Last year I did 2 Ironmen, Ironman UK and Ironman Wales, neither of which I was particularly pleased with my performance on. Ironman UK I was carrying an injury and Ironman Wales I carelessly fell off my bike, so I had a score to settle with Ironman. I could not do either of the UK events so I was forced to look further a field to Sweden.
This was the first year that Sweden had hosted a branded Ironman event and the course looked flat and fast - the highest point is 42m above sea level on a bridge crossing over to Öland Island. The weather was perefect, no wind, overcast and dry so there would be no excuses for not setting a PB!
The swim was 2 laps of the bay in calm shallow water, you could see the bottom most of the time when you weren't in a frenzy. The last part of the swim was up a small inlet to right next to transistion, the water was much shallower and quickly got stirred up into a soup. I took the swim steadily, perhaps too steadily coming out the water in 1:20, 10 minutes off my target time.
But next was the bike my favourite bit. It was a bit weird cycling on the wrong side of the road, but soon got used to it, although I did have a couple of lapses on single track roads. I was storming along averaging over 23mph and well on course for a sub 5 hour bike spilt, at mile 50 a wasp decided to attack me and sting my wrist and other than causing me to yell profanities didn't put me off my pace.
After about 100 miles I was checking my cycle computer to see how well I was doing, it was looking like a 4:50 bike split. When I looked up I saw tree coming straight at me, my front wheel went just to the left of the tree and my right hand and right half of the handle bars bore the full brunt of the impact.
I was thrown off the bike bike and skidded down the road managing to scratch both side of my body. My hand was in absolute agony, I tried making a fist and flatten it out,it hurt 10 times more.
After a few moments sitting there daze I picked up my bike, it hadn't faired much better than me, the entire right half of the handle bars was dangling on the brake and gear cables.
I was convinced it was game over. A motor bike marshal pulled up and checked I was OK and suggested I try riding it back, it was only 10miles after all! I stepped over the bike, 100% convinced this was a bad idea, clipped one foot in and gently rolled forward, after a couple of very dodgy wobbles I was up and running with just 1 brake and no gears, fortunately it was flat so it wasn't a major issue. There were a couple of frightening moments going round roundabouts and dismounting wasn't easy but I managed to nurse to bike back.
Transistion was tough there was no one to help you and getting my shoes on single handedly was awkward. I jogged out of transistion and my now very swollen hand had sharp pains every time it was jolted as my feet hit the ground - this was going to be a tough 26 miles.
After 7km I found a Medic and got my fingers taped together, the extra support reduced the pain from extreme to unpleasant. Other than the hand I felt pretty good and settled into a steady rythym of about 10min miles. As the laps ticked away I realised it was going to be very close to my target time of sub 11 hours, the last lap I picked up the pace, desperately trying to work out if I was going to make it or not. The first twinges of crap started to set in with about a mile to go,I lengthened my stride to try and stretch it out.
I finally crossed the line in 10:58 taking about an hour off my previous best. The Medical tent thinks I've factured 2 bones in my hand and I need to go for an X-ray tomorrow so whilst my times seem to be getting quicker, my injuries seem to be getting more severe, maybe its time to hang up my Ironman boots [well for this year anyway]
*Update* I did in fact break 2 metacarpals and required surgey to fit 4 screws to rebuild my hand!