IM Maastricht 2018 by an Essex based TriHarman athlete

Maastricht is lovely, the people friendly and proved to be fantastic on race day. I picked this location for the certainty of a wetsuit swim and temperatures I could handle after the Vichy event two years ago. So, after a ferry to Dunkirk, a simple three hour drive, we arrive at our beautiful apartment about 10 minute walk from transition.  Quick unpack and a walk down to the river for dinner, sat outside in ridiculous heat. Crap…..

Fast forward to race morning, a really nervy practice swim the day before behind me and stood there in my tri-suit. Water temp 26 degrees. Seriously. I’m going to drown. All those negative thoughts that hadn’t been part of the build up were back.

Pep talk, man up, big boy pants on, seed yourself at 1.30 and get ready. In I go after about 15 minutes and swam, and swam, and swam. It really is a long way without the neoprene for us slow swimmers. Finally got to the turnaround which was slightly against the current…..deep breath, stay focused and go again. More contact on the way back and more people slowing, struggling, but I got there, gave it my all and was pulled out finally and thankfully at the exit. Quick glance at my watch…..shit, really, try pressing go next time. Looked up, my wife and girls shouting encouragement and probably relieved I hadn’t drowned.
Later learned it was 1.32 which was fine for me and probably 12 minutes slower than my time in training with a wetsuit so pretty pleased.

T1, no drama.

Bike….won’t dwell on this as it was a nightmare.
First 20 miles were ok though speed was down….very stop start and two large hills.
Puncture. First of the year. Fixed it. Twenty minutes later. Puncture. Second of the year. Fixed it. About five minutes later….losing pressure. Stop at aid station. Race over. Tears and tantrums….gutted. All that training. At this point I really was done in, had another tube left and one more gas canister but had given up. A lovely Belgian lady gave me a hug and a pep talk and got me interested again after my meltdown. So, get some gas in and off I go. Lost focus but got up the third and largest hill of the lap and hit a long flat section by the river, got down in aero and smashed it for an hour until end of the lap. Saw the support team again and realised a 3.36 lap was the outcome (nightmare, I was expecting 3.10).
Lap 2, stop at aid station, say thank you to Belgian lady, have photo taken (!) and on I go. No issues……10 miles to go, legs are hurting, backside is hurting and…I lose pressure. Puncture. Third of the year. So, no gas, use the mini pump to try to get some air in and manage to do so to a degree. Limp home in 6.53. Gutted.
Ok, so I did dwell on it, not that I am bitter.

T2. No drama.

Out on to the run and the sun has really come out to play. Absolutely boiling. Simple plan, run between each aid station. Stop, drink coke, water, orange segment and take a sponge or ice when available. That routine got me through perfectly. Mile 20, check watch, gone off….ok, so just run, sod the watch. Time 4.27. In the circumstances I was really pleased with the run as we had not been able to put the miles in due to my ongoing back issues. It hurt all the way round but I was passing people all the time which was I have to say, really motivational. Of course, I had a lot to pass after the bike but we won’t dwell on that..

So, 13.03 in total. Not disappointed at all after the events of the day conspired against me. Just an immense feeling of pride at finishing and leaving nothing out there.

I was lucky to race in such a beautiful town and in front of thousands of cheering, supportive people which was an experience I’ll never forget. Ironman is hard, IRonman is expensive but I absolutely got my pay back on the day. What a day!

The build up was difficult, short (16 weeks) and a challenge with my various injuries and incidents. I was lucky enough to have two things and couldn’t have finished without them. My family and their support and understanding across 16 weeks and of course Coach Teresa who devised a personalised plan for me successfully for the second time. I’m quite a challenge as a middle aged, untalented, brittle fella from Essex…..but I’m a determined bugger also and we got it done.

I retired immediately after of course. But I still have a sub 12 in me. Barcelona 2019 anyone……it will be wetsuit won’t it….promise?

Geoff Roberts