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IRONMAN PORTUGAL 2022 By Carl Harrington

So here’s the Ironman spam as promised.

Prior to the event I set myself targets for each event and was hoping to complete the event in sub 12 hours.

I set myself 1:30 for the swim, 6 hours for the bike and 4 hours for the marathon which then would allow a maximum time of 15 minutes in T1 and T2.

The swim went really well and despite stubbing my toe and possibly breaking it I was off and into a choppy, 16 degree Atlantic sea.

All of my open water swim training this year has been at Hatfield Water Park in a plus 20 degree, still lake so the Ironman swim straight away took me out of my comfort zone. Not to let that stress me out though I took it on the chin and decided to get my head down and crack on. Much to my joy I got out of the swim and stopped my watch at 1:26, four minutes under my target.

On approach to T1 and the long 600 metre run I saw Sally with our little ones Ruby and Jack. This gave me a massive boost and made me want to smash my targets even more to make them proud.

T1 completed in just under 12 minutes so armed with my jam sandwiches I was onto the bike with another 3 minutes in the bank. A final wave to Sally and the kids and I was off up the hill and out of Cascais.

The bike was lumpy for the first 12k or so then flattened out as we headed to the turn point at Lisbon. Once we turned at Lisbon we we’re heading back to Cascais in a head wind for the second lap. My time was pretty much on target and I should have been back at T2 just within the 6 hour target. That was until my rear derailleur decided to jam, snap into several pieces and twist my chain at the 160km point. Still with 20km to go I was now really worried that I wasn’t going to finish and all of the sacrifice, training and years of preparation was going to go to waste.

Fortunately I had a multi tool with a chain splitter and a spare quick link. So I decided to split the chain take off the knackered derailleur in the hope that I could ride the final 20km as a fixie with just the one gear.

I managed to get this sorted but the original quick link had become severally damaged and was only secure on one side so I knew I could only ride steady or risk snapping the chain altogether.

I limped back to T2 with the final 20km taking well over an hour with a final bike finish time of 7:02, over an hour outside my target. I was annoyed and frustrated but also relieved to have made it back.

I came out of T2 in 6:34 so almost 9 minutes under my targeted allowance so managing to claw some time back.

On exiting T2 Craig and Lindsay were there and after venting my frustrations of the bike mechanical with them Craig gave me a bit of a kick up the backside and told me to crack on and put it behind me.

So not to be deterred I decided I was going to go hard from the outset on the run and see how the legs would go. I managed my hydration and nutrition well on the bike so knew I had a good chance of getting a sub 4 hour marathon.

Again the run course was lumpy and challenging on the legs and despite telling myself initially that I would take nutrition at every aid station I only took it at every third running hard in between.

The first lap was completed in under 8 minute mile pace and I was given a massive boost coming out of the marina where Sally and the little ones were waiting. We had a little kiss and a cuddle then I was off again.

The legs still felt good and I saw the other OTCF athletes on the course where we exchanged pleasantries and gave each other messages of support.

On approach back into the Marina Sally and the kids were once again there cheering me on and once again this gave me a massive boost and just spurred me on to get finished as soon as I could.

By now it was dark and parts of the course were pitch black as several street lights were out so this made judgement under foot difficult and slightly slowed the pace.

As I reached the final turn point I knew I had about another 5 miles to go. In my head I set it as one lap of where I run back home so knew if I carried on at the pace I was running I would be finished well under the four hour target.

I cracked on passing the remaining feed stations without stopping and picked up the pace.

As I entered the finisher zone the crowds were massive and the atmosphere electric. Sally and the kids had managed to get front row seats in one of the grandstands and we managed to have a final high five before I crossed the finish line.

I stopped my watch at 3:40 only 12 minutes outside of my marathon PB and a massive 20 minutes inside my target of a 4 hour marathon.

My official total time on the IRONMAN Portugal course was 12:29:19 and although I was outside of my target time of 12 hours I was thrilled to have completed the event given how close I came to a DNF and there is definitely something there to build on. It does make me wonder what my time would have been without the bike mechanical issues but I suppose that’s something I’ll never know.

Finally I’d like to thank Coach Steve Clark who has got me in the best shape ever with an excellent well structured training program, Swim coaches Michael Barnett, Rose Fells, Ruth White, Claire Wellington of Doncaster Triathlon Club who have ironed out some of the flaws in my swim technique (still plenty of room for improvement and a work in progress) and last but not least the boss Sally Harrington for continuing to support me while train and participate in these kinds of events.

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