I pulled out of Ironman Lanzarote with a heavy heart, knowing I was in peak shape, but for my damaged ankle ligaments. Watching the race was difficult as I had mentally planned my race in each day dream for months. I knew as the clock ticked where I'd planned to be, where the pain would come and also where I'd need to dig in and hold on.
The morning of the race, I'd hired a scooter and my plan was to follow the race and support all my friends, especially in areas or parts of the course where the support was very sparse.
This seemed like a simple plan, how hard could it be to support Richard, Tim and some of the other guys. They had arrived in Lanzarote with a view to qualifying for Kona. This race was their only chance and their hopes and dreams to race the World Championships in October depended on it. It was going to be a fantastic day!!
Dawn broke and the long day ahead beckoned. It was important for me to give Richard and Tim their positions in their age group on the run. This I found was much harder than I expected because not only did I find myself looking at athletes as they passed trying to guess their age, but it meant that I had to get a close look at each competitors number when they ran past, both of which I found really tricky as the front runners were running some fast marathons. Next time I'm racing, I'll be much more appreciative when someone shouts at my position in a race , as I really didn't understand how difficult it was.....get the info/intelligence wrong and you risk the competitor holding back in the belief that they're safe within the qualifying zone. Get this wrong and you become the reason they missed their slot and that is just bad karma!!!
Watching Richard Hobson and Tim Bishop, both excellent athletes but they both have different strengths and race very differently. Richard was out front from the swim and Tim was muscling his way through the pack taking scalps as he went. So the danger was there were faster runners behind Richard that were catching him and how many more athletes Tim would need to overtake before he made it to safety within the qualifying zone. All of this was very stress full.....
Thankfully both athletes excelled themselves on the day, Richard lost a few places but still remained well on track and Tim motored through bulldozing those fellow agegroupers ahead.
What I'll take away from this is how tough it is for the loved ones and partners who have supported their husband, wife, Mum or Dad and the level of stress they go through worrying about thier partner whilst they're watching them carve out their dreams.
So the next time we race, lets make it requirement that the first beer post race, we toast the supporters, who if they could..... would be with you your whole journey.