IM UK – Bolton – 22.7.12
There’s no such thing as a bad Ironman (unless perhaps you DNF!), just a whole range of unique emotions and physical challenges to negotiate over a maximum 17 hour period.
IM is for me the best day out of the year, lots of fresh air, exercise, and adventure into the unknown, for you Never can know what’s going to happen next! And Bolton 2012 didn’t disappoint, for whilst recording a record Slowest time, the Challenge was probably the Greatest in 11 IM outings to date!
The weekend started well; a lovely bike spin through the Anglessey countryside having arrived at the Holyhead ferry port. No bike computer, phone, just easy spinning in warm weather on unknown country lanes. Peaceful bliss. Onto Bolton which is not exactly ‘centre du monde’ as was evidenced when a couple of hours before getting up for the big day, I looked out and witnessed 5 local gentlemen snorting cocaine in the car park right outside my window. Maybe I’m a little old-fashioned!
3am Sunday morning and without a wink of sleep, time to get cracking in prep for the 6am kick off. Usual breakfast, then on the bus up to the swim start. Everything well organised. Entered the water around 5.40 and proceeded to tread water for 35 minutes until the start gun at 6.15 (already knackered!); 4600 limbs (1600 capacity field) thrashing the calm waters into a human washing machine.
The swim went really well and I was delighted with stroke technique and form, but recorded my slowest ever time! There’s maybe a technique in swimming straight which I’m yet to master as I zig zag’d up the lake, at one point a kayaker chasing after me as I swam in completely the wrong direction. Notwithstanding, felt fresh out of the water and looking forward to the bike.
IM UK has the slowest average bike times in the IM world, either because the predominant Brit field is rubbish!, or, it’s very hilly! Possibly a bit of both me thinks. Overall though I drove on steadily and solidly, overtaking Pinarello after Pinarello on my trusted 12 year old Klein (that hasn’t been washed in at least 2 years) up up down & up again, and held solid 17mph + form for just over 100 miles, when suddenly it all went horribly wrong, the last 10 miles taking an eternity to complete! This adversity though is the true spirit of Ironman challenge, finding a way of keeping going on a dry tank in sultry heat when all you want to do is stop and vomit!
The run was always going to be a long walk. Long term injury has restricted running for a year or more, and this section was going to be the big challenge. Tippy toe/shuffle/walk solidly for 26.2 miles and 5 ½ hours in sultry heat on a very hilly run course takes plenty of concentration, picking up along the way additional issues with groin and lower back pain from the weird motion style. It wasn’t fast, it wasn’t pretty, it nearly didn’t happen on numerous occasions, and then, Ping, the finish line, the relief, happiness, pride as the loudspeaker announced to the huge crowd outside the historic Bolton city town hall, JOHN MILNE YOU ARE AN IRONMAN, a feeling that is well worth Every effort!
Finishing IM is a success by any standards. My final time of 13hrs 43mins didn’t win a medal, but did finish me halfway in a starting line of 1600. There’s nothing easy about IM!
Upon exiting the Finisher’s enclosure, a sudden urge for a curry & several beers overwhelmed me. The hours of discomfort evaporated as I went in search of something strong and wet, and thoughts turned to the next big day out in September at IM Wales.
Special thanks to ES Training who helped me turn the corner last Christmas when I was on the slippery slope to couch potato fatness status, and gave me renewed structure and discipline to start pulling it round. Thank you.