*** many thanks to Chris Thorne for this race report***

Ironman Maastricht!! Even the name sounds painful.

I chose this race for three reasons , it was in Europe so all the family could come and support, it fell in time when the kids were off school  and it was in Holland so it would be a flat bike course ( don’t believe Holland is flat !!)

Fitness Background

I used to be relatively fit in my early years but I fell prey to wine, women, song and smoking!

So I gave up the booze 16 years ago because I was fed up of getting locked up and waking up in strange places. But l but couldn’t give up the fags until 3 years ago when my best friend told me to do the London Marathon with him for charity. Prior to that 3Kms on the treadmill killed me. So I went cold turkey, gave the fags up, started running and managed to haul my sorry arse round the 2012 London Marathon.

I started doing triathlons by helping out with my daughter and the group she was training with called Starfish and Vanda who trains the kids for triathlon. My first race was in Manzar, I hired a road bike off Wolfie’s put on a bright pink swim cap and away to go. After the race my wife said she recognized me on the swim because I was last person doing breaststroke and on the bike I had my helmet on back to front.

Training

I found an online training plan that I managed to adapt to suit my time schedules and I went at it as hard as I could, I pretty much kept up with all the training days. Along with burning the midnight oil on the Al Quadra Track ( I nearly fell asleep on the bike at 3am on the back of the new loop ) I managed to put a few Hatta rides in and my running ended up in the World Trade Centre during the summer. With the swimming I swam up until June off Roy’s Beach then joined the tri squad at Fit Republik which was very good.

Race Prep

Myself and the family flew back to the UK on the Tuesday before the race, we then hired a camper and I drove to Maastricht from Cardiff, with a stopover in Dover we got to Maastricht on the Thursday afternoon. I had forgotten how bad it was to sleep in a camper and felt constantly tired. Due to travelling and the crap weather I only managed two small runs and one bike the week leading up to the race.

I signed in and racked the bike on the Saturday and then went and drove the bike course!!

The bike course went through every Dutchman’s back garden, farm, port, dirt track, cobble stones and there were hills!!! We ended up getting lost half way round and gave up.

I decided to share a room with my mother the night before so that I could get a full night’s sleep. The only problem was that in Europe  it stays light until 10pm, the room was over the bar area and my mother wanted a light left on for when she came in. Also I look at my mother as an angel and wouldn’t think that she snores!! Jesus Christ it was like a fog horn going off.

Race Day

I woke up completely knackered had some breakfast and walked down to the transition/start area. Checked the bike over and got ready for action.

Swim  Time 1:12

The swim was a one loop course in the Mass River with an Australian Exit at the half way mark. They started everyone off in waves which was much more civilized. I chose to go in the 1:30 wave  knowing that I’d be able to do it in 1:15 so then  I wouldn’t have anyone swimming over me. The swim was fine no dramas, I managed to see and hear my support crew as they ran along the river chasing me.

T1 6:26

Transition 1 was fine, off with the wetsuit, on with a dry bike top, sock, shoes, Spectacles Testicles Wallet and Watch and I was off.

Bike 6:21

The bike course was a 2 lap course and I wasn’t looking forward to it after driving it the day before. I made the usual mistake of going out too fast too soon and paying for it on the second half. The last 30kms was hard work because the sun was out at 30 degrees. Whilst grinding my way up one of the last hills I heard someone shouting my name, my support crew had jumped in the car and came out to cheer me on round the bike course. (it always helps and gives you that boost when  you see your support crew )

When I was training I was quite anal with taking on nutrition every half hour and sipping water then electrolytes every 15 minutes. I used Mule bars and Hi Five gels for the nutrition and Hi five for the electrolytes. Come race day I made the cardinal mistake of changing the mule bars for the Hi five energy bars because they tasted better , I still stuck to the half hour routine but on the last 10km on the bike I started feeling light headed , I had stomach cramps and started to get double vision.

T2 5:33

No dramas in T2 just felt like shit.

Run 5:36

This was a 3 loop course through the old town of Maastricht and out into the residential areas. The support from the locals was outstanding they came out of the houses offering water, food and they had hose pipes to cool you down. Every Loop I managed to see my support crew twice which helped immensely.

1km into the run and I had to stop and be sick , my stomach was all over the place , I was light headed and had no energy whatsoever to run. At this stage I just felt like throwing the towel in but all I thought of was my whole family had come to support me, everyone in Tri Dubai would be willing me on so I thought even if I have to walk the whole marathon I was not giving up.

After walking the first 10km and taking on food, water, coke, smoking some weed I felt great!  I then managed to run/jog the next 15 Km and then I started getting cramps in my hamstrings. I stopped and stretched on some elderly Dutch couple’s garden wall where I also took a salt tablet to see if that helped. My body then started going into spasms and the cramping was horrendous, I was writhing around on the floor looking like an 80’s break dancer, dribbling out of my mouth and screaming random obscenities. The last time this happened to me was when I had taken far too much Class A pharmaceuticals in my 20’s.

After a few minutes the cramping eased up and I managed to get up and walk / run. The last 10km seemed bit of a blur and I just managed to run to the finish line.

When I was out training putting in all the long hours I’d ask some of the TriDubai members is it all worth it and they kept telling me wait until you cross that finish line. Well here I was 500 meters to go and I felt like a king, I was fighting back the tears when I heard them shout out Chris Thorne you are an ironman.

Total Time 13:22

Advice

Looking back at the things I’d change when I do my next one (probably challenge Denmark 2016) are:

1)  Book into a hotel room on your own and arrive 4-5 days before the race relax and prepare properly for the big day.

2)  Wear a 2 two piece race suit because it’s easier to stop and take a pee instead of on the bike , where I had to wash my suit and feet off with water , I then had wet socks to run in.

3)  Wear a hat on the run. Over here we tend to train in the early hours before the sun comes up, after the race I had sun stroke.

4)  Try and choose a race that’s before June, July, August.  I found the last month of training soul destroying, especially when you’re doing a 5-6 hour ride and waking up at 1am to start.

5)  Do more long brick sessions; again due to the heat over here I skipped a lot of long brick sessions.

6)  Admit that you’re old get over your midlife crisis and take up snooker as a hobby.

I have to thank my Wife for putting up with me, my nickname is the miserable, unsociable bastard. My two children who think I’ve lost the plot. My mother , brother , ex ex sister in law ( it’s a long story ) and niece for going all the way to Holland to support me and everyone from TriDubai for their words of wisdom and support.

Cheers Chris