Holkham Outlaw Half 2018
I completed the first Holkham Outlaw Half in 2016 in 7hrs 31.29. It was the longest triathlon I had ever done and I was on such a high on the finish line all I wanted to do was a full Ironman. I signed up to do Ironman Wales in 2017. I committed to a training plan and stood, on September 10th 2017, on the start line the fittest I had ever been. The Welsh weather however was far from kind, it was described by the female winner, Lucy Charles, after the race as ‘biblical’. This resulted in a very rough sea and with the swim being my weakest discipline I didn’t complete the required 2.4 mile swim. Devastated.
To rebuild my confidence, and prove to myself that all the Ironman training had not been wasted I decided to revisit Holkham Outlaw in 2018. My aim being to improve my time and regroup with a possible full Ironman distance in 2019. So I signed up and start the training and prep for a race in July. This is when I join the Jaguars, I remember Holkham having a few little hills, I run miles to avoid hills, so I decide some more structured training can do me no harm.
1st July 2018 Holkham Outlaw Half
The alarm goes off. Despite staying in Stiffkey this early start is required to ensure I can enjoy (force down) some breakfast, and arrive in transition to set out my kit, do some final checks, and check again. The usual toilet stops and put on my wetsuit. I’m in the final wave starting at 07.25, so plenty of time to prepare (get nervous).
Normally I’m standing around waiting to start feeling cold, not today. Even at this hour the weather is pleasantly warm.
The swim – 1.2 miles
We are allowed into the water around 10 minutes before race start. Holkham lake is not the nicest lake to walk into. To start it is quite stony and sharp, then you go into mud and as you stand there you can feel your feet sinking deeper. I was in mud up to my knees!
I always position myself to the back of the group due to being a slower swimmer. All I gain by going to the front is everyone swimming over me, I’ve tried it once and have no desire to repeat the experience!
The klaxon sounds and I quickly get into my rhythm. It’s a simple course, you swim down the lake heading away from the main hall, around an island then head back towards the hall and exit just up from where the start is. I feel very relaxed, which is unusual for me swimming, but I put this down to the fact that for a large part of the swim I am able to see my partner on the bank, and this always inspires me to try my best. I’m managing to keep with the back of the pack and even over take a few from my wave and at least one from the wave before.
I exit the water in 52.39 mins, and run into Transition 1 trying at the same time to get out of my wetsuit. I never rush too much in transition I always go with the plan of making sure I have something to drink and that my clothes are comfortable ready for the next round. Chafe is something that becomes very unpleasant quite quickly!
The bike – 56 miles
The bike course heads out of Holkham up towards the obelisk which is a slight incline and then straight out onto the road. The temperature is starting to rise and so is the wind. It’s a beautiful bike course, along the coast, past Sandringham, down some quiet country lanes and there is always someone in front of me to focus on. I feel I am flying along and in this early stage I am passing people. I know the first feed station is at 24 miles so I put my head down and focus on ticking off the miles.
The feed station arrives and I take the opportunity to swap my empty bottle for a full one and grab a toilet stop, not easy when you are in a tri suit and trying to avoid touching anything in the porta loo!!! 😬
I’m back on the road and focusing on the last half. I know a long stretch of the main Fakenham road is approaching, and having checked wind direction know this is going to be head wind.
The main road has one plus, it’s tarmac and smooth, which is a pleasure for many reason. However, the headwind is knocking off any speed that this smooth surface should supply. I know this stretch is 14 miles long, so tuck in and try to think of anything apart from the wind. I continued pass people, and come across some who have obviously been mentally broken by this section. I offer words of encouragement on my way past and tell them that quickly this head wind will be behind us (it never was, but I hoped it made them feel better!!)
At last the end of the headwind torture comes and we turn off the main road at just under 50 miles. Another feed station which I cycle through with my mind firmly set on reaching Transition 2.
We turn back into Holkham the same way we exited, but now we are going downhill. I take the opportunity to take on more fluids and have a look at the runners attempting the run back towards me, uphill in the growing heat. Something to look forward to, three times!
Transition 2 – Bike completed in 3hrs 29.54
The run 13.2 miles
Have I mentioned the weather yet? It’s hot, not a cloud in the sky, and it’s breezy.
The first thing to greet your cycle tired legs is the slow incline back up to the obelisk. I stop at the first feed station, there is one every mile, grab some crisps, a drink and a cold sponge and run on. Past my support crew, who all give me a massive cheer and boost. My plan was to stick to 10 min miles, slower than my normal pace, but one I thought would be achievable given the hills. It wasn’t, my legs were screaming off the bike. I walk. I adopt a new walk/run plan and due to the heat decide to eat and drink at every station. It is hot and I am very grateful that I decided to purchase a cap to run in the day before. On to the next feed station and it seems everyone around me is following the walk/run approach. I do lap one in just over 50 mins and now know the lay out, there is hardy any shade and we are in the sun for most of the time. Did I say how hot it is? It’s hot. 🌞
Here comes the hill again for lap two. Stop at feed station and run past support group, my legs feel better now and I have adjusted to being upright. My mind is now set to just going station to station and not thinking beyond that. I run straight up the hill with ease………….I don’t but I wanted to impress you all briefly! In reality I continue the run/walk but I have not progressed to running at least 0.5 mile before I walk for 100 steps.
Lap 3. Once more up the hill, passed support, through the feed stations, enjoying the little respite of shade (it’s a hot one!) and on to the last feed station. I now form a plan in my head that I will run in the last mile and as such make my last mile my fastest. Plan set, through last feed station, into the last mile. Do I run it all? Of course not! I have to walk, but not for long because just in front of me are a couple of ladies that I have been playing leap frog with for the last lap and I must finish in front of them!
Last 0.5, passed my targets, right turn, down the red carpet, high five all my support crew and anyone else who wants one and grab the tape for the photo. Finished!
Finish time 7hrs 07.39 it’s a PB!
Race summary- HOT!
SWIM 1.2 M
CYCLE 56 M