Ironman UK 2017
David Melbourne-Walters IMUK 2017 Race Report
7pm Sat 12 July. All I wanted was a good nights sleep. I was shattered from an albeit amazing wedding the day before in which we had been stood pretty much all day – that knee lock pain was still in the knees – Great! Biggest race of my life in less than 12 hours! Que sera sera! The tiredness was a silver lining and I passed out relatively quickly. Suddenly I felt my loved one bolt out of bed like a rocket and fly downstairs like a man possessed. It must be time to get up! What time is it? It’s only 9 p-feckin-m!? What sh!ttery was this? Marvellous. I managed to turn over and shut my eyes. Not 10mins later the only thing I could hear was the chomping mastication and gulping of someone eating in bed. FFS!? “Are you having a laugh!?”, I screamed! SHUT THE F*CK UP WILL YOU!!!” Fuming.. Thankfully the tiredness was still there. Must have been a mixture of my working till numerous midnights, helping fellow teamies perform a prison break from the Delph and picking up a refugee from Turkey! (sorry mum)
Ding ding dong ding ding ding dong.. its dark. Can barely open my eyes but the alarm was ringing. This is it. Breakfast and shower soon follows before the Shannonator arrives. Last minute collection of items needed and probably more than necessary for good measure. Just in case. Spare this. Spare that. Spare legs? Ah crap. Speaking of which. Got to go, the coffee was doing its job. Not satisfactorily though. Not enough to get round comfortably. I’ll have to try again at the flash..
We arrive in good time and drop off the street wear bags. We head to the bikes to finish prep but the guts kick in – must go. I leave Mark who agrees to meet me at my bike. The queue is already large and it’s 5:15 and I’m sure they’re asking athletes to start making their way to the start line. I get to my bike and it’s prepped. But no sign of the hubby? I stand there for what seems like an eternity and then finally he appears. “Are wheels pumped?”, “No, it’s the only thing I’ve not done”. Not to worry – I can do this. “I’ll meet you at the swim start line”, he says. I pump the tires and head off to find everyone. By this time the crowds are immense. My 5’5 and 3/4″ frame can’t see anything for sh!t and so I’ve no idea where anyone is. Small fish in a very big pond! I wonder around aimlessly trying to see any one in red. No not them, not them either. Where is everyone? Suddenly I need the toilet again! Brasting for a pee and no time to go. I haven’t even got my wetsuit on yet. I aim to the woods at the side of the start in the hope I won’t get spotted. But suddenly a couple are following me down a small narrow path and there’s nowhere to go. I head back, bladder full and attempt to put my wetsuit on. I suddenly spot Marc Laithwaite and inform him of my situation. He points me in the right direction and I find my team. Not in the place my hubby had informed. Fuming, stressed to the eyeballs and ready to unleash hell in public. The coaches calm me down. Photos are taken and we head to our estimated swim time zone. There’s Hammo and myself. Porter’s gone? Lots of nervous chatter and the line suddenly moves. This is really it! Holy crap! We sheepishly move forward and the crowds are cheering! One last embrace with Hammo and we jump in the water..
Ok you got this Lil Dave just go steady and fall into a rhythm. No panic attack today please! Goggles don’t leak! Yes! Ok just follow the guys in fro.. oh can’t the waters brown! Sight sight sight! Every 6 sight! It’s working. I stay in line better than any other open water swim. I’ve never felt more focused. I’m actually enjoying this!? Before I know it we are turning to come back, a couple of bumps but nothing serious and if anyone dared touch my feet I kicked like a maniac to get the message across! It worked. Last buoy and heading to the exit. I get pulled up and look at my Garmin. T2 WHAT!? Someone’s hit my button FFS!! Nothing I can do but run round (steady don’t want to slip) I don’t see or hear anyone I recognise and I’m suddenly back in the water and off again. The loop distance doesn’t cross my mind I just get on with it and do exactly the same as last time. The last few 100m the arm tiredness starts to kick in but I’m there, done it just keep going! I’m out!! Holy crap I’m outta the Ironman swim! I start to pull everything off, the hat, the goggles, the wetsuit down. I get a shout from Liz and I’m running down to T1. Sh!t! Hammo already here! So is Cash! I gotta get a riddle on! I grab my bag and head to find a gap. I get the wetsuit off and I’m pulling stuff out the bag. I’ve no idea what. I’m just grabbing things and putting them on the floor I’m non compos mentis. Helmet on, glasses on. Injinji socks (finally) on. “Steve that you?” “Yeah, I’m just taking my time”. He gone cray cray!? It’s a race! “Stop talking you two and get out on that bike!” It’s Cash! Telling us off and rightly so! Sh!t! cycling top not on. Glasses off, helmet off, top on, extra food in pockets, wetsuit in bag, cycle shoes on! Done!? Not sure!? Check floor, check again start to head out and stop and check again! Wes shouts at me to throw my bag! “What you been doing?”, he asks. “Melbos already 15-20mins gone!”. “He’s not the one I’m worried about!” I shout and I’m heading to the bike. I grab Pete and give him a final quick glance, god he’s heavy! Probably loaded more than he’s ever been. I grab the handle bars and trot to the bike start and I’m off! I head along the exit (carefully) I hear a cheer and wave at the support crew! Be a while before I see them again. I get to the end and more cheering! I think I see Callie and I also see some poor guy changing his tyre already! Christ! Brutal this…
I turn in to the main road and I’m off properly. Just go steady. I here the coaches words in my head. If your going fast and feel fine then you’re going too fast, slow it down! 20mph! Slow it down, 19mph – slow it down! 18mph slow.. it… down??? I feel like I’m not trying is this the fine line? God knows – see what happens!
I’m cycling along and there’s peeps passing me but I’m passing others too (am I going too fast!?) I crack on regardless pulling it back on the climb to Chequerbent. The loop change has me disoriented and it’s a sharp steep climb – cheeky b@stards! I think. But I carry on and seemingly am in a battle with a senior lady smaller than me. I eventually drop her and I’m on the long straight to Babylon. What’s that in the road? A visor? Gotta be careful on these roads! Jeez what’s that? another visor!? Some bad luck happening for peeps today. Before I know it I’m turning up Babylon, people are already out but not en masse yet. I climb steady and let fellow racers pass without getting dragged along. First station approaches – oh crap I’ve not had a drink or nutrition yet! I chuck a huge chunk of granola in my gob and can’t breath I try to drink to mush it up but it seems to make it worse so I slow down to catch my breath – I’ve missed the first station already! I have more than enough to carry on and head for Sheephouse. People shoot passed me down the hill and I’m having to cycle downhill to get some speed!! I approach the tearoom before the climb and see a cyclist stood with an official, most of his skin had been shredded down his right arm and he looks awful! Ouch! I carry on up Sheephouse steady and finally get to greet the semi naked wrestlers I’ve heard so much about! Yum! Worth the climb! By this time I’m brasting for a pee again and it suddenly hits me I feel heavy. I’m just not moving as fast as I should but I’m too scared to push on incase I affect the rest of the race. I make my way over the course the wind and rain is in my face and I’m going at 13mph at one point and curse myself for not peeing in the gazillionth spot I know of! I know this course inside out but I’m too scared to pee incase of a DQ! I eventually see a guy near Croston pulling in for the same and I give up and do the deed! No sooner have I started to pee and I hear a “aw Dave, NAUGHTY!” It’s Hammo!! how’s he so close!? I’m going too slow or he’s blasting it!? I can’t seem to stop peeing at this point and all I think is having to catch him back up! I eventually reach him at the top of Salt Pit “how you feeling!” I ask “alright, good yeah!” He reports. “I feel dreadful, my legs are heavy and I can’t get going!” I say this as I breeze past him. Right, Hunters approaches time to see the crowds and get a much needed boost. At this point a guy I’ve been dancing with suddenly goes straight forward on a left hand bend and I see a sickening somersault before he disappears into the bushes! Christ! Cruel I think but he’s one less to worry about! It’s a race! I climb hunters hill and get a flash off Frank but not before seeing a group of Phoenix supporters! I seemingly climb with ease but I’m getting hot! I need this Gillet OFF! I gonna through it at the guys! I undo the zip and try to pull it down. I can’t! I can’t hold the bike and pull the zip down! I can’t bend my neck down enough to even get it with teeth FFS! Eventually I manage it but now I can’t unfasten the bugger! It’s stuck and I’m nearly at Rigby arms! What do I do!? Before I know it I’m waving at my teamies with my gillet flapping like wings to the sides and I’ve missed my opportunity. Bugger. Right I better fasten it up! I can’t! It’s stuck! OMG kill me now this is ridiculous. “Are we gonna be dancing like this?” It’s Hammo again! I can’t take this any longer and pull the zip up with such gusto I nearly pull myself out the seat! Right time to stop fecking about! I zoom past Hammo “C’mon Steve let’s do this!” I growl and cheer at the same time!
Get some painkillers in you Dave! I reach for the medicine and it’s it’s zipped up in a plastic bag! Can I get the bugger open!? I eventually rip it with my teeth and manage to take 2 paracetamol. Right, head on now got another loop to go! I whisper to Pete “We got this buddy, please don’t let me down and I promise I’ll always look after you!” I imagine he agrees and it’s a done deal! I get back to Babylon and it’s mental, the crowds are surreal! I head for the station again I’m not letting this bugger go this time! I forget to slow down and knock the first bottle out of the poor girls hand. I reach for another this time I grab it but drop it immediately right on MY LEFT KNACKER!! OUUUUUCCCHHH!! Omg I feel sick with the pain but I grab a bottle finally and decide this is my the bottle i’ll keep as a souvenir. I climb Sheephouse (left knacker still in agony) for the last time and make my way back along a kinder weather course and back to Hunters! One last boost from the guys and I head to the Macron! What a drag! So close yet so far and still more hills to climb.. by this time my Garmin shows 6:10. Sh!t am I gonna make it sub 6:30!? I push a tiny bit harder and realise I’ve done it! I’m coming zooming down the hill I know I have to run up shortly but I don’t care! I’ve got 6:27 on my comp and I’m over the moon! I head to T2 and hear a “c’mon Mr Melbourne!” Mr Melbourne!? Is he here!? I head in and throw my bike on the rail, stop the computer and I run towards the tent. I can’t get in! I have to run up to run back down!? FFS! I head to my bag and grab my trainers. I grab more nutrition incase and throw it in my pockets and place the bag back! This is it I’m on the run…
I’m running out the bike area and double back on myself. I see an Invictus top! It’s Adam! I can barely muster a wave and hello but I know he’s the same and our body language says to each other we’re good going! I turn the corner and hear “C’mon Mr Melbourne-Walters!” It’s Glenda! I’m elated to see a friendly face and drop an energy gel. I turn back and pick it up and again try and muster a smiley-wave as I bounce past. I’m heading for the climb. Plan of attack – NO STOPPING ON THE HILLS! You’ve ran for the last 10 years and you know the score! Once you stop you’ll be stop starting the whole way! Baby steps or bounce or on your tippy toes but don’t STOP! I make the climb steady and I stick to my rule. Im running to the final loops on a full Ironman! Holy sh!tballs! I hear another shout! It’s Julie Williamson! I never would have got this far without the bike she borrowed me! My saviour! I smiley-wave and head on! “DAVE!” Another shout and it’s Jo Bishop! She comes at me with gusto and I think she’s gonna send me flying but we manage to touch hands and I’m heading up a long steady climb out. I see other runners coming back down the opposite side and I can’t see the turning! Switch off, don’t think about it! I finally reach the turn and look for Adam but can’t see him? I’m heading down and can see the turn and I finally see him just but can’t manage a shout as my mouth is dry. I’m running down hill again and approach another runner and we engage in chit chat. I explain it’s my first time and I’m too scared to push as it’s a long way to go to which he agrees and suddenly seems to drop back. I turn at the bridge and there’s a water station but I can’t seem to stomach the thought of anything at this time so I crack on and pray I don’t regret it. After what seems like a life time of running along this stream and the cruelty of people having BBQs watching us suffer en route I finally turn again… WHAT THE ACTUAL F?CK IS THIS? No one told me about THIS hill!? It’s steep as hell and getting steeper!! Tippy toes!! Don’t stop! I manage the climb and I can see a T-Junction, runners going in both directions! This must be it! The loops! I’m here! I turn left and follow the road. The crowds! WOW! I realise I’m steadily climbing again but surprisingly feel fine. But where is the turning? I finally see a water station and there is the turn back! Water!!! I grab a cup and throw it on my face and down the back of my neck. I grab another and it’s iso so I drink that! I grab another and it’s coke! I drink that! I grab another and it’s redbull so I drink that! I grab a gel as I don’t have the mental strength to mess about getting the ones out of my pocket. I repeat this same process at every station. I finally see the hubby on the other side and he’s looking strong! He’s gonna loop me shortly! I keep an eye out and see Adam and not far behind Hammo. I’m heading back to town and descending what a relief! I get to the junction and nearly die when I see nearly all athletes walking up ANOTHER KILLER HILL! Jeez! I run down and turn only to see another hill we have to climb! This is so cruel, but stick to the rules NO STOPPING! I’m heading through crowds and everything is looking familiar! Another station! same process take everything on board! I turn and realise I’m running past where I was supporting last year! I get a yell from my teamies and I’m running past the finish for the first time. That red carpet looks amazing. But I gotta get my first band yet! I head back out and stick to my golden rule and breeze up the killer hill and head back out. I’m looking for Melbo, Adam and Hammo but can’t see them? I must have gone past but later I see Mark and I realise I’m doing well. I make the far turn again and suddenly look to to see an athlete who’s literally shat himself! “Oh Christ!” someone says at the side of me and I try not to say anything! The smell alone is horrendous not to mention the sight! But I can’t push past him!! He’s running right in front of me all the way back until he finally stops at a station, thank the lord! I eventually make the second band and start to feel the familiar marathon wobble in my calves. No please! Don’t do this to me! I feel otherwise fine, I’ve got the energy, I can get through this! I bang my heels down to push them back to normal and it works for a while but I know what’s coming! I make my way past the teamies again and manage to blurt something out about my calves going. I see the clock tower and it’s gone 5pm . I have less than an hour to make sub 12 hours! I reach the killer climb and I know I can’t do it! I finally have to walk on the last loop. It’s ok, power walk the hill and start again at the top. But my calves fail me! They’ve turned to solid bricks and I can’t push off. I keep walking and break into a shuffle but have to stop again. I eventually see Daz and tell him my predicament. “Want some salt?”. “OMG YES PLEASE!” I down it and hit the next water station and I’m off again but only for a short distance. I eventually reach the final turn back but I’m still walking. If I don’t get going I’m not gonna do sub twelve. I manage the Ironman shuffle and I’m off heading down the final descent! I’m not walking the last hill if it kills me and I manage my tippy toes! I’m here! I’ve reached the end! I throw my hands in the air as I trot past the teamies and I’m running along the red carpet! I’m delirious and don’t hear those words but I hear him say something about another new starter making it look easy! Wow! I cross the finish in complete disbelief. I turn right and realise it’s a dead end and turn round and a guy hands me some water. Before I know what’s happening I’m having my photo taken and holding the water bottle aloft!? Weirdo. I pick up my day bag and head towards the tent. I’m overwhelmed and start to cry. I’ve just finished my first Ironman in under 12 hours! In the tent I immediately spot the hubby and we embrace and I’m blubbing uncontrollably. Much to his embarrassment! A rub down and clothes change later and the soreness kicks in. I can barely move but it’s all over.
I am an IRONMAN!