Guest blog – Pete Greenham’s Outlaw Ironman

A real good friend of mine has recently participated in the Outlaw Ironman – his guest blog is below:

Outlaw Ironman 2013 – Nottingham – Race report by Peter Greenham

I have wanted to compete in an Ironman ever since I was inspired by my boss who now at the age of 52 has competed in 3 Ironman comps, but all since turning 40. I had run a few marathons in my past and am a keen cyclist but I had never competed in a triathlon, so last year I completed 2 sprints and the Reading Olympic distance triathlon and loved it so promptly booked the Outlaw 2013 as my first Ironman.

I had always been a strong competitive swimmer when I was younger but now apart from with the kids on holiday in the pool I hadn’t really swam lengths for years; however after attending the Tri20 swim coaching sessions at Crosfields school throughout the winter and practicing in the open water at the Tri2O Reading Lake from May onwards, I built up my swim technique and slowly increased my distance over the last few weeks leading up the the event to the full 2.4mile distance, although suffered regularly with cramp.

The cycling training was on course with my 16mile daily commute to work as my base, but I knew that I had not done enough run training. I had recently switched to forefoot running from the traditional heel strike form and had only built up the transitional distance to about 8-9 miles. So I knew 26.2 miles would be a challenge but I intended to have a strategy of walk/run on the day so wasn’t overly concerned a I can walk for miles and I just wanted to get through the bike without any mechanical failures. (Although I had as much equipment as I could take on the bike).

My taper down in the 3 weeks leading up to the Outlaw was severely hampered to the extent that it only consisted of one 5km run, and three 1.5km swims, this was due to my youngest daughter of 4 suddenly being diagnosed with Leukaemia; so this is all I could fit in around our hospital stays, not the best but all I could manage in the circumstances. I only decided to continue with the Outlaw on the Friday before the event which was dependant on her condition at the time.

I was very lucky to have my friend, neighbour and Tri2O swim buddy Alisitair volunteer to accompany me up to Nottingham in the absence of my wife who was looking after our daughters.

PG start









My registration and briefing was good and bike was all racked by 3pm on the Saturday whilst I watched Alistair complete in the outlaw organised 3km ‘Big Swim’ in an impressive 54mins. Then it was off to checkin at our hotel and for an early ‘Jamie’s Italian’ pasta dinner and an early night before a 4am wake up for a 6am start.

I decided to start the swim at the back of lane 1 of 4 (should have been in lane 3 due to my predicted time). Lane 1 was the lane for the fastest swimmers where the theory was that they would clear out of the way and give me some space, but was also the nearest to the bank and meant I didn’t have to swim across the width of the rowing lake to join row 1. I held back about 30 secs from the starting hooter and started well for the first few strokes but took a confidence whack after receiving a left hook to my eye within 20secs of starting the swim; a thought instantly came into my head ……..’WTF am I doing!!’ I put my head down and with a bit of breaststroke, I found by rhythm before finding my own space and I got back to front crawl after about 300m. I couldn’t even see the half way turning point of the swim 1.2 miles down the rowing lake, this was going to be more of a challenge than I thought, so just put my head down and tried to concentrate on the style we had been taught in the coaching sessions.

I took a quick peak at my watch at about 100m after the halfway point and couldn’t believe it when it read 45mins… as the fasted I have ever done 2.4miles is 1hr 34 mins in training, so I realised I hadn’t lost too much time at the start. As mentioned I had suffered with cramp in training but after a regime of bananas and magnesium supplements I had maintained it and it only came on in the latter stages of the race. My right calf and shin started cramping up with about 500m to go so, with some circular foot rotations I was able to suppress it for the remainder of the swim. I was ecstatic when I was helped up the gantry at the end that Ihadn’t drowned but when I saw the time of of 1hr 30mins I was even more elated.

The transition to the bike went in a flash and before I knew it after checking I had all my bike gear, 12mins had elapsed!! This did include about 300m of running although I was still in a bit of a dizzy daze from the swim and my adrenalin was very high but I did remember to apply sun screen as the bike was going to be a scorcher.

The bike course was undulating and HOT but I tried to push as much as I could. The first 56 miles I kept an average of over 18mph which I was pleased with as I visited some very dark places at abut 40 and 60miles where I found myself just staring at the white line on the roadside. As it was so hot I found myself drinking 7litres of HighFive throughout the bike course!!. I was going to only carry 2 bottles and collect the rest around the course but decided last minute to carry all of my fluids on the bike as I didn’t want to get caught short and I had always trained with all my drinks…this turned out to be a good decision as I was thirsty!

PG bike









I also carried all of my nutrition which consisted of black current ‘Cliff shot bloks’, Jelly babies, snickers and Rice Krispies squares (nom nom) and this worked very well, exactly how I had trained, although stuffing half a snickers down me then turning the corner to find i was at the bottom of longest steepest hill on the course, was then did not seem like a good time for a snack! I caught up a few other riders who had passed me earlier in the day and ended up riding with them for the last 30miles which went in a flash. With 5miles to go I realised that I was estimated to finish in just over 7hours which was 30mins slower than my previous best time from training and my average speed had dropped to about 16.3mph, so with a renewed energy I put my pedal down with every attempt to finish in under 7hrs. I entered T2 on exactly 7hrs 0mins dead . …which considering the heat, I was really pleased with!

My transition to the run was much better than T1 completing in 7mins (which included toilet stop) and although I had wobble legs I ran out of transition well. I was just so elated to get through the bike stage without any maintenance it was now down to my own body failure which would be my only barrier to non completion (which for me was NOT an option)

PG bike









The time was about 2:30pm and the sun was very strong now but I started off the run with a mixture of 75% fast walk and 25% run for the first 6 miles whilst I shook off my bike legs, and I decided to carry a small bottle with me which contained HighFive which I would eventually top up at every food station, that and crisps too:). The miles started clicking down fast and at this 6 mole point I seemed to get my running legs back and switched to 50:50 walk:run ratio which i continued until about 15miles. After this I started to decrease the amount of distance i walked compared to run and at about 20miles for some reason I had definitely gone through the wall, was well hydrated and nutrition was good as I seemed to get all my energy back. I looked at my watch and realised that i was well inside the 7-8 hours I had estimated for the marathon part and if i pushed on i could get near thr 15hour mark for completion, I may even break the 15hour barrier…. I ran 90% of the remaining 6 miles to the end and with a sprint finish for the last 50m I finished 2 hours before the cutoff, completing my first Ironman in 15hrs 2mins and 13secs… pleased even if I did miss the sub 15hr, as I gave it my all!!!

Thanks for reading

Peter Greenham


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