IRONMAN

IMUK report by Jonathan Kearsley (Apologies for late publishing – Editor)

Alexa, play thunderstruck. 4 AM I’m up, breakfast already planned out weeks in advance. Strong coffee, porridge with raisins and honey. Checks the bags, checks the bags again everything’s packed.

Now I need to apologize, Chris and Katie gave me a lift to the start, what they got was me with headphones in hardly speaking. Chris says stop being nervous it’ll be fine, easier said than done but I believe him. We get to Leigh sports village I don’t remember anything about getting the bike ready or any prep. I find myself stood on the red carpet. The crowd at Pennington is amazing considering its 6am on a Sunday morning even better my brother had made the swim. It meant the world but I’ve no idea what we said to each other didn’t even wish him Happy Birthday, but a hug off Phil was what I needed, he grabbed my hand told me “I got this”.

Now all I wanted to do was finish, time never mattered just bloody finish. 2.4 miles (3.8km  for any remainers) swim in Pennington flash, no worries I wasn’t nervous for this, the plan was always swim to wake up aim for an hour and don’t kill yourself chasing a time. 5 minutes to the start I’ve gone and stood with the 55 minutes swimmers in an effort to not get caught in the washing machine behind. The national anthem, what do you do? Do you sing? Stand with a hand on your chest? Opted to play with goggles. THUNDER!! THUNDER!! Good old AC/DC they really know how to start a race.

The swim went to plan near enough apart from the WWE inspired swim strokes some seem to have adopted. 1 lap down get out of the water and run taking swimmers on the run on the Australian exit the crowd is so loud, couldn’t help but wave my arms to get a reaction, Brilliant. Run off the pier and get into lap 2. This lap seemed to take forever to get to the top of the lap at the top I found myself in a big group of swimmers, it was great 10 of us all jostling down the back straight. The competition feels good a peloton of swimmers drafting taking turns at the front seeing who will put the first kick in. 200m from the swim exit I decide to kick get to the front and finish the swim strong, but this is the only time this race will feel like a race. Ironman quickly turned into survival. Got out the water in 79th 1:01 on the watch. Capable of faster but this was the plan. Wet suit rolled down to waist straight away hat off goggles off. Run. Phil stick a hand out for a high 5 I’m miles away. Platty screaming my name it’s hard not to get carried away.
T1 I take on fuel and get to the bike.

Confidence at an all-time high I get to the mount line a group of friends just next to it, this is amazing, the photo of me with no visor on I’m really that happy. Now the night before Darren joked that he hoped I had an accident on the bike so he could set an iron distance time before myself and at 10 the night before Ironman is not what you want to hear. He’s since apologized for what happened next as this was not his fault but coincidence. As everyone will have already heard me moan about I came off the bike at the second speed bump. I learned this week watching the Tour de France that you don’t feel pain for 10 seconds usually after a bike crash, this is true. I peeled myself off the floor and got to the bike signalling to others to not help a Marshall asks if I’m going to carry on and if I’ll fine. Of course I told him as I fumbled my way around putting my chain back on. I get on the bike and finally make my way out of Pennington. Down the road my sister in-law cheers me on I love that she was there with my nephew but I really didn’t want her to see the holes in my clothes that had torn or the blood coming from my shoulder not that she’d worry but I just didn’t want her to tell Mum.

Pain had now fully set in as I made my way into Bolton, great, all confidence was now gone. I’m not a cyclist, I’m hardly a runner what am I doing in this race. Thank god I can swim. For the hills I drop down to little cog and tell myself that it’s going to hurt but it will be over tomorrow and you can relax then, but for now just try and enjoy it you’ve paid to be here. I get on a flat and work through the gears feeling ok considering I try to move to big cog, bike says no. Cursing the crash. This was going to be a long day. I’d love to describe the course but I have no idea where we went. Basically, hills, potholes, hills, hills, Then the Black dog pub. Great pub people 4 deep screaming at you cycling through the middle of the crowd. Top of sheep house the masked wrestlers out in force they like my bike, I didn’t at the time. Cycling down sheep house is amazing. Much easier that way. Cycle to Bolton 1st lap done 65 miles+ in my head I’m over two hours in front of cut off. I’m having a picnic, might as well enjoy this nonsense. Pull out a ham and cheese sandwich bit warm and slightly squashed but I’ve looked forward to this. An oompa loompa strolls over clearly eyeing up the sandwich. “Alreet lad” “You’re from Wigan you should be eating pies” To his amazement I pull out three from a back pocket. That’s shut him up. Little did I know this 15 minute picnic caused an issue with my tracker much to my mum’s amusement. The second lap was horrible, I didn’t enjoy it, everything was hurting, stupid speed bump. If I got anything right on that bike it was nutrition second time at the top of sheep house, done. It’s all downhill now, Chorley road never felt so long. Made it to T2, confidence is back a check of the watch says 8 hours to finish a marathon. The race was done now nothing would stop me finishing.
First question, how’s Chris, where is he? Katie said he was doing fine but had snapped his chain. T2 grab bag take time and get ready. Full change was the right call. Harriers vest on sorted. “Alright mate can you help me out of my top I’m stuck?” course mate. “Mate can you pull my top down?” Hmm ok, no eye contact.

Just a marathon, I get out of the tent too so many familiar faces, almost everyone I knew was there, it was amazing, I thank everyone who came out and supported that day. It made the day so special to me.

Quickly I find I can’t run normally the dull ache had set in across my back and this was going to hurt. Quick deals made in head, ok run the town centre, any hills are now a walk, walk the feed stations and just keep moving forward. From seeing friends on the course to my dad running with me the first half I got finished in 2 hours, a 4 hour marathon is always good. Lap 3 my head had gone apart from the town centre everything was a walk, I knew I would finish so perhaps had lost my urgency but this was hard going. Just when I needed him though Chris, he’d caught up and was now on his second lap.

He dragged me through 4-5 miles of what should have been a walk at a relatively decent pace couldn’t ask for anything better, I’m about to finish Ironman my best friend is running next to me and I’m actually starting to enjoy myself. I run past Lucy and Mum 1 lap left!! As we take our predetermined stroll through the park Chris is playing tig and man from Chorley tri you are still it! Chris looked fresh and far be it for me to keep him he’s in this race to, so off he set down the road like a gazelle, sickening the man hadn’t trained for this one bit and he’s about to blag an iron man. What a guy. Come on Johnny, get moving, a group of friends shout until I reach a jog, can’t hide anywhere. I took a red bull and with 1 mile left I pushed, I knew that it would be over soon, I caught a small group of people all finishing we all put arms round each it was really nice. Im gunna sprint this, if I don’t I’ll walk, Bolton town centre was electric loads shouting your name. Perfect. I got to the red carpet and had to slap it, finished. Mr Kearsley you are now an Ironman!

From 20.5 stone to an Ironman yeah I’ll take that. Again a huge thank you to everyone who supported that day it was brilliant. I’m not stopping at 14:21 though.

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Chris IRONMAN Green 2017

Ironman 2017 redemption

Finally the day has come! 3:30 am up and quick shower, more to wake my self up than anything, breakfast and as much coffee as I could get into my system before we had to leave. We got to the flash just after 4:30. I headed to my bike, put my food and water bottles on, a quick check and then back to meet Katie. Wetsuit on and ready met up with a few of the Invictus tri group I kept my self really quiet. This is where Katie left me and my nerves really began to kick in and also show. I walked to the back of the line for the swim not really listening to the music, more in my own little bubble. I decided that I wanted to get in the 1:50 mark so lined up there and chatted with a few people, then people were getting in the water and we were moving slowly forward. I was stopped before getting into the water so the pro’s could complete their first lap it took me about 20 mins to get into the water, I had learned from last year keep right its less crowded, a few stokes of breast stroke to get used to the water and calm my nerves but it wasn’t working. I swam slowly to the first buoy in breast stroke, I was in a mental battle and losing. I had a word with myself. I knew I had to do front crawl to get round so I stuck my head in the greeny brown water and started just taking it easy. I had Kellyanne’s voice in my head telling me off about my stroke and to use full strokes, I got into the breathing and my stroke and was soon near the top buoy, breast stroke round it easier to sight the next one then back into crawl towards the sailing club it breast stroke again at the turn then I could see the exit. This is the hardest part of the swim towards the car park fighting against the current remembering to kick more so legs work when get out the water. I got to the exit and I was dragged/ helped out, looked at my watch 51 mins, relief! I still had 1:30 ish to do the next lap, a quick jog round and back in heading out to the top buoy with the current taking me felt so much easier I was actually catching people. I had someone’s feet in front of me to just follow and I was actually enjoying myself. I was overtaking people all the way to getting out of the water. That was it, I knew in my own mind I had done it. I had massive shout from Katie and Cath, further along the exit Kellyanne was shouting and swearing at me, ‘piece of piss now Chris you’ve done it!’

Running into transition I took my time and made sure I had everything, still smiling I must have been the happiest man in there 138.2 miles to go and I knew I had done it, that may sound cocky but my worst bit was over and demons banished. There’s slight drizzle, ‘I won’t need the sun cream’, how wrong could I be.

Walking from transition to the mount line, making sure I was well past it before getting on the bike, more words of encouragement from Katie I and could see the relief on her face.

Nice and steady out of the park and onto the roads into higher gears, over taking lots of people all the way up to the loop my legs felt ok, nice and steady feeling comfortable tucking in and trying to get as much speed as possible down towards Lostock train station. I knew there was a diversion on the route but wasn’t expecting the hill as we turned right! I was in all the wrong gears but powered up it, no time to get out of the big ring onto Chorley New Road and up to Babylon lane. This little street from the lights all the way to the top of the hill near the pub is amazing, people shouting and cheering and hi 5’s it’s like on the tour de france from the pub. The first time over Sheephouse doing ok to that bastard tree that never gets any closer, me and a guy (Liam) were laughing and telling jokes all the way up it and getting funny looks as we passed struggling riders. Round the tree to the Sheephouse fancy dress party, flew down the back to Belmont round the corner up the hill in the big ring I knew I could carry the speed at the top of the hill and into the wind, I would beat Liam up the hills but he was better on the flat and so for the next lap and a half we played leap frog. It was great getting to just before Hunter Hill, that’s where I saw Pauline and a few others, I think it was Paul Brierton who shouted Greeny you can swim!

I was eating malt loaf and powerbars while on the bike and stopped for banana a couple of times but I think I should have taken on more fuel, I struggled on the second lap. The crowds were amazing again on Babylon Lane and Hunters and near the Rigby Arms with the Invictus triathlon club there. I caught Liam again after Pepper Lane on the second lap, the first lap I saw Mike Harris with the Harriers flag but I couldn’t carry it on my bike. I followed the course round the third time up Babylon Lane round towards the split, it was great to finally able to take the split towards T2, me and Liam were a steady distance overtaking each other and just laughing at each other as one would look as we overtook. I slowed right down as we came down the hill and managed to get off the bike before the dismount line he nearly threw himself over the bars trying to stop in time. We walked and racked the bikes.

Full on change for me into the club vest, SIS caffeine shot and a power bar and we were soon away. I was struggling the up the hill and the first two miles felt like I had a stitch, I just couldn’t shift it. Burping a few times helped but it wouldn’t go. Liam was shouting at me dragging me along. The first 3 miles were awful, we made it to the loop and all of a sudden I felt great. The first half of the loop just get your bearings, down to the timing mat at the bottom turn back on your self and head back into town. After the turn is where the Harriers were gathered and I had great cheers and support (you really don’t know how much it means when you’re struggling and being at it for about 10 hours to see friendly faces) head down the hill me and Liam chatting all the way he was starting to struggle. We were breaking it down. Get to mile 10 then half then to 15 then 18, small chunks to get through it, run it all walk the feed stations. Coming into Bolton center massive noise from Team Wane and the Morgan-Hillams back out of town big cheer from Coach Kellyanne.

Keep moving forward, salty snacks, flat coke, water, orange drinks as well as my gels shove it all down keep moving. First band on only 2 laps to go, past the A&T food station cheers from Em Owen and, ‘well done’, from one of the guys I saw at RNR liverpool you’ve done it this time he shouts. Lap 2 Katies there with the kids, a quick kiss for all of them and I’m an emotional wreck haha running trying not to cry, get it together, keep running slow and steady helping Liam shouting at him dragging him round we’ve done 130 miles nearly together only 10 more. We picked up second band back round to Katie I shout to her only 10k left. Keep going, stop and help Liam stretch, walk to the feed station and from there on up to the band stop. The magical red band! I’m sure it has power to it because I felt great when I got it. Last time past the feed station, hi 5 them all, thank them and all the volunteers are amazing, not just for giving me stuff but the encouragement they give. Head down the hill past the random house with music blasting, fittingly its Queen “Don’t stop me now”, 5k left we run through the feed station keep going round the corner near maccies, round towards the finish. Me and Liam stop and have a massive hug, he says, ‘go take your glory you dragged me round!’ I went first up the red carpet the announcer on the tannoy, ‘CHRIS GREEN YOU ARE AN IRONMAN.’ Finished. Relief, Liam comes and a hug again and into the tent, someone takes the tag from my leg and I get some food and a t shirt. Left the tent and walk out to Mark who’s been with Katie the whole time, to my family. Big hugs all round before off to Macron to get my stuff and home. The wife brought me cold cider in the car but I just couldn’t face it but demolished the maccies once we got home. When can I do it again?