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Lakesman 2021 – Project Sub 10! Stephen's Ironman distance race

I guess the story starts back in 2017 when Ove was telling stories of taking part in the worlds hardest Ironman - Triathlon X  - I thought I’d “Have a go”.  I’ve always like longer endurance events probably because I’ve never been any good  at the short stuff

This got me thinking what I could achieve on a fast Ironman course so I looked about for an event that didn’t charge silly money, wasn’t going to involve European travel with all the cost, stress and hassle that comes with it and above all was inspirational and motivational. Cue Lakesman.

Completing an Ironman to the best of your ability is a big ask so I wanted to keep everything as simple and easy as possible. In my head I thought a 1 hour swim, 5 hour bike and 4 hour run seemed feasible enough - fudge in some fast transitions and having a “good day” and sub 10 should be easy enough!

The event is based in Keswick. The swim in Derwent Water is simply stunning 2 laps round a large island with crystal clear warm water with stunning mountain backdrop. A self seeded rolling start meant I was off with the fast boys and girls and had a super easy swim in a nice pack of 5 swimmers and I could simply switch from feet to feet depending who I though was swimming the best. I exited the water in 54:54 (1.26/100m) in joint 3rd and 5 mins ahead of schedule – Winner!

A speedy transition saw me 2nd out of the bike course and time to settle into some hard work and focus on holding back and not getting over excited – After a few twists and turns out of Keswick we soon got onto the local time trial course and the bike was humming along at 28mph – Lovely!

The focus was on eating and drinking – I had a bottle of overnight oats with me and that took me about 40 miles to consume! Then it was onto a lovely mixture of bananas, Peanut butter and honey sandwiches and a handful of muesli bars coated with chocolate – I don’t go far without nice food!

The course soon changes from super-fast and flat to rolling – a 30 mile section of small climbs all the way to the coast -These small climbs (some first gear standing) add up to over 3,000ft (so it’s definitely not a flat course!) Once on the coast you head along the sea front for about 20 miles – This section was sold to me as easy – “The prevailing south westerly will blow you up the coast giving you time to eat and drink”  - Not so! We had a block head wind so it was head down work hard!

Rolling back into Keswick my bike split was 5:14 averaging 22 MPH was a bit slower than I’d have liked but I knew my 4 hour time budget for the marathon was generous. Most importantly I still felt good - I knew I’d looked after myself well on the bike and was ready to run!

A 5 lap course of Keswick town and countryside awaited – Baking in the mid-day sun this was going to be a case of heat management! It was scorching! I must have ran through every hosepipe, water gun and poured more water over me than I drank – I Walked through every feed station to give me change to grab lots of goodies and more importantly a full water bottle to pour over my head.

The course twists and turns in an incredibly complicated route with grass fields, gravel tracks, narrow alley ways and even a flight of stairs mean you most definitely can’t settle into a rhythm.

I knew I had to lap in 45 mins to run a 3:45 and stay on target for sub 10; so when I ran 40:53, 44:42. 46:10  – I though oh this is going well, then the heat got to me and allot more walking led to a 49:06 4th lap – Last lap – go for it – I saw the timing clock and it said 09:15 so I knew my maths was right and I had 45 mins for a last lap – Easy Right!  I picked up the pace and instantly both hamstrings locked up solid and I had to stop, stretch then walk gingerly before going back to jogging. 46:41 – Blew it!

Final time 10:01:31

11th overall and won my AG by 15 mins! There are loads of things I could have done better, what ifs but then of course loads of other things could have gone worse or gone wrong so it is what it is.