Well I suppose it’s time to take stock, Ironman France 2019 is done, dusted and over, here we go…..

The approach was cover the distance in training and on the day everything will work out.

This was working pretty well, in fact, 6 weeks out from the race I was FLYING, able to hold 20mph + for over 5 hrs on the bike, on track for a 3hr15 marathon and swimming ‘enough’ (lol).

Then I made the mistake of getting too involved….

Pushed too hard in training for the run and popped one of my hip flexors with 3 weeks to go – not ideal. I rested it for a week then tried one last long run, which ended with me not being able to put any weight on my left leg and put me out of training for pretty much the entire run in to the race.

Anyway, I figured I would show up, race and if I had to walk the marathon so be it.

We arrived in Nice last Friday and as soon as we came out of the airport got smacked in the face by the serious heat – on the Friday we hit 40 Celsius 😳

Then came the email – the race had been shortened, Swim would be the same, bike dropped from 112 to 95 miles and the run to 20 from 26.

Pretty gutting, just like Cork the week before the decision meant that it was not a true Ironman race, even though it would be better for my hip it was still not ideal, I’m still a bit bummed now to be fair.

So what about race day then??

The swim was potentially going to be non wetsuit due to the heat but apparently it just scraped in under the non wetsuit temp so we all assembled on the beach at 6.15 – I was already cooking as it was over 30 degrees at 6am 😳

The swim was pretty good, the plan was to get in with a group and draft my way round without going in to the red, it took about 1k to clear the mass start and get in a rhythm but after that all was well and I got out in 1hr 9min, not super fast but I was still fresh so all good 😁

Transition was pretty straight forward but I tried to run a bit and the hip gave out – not a good omen.

Plan for the bike was go and have fun, don’t put myself in the red and enjoy the climbs, with the shortened distance there was no point killing myself because the times would not be comparable.

The plan worked well, although I was a little worried I was going out too hard as I was passing people the whole way to the half way point, I didn’t feel like I was pushing hard though so just got in with it.

Then came the descents back to Nice – the bike course here is absolutely stunning, it is also interesting in that you have a 10 mile mountain pass in the first third then it pretty much descends all the way back to transition 👍

I haven’t had so much fun on a bike in many many years, disc brakes, amazing handbuilt wheels by Dave Kane and a titanium bike make for a SERIOUS descending bike – if you are a good bike handler then you will love this race!

Got back to T2 having made up 500 odd places on the bike and still feeling good 👍👍

Then came the run, F**k me that run…….

It was nudging 39c when I got off the bike with about 76% humidity – it was literally like being in a hot tub.

Headed out to run and immediately knew it wasn’t a good day – my hip popped immediately and I couldn’t put weight on it, not an ideal situation to be staring down a 20 mile run in 40 degree heat, not going to lie, I stopped about 400 metres in and had a serious mental conversation about whether I should carry on or just call it a day.

Only 2 things made me move again 1. My idiotic inability to stop an event once I have started – 2. In my mind I had always been thinking about my sister while I was training and I wanted to finish this off for her, she was not a quitter, I couldn’t be now.

So we went on, walked the first mile or so then decided I needed to figure out a way to get to the finish quicker, I didn’t fancy doing this for 6 hours or more. Apparently taxis were banned from the run course so the only way was to figure out how to run.

What came about then was a half walk, half run shuffle that got me to roughly 12 minute miles.

Then came the weather, I have NEVER seen anything like that run, i felt like half of my lungs had shut down, it was like a war zone, the only sound I could hear the whole way was ambulance sirens, there were people collapsing everywhere, people being sick in bins, people laying in flower beds because they had sprinklers running.

Honestly there are no descriptions that could paint a proper picture of the absolute carnage that made up the run, it was completely, utterly brutal, how nobody died is a complete mystery to me – the emergency services here are total bad asses they must have been stretched to the max.

One guy crashed on the bike and said that by the time he got to the hospital the A&E was already packed wall to wall with people that had been nailed from the run.

So almost 4 hrs later a cooked, shuffling, shell that just about represented my former self managed to give the person who has supported from the outset, who I am so lucky to have in my life, the beautiful Michelle Dempster-Mortlock a kiss and a final thank you before hobbling over the line.

A quick kiss to the sky and some tears later and it was time to have a beer and a lie down.

Final thoughts….

I’m in two minds, on one hand I am super proud to have finished bearing in mind my condition and the state of the weather, this may not have been a ‘true’ Ironman but I am pretty sure there will not have been another race this year as bad as this – out of 3000 starters just over 2200 finished apparently 😳😳😳😳

On the other hand I am disappointed with my own performance, if I had performed as I had the potential to I would have been in the top 50 for my age group – can’t dwell on that though, on to the next!!

Thank you to everyone who has supported me for the last 11 months, if you managed to read all of this drivel then thank you as well and congratulations, you need a medal.

Finally thank you so so much to my amazing wife Michelle for putting up with me and thank you to mum for coming out to support, was great having you there.