something like 16.5mph but it may have gone to 16mph. I haven't got great data because I chose to rely on the bike speedo for the ride and use the Garmin for the run as I feared it would run out of batteries. The speedo is good as you are riding along but doesn't track data at different stages.

I had made it up Oxton Bank the one big climb of the day after about 20miles, and I managed to catch a few riders here and at one point I over took the pirate as I sped past him at the steepest point of the climb at a speed of 4.5 mph :-) I was very grateful for my granny gear there.

I decided I needed the loo at the aid station at around the 33 mile point, I took my time knowing I wanted to be comfortable as I was going to be settling in for my longest ride ever. I turned on my phone in the portaloo hoping to text Lauren telling her all was going well but it was taking too long to get reception so I decided to get out of there and back on my bike.

I had lost a couple of minutes there and as I got back on my bike I could see the last couple of riders from our mini group riding off into the distance. I got back into my rhythm, trying to take it steady and get in plenty of gels, mule bars and drink early in the ride. The wind was now in my face and my average speed was falling fairly steadily but I felt good and the average speed was still above 15mph and I needed an average speed of 14mph to make the cut off.

Lauren had mentioned that the spectator coaches were going to a place called Car Colston to see us ride through, and so when I saw the sign for Car Colston I was welling up for the second time that day. Soon after the sign I saw what looked like my brother Luke on the roadside on the right, and it was! I got such a lift as he ran alongside me seing how I was getting on and wishing me well. Luke and Amber had come up on the day and missed the swim but it was great to see them now around halfway through the bike. As well as those two I saw Lauren, Jan my mother in law and my parents all going nuts cheering me on. There were no other riders around and so the cheers of "Go Simon!" spread from my little support group to what felt like every inhabitant of Car Colston and the wall of noise really did have me close to tears. I flew out of that and felt my second wind coming on.

I was tired, and as I mentioned I haven't got the data to hand but I believe that I went through half way averaging around 15mph I think it might have been 14.7mph showing on my speedo from memory. So I had time in the bank as the average speed I was working towards was always 14mph which equated to an 8 hour cycle. There was some confusion regarding the bike cut-off which added to my stress levels as the bike leg continued. On the race information it had said traffic management would cease at 4 O'clock (10 hours into the race) and that you had to be out of transition and running by half 4 (10.5 hours into the race) I felt this meant I could get off the bike at say 4:15 quick change and be out of transition by around 4:25 lovely. But at the race briefing the event organiser seemed to be saying that 4 was the bike cut off and you then had half an hour to amble about have some lunch and put your feet up before rolling out of transition before half 4. I was working to the 4 O'clock cut off and as the race continued I felt I was in a position to get it.

The last half of the bike course is around two loops and then another 10 miles or so after that to the finish. As I entered the loop for the first time I turned right as instructed and promptly got taken over by the faster lot going round for their second loop. It wasn't as demotivating as I'd expected. I knew that these guys were 25 or 30 miles ahead of me but it was good to have some company finally and throughout my first loop there was a steady stream of riders coming round to lap me. Alot of them were in some nice lines, not worrying about drafting which was something I couldn't benefit from so far down the race on my lonesome.

Whilst on the bike I saw some guys in real states, some stood by the road puking, another was carrying his fancy bike and his day was done, whilst another sat on the kerb with a scrapped up knee. I also saw two pirates by the side of the road, one was puking in a bush whilst his mate waited for him and offered him some support. It was nice to see someone sacrificing their race ambitions to help a friend.

The low point of my day came at the end of the lap. Turn right for the finish straight on for lap two. So whilst the quick boys hung a right I plodded straight on. The second lap was just a blur, it was good knowing what was coming up down the road, and the total lack of cars or fellow riders meant I had free run of the roads. I had got myself into a position where I needed to ride at something like 13.5 mph for the last two hours but even that was proving difficult with the wind and my energy levels were now very low. I only had a few energy gels left and was all out of mule bars. On my return to the Outlaw I will definitely be bringing some more substantial, proper food for the ride to go alongside the gels and energy bars.

I saw my family at Car Colston again just after the 100 mile mark and it was a great pick me up. They were the only ones left and I later found out the coach had waited for them. I really must thank their driver. I felt tired at that point, and my wife and mum later told me that I was very pale and didn't look well at all, and I think they were probably right. My brother and I talked about the cut off dilemma and Luke was convinced that it was half 4 and so I had plenty of time but I still wasn't sure. I had got to the point where it almost didn't matter. I had done my first open water swim, I had swam the furthest I ever had and I had now gone past 102 miles which was my longest ever cycle. Even if they told me I had missed the bike cut off I could have gone home proud of my achievements. But I still wanted to do it and so tried to pick myself up for one final effort.

I had 1 hour to do the final 13 miles but I hit a headwind shortly after that, so that by the time I saw my family with 10 miles to go I probably had more like 40 minutes in which to complete it in time for 4 O'clock. I pushed on and managed to catch a female cyclist, so I at least knew I wasn't last on the bike which was a huge lift. I spoke to a guy out for a cycle and he was there just offering some support to the few of us at the back of the race which was lovely.

As the race neared it's end we had some poor road surfaces to navigate as we went through a private estate complete with some speed bumps, that took my speed down and also had me worrying about punctures which would have been a race ender. But I made it through safe and I was making my way back into the Watersports centre. I was ecstatic and was met by cheers from my family. The Marshall's told me to hop off my bike and took it from me as I ran jubiliantly into transition. I glanced down at my watch 16:00 exactly a full 8 hours since I had left transition. Nobody told me to stop, nobody told me I had missed the cut-off, and I wasn't going to hang around to ask.

I was into transition, much slicker than T1 for me, running shirt, pants, shorts, socks,trainers, cap on. Didn't bother with the sun cream. Grabbed my bag to give in and was told by a Marshall to give it to the cubs, the first one wasn't interest ed in taking it and neither was his mate, so I promptly dropped on the floor. They could deal with it, I hadn't come this far to waste time, I just wanted to get going. Over the transition line and onto the run 6 hours 55 minutes to win or bust....

Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Outlaw - 2/5 - The Swim

So Lauren and I were up at really dumb O'clock to give us time to shower, have some breakfast and have a last minute check of the kit. We left the room a little after 4 and managed to bump into the late night revellers in the hotel lobby, hardcore! We got the car out of the multi storey and drove down to the start for around half 4.

I had to make a few last minute adjustments to my transition bag, adding my cycle shoes, pinning on my race number to my running shirt and a few other little tweaks but I left the tent happy that everything was in place ready for my long day.

Whilst I had been in the tent Lauren had been talking to some other spectators and they all confirmed what Lauren had suspected I am nuts! It's his first tri? He's never done an open water swim? He's crazy. Well we were soon to find out how it was all going to turn out, but first we had to get on that blasted wetsuit!

Lauren and I found a quiet corner and got cracking, I was already in my Trisuit so Lauren got to work with the body glide stick making sure to get my neck, shoulders,wrists hoping to stop the wetsuit rubbing during my two hour swim. I then attempted to get the wet suit on and made a pretty good effort apart from the crotch part of the wet suit being about 4 inches too low and so Lauren told me jump as she pulled it up. It did work, but to any onlookers we must have looked like a right pair of prats.

There was now about 40 minutes to the race and so I decided to make my way through to the start area. Kissed Lauren goodbye, leaving her looking more than a little bit worried and I knew how she felt!

Around 5:40 they started calling us through and into the lake ready for the off. I was keen to get going so went in pretty pronto. I eased myself into the lake, and as promised it was a fairly warm 18 degrees and I was in a wetsuit so felt fine. As feared the minute I got in the water I needed the loo and I didn't fight it and just warmed myself up even more. I tried to paddle away from the hotspot in the hopes of avoiding detection by my fellow swimmers and I think I succeeded.

I treaded water on the right of the lake with the other slower swimmers but had inadvertantly found myself at the front and so I knew I was going to take a few hits. The hooter sounded at 6am and we were off, the hits duely came, but I got going and into some kind of a rhytm, it was nice to have people around as I knew the kind of time I was hoping to swim would mean a lonely last half.

There isn't a huge amount to say about the swim, you put your head in the water right, left, breathe, right, left, breathe look up to see where the hell you are going, can't see where the hell you are going and repeat. The field began to spread out but I felt my pace stayed fairly consistent on the way out. I was waiting for the turn around buoys and hoped the return leg would be easier knowing what lay ahead.

But before the turn around there was my first scare of the day as my right calf began to cramp after 40 minutes swimming. I tread water for a second then attempted one stroke of breast stroke and then thought better of it. As my head bobbed in the water I did start to worry this might be my day done. But in the middle of a lake there isn't a whole lot of choice get fished out or try to get yourself home. I began to swim crawl with just my arms and I finally made it to the turn around buoy where I managed to see some other heads in the water so I knew I wasn't dead last I looked at my watch at what I believed was half way and it showed 45 minutes.

I went round the end buoy and began to head back towards the crowds and the swim finish in the distance. By now my legs had begun to wake up and so I could kick a little. The pace slowed as I was now getting some rough waters, the wind had obviously been with us on the way out and we now going against it. But having reached half way in 45 minutes I knew I had just under 75 minutes to get back and so I felt confident I was going to make it out of the swim.

The steady pattern of right,left,breathe continued but I at least had some markers and landmarks on the way back. I really couldn't sense too many people on the way back in and so felt very isolated and had a second problem when I came across a really thick patch of reeds and started to panic I had swam too close to the bank but I was fine and carried on.

I became aware on the way in of distance markers I think it was 750m,500m and 250m and those let me know I was almost there. As I pushed on for the finish I caught 3 swimmers I think all of them were doing breast stroke :-) but my ego wasn't bruised, I was just pleased to have made it and in a time of 1hour 50 minutes.

I was helped out of the water and had my wetsuit undone and then jogged towards the changing tent, I decided I was going to get my own wetsuit off and so stopped short of the helpers assisting people. Wetsuit off and I was into the tent, grabbed my bag and went to the changing area.

My stomach had been casuing me grief for much of the return leg of the swim, I think I had swallowed too much lake water. This came back to haunt me as I was halfway through changing for the bike. I had to go to the loo! My body wasn't waiting, so I legged it out in just my cycle jersey and shorts, a helpful marshall told me I needed to take my bag with me but I told her I'd be back. Into the portaloo the rest I will leave to your imagination, but then to further increase my problems they were out of loo roll, I nipped out and into the next portaloo and sorted myself out before heading back to finish off my change.

I now took my time, I knew I was safe for the cut off and just needed to compose myself so I was ready for the bike. I did however not dry myself, put lube on or put on suncream so hardly an ideal transition. After 10 long minutes I emerged from transition to big cheers from my parents, it was incredible and was the first but not the last time I was nearly moved to tears. I grabbed my bike with only a little struggle getting it off the racks over the line and on I hopped ready for a possible 8 hour slog.

Part 3 the cycle should be heading your way tommorrow.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The Outlaw - 1/5 - The Final Prep

So after all the build up, the training(ish), and the planning the weekend of the Outlaw was finally upon us. Lauren and I missed out on our friends surprise party, which we were gutted about, so that we could get packed on Friday night and get an early night ready for a prompt start on Saturday. What we had to pack was extensive! My race stuff looked something like this:

- Wetsuit
- Trisuit
- Bodyglide
- Goggles
- Cap (Pick up at expo)
- Hayfever tablets

- Bike
- Cycle Jersey
- Cycle Shorts
- Socks
- Lube
- Energy Gels
- Mule Bars
- Cycle Shoes
- Helmet
- Gloves
- Suncream
- Towel
- Pump
- Tools
- Inner Tubes
- Joe Blow
- Number belt
- Race Number (Expo)

- Shorts
- Shirt
- Trainers
- Cap
- Sweatband
- Socks
- Pants
- Fannypack
- Towel

I think that was the lot. Either way I had everything I needed. Lauren dealt with the normal stuff you take for a weekend away and so we went to sleep Friday happy all was ready for the off.

Saturday we set off a little later than hoped but not by much, a quick stop at Sainsburys for some food for the journey and we were heading to Nottingham by 9am, 156 miles to go not far off the distance I would travel the next day of 140.6 miles. The journey up was ok, plenty of traffic on the M1 but no major delays and we arrived at the Watersports centre around 12.

We parked up and got out my bike and kit to get it all prepped and down to the start, as we did so other athletes were doing the same. Way to feel inadequate! There was thousands upon thousands of pounds worth of kit on show, shiny bikes, pointy helmets, and me and Lauren were labouring with my beat up old Specialized Allez trying to get the wheel back on. Lauren had been taking a keen interest in my prep though and had seen that people taped energy gels to their bike and so we had a good laugh getting those attached. Then with kit packed and bike in one piece we headed for the registration area.

Once there it all got a bit crazy, I was intending to swim 1.5km in the Speedo big swim to get me used to my wetsuit at half 3 but time just got away from us. I left Lauren looking after the bike as I went to register, she then came to find me and sent the bike in for a last minute look over from one of the mechanics they had there for the princely sum of £15! I now had my race bags/numbers etc but I had to get to the race briefing by 1 and so ran off leaving Lauren with the kit and the bike.

Lauren made friends whilst I listened to a fairly dull briefing that went on for an hour and essentially spoke about what I had read in the race information pack. I was out of there by two and Lauren and I then moved our kit from the bag we had bought into the various kit bags ready for the changing tents. We rushed down and got the bags stowed away and then the bike into transition.

It was now half 2 as we watched the Big Speedo 3km swim start. There was some poor soul at the back who was almost drowning from the get go and I'm not sure he would have finished. Lauren and I were now heading back to the car to get my wetsuit so I could change and do the swim in under an hours time, but as the wind picked up and the rain came down I decided to call off the planned swim and just go to the hotel and check in. The plan had been to do it to get confident in the open water and have some practise but I was shattered and conditions were far from ideal so I just felt it would have knocked my confidence.

The hotel was the Jury's Inn and it was perfect just two miles from the start and nice and roomy. Back in the room I got my tri-suit and wetsuit on whilst Lauren had a quick nap and we then both relaxed watching the tennis before meeting my parents for dinner in the hotel bar at 8pm. It was a very pleasant evening with my parents enjoying a bottle of red whilst I stuck to the diet cokes then it was off to bed by around half 10 ready for our half 3 wake up call.

Come back tomorrow for part 2 of 5 in the marathon Outlaw blog series.