Well what can I say, it was emotional
Having started my training again this year in January Iíve had more injuries and challenges than I thought possible. My two year old son loves a kiss and cuddle off his Daddy but this isnít always the best route to take for a virus free training period and Harrison gave his Dad loads of loves and viruses to match. Flu for the first time took me into new zones and having to take my first period of sick leave ever was a shock. Seven weeks of a chest infection followed by Antibiotics that seriously flushed my insides out didnít help either. Oh well what else could go wrong eh! Itís time to do a course recce in that of the Tenby Long Course weekend and tear my calf really badly on the marathon.
Myself & Glen along with our good ladies & Harrison head down to Tenby to meet up with three great guys who have raced and trained with Tyne Tri in the past few years, Angus Wood from Army Tri, Paul Hasson† & Andy Gravett. The banter begins and the sense of what is about to become reality starts to sink in. Tomorrow Andy will attempt to become an Ironman and for the rest of us weíll try to beat our previous times or targets which weíve set ourselves. For me thatís a sub 12hr. Plan is 1hr swim, 6hr bike, sub 5hr but hopefully a 4hr Marathon, give or take 10mins on each leg and add transitions on.
Sunday the 14th September 2014 at 4:15am the alarm sounds and itís time to wake up and chase our dreams. My usual breakfast and supplements and itís off to meet Glen in Transition. I hear a voice asking if anyone has some tape he can borrow and I look up and see Glen on the scrounge so itís then the banter starts and I take the mick out of him for a few minutes before dashing off to the portaloo. I meet back up with Glen and Paula at the start of the procession & I ask Glen how heís feeling and he tells me heís bricking it. I think itís then we both encourage each other with sayings of what will be will be, training done now race your own race etc. The procession starts and Glen & I are at the front for the first and last time today as we march off down to the beach.
I look out into the ocean and the swell is quite high and the tide appears to be rushing in. The national anthem rings out and then boom we are off. A quick rush of nerves and Iím into the water. Iím being thrown all over with the swell and its carnage. The water is filthy with all of the sand being churned up by the swell and it isnít long till I get my first mouth full. The first Buoy is about 800m in and it seems to be taking forever to get to it. Once there itís pure congestion and itís hard, very hard indeed. I turn right and head to the next buoy and again the water and congestion makes it impossible to get into a rhythm. I did this same swim 2 months ago and it was a pleasure but this one is starting to beat me up mentally. I exit the first 1900m in 38 minutes having been kicked, punched, drank loads of sea water and feeling sick. I threw up on the beach and even started to unzip my wet suit. I thought about quitting. Iím not afraid to admit It, I was in a dark place and the sea had beaten me up pretty badly. Then the little beast in my head (the exact same beast that all of you reading this have) told me to crack on. Man up Mr Noble, ďGo Hard or Go HomeĒ. Back into the sea and back into even more atrocious conditions.
I exited the swim (1hr.21mins well down on my predicted time) feeling ill & the only saving grace was I exited at the same time as the crazy Irishman, Paul Hasson and he had a bit craic which made me giggle and he even told me to slow down so he could get a lift off me on the bike J. I got to the bag point to collect my trainers and Lottie was screaming encouragement at me. Thanks, I really needed that. I now plodded on up to transition about 1km away. Paula was there as usual with the woo hoo to get me going again.
Onto the bike and having ridden the course I knew itíd be tough. After about twenty minutes in I knew something was wrong, I couldnít take in any fuel & I felt rotten. Something going on in my stomach and its nothing Iíve felt before. I decided to carry on and see if it would settle but after an hour or so I had to stop. Fingers down my throat and well you know what happens from then on. Straight away I feel better and start taking on fuel. Itís funny but after swallowing all of that sea water my first concern is extra salt tablets to top up my salt after being sick. Itís a struggle on the bike but I got through what is a tough ride. No real free time to switch off as it is technical and hilly. 6.23 off the bike and again well down on time.
Itís time to face my biggest fear. The marathon has become an uphill battle for me as Iím always suffering injuries but this year was the worst of them all. I exit T2 in under 3mins like a maniac on a mission. Itís time to pick your dangly bits up and put them in your pocket Mr Noble. Stand up and be counted, because if you want sub 12 you are going to have to run and keep running. I run to each aid station and take on the coke and salt tabs etc and my routine of what and where is quickly established. 30minutes into the run I see Glen coming up the hill as Iím going down. His face is glazed as heís focused only on the road ahead. I see him again at the same point on the next 10km then again at varying points along the way. Iím really starting to hurt from 10miles onwards. The fact of no running due to injury over the last two months is starting to show. Surprisingly though itís not my calfís but my knees. The pain is immense. At about 18 Miles I see Paula & Harrison in the crowd and I stop for a kiss and hug, Iím a wreck by this stage and in need of a different tonic. I carried on for another 5 miles before breaking down in tears as Iím running. A female athlete tried to console me but I told her to leave me alone as I was just having a girly moment. Looked at my watch and thought you need to get a grip and start running if you want this sub 12. Coke and gel down the hatch and off I go. A group of slower athletes were in front of me so I shouted excuse me Geordie steam train coming through, they laughed and one of them said youíve only got one wheel as I was limping pretty bad, I replied yes and even thatís buckled. Still time for a laugh eh. This is the hardest 3miles Iíve ever ran. Itís downhill but by God itís hurting the knees and even the lungs are starting to feel it. Into the finishing straight & over the line in 11.58. This is my slowest time to date but by far the hardest race.
A lot of lessons learnt along the way & a few changes made during the race. Itís been a long hard battle today and Glen, Andy, Paul & Angus will have all had a similar fight. Andy you are now an Ironman. Glen told me before the race that an ex-Marine Pro Ironman said that IM Wales isnít for the softies and only the toughest will win. Everyone who crosses that line is a winner and everyone in my book is truly tough. Wales & Tenby has been an experience I wonít be revisiting. Sorry but it was just too Emotional!
Tyne Tri athletes were valiant in their personal battles & steadfast in their faith on this day and it was good to race with new and old friends.
IRONMAN Lanzarote in 2015 anyone?