How to recover like a champ

  • Read about yourself on Planet X’s website 😉
  • Get on a train to Stockholm and make Kyle take ALL of the athletes’ luggage ie 2xsuitcases, 2xbike boxes, 2xbackpacks filled predominantly with snacks “just in case”, as well as his own stuff.
  • Fail to research the train/underground system in Stockholm and spend a ridiculous amount of time queuing for the wrong elevators for the wrong platforms, then realise a taxi would have been easier AND cheaper.
  • Get to the hotel so late that Mum and Keith have already finished one of the bottles of fizz meant for the Ironmen.
  • Head out for dinner so late that everywhere is closed apart from the poshest/most expensive restaurant in the old town, where you are forced to eat an amazing meal (sorry, Rudolph!) when really all you wanted was chips, cheese and gravy (I was craving this ALL day!!)
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  •  Get to bed at a semi-decent time (ok ok we got chucked out of the hotel bar at closing), then wake up so excited to finally have no training to do that you…go to the gym! haha well Kyle made use of the Hilton’s gym while I stretched (yes Helen this is true!)
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  • Have the biggest breakfast at the biggest breakfast buffet you have seen in years and consume ALL THE THINGS (yes that waffle is also mine).

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  • Walk around the old town, then to the shopping district, arranging to meet Phil outside H&M. Unbeknown to me at the time, there are a billion H&Ms in that area. Spend a good 45 minutes directing Phil to correct meeting point and go immediately for more food.

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  • Decide on plans for the day. Day session in the sun it is. Bump into Mum and Keith in 1st bar (we happened to do this in Copenhagen as well so either a) great minds think alike, b) this was completely coincidental twice, or c) they don’t trust us so followed us the entire holiday…)
  • Walk around in the sun looking for more bars. Find a gorgeous one on a canal that did delicious cakes, and park there for a good few hours.

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  • Decide that a tipsy trip to the ABBA museum is a great idea (Phil especially, despite his expression)

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  • Discover that the Tivoli (same amusement park we went to in Copenhagen) is only next door so try out as many rides as possible while holding the biggest bucket of butter popcorn known to man (this time I was the scaredy cat in the Haunted House 😦 …)
  • Realise you have had too much fun and are due back at the hotel to meet Mum and Keith for more fizz and a “last supper”, so run horribly struggle as best you can to the nearest taxi.
  • Consume said bottle with copious amounts of peanut butter M&Ms (thanks, Phil!) before heading out to dinner.

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  • Find it funny to pose like Debbie (tilted head/thumbs up) en route to dinner

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  • Once at dinner (a Swedish Italian), have a Swedish meatball pizza and beer until you are so full only a gin and tonic will do the trick

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  • The next morning, have another gigantic breakfast, walk to the supermarket to buy souveniers/more snacks for the plane (God forbid you get hungry on a 40 minute flight to Copenhagen), then get ripped of by a taxi driver to the airport.
  • At the airport, see lots of signs that perhaps I should have taken that Kona spot.

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  • Say bye to Phil as he is going straight to Gatwick 😦

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  • Fly back home to the cold weather of Aberdeen and be sad that’s all over 😦 Agree that to get over this sadness, you will celebrate for the rest of year and milk this race for far too long a time (hence I am still milking it on the blog!)
  • Consider changing the name of the blog, since I “Tri’d” and “Qualified” (poet, don’t know it) – thoughts??
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Ironman Sweden: I am a Kona Qualifier :)

If you haven’t seen my race recaps yet, where have you been? Just kidding (not really) – you can find them here, here AND here!


Firstly, I want to do my thank yous…without these guys I wouldn’t have even made the start line. In no particular order so please don’t fight:

  • A massive thank you to Planet X for the bike that got me through a tough and mentally windy 112 mile bike course! And for understanding the reason I wrote off your first TT bike you sent me. 
  • Helen Strachan, THE BEST physio I have EVER come across! I pretty much moved in there the first month after the accident and she put in a fair shift trying to get my knee to bend again. She didn’t even mind touching that horrific new scar of mine! She is a legend and now a great friend!!
  • Gordon, Gregor and COAST for re-teaching me how to swim (I am now only 15 seconds off my lifetime best for 100m free! haha) and helping me to be 1st out of the water in Sweden. There is so much work still to be done in that discipline again so you will see me back on poolside at 5.30am soon in the future. Maybe. 😉
  • Steven Miles at Holburn Cycles for his ridiculous stories and advice. This weeks’ stories involved a midnight bike race/scavenger hunt around Aberdeen trying to find outrageous clues, such as purchasing the item belonging to a given barcode in a 24 hour supermarket (it was bag of ice), and choosing his “favourite” page in an abandoned cottage (page being of a p0rn magazine in a building in the countryside)…the things he gets up to! I digress.
  • Phil Mann and Callum Walker for continual check ups on me throughout my rehab , Freyja Prentice (who has another inspiring story of 13th at the Modern Pentathlon European Champs after nearly breaking her leg!) and her fam for whisking me away for some TLC, and EVERYONE else who has continued to rescue me for coffee and cakes, come round for catch ups, or send me such kind words. I love and appreciate every single one of you!
  • Mum, Emma, Kyle and Keith of course!! I would be a mess if I didn’t have their support. They deserve my trophy more than anyone for putting up with an injured drama queen all summer! ❤

Heroes Hour of the Ironman was pretty spectacular. Those guys who have been going for nearly 16 hours truly are heroes in my eyes. I think 10 or so hours is a long time to be out there on a race course, but me going at “race effort” for 16 hours?! That sounds even more painful! The same applies to the marathon; I am going as hard as possible for 26.2 miles but it takes me just under 3 hours. Those guys who push themselves as hard as possible for 26.2 miles in 4 or 5 hours deserve a larger medal in my eyes (seriously, you should see me at finish lines…I get so teary-eyed!)!

After a long ice bath (I’m sure the water sizzled as I entered it, I was so hot!), a light massage, and having grabbed a beer (non-alcoholic…don’t worry, it was put straight back) and a few slices of pizza (that was not put back and was inhaled in seconds) in the athletes’ finisher area, I met my support crew and they helped me with EVERYTHING (collecting bike, carrying bags, holding me up) as I hobbled my way back to the hotel.

When I arrived back at the room, I should really have showered but instead I READ EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOUR MESSAGES and cried my eyes out! Poor Kyle had a lot to deal with this holiday! A quick shower later (I didn’t want to be alone – I hadn’t talked much in over 10 hours and I wanted lots of attention for doing so well!!) and I put my legs up on the bed while Mum and Keith came in and told me they hadn’t eaten all day out of following me/spectating/anxiety, so they were going to grab food, so we headed to the canteen (where there was a massive spread and a LOT of fajitas were demolished).

Coach Noodles called me to go over the race with me and for once I actually detected some pride in his voice! I had achieved the unachievable; never mind the Ironman, I put a smile on Scott Neyedli’s face. I also chatted to his girlfriend (who I can confirm is real!) who was soooo nice and I can’t wait to meet her (yes I am coming over to visit, Scott. Get your spare room ready).

When we finally made our way back to the finishing line, the crowds were so loud and excited, myself included! It was just after 11pm and it was like a massive party! When the final runners came in together, and the commentator announced that one was a successful Ironman, having completed the course in 15hours59minutes, he also announced that the last athlete crossing the line that day had done so in 16hours0minutes and a couple of seconds, not being able to be called an Ironman. I think every single one of the thousands of spectators’ hearts sank. The silence was deafening. In my eyes if you cross that line, who are an Ironman.

After that last athlete came in, the fireworks started, which still gives me a lump in my throat thinking about it. They represented so much to me (and on top of that they were SUPER romantic!) – I don’t think in that moment I have ever been happier or more proud of myself, and I had accomplished had finally sunk in.

Ok, back to the fun stuff: the following day, I woke up STARVING!!!! Phil was fidgety all night so was up and already having breakfast in the canteen, so as soon as I woke up I met him straight away (pretty much in my pjs and I had certainly not bothered to look in the mirror yet) and I left Kyle to join us later! That morning was when Swedish meatballs have never tasted so good!

We decided a walk would do us good, so after packing up (Keith dismantled my bike – thank yoooou!), we said goodbye to Mum and Keith (they headed to Stockholm earlier than us to have more time there – and probably get rid of the kids for a few extra hours…we wanted to stay for the awards banquet – for obvious reasons!) and headed to the shop to spend a ridiculous amount of money on all the Ironman-branded stuff I could find. I am a sucker for marketing.

Kyle bought me a bright hoody so everyone can see I did an Ironman (I WILL be “that” guy when you next see me!), and I bought some tshirts, cycling stuff and a visor (I think I may have been the only person out of 3,000 competitors that day not wearing a visor).

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(what Mum had been wearing the previous day…no wonder I spotted her!)

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(I didn’t buy this one, HOWEVER look at the other Moore in the race – I want to be called SKEETER!!)

The three of us then ventured to Ben & Jerry’s to get cinnamon bun ice cream (new flavour! Delicious!) because we had had breakfast a whole 30minutes ago and were hungry again, then to the Coop (actually pronounced “coop” funnily enough) for train snacks (can you see a theme here), then realised our priorities may have needed readjusting as the ceremony had already started. In a taxi we go straight to the banquet.

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(I love ice cream)

Winner! We get a table at the back with no people on it (I think a lot of people had headed home, considering it was already noon and Kalmar is pretty hard to get to) which was full of ALCOHOLIC beer this time! We watched a quick slide show of maybe 20-30 photos of the day, and I was on 1 of the slides – just me! What are the odds?! It was a close up of me swimming with my brightly coloured nails (that matched my Planet X fluorescent bike!) with a Scottish flag and Swedish flag on each 4th finger) – hope I can find it again!

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(yep, and I was caught eating yet again. Chicken and beer this time. Gotta have protein and electrolytes post race)

Then it was time for the Kona slots and awards for top 3 in each age group.

This is where I have some news to tell you. I didn’t accept my place at Kona, and it went to 3rd, hence why she is wearing the Hawaiian flower lei around her neck and not me.

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Why?

Because if I want to go all the way to Hawaii to compete in the World Championships with the best people in the world, I want to be the best Debbie I can be. And after the summer I have had, I am not anywhere CLOSE to that. I’m sure you can all appreciate how mentally and physically tough this year has been for me and, as I have said a bazillion times, health comes first. I have plenty time and hopefully I can qualify again when I am fully fit and ready to COMPETE and not COMPLETE the world champs!

…I can still milk that I qualified though, right?! 😉

Ironman Sweden: The “Sideways” Bike

Sorry for dragging out this Ironman…I have so much to say about it! Swim recap can be found here!

Before I start on the bike leg, I want to say a MASSIVE thank you to Planet X for sending me AMAZING bikes (I was racing on their Exocet 2 Team Carnac TT bike) and looking after me. Let’s just say cycling isn’t my forte so I needed all the help I could get with a super speedy bike! With my lack of training for obvious reasons, I was really comfortable on it (until my back hurt from tensing so much in the wind…my fault entirely!).

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(Thanks Planet X….if I hadn’t been sent a 2nd bike after my crash I would have been out of the race!)

And another HUGE thank you to Steven at Holburn Cycles for the best service a girl could ask for! He has THE best bike shop in Aberdeen, and even gives good cuddles to girls (having just been hit by a car) when a bike accident happens right outside the door! I was an emotional wreck in his shop recently! He has kept me right and has filled me with advice over the past few months!

Thank yooooou guys!!

Ok back to the race. Transition went smoothly. I saw one other female enter the change tent after me and I congratulated her. She didn’t speak English but responded with a smile and a “F***”!” It’s funny how swear words can be internationally recognised! I let her off considering it was a challenging swim!

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I found my bike, headed to the mount line and tried to get on without falling over or taking too long. The crowds were 3 or 4 rows deep along the road we mounted on and they were going wild for the 1st female out of the water, so I had thought it was inevitable I would slip and fall flat on my face with the bike falling on top of me. Fortunately, this didn’t happen and off I went up the hill towards the Oland Bridge.

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My Garmin was playing up so I was trying to sort that while trying to work out where the wind was coming from. It felt like it was going in circles!! The direction was determined once I turned right onto Oland Bridge. It was hitting me right in the face.

I finally got the Garmin to work while on said bridge, but wished it hadn’t when it revealed my speed. 16kph. On the flat. It was laughable it was so windy! Did I REALLY have to battle through this?! Hang on, the main parts of the bike leg are going to be facing the wind side on….NOOOOOO!!!!!

This was going to be one loooonnnnnnnggggggggggg bike ride.

On the same topic, “Oland” – I found out later – means “land of wind and sun”. Why did I not know this before entering? 120km on a scorching hot, tornado of an island? I could barely hear my own thoughts with the wind hitting all angles of my tear drop helmet (sorry, Steven’s helmet – thanks again, Steve!).

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(oops – sometimes it got so windy I couldn’t stay down in the TT position – sorry coach: photo courtesy of Ambjorn Johansson)

The crowds were amazing for the first 30km of the bike leg. There were Mexican waves, samba bands and children cheerleading on their trampolines! Then, as soon as the crowds died down, in “horse manure county” as I have now named it, two pro women came whizzing past me like I was standing still! How demoralising!

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I don’t mind when guys pass me on bikes thinner than the width of my nails, but whenever a girl passed me (I think there were 4 or 5 in total? Don’t quote me on that) I get annoyed. Granted, I haven’t had much time on the bike, considering I bought my 1st one last July, only started using it in around September, and have been in and out of hospital in recent weeks, but I like to think these thunder thighs of mine can at least keep up with these super human cycling machines!

A good couple of hundred males must have passed me! I had mentally prepared for this, and I took these times as a way to learn more about how those fast guys are so speedy. Some had a super-fast cadence, others were ridiculously slow yet powerful, but they all looked amazing! I did see some struggles from those with full disc wheels in the wind though…not surprising considering I had some near misses and I only had deep rims! My way of tackling these disheartening passings? Counting how many people were called Johan…maybe 20%! I had a cheesy grin on my face when an Olaf passed me; all I could think about was how the snowman from Frozen would cope in those conditions. Hey, I had a good few hours of thinking time – I went off track a few times…!

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(stop posing and FOCUS Debz…!)

One thing that annoyed me was how much drafting went on. Maybe I was just annoyed that I couldn’t keep up on the back of those draft packs, but it was a bit of a coincidence that the majority of women that passed me were on the back of a group of at least 5 who were clearly less than the legal limit of 10m between one another. In my opinion, you don’t deserve that finisher’s medal if you draft. The wind was so strong it would save you so much time and effort if you were in a peloton. The marshals I did see on course did seem to be doing their job though; one motorbike pulled up to me and gave me an informal warning about my number being at the side. The wind had turned it to the side from the back and I hadn’t noticed!

Back on the mainland, we did a wee loop back into Kalmar, which really helped with morale for both the athletes and the spectators. Their cheer was VERY welcome and this point and when I saw Mum, Keith and Kyle after being on that island for nearly 4 hours I just lit up! It gave me an extra boost and I had my energy and mental strength back! The massive tailwind back on Oland Bridge also helped…!

The mainland 60km were pretty undulating and on old country roads. The quality of these roads were just like Aberdeenshire, which was unfortunate – but at least I was used to it! There were potholes, grit and even train lines to negotiate. There were quite a lot of twisty parts, which may have kept it interesting for the good cyclists, but my bike handling skills are still sub-par that I really struggled and lost time in these areas. It was mentally tiring when a group you were finally managing to keep an eye on in the distance would drop you at every aid station and corner, just because you have to slow down so much, and you are so tired from the unplanned lack of training that you have to come up onto your hoods a lot more because if you stayed in the TT position any longer you would rust in that position and remain in that position for the run that was to follow.

An out and back point of the course meant a 180 turn (#fail) and “only” 30km to go to the end of the bike leg. Granted, my nutrition hadn’t been as planned, so I started to struggle a little. Basically, I thought I could master both filling up my Profile aero bottle with water AND grabbing a Powerbar at every aid station, but alas I only managed the former. I had had zero solid food on the cycle and had just relied on the 10 gels I diluted into my water bottle in my bike cage.

Not to worry though, I didn’t have long to go, and the further I went, the more dense the crowds! Although the smell of their bbqs mixed with my lack of solid food reeeeaaaalllllllyyyyyyy played on my mind.

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(nearly there….stop thinking about bbq burgers…)

Finally, I passed our hotel which was only a couple of kms from the transition area and smiled the whole way in! You couldn’t help it with the crowds! The winds were less severe as we were sheltered with more buildings and trees, and I got some motivational words from people that passed me/the small number of people I passed that were bonking pretty hard. As I heard the commentator’s sound on the loud speaker, I know I only had a few more seconds before I could get some relief from sitting on the bike for 5 hours and 44 minutes – WOOHOO!!

I was now down to 2nd place. Time for the run…

Ironman Sweden: The “Hilly” Swim

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(The “Kalmar” sign made it even more exciting!) 

I don’t think I have ever been so nervous yet so calm on race morning in all my life as an athlete. The bus from the hotel to the transition area I couldn’t stop asking questions and panicking and annoying Phil. That is my usual level of nerves pre-race. However, when I started sorting my transition bags and putting Body Glide/sun cream, I just stopped speaking; Phil actually got worried! I’m always chatty before races!

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(this sign was up until the athletes started their Ironman journey at 7am…we found it hilarious! #saddos)

Conversely, once we finished the 5 minute walk to the start line of the swim after pulling our wetsuits on (and melting in the heat with them!), I was strangely calm. I reminded myself I had no pressure, the area was beautiful, and I remembered that we do these things for fun. As I squeezed my way to the front of the swim start (coach’s orders) and the national anthem played, I was ready. I was even papped by Keith (I didn’t see them) with a cheesy grin on my face. I think I was just grateful for making the start line after everything that has happened. Anything else was a bonus.

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(where’s Wally??)

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(there she is! didn’t expect to get papped with a smile – so happy I made the start line after all that has happened!)

As the horn sounded, I made my way into the choppy waters of Kalmar harbour. Apparently it was the worst conditions the event had ever seen in its Ironman history. Within minutes, athletes had already asked for assistance onto the boat, withdrawing from the race.

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(Unfortunately, a lot of people struggled in the choppy waters and Keith took this shot after only a few minutes)

I, however, felt great! I have never swam in waves like it before! I was used to following lane lines in anti-turbulence, chlorinated waters; not brackish, blink-and-you’re-15m-in-the-wrong-direction waters. I loved the challenge! There were a few times I hadn’t looked up in a few strokes, thinking the splashes in front of me were another athletes’’ feet. I’d look up and it had just been a wave and I was a good couple of dozen metres away from the lead pack! At least I thought it was the lead pack. I had started at the front and I was feeling pretty good, but you couldn’t really tell when everything in the water was dark and a lot of the time when you tried to breathe, a wave coming towards you would stop you. I was breathing once in six strokes for a good few minutes in one area of the race!

What I do remember seeing, however, was a massive crowd of spectators once we swam back along the land towards the finish. You couldn’t fault the spectators at all that day! Apparently at Kalmar’s mini triathlon the previous Wednesday, there were MORE SPECTATORS ON COURSE THAN ANY OTHER FULL IRONMAN DISTANCE EVENT IN THE WORLD! And that was just the mini tri! Kalmar is famous for its amazing support!

Anyway, back to the race. I stupidly didn’t really check the swim course beforehand and thought there was only one bridge to go under before the finish. Nope. There were two. So what did I do? Sprinted for about 400m after the 1st bridge. Where is this finish line!? I’ve been nailing it and kicking my legs like crazy for like 5 minutes here! Wait a second, why are we heading away from the land again? Towards another buoy? Oops. Ok. Back to my regular two-beat kick it is.

(at that 1st bridge….I’m at the far left! video courtesy of Ambjorn Johansson)

Even after hurting following that wee hard effort, I managed to catch a few more people who had been ahead of me in the final 10ish minutes. I felt strong the entire way, despite even throwing up in my mouth half an hour earlier when the waves were really affecting me, and after having to sort my cap 3 times after being kicked and forced under the water several times (I didn’t mean to be in the middle of the pack, I seemed to just float right in there. And boys are stronger. So I just manned up and dealt with it.).

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(photo courtesy of Ambjorn Johansson)

Finally we swam under the 2nd bridge and I looked up every couple of strokes just to confirm it was indeed the final bridge before the finish. This area was pretty shallow and I kept catching seaweed (ewwwwww!), but that was the least of my worries; I was about to get ready for a 112 mile bike in those crazy winds!

Another sprint just to “chick” a few more guys, and out the water I came – surprisingly, without falling over! (I was fully expecting this being incredibly clumsy at the best of times) – to a roar of the crowds.

“And 1st age group female out of the water: Debbie Moore of Great Britain”

ME?!?!?! REALLY?!?! I must have swam over 4km there!! Awesome!!! Must.now.look.professional.for.said.crowds.

Oh, AND it turns out I was 2nd FEMALE OVERALL INCLUDING THE PROS!! (When they passed me on the bike I was sooooo confused!! They set off 5 minutes before us!!) and 25th overall both genders, again, including the pros!!

So, all in all, I was pretty happy with the swim 😉

To keep the suspense mounting (if you don’t already know) – Phil’s account of Ironman Sweden!

Back to reality – Sweden already feels like a distant memory despite only getting back last night! Although I still have the DOMS to prove it was, indeed, not a dream! What an experience!

I am still writing my post(s?) of my race recap, but I demanded Phil does his asap, so I have something awesome to put on the blog meantime!

He has some phenomenal mental strength! His back hurt so much after the bike that he was in transition for ages trying to physically and mentally prepare for the marathon. He is some guy! AND to top it off, he totally looked after me before the race – I was terrified!!

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(3 amigos arriving in Kalmar)

Here is his account of his 3rd Ironman experience:


IRONMAN KALMAR 2015 RACE REPORT

Bonk (cycling) definition: The catastrophic moment when there’s suddenly nothing left in the tank; when the legs turn to jelly, and getting to the finish becomes an altogether supreme effort of will – BikeRadar.com

After racing one in 38 degrees heat and also racing one in hilly Wales I assumed I’d had probably the worst of what Ironman triathlon can throw at someone. Nope, something new again!

Usually I’d keep these post-race evaluations to myself but I’ve made a deal with Debbie that if I get this report to her soon for her blog, she’ll exchange it for everything she knows about supplements (hopefully it won’t be just a Ben & Jerry’s menu). So now I’m sat on a Norwegian Airlines flight to Gatwick trying to dig back into the emotions and physical feelings of that race – expanding on the standard Aberdonian response of “it was alright”.

Pre-race

Let’s ease in with the pre-race build up; that might get the memories flowing. Our accommodation seemed to be like University halls, basic but the core things you need and was only a couple of kilometres from the race start. Registration and the race briefing were fairly uneventful but I think for Debbie it started to make things more real so I tried to calm any fears and answer any questions I could. Once we’d built our bikes again (well Kyle and Keith had built Debbie’s bike, #TeamMoore) we went for a short spin on the Friday morning to make sure they had no issues. The scenery in Kalmar is stunning and like a lot of Scandinavia it has loads of cycle paths, would visit again if it wasn’t a bit of a faff to get to.

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(he got SUCH a good spot…out of the way and near the exit!)

On Friday lunchtime we racked our bikes and bags in the transition area then spent the rest of the afternoon/evening stretching on the grass and sorting final bits and pieces. Coach Scott had a long chat with Debbie on Skype, I listened in for a bit while foam rolling, realising all the stuff I hadn’t done right and picking up on tips like chewing electrolyte tabs. Scott kindly asked if I had any questions too, I figured it was too late to change anything now anyway so just said, “I’m alright”.

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(we paid to do this)

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(can we go home now we have the merchandise?)

Race morning started for me around 4.30am, met Debbie for breakfast around 4.45am, we’d bought some porridge to soak overnight then heat up with boiling water in the morning – it didn’t work – it was pretty disgusting. We tried to get as much down as possible though as the alternative was lots of meat or yoghurts from the canteen. We headed to the transition area where you’re allowed back to pump tyres and put a few more things in your transition bags like nutrition and waterbottles, this is when a lot of people start to get really nervous, hence long queues for the toilets! No real dramas for us though, gave Debbie a big hug when she was starting to overthink it all and reminded her to just think of it one chunk at a time. Moments later she was heading right to the front of the swim start so I think she got in the zone! I hung back a little bit around the 1hr crowd due to my slightly undercooked swim training.

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(Big L is full of the positive mantras!)

Swim

The swim start was in a harbour at sunrise surrounded by Kalmar locals and had a really good vibe, they were rolling swim starts so it wasn’t the usual fight of thousands that I’ve had at the other Ironmans. I was sceptical and sort of preferred the big mass starts but I imagine for those with smaller builds it’s a bit fairer. As I dived in and nearly went flying into a pod of swimmers I realised some of those who were in the 1hr group may have been thinking optimistically. So spent the first half hour or so zig-zagging from pod to pod drafting on their feet til I spotted another group further ahead. Once I realised my arms weren’t going to fall apart after half-way I started accelerating and picking them off even faster which was fun cause that was when we were back in view of the crowds. In hindsight though I should have just moved myself forward with Debbie and got on a fast pod from the start.

I finished the swim in about an hour and felt warmed up now to get started with the real race but strangely my hamstrings started cramping as I headed into transition to get changed. I don’t know exactly why this is, I don’t really kick when I swim frontcrawl, especially in open water but the same thing happened after my swim in IM Wales. My current theory, is that maybe in the lead up to the race I’ve drank too much water with not enough electrolytes/salts so any exercise would have suddenly set off the cramp. Or a combination of that with lack of swim training. Either way, both can be sorted if I do it again.

Probably time to get a coffee if you’ve made it this far through this report but it is making this flight pass faster, I’ll leave it up to Debbie to edit this down if she wants. Speaking of coffee, I cut it out for a week in the lead up to the race to hopefully be more caffeine sensitive on race day, didn’t seem to do much so think I’ll continue as a coffee junkie next time.

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Bike

Back to the bike, the IM Sweden course is pretty much pancake flat but it was very, very windy. Meant it was hard to gauge how my pace was doing, once I’d done the big loop (and had therefore had both tail/head winds) I was averaging over 19mph which I was more than happy with, especially given I’d been cramping or on the verge of cramping for most of it so had to stay more in a spin gear.

After that big loop the wheels started to come off, not literally but they might as well have. One of my aero bars had come loose as I hadn’t tightened the bolt enough so was trying to manage that, then while opening up a powerbar while resting arms on said aerobars and going up a steady climb my left leg went into a full cramp spasm. A few swear words and a bit of zig-zagging later I recovered control and still had the powerbar, luckily avoiding a nasty bump.

At around mile one hundred, the steady ache in my lower back just became unbearable, felt like I was being stabbed whenever I bent into the aero position and I lost all real power in my legs. My pace dropped from the 18-22mph down to 13-15mph and it was just about mitigating damage done to my time for the final 12 miles. Earlier on the bike I thought I was on track to smash my previous best (12hrs 15), with a one hour swim and a 19mph bike I’d be going onto the run roughly after 7hrs and all my long training runs had been well under 8 minute mile pace – maybe get close to 11hrs I thought…. Not anymore. I decided if I couldn’t cycle fast back at least I could sort everything else out. At the final aid stations I made sure I ate enough and cooled myself down with plenty of water, emptied out any water I wouldn’t need to drop excess weight from the bike and started mentally going through the transition plan.

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Pain

When I got off the bike I started to get the feeling that it was game over. I could barely walk. The pain was in the whole of the lower quarter of my back now and each step was agony. I’d had sore backs from cycling before and in other Ironmans but this almost had me in tears. Walking out of transition and past all the crowds there’s a feeling of shame, mixed with a spot of depression covered in a wave of embarrassment – along with the daggers in my lower back. I was not in a good place. The dream target time was over, now what.

I don’t quit. While not technically true (I’ve quit piano lessons, jobs and swimming), you don’t get into technicalities when feeling that raw. I also remembered the, very cheesy, line from Rocky I’d watched the other night “It’s not about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take, and keep moving forward” so I kept moving forward.

Run

I couldn’t eat any more, the combination of gels, powerbars and electrolyte tabs from earlier was tough enough to keep down. So coca cola would help, it has caffeine and sugar to perk up, however the coke they had on the course was straight from the bottle so still fizzy, not a good idea. I had to get through the marathon just on water. This lead to a bonk after a couple km where I just wanted to crawl into a heap on the ground and sleep. So emergency gel out, started sipping while trying not to vomit.

Thankfully towards the end of walking the first 10km (takes a surprisingly long time walking that distance), my lower back started to numb (or I’d stopped feeling pain), the gel had started to work and around the same time Debbie came flying past on her second lap with some words of encouragement. I was able to jog again, a little, and worked out that thanks to my faster bike time I could actually get near my previous attempts if I got a move on. So with that new mini goal in my head I killed myself jog/walking for the rest of the marathon to finish in 12hr40, slower than Tenby but faster than Zurich. I roared as I finally got on the finisher’s red carpet and milked the crowd then past the finish line I was taken to the medical tent cause I was a little broken.

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(my FAVOURITE photo!!! This is Debbie talking and not Phil being vain.)

Post-race

I’ll leave the post-race awards and celebrations to Debbie (so no spoilers). I could go on for pages and pages about lessons learned in this race, there’s definitely a few things I’d need to fix next time to avoid the cramping, bonk and back pain, but overall this is one of my proudest races even though it wasn’t the fastest. I didn’t quit. It was awesome doing an Ironman with Team Moore and although I haven’t mentioned him in this, I’ve got a new buddy in Debbie’s boyfriend Kyle who helped with a lot of the pre-race logistics and also collected me after the race. He’s a fun guy and definitely a keeper! Debbie did amazing and keeps on increasing my already sky high respect for her, looking forward to her race report.

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(eating reindeer, witch and elk in Stockholm)

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(we managed to squeeze in a trip to the Abba museum in Stockholm)

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(Phil’s gift to me finishing!!! He knows the way to my heart…muhahaha to Coach!)

Onto the next challenge, after a stop at the buffet.


Thanks for doing that Phil – I LOVED reading it! I didn’t even pay him for the final statement at the end!! And an even BIGGER thank you for the M&Ms that Scott said I could have afterwards!