Well the title doesn’t lie, and no I can’t quite believe it myself.
A few weeks out from the race I knew I was moving well on the bike, and fairly well through the water, but I still hadn’t had the all clear to run.
It was only 3 weeks before that I finally started putting one foot in front of the other and making progress. A good two weeks running, running a max distance of 10km (6 miles) was hardly the ideal marathon prep.
None the less I had no other choice.
The week of the race was a bumpy one.
I turned up in Poznan excited, eager and anxious. I started my heat adjustment, training in the sun, met the other members of the team and started to settle in. Standard procedures.
Before id even made it to registration Id come down with a very chesty cold. Leaving me drained & achey I wasn’t sure what to do.
Could I race? Would I be ok? Should I rest?
It came on too fast to have caught it on the plane, I must have come down with it in Britain. A classic British cold.
Determined not to make excuses and to race on the bigger stage I filled myself with orange juice & vitamin C, and sucked it up.
When race morning finally came around it had improved to a sniffle and a small cough, nothing I couldn’t handle. So I put on my pre race playlist, had my oats, yoghurt & granola. And walked over to the start.
There was nothing more I could do from here, nothing that would change the outcome of the day. I knew I just had to trust my training, believe in my miles & pray the run didn’t blow up in my face.
The opening ceremony was soon out of the way & we were in the water, ready to go.
The canon erupted next to us, sending a thunder of noise echoing down the lake and this was it. Head down and go.
The swim was fairly smooth & felt over almost before it had started. The course was slightly short which I knew would play to my advantage. Barely seeing any other swimmers I knew I’d held off the next wave & kept myself in contention for the race.
T1 was a shambles.
Tripping up the ramp and leaving my Garmin in my transition bag I had to re rack the bike and go back. A direction nobody wants to be headed.
None the less I was finally out on my bike and making strong progress.
I knew id have to keep my heart rate exceptionally low if I wanted to finish the marathon after only running 10km. So I was aiming for a 140bpm.
I’d have to trust my cycle legs would still take care of business in this zone.
And I was flying.
Ticking people off one by one I knew they wouldn’t hold me off for long.
After an uneasy patch on the second lap I began to build again. Turning on the heat as the others started to hurt.
And true to form I got out of the chair feeling fresh in a 4:45 cycle. 142bpm.
Now in the back of my mind was the infamous sub 10 ironman. Propelling me into the top 2% of ironman athletes. I didn’t know my current position but I’d assumed I’d need roughly a 4 hour marathon.
A comfortable target, when I’m on form.
I took the first 12k very steady, but before I made it to halfway, the pain came on. And it came hard. And it wasn’t stopping there.
I was determined to not stop running. No matter what, no matter how much it hurt, I was just gonna put one foot in front of the other, and run.
By the third lap I was in tatters.
My legs had blown up, my head was swimming, my lungs tight & empty. I was in pieces scattered around poznan.
But I was still running.
With a monumental will power, like nothing else I’ve ever had, I wasn’t stopping.
I wouldn’t quit.
And before I knew it I was on the final lap.
The pain was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Every fibre in my body was screaming out.
And then it got me.
My toes curled up with a force I couldn’t control and my calves seared with pain.
Falling into the sand I curled up, was this it? Game over?
I couldn’t let myself stop 6km from the finish.
I managed to get up and keep going. 1km later it got me again, another brief pause. I could do this. Come on.
And with a final push I trundled round to the finish area, through the crowds not even managing a wave or a smile.
It was over, the clock showed 10:13 and I was done.
Curled up & whimpering into my family I finally stabilised and sorted myself out. Never again will I run ill prepared.
A quick glance at the online results quickly revived the mood.
In an unreal turn of events, the clock had been showing the male pro time and I had done it.
European championships – success.
Drinks all round it seemed.
Let’s go get worlds.