Ironman Wales 2014 – Musings of an Iron Sherpa!

In time honoured tradition, I thought I’d write a few words about David’s race on Sunday. It’s self-indulgent (I feel blogs often are) but really we write them so that when we are old we can remember all the fun we had in our lives.

In the days before IM Wales I was getting really nervous. By race morning I was a wreck. I vomitted three times in the B&B before we went to the start. I was scared to eat or drink anything all day for fear of being sick on my shoes.

It was a great decision to have a B&B so close to transition, it meant we could pop there at 5am (and I got to easily see one of my favourite parts of the day, where everyone is quietly milling about around their bikes, the odd word, the odd camera flash, the odd “whoosh” of a track pump), David could get his stuff sorted and then straight back to the room for feet up.

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20140919-000053Soon enough, after another vomitting episode, we were off for the walk to the swim start. The sun was starting to rise, David was calm. He had his little purple bag with him for his shoes to hang up (it’s a cruel transition, that T1!) and run to his bike…in fairness, it seemed the thing he was most worried about was dropping that little purple bag in the removing of wettie melee and getting a DQ for littering! He headed off down to the beach, I had a chat to one of my Pirate pals Seren, which distracted me for a few minutes. The sky was amazing, it reminded me of his first ironman in Switzerland, we had a similar sunrise there. The Welsh anthem was played, then all of a sudden they were off. You will read about the detail of the swim in David’s blog – but suffice to say when people ran up past me, some were looking a little green around the gills…and most of the ladies were wearing a “sand beard”. It was pretty churny out there – and I think the tide was not quite as they thought it would be. A tough swim for most. I was glad to see him emerge and run up the hill – I don’t think he heard me but I’m sure you’re just glad to be on two feet again at that point! I managed to cheer on (in order of emergence from the foaming waves) Steven, Charlie, Duncan, Paul, Claire, David and Nico…pretty good spotting I thought.

I tried to keep a lady calm next to me (interesting concept on race day me keeping someone calm) and waited with her until her husband appeared from the water. I gave her a little cuddle and headed off up to the transition area, so that I could cheer the last people off on the bike and hopefully get some brekkie at the B&B. I was very glad to see her at the Awards where I found out that her hubby had finished and by the sounds of it had already reneged on his, “I’m only doing one ironman” comment…hehe. Been there, got the tee shirt ;) Welcome to being a TriWife, Angela and well done on your first Rick :)

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At the B&B I tried to eat (that came back to see me pretty quickly which was a shame), got on the WiFi and stalked David and our pals for a little while and then headed onto the bike course. I saw a lady in a Black Line cycle jersey and asked if she was with Deenzy, who we were in Hawaii with last year, she was so I walked up and cheered on with them for a while. We were at the 120km point (thereabouts!) and everyone was looking okay as they came through. I headed back into town, time for more WiFi access stalking at the B&B, then popped back out to transition to see the first boys in. I must confess, I rather like knowing some of the speedier boys and being able to cheer them by name is pretty cool – Charlie being the first in (unsurprisingly!). Not too long a wait and in came Duncan, Nico, then David and Paul practically together. I waved them all off (or, more accurately shouted at them as loudly as I could manage) and headed into town again for a spot of shouting on the run course.

I managed to meet the BLL gang again (hurrah!) and we whizzed around all over the place (thanks Jenny for the insider knowledge having done the course), shouting at folk and keeping our eyes peeled. Nico looked great the whole way through that run – I’m sure he had low moments too but blimey, he looked strong. David was looking strong the first couple of laps and then I noticed him rub his outside leg as he came towards us on the third lap, which worried me. Paul was close behind David for three laps and then by the final lap had whizzed through, looking super-strong and like he was really enjoying himself. I think he was spurred on by updates on how well Nico was doing, the information that he was still in the hunt and then catching David gave him an extra boost too.

During the run, David asked me, “Where am I?” – as in, what position was he in. I called back to him that he was 9th or 10th (it’s really hard to tell from the tracker). We knew that there were seven predicted Kona slots for his age group. I have dreaded him asking me this question. He’s never done it before – but the lure of the KQ is strong ;) On the third lap we knew he was 9th, closing on 7th and 8th. By the final lap I shouted at him that I knew it was shit but just fucking run. I was trying to convey that it didn’t matter – he just needed to be ok – but it came out all wrong.

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We walked down to the finish just in time to see Charlie finish and that was where we stayed until Nico finished (3rd in AG), followed by Paul (which I found very emotional and my eyes might have leaked a little bit) and then shortly behind was David. I was so glad he had hung on so close to Paul, how he did it I’ll never know. The details of his running recently are in his blog but blimey, he’s tough in the head that man of mine. As he was walking up to the line (after checking he was clear behind!), he blew me a kiss and I burst into tears. Which was very helpfully filmed by a man from Channel 4…if they put that in the show I’ll be mortified.

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The nicest thing was that I could walk alongside the finish chute and see him straight away, which never happens normally. There were a few sweaty hugs all round – and we sat on a step with my phone trying to see the final race updates. He looked at the phone and said to me, “How many slots?”. “Seven” I replied. He showed me the phone. He was 7th. I later found out that our friend Emma (who came out to Hawaii last year) had screamed when she saw that 7th :) We just looked at each other. 7th? When had that happened? The story of how is in D’s blog, so I won’t write it again but suffice to say, never give up. Deenzy had been saying all day it’s all about the last 10k. He was right (he should know, he’s been to Kona too). I think he was cross with me for being all, “No, not going to happen” – but I was in a mode of self-protection, I am not someone that thinks good things will happen – despite the fact lots of great things happen to me/us!

Anyway, we bibbled about a bit, dry clothes, coke, three bites of crappy pizza, shower…and then sat on the bed in the B&B looking at each other, trying to not get excited. Bang went that nights sleep then.

We headed out to the finish line, cheered in loads of people (actually there were the most finishers wearing their medals that I have ever seen on a finish line) and chatted to loads of people about how it had gone. There were lots of messages about Kona – but like last year we believe nothing until we see it. So after midnight ticked by and the final finisher was cheered in, we headed “home” and got a couple of hours of sleep before waking up thinking about nothing except the awards ceremony.

We packed up the car, mmmmm, stinky kit…had breakfast and then headed up to the awards. We got there a few minutes early but they were already sticking up the sheets. If your name is highlighted, the Kona slot is yours. David walked over, turned around to me with the biggest smile and did a little Shaka. I ran over, and clung on like a limpet. I confess again to leaky eyes. It’s dehydrating being a TriWife you know ;)

We posted on Facebook and twitter and it went mad, again! Thank you everyone for the lovely messages there and texts too. It’s so awesome knowing people are delighted for David. The ceremony was the usual slow thing, Pros, then the AG presentations preceded the Kona slot allocation and roll-down. Our friends did amazingly well, lots of trophies close by – and then it was Lei time for Charlie, Nico, Claire, Duncan and David. Barely any slots rolled down, as we would expect from an early season race (in terms of qualifying, it’s one of the first races to have qualification for the 2015 World Championship). Of course, it’s not all happy, our friend Paul missed out by one slot…but there’s plenty of time yet if that’s what he wants to do. I hope he decides he wants to go for it again.

We said our goodbyes and headed home. That was a looooong drive and I’ve never had Red Bull before (vile!) but it kept me awake, as the can promised it would on long drives..!

So, my final thoughts on the day. I think I felt so nervous because of the pressure. We’ve never had people assuming before that David was trying to qualify for Kona. In Nice this year it was kind of OK (I still was nervous but not to the same extent, it was more my normal nerves about worrying he would be alright) as we knew that there was no chance of a KQ. I think the position of this race in the season, combined with him having been to Kona before all made for a very squiggly tummy. Luckily I get stressed and he doesn’t. I need some lessons in calm from Nico’s wife Luzelle!

A big thank you to Deenzy for his positivity on the day too. Last year in Bolton I had Em and Mike, this year Mr Deen. Come on now, 2015…you know you want to ;) #stillgotit

Mostly, a HUGE thank you to David. He laid it all on the line, I know it’s “only” a hobby – but it becomes an enormous thing in your life. When we were in Kona last year relaxing in the pool after the race, we met a lovely guy from the States called Corey who tweeted to David last year, “Never underestimate the power of the former KQ”. He was right. I really think that the thought of going back to Kona spurred David on in that final 5km. It’s nuts. I am so unbelievably proud of him. He makes me proud to be his wife every day – and I never thought my heart could want to burst so much but it does. I know I get so wrapped up in it all – and probably overly emotional and people probably think I’m weird but I don’t care. To me, looking after him, making sure he has what he needs and being there by his side is what I have to do. I need to do it. That’s what I signed up for all those years ago. He’s so strong, so tough in the head, brave to just go for it and lay it all on the line. After the race he said, “If I don’t get it, I couldn’t have done any more”. But he did – and you know what, Kona Baby!

See you for the Kona Diaries 2015 :)

Posted in Sharon, Triathlon
5 comments on “Ironman Wales 2014 – Musings of an Iron Sherpa!
  1. Emma says:

    Indeed it was a serious squeal moment when I saw David was 7th that poor Andy had to call out from the bathroom to see if I was ok (TMI??). Whilst I am very much in the infant stages of being a triwife I like to think I learned all my skills from you Sharon – cannot wait to sit on the wall next to you and get startled by the cannon :)

  2. Sharon says:

    Heh. I never heard that cannon you know! ;) Can’t wait!

    If skills of TriWifing involve being sick and stressed out, then yep, it’s all me…the rest of it, once they’ve finished, is all about having fun. Oh and washing stinky kit.

  3. Lee the Pea says:

    Lovely post Sharon :) I’m so happy for both of you that you’re off to Kona. It’s just so exciting!!! Oh and you’re not weird, you’re just fab :)

  4. Symes says:

    Great result for both of you, I always talk of ‘us’ i.e. Mrs S and me doing these races because that’s what it is and I know both parties go through a hell of a lot on race day, although occasionally the support team has a glass of wine which we miss out on.

    The beauty of David qualifying again is that we can get such a feeling for what goes on in Hawaii from you two that I never need consider qualifying!

    Oh and I’ve always thought you were weird ;)

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