LAKESMAN 2022 – Race Report. (Graeme Monteith) Aged 55 and a bit
I did this race 5 years ago in 2017 (Aged 50) Just saying Richard J, the two events were very different in some ways but as you might expect there were some striking similarities)
Originally my goal was to beat my previous time of 11:33:56 (1:05 Swim, 5:47 Bike, 4:34Run) in 2017 the race was HOT with temperatures on the run around 30 Deg C. It seemed plausible if the weather gods were kind, I might manage a better time this year.
In the end my preparation for the race has been far from perfect and many of you will have heard me making excuses (sandbagging) for months, sorry J
Everything was starting to look on the right track, my volume was up my fitness was climbing and looked to be on a great trajectory, then I got Covid. In short, I lost two weeks to the illness and a further 4 weeks during which any training intensity/volume just wiped me out for a day or two afterwards. When I did get back to a state where my body could accept training I had around 6 weeks left, then life got in the way for another few weeks. I manged to keep my swim fitness, but I toed the start line having cycled a total of around 300miles since Christmas (longest 56miles) and my longest run was around 12miles earlier in the year.
I will skip getting there and race prep/racking etc and go straight to the main event, yes, the Budgie Smuggler Run! I took part in 2017 but this light-hearted snub to the Kona underpants run was a whole other level this year and taking part with friends from the club just added to the fun, we had a blast! We even managed to get front row seats for the event finish photograph!
In Blue at the front, Uncle “Leaky “(left) and Uncle Sean “Kazoo”(right)
Kev centre next to Batman, then moving right Dave, Rich, Me and Luke
Alarm went off at 4:00am, I had already been awake for an hour, got up, made very strong coffee to wake me and my gut up, then checked my gear and made-up nutrition for the day!
I had racked my bike and bagged my gear the day before and so after a pre-race toilet stop (I always breathe a sigh of relief at this point) I put on my race suit and after lubeing my legs and arms with baby oil I donned my wetsuit and headed down to T1. The town was very quiet, and I felt more than the usual apprehension and nervousness. Others remarked afterwards that they were surprised at my demeanour, but at this race start I genuinely didn’t know if I would finish or what toll the race might take from me. After giving Mr Harley a wet suit wedgy and with ten minutes to go, I wished everyone luck and then kind of slid into my own little world trying to get a grip on my nerves.
Entering the water early helped settle me, as soon as I got in, I felt much calmer, it was clean and a pleasant temperature. I swam to the far right where there were fewer people and before we knew it the claxon had gone, and we were off! I had a very civilised swim start, not one collision or punch/kick, quickly got into a rhythm and swam away. By the time I got to the first turn I was near the front and virtually on my own with only three of four others near me. After the turn I found some feet and had a rest for a few hundred yards, this settled me, and I then started to swim my own race. Time seemed to collapse and before I knew it, I was at the end of lap 1 and turning to go round for the last time. I had a few sighting issues on lap 2 as my goggles had steamed up, a quick stop to rinse them sorted that and I continued. I knew I had swum a straight line when my Garmin buzzed a 500m lap around 300m from the finish, this was confirmed by my time at the mat of 59m:56s. By the skin of my teeth, I had achieved my goal of going under an hour for the swim, now to relax into the bike and run.
1st in AG and 22nd overall (not for long)
T 1 was uneventful, I ran up the carpet, told my wife I felt “Tired” (I used another less savoury word but it’s not suitable to go into print!). Janice one of the volunteers offered the advice “never mind that you feel “tired” just get on with it” so I did. As I got into the tent in 22nd place overall it was quiet and the volunteer on duty couldn’t have been more helpful, she even polished my sunglasses for me before handing them over, above and beyond! Once I had my bike, I met Craig and as usual he was smiling and offering encouragement, craigs enthusiastic support would prove to be a big help later in the day on the run!
My plan here was to take it easy and stay mostly Zone2, which is exactly what I did. As I left T1 I got the usual Pirate based abuse and “helpful” hints from Jamie the Ref and a few other volunteers.
Then started a long bike ride, to be honest much of this is a blur but there are a few moments I remember.
My Garmin still thought I was in Derwent water swimming for around 23 miles, I stopped and cancelled Tri mode in a gateway, switching to bike.
I passed fellow pirate “Evil Pixie” who was on the 70.3 at around mile 25, she was her usual ray of sunshine self!
Richard Bradshaw caught and passed me at around mile 30, very shortly followed by David Harley a quick exchange of “good luck’s” and they were gone!
As I wasn’t going to be breaking any records, I stopped for a posh wee at aid station 1 and witnessed two guys getting 10minute penalties from the motorcycle ref who caught them in the bushes.
Once we hit the coast the wind became a big factor it was pretty much in our faces for the whole coast road, additionally one section of road had a horrendously rough surface. By now as a result of the lack of conditioning, my back and shoulders were in agony and I had a low dark period here, I just wanted off my bike, it sort-of coincided with the 56mile marker which was not a welcome sight! I couldn’t quite believe I was only halfway! Once I got turned at the end and headed back to loop 2, I felt a bit better, but my back and shoulders were now a permanent source of pain and distraction. Loop 2 was a little better because I knew once complete, I had a relatively easy last 20+ miles or so. I was passed at around mile 90 by the last “crap swimmer” having mostly resisted those passing earlier, I simply had to let him have it!
The last miles back to town came and went, the A66 was a bit scary but the surface was fantastic. Some erroneous distance markers threw me a little. I got back to within about half a mile of T2 when it happened! yes, I got “Chicked” by Robin J she even had the cheek to slow down for a little chat until I told her to get on with it! Later in the race she went on to catch all of us apart from Dave H, awesome work Robin! If we, do it again next year, you are going to need to look behind you Dave Harley.
T2 was uneventful, I had planned to walk the first mile of the run, this was in order to allow my legs to get used to the idea, which I did. I then began a run-walk campaign designed to get me to 26.2miles without anything falling off or apart!
The “run” at the end of a long course triathlon is not really a marathon unless you are called Dave, for most it’s a battle of will over fatigue, pain and discomfort, knowing what was to come I entered the pain cave and tried to keep moving forwards.
The run course is a double-edged sword, it repeats so you know what’s coming, it’s out and back so you see everyone multiple times, I think on balance its more positive than negative. I saw everyone from the club on numerous occasions and it was good to support each other. Every time I saw Dave, he was simply bounding along like Tigger out for an easy run, round the Hundred Acre Wood, I expect and hope it was harder than it looked Mr Harley? I think Richard and I were following a similar strategy of run walk and we passed multiple times had a high five and a few words and moved on! Virtually every time I saw Robin, she found me walking, I only spotted her once before she saw me and managed to get my shuffle on. I saw Kev several times and exchanged a few words each time, on lap 1 he said he didn’t feel great so I told him it would pass, and he would feel better, I didn’t tell him it would also get worse before it was over!
I found lap 1, difficult due to swapping disciplines from bike to run, lap 2 & 3 were meh slash ok, lap 4 was a dark place, but once I had my final band, lap 5 just got better and better! The knowledge that its nearly over is very powerful and I spent Lap 5 thanking everyone on course and at the feed stations.
There were sections of the course that were challenging, the spots where I was walking but still getting clapped and cheers made me feel a bit like a fraud. I started to take rests so that I could run through the sections where the most supporters were
It cannot be overstated how much of a lift the supporters and volunteers provide to the athletes, without them, the run would be almost impossible. They were everywhere, shouting encouragement and in my case Pirate themed abuse, but it is all well-meant and very much appreciated by myself and I am sure everyone else on the course.
The other thing that I get energy from is the rest of the field, saying “well done” to those who pass you and receiving the same in return is a real lift. Trying to provide humour and encouragement to those who are suffering more than you helps both you and them.
Seeing Craig Christie pop up in random spots on the course was great, he is always smiling, and I know he said this to everyone, but to hear “you are my hero” made me want to laugh and cry at times, thank you Craig!
Luke was also out there supporting, when he asked how I was, I flippantly said “living the dream” we both knew I was lying!
On a pee stop I could hear a lady on my right being sick and someone else on my left doing the same thing, on enquiring “are you alright in there love” I got a very deep voiced reply of “yus mate just throwing up” I replied “weeell you sound like a girl when you throw up” and swiftly ran on!
I learned two new Pirate jokes and corrected one spectator that I was a Pirate “Arghhh” not a farmer “OOOh Arggh”
I am sure you all witnessed or encountered the natural force that is Sean, Uncle Kazoo! With his megaphone, he is a legend and made me smile every time I saw him.
Also the Telford Tri “other halves and crew” need a mention, thank you for making the day special for us!
On my final lap and approach to the finish I took a nice long walk so that I could at least cross the line running. The atmosphere at the finishing line was great and I thoroughly enjoyed doing the aeroplane down the chute and hitting the banner!
I had a blast over the weekend and feel blessed to be able to do this and to do it with such genuine people. My only regret is that I didn’t see Kev finish, it is an unwritten rule that you welcome all of your fellow athletes across the line, Kev Sorry! I was simply broken!