IM France Race Reports

I have'nt seen a race report thread yet so I figured I'd start one.  I'll try to keep this brief since I'm at an internet cafe getting ripped off by the minute.  So here goes to set the record straight:

The moral of this story is if you don't train for an Ironman then prepared for a very, very hard day.

As I've posted leading up to the race, my training has been totally crap this year due to much traveling for work.  Hopefully after reading this I won't get so many sandbagging remarks.  Before coming to Nice I had done one swim since IM Florida which was last November.  I've hardly ridden my bike the year and my longest ride this year was 67 miles which was the first week of May.  In fact I have gone stretches of two weeks or more without being on my bike at all.  My running has even been crap this year.  My 1.5 mile run for my military annual fitness test this year was my worst time in my 11 year military career. 

So I arrived in Nice guessing I had a fair chance of a DNF.  I did manage to rectify the horror of IM Florida last year by having an immodium along with my breakfast on race morning, so that worked a treat.  At the start of the race I hobbled over the horrible stones on the beach with everyone else into the water.  It was a bit like IMDE as when I was in the water I wasn't quite sure which way to go except for to follow everyone else.  It was a poorly marked goofy swim course.  My swim stroke felt pretty good but it was slow going.  I came out of the first lap (2.4k) in 1:07 by my watch and I was tired and was ready to be finished with the swim.  I headed back in for lap 2 and just survived it to come out around 1:50 for the whole 3.8k.  My swim at IM Florida was 1:30 by comparison, so no swim training definitely cost me.  But on the upside at least I know I can still make the distance since swim is a bit like riding a bike in that you don't forget how to do it once you learn.  I ran up the ramp and the supporters were great to see!  Having the Pirate team there is such a huge boost.  I can a big hug to get him wet then hobbled up to transistion.



  • I headed out on the bike and my first thought was I better keep an eye on time so I can make the cutoff as I only had 8:45 or so for the bike.  Nomally I wouldn't have worried but as I said my training has been crap.  I felt pretty good headining out of town and hit the first hill which was 10% for 500m.  It was hard and I was out of the saddle, but once again the supporters came through.  They had chalked all of our names on the hill, which was really great.  It makes me wonder how I managed to finish an IM without Pirate support there.  I got past that and it was on to the big climb which led up to 70km.  It was steep but it just seemed like it would never end.  Lack of training certainly hammered me here as I was only able to hold 6-7 mph on the 6-7% bits.  To give you an idea of how hard the first bit of the course was, the special needs was at 70km instead of halfway at 90km.  I hit 70km at about 4 hours so I knew I was going to have to keep up the pace to make it.  One thing about the aid station right before special needs.  They were out of water, which I couldn't believe because it was quite hot outside.  I caught Flyaway and Squishy on the climb going to 70km and Squishy was at the aid station when I got there and the guy told here she should have gotten there soon if she wanted water.  I was stunned he said that.  On any other day I would've had a go at him right there.  So I had to go another 20km without water before the next aid station.  I was feeling a bit weak by the tim eI got some water, but I stocked up and started drinking and eating and after about 1-20 minutes I was feeling normal again.  It was nice to finally have worked out my nutrition as I felt pretty good most of the ride.  It was just my legs wouldn't cooperate to go as fast as I wanted them to go.  The last 110km had a lot of fast descending bits which was great fun.  I ran into Pirate supporters on a couple of occasions on the course including the intermediate cutoff which was very cool.  I was only about 30 minutes or so inside the cutoff so I knew I was going to have to get moving as I was losing time.  After the hill leading up to 70km my legs just had nothing left for hills.  Every hill I hit I had to go straight to my lowest gear and just survive it.  At about 20 miles or so I checked my watch and realized that making the cutoff was only going to happen if I dropped that hammer and went flat out.  So I pummled it as hard as I could for the finish line.  That's basically where my race went wrong as up to then I had been riding within myself and not overexerting.  It was hot but I was managing it ok witht my hydration.  But that last bit was a huge overexertion and there was no way I could hydrate enough for pushing my body beyond where it should be.  I went from feeling ok still at 20 miles to go to feeling like death by the time I got to go finish line.  So I hobble into T2 about 19-20 minutes under the cutoff thinking I was going to be hard pressed to make the 16 hour final cutoff.
  • I came out of T2 and set off at a very slow jog given that I needed to get a move on to run a 5 hour or so marathon.  Seen the Pirate supporters again was a huge boost but sadly it wore off once I was out of sight of them.  Looking back I should have put my feet up in transistion, had some coke, and taken a 20 minute rest to get my head together.  I knew I was overheating so I was hitting the water and energy drink and every aid station including getting some sponges.  But I just kept feeling worse and worse.  I hit the turn around for the first lap at 38 minutes and started back for the return trip.  At this point I was starting to feel really lightheaded so I slowed down to walk for a bit.  Instead of getting better it just seemed to get worse and I started staggering to the point I knew I was slipping into trouble.  When I got to the first aid station on the return trip I sat down and asked for some water.  I was quite lightheaded and sick to my stomach and I suddlenly realized I was so weak I couldn't stand back up.  So I realized it was time to lie down and see if that would help.  Squishy came by and stopped to check on me and thankfully she was there to talk to the medical staff because I was really out of it.  I told her to go on but she insisted she wasn't going to make the cuttoff and I was in no shape to argue.  So huge thanks to Squishy for looking after me on the way to the med tent.  She told me to day when the took my pulse in the ambulance that it was 61 which is a bit scary to me and part of me wishes I didn't know that.  After 11 hours from the start it seems to me my heart rate should have been pretty darn high.  Anyways, I got to the med tent and Squishy went to tell the Pirates what happened to me.  Instead of a drip all I got was a piece of watermelon and a cup of coke so I consumed that and hung out for a little while.  When no one came back to check on me I just said to hell with it and left.  I made my way back to the hotel to get a shower and then back to the bike rack to claim my bike and transistion bags.  Then it was off to bed by about 9:30 pm.

    So basically I destroyed myself trying to make the bike cutoff since I'm so out of shape and I had nothing left for the run.  Between this race and the last two the common theme has been I've been pretty much hammered when I've gotten off the bike so I obviously need much more work on the bike.  I've pretty much decided that I'm not racing an IM nxt year and I'm just going to see if I can find time to do some serious bike training and get my bike fitness up.  I'll probably do some shorter races in the mean time until I can prove to myself that I can do the bike distance in a reasonable time without having to kill myself.  It's just no good being a decent running if I'm hammered everytime I get off the bike.

    Big thanks to all the supporters here in Nice and to those on the forum!  I'll be back to IM someday....just not sure when.  At least this will probably be the worst report you'll have to read since the otheres will almost all be good news stories.  Congrats to all who finished such a brutal day!!!!!!

  • SlugstaSlugsta ✭✭✭

    Glad to hear that you're OK, KK.

  • well done mate, nice report, I see that France still hasn't quite got the act together for the slower riders when it comes to the essential water  !! glad to hear you are OK, may see you stateside in Sept if you have any leave.
  • So glad you're ok KK - very honest and searching report. Hope to see you at Wisconsin or Arizona.
  • KK thats a really helpful report for those considering doing IM...........glad to here your ok now
  • oh KK, so sorry to hear it didn't work out.  will you race again in the US this year?  i guess in someways it's reassuring that training really does make a big difference.

    only one persons report, but have to say the care at IMF sounds a bit lacking.  not enough water on the bike (i take it they had no energy drink either?)  at a race people have paid alot for sounds almost criminal!  then an almost total disinterest in someone who's clearly in a bad way.  perhaps it's down to the field being something like twice the size this year?  i doubt the support crew grew much in a year.

  • Love the open and honest report KK - nice [sic] one. I'm quite shocked that a water station had run out - that's criminal. And it didn't sound like the medical team were that much better.
  • KK - having followed the 'action' on here yesterday, it was good to read your report to get your take on it.

    Glad you're ok now. Hope you recover (mentally & physically) & come back again stronger.


  • they ran out of water in the first year in 2005, I had gone through but the guys I raced with told stories of a group of around 30 riders queueing up next to a public street fountain to get water to fill up bottles, I had assumed this was just lack of race experience on the organisors during the first year but obviously not,
  • Where do i start....

    This time i had organised my mother, sister, friends, and other family members to come and spectate. While it was great having them there, I was also conscious that there was a certain expectation. I had finished my last 2 Ironmen, and so I should finish IM-FR.

    My training could never have been considered as ideal, total of 4 bike rides for training a few runs here and there, and even an olympic distance tri 2 weeks ago.

    So it was off to Nice to join the other shipmates on our next adventure....

    The build up here in Nice was the normal round of getting bikes together and off to have a little dip in the water, lots of chatting and nerves. I was feeling very vulnerable as I know how little depth I had to my training.

    Sunday arrived and it was going to be hot - even at 5:00 am walking to transition to phaff once more with the bikes it was more than just warm. 6:00 am rolled arround and down on to the pebbly beach that so many pay a fortune to visit in July and August. A quick dip in the water to check the goggles were not leaking and to get the wetsuit full or water, then lots of nervous chatter with other fools. 

  • Nice report KK, hard lines on the day. Maybe you shouldnt have let Barley write your training plan but hey, hindsights a wonderful thing.

    It was good to meet you at last. You are the only person I've ever seen wear a baggy wetsuit. I guess it must be the fashion over the pond! 

  • excellent, i can read bobbies report in the morning when i have breakfast.
  • The gun went off and I was quickly into the water and soon into a good  rhythm. I was also becoming aware that I was the only person who had  remember the course and work out which bouy was which. All the competitors was swimming at a very funny angle to me, and were definately not swimming at the bouy I had identified as the first mark of the course.... (I was later proved right - as they corrected the other swimmer, but this was not till there had been quite a few incidents)

    The first lap was going well and I was please with how I felt as I approached land. A very quick out the water and back in lead to a shorter second lap. By this point I was starting to feel thursty and felt as if the water was being drawn out of my body by the salt in the sea. With 625 m to go I was aware of a lot of powered safety craft and the smell of 2 stroke fumes and fuel was making me feel very sick.

    So with my head down I set about getting to shore and 1:24:56 I was out of the water feeling very relaxed and not to tired.  Quickly removing my wetsuit and showering I headed to the transistion where I will pick up the story tomorrow

  • SlugstaSlugsta ✭✭✭
    Oooh, talk about keeping us on tenterhooks! image
  • ISB..... thats teasing   I hate the smell of fumes.... I would have been sick there..................
  • My story...

    Before I start I really want to say a HUGE T H A N K  Y O U to all the pirates and pirate supporters who made a weekend in Nice such a brilliant experience.  You lot are just incredible people.  The support was overwhelming at times...  truly fantastic image   Thank you so, so much.

    They had been out the day before the race and painted 'Go Pirates' and the pirate logo in various places on bike route and on the first steep hill they had painted everyones name on the road!!   What a lovely surprise.  Thank you.  The mexican wave at the bike turn was a total suprise and the support group on the run was really great.

    This tri lark is all new to me.  I hadn't done any tri before, not even a sprint, let alone an IM.  Last autumn I posted a message on this forum asking 'who are the pirates?'   That same day I entered into IM Nice, on a burst of enthusiam.  Although I had run a few marathons, I had never swam up and down a pool in my life and didn't own a bike - indeed hadn't ridden in over 20 years.  No worries..  how hard can it be..?  Iron Melissa voilunteered to be my mentor and devised a training schedule and Dr Nic gave me a swimming lesson.  I bought a bike (Specialized Tarmac Pro) on ebay.

    Mrs DV (Classicaldiva, elesewhere on this forum) has been really supportive and I'd like to say thank you to her too for everything.

    Like all the best plans, things don't always work out.  Life, business, kids..  these things get in the way of training..  I started out with the best intentions but it got harder and harder to fit in the hours each week.  My training started to slip.. weeks went passed and I was doing very little.  I had done some good quality training, guided by Iron Melissa's plan, but probably not enough of it.  Its fair to say that in the last two months I have done very little decent training - certainly nowhere near the hours I should have been doing.

    I am not a good swimmer.  In fact, I am pretty carp at swimming.  The swim was always going to be tough for me.  And it was.  I knew I wasn't doing well when I noticed the rescue boat just behind me and I was guided in to the finish with a canoe on either side.  As I got closer to the shore I could hear the announcer "blah.. blah.. blah..  cut off..  blah.. blah..".   I got out of the water in about 1:59 I think.  I did my best, but I don't think I could have gone much quicker.


  • So..  into T1.  Where is everyone..?   There were only about 10 bikes left.  OMG!   Everyone else was long gone.  I therefore rode almost the entire bike route on my own, except when I caught people up.  I remember catching flyaway and meldy and someone else who I can't remember.  As the bike went on I caught more people who were struggling with the relentless hills.   The climb was steady for me and I drank 6.5 litres of fluid without going to the toilet!   That is an indication of just how hot it was.  It was really tough.  Two consecutive water stations had no water left and no gels..!   Not good. 

    The decent was fast and good fun.  I saw a few people on the roadside with broken bikes or punctures and one guy had flipped over a small wall and was really cut up..  his neck, both arms and both legs were visibly bleeding and he didn't look good.  I hope he was ok in the end.

    I got back to Nice after having been out on the bike for almost exactly 8 hours.. the clock was just ticking passed 10:03 I think...  

    Into T2 then...

    Just need to take my daughter to school and then will finish the story.,....

  • DV! You took your daughter to school during T2???? No wonder you kept us on the edge of our seats in the run up to the cut off!image
  • dont you just hate it when peopel keep you on the edge of your seat
  • haha school run interferes with DV's gripping story...,not fair!!!!!

    still waiting for Swiss Bobbys too!!

    Good report KK, very honest and eye opening! 

  • let her have another day off.......I've got to go soon and I'm left half way between 2 reportsimage
  • come on guys I cant bear the suspense !!
  • what about ISB?  did he just fall asleep at the computer?
  • LOL JD!
  • sorry guys can't do mine yet......about to be away from my home 1am in work at 8am and here until 8pm image....    will do it as soon as possible
  • debbodebbo ✭✭✭

    but emmi I just saw you in a bar about 10 minutes ago - at least it feels like that!

    Slumdot - you were there - you don't need reports!

  • ok.. back now...   will finish the story...

    So..  into T2.. 

    I couldn't get my bike top off.. I was so sweaty it had stuck to me!   Someone came to my assistance and helped me change into run kit..  and off I went..   into the sunshine again.   I had a little under 6 hours to do the marathon so I felt confident that I could finish, even with a run/walk strategy.  Worringly, fairly soon into the first lap I felt a blister developing on my left heal.  I had to blank it out.. it is actually the mother of all blisters and the entire of my left heal is inflamed.  I never get blisters, so I'm not really sure why it happened.

    I saw one guy in bad shape.  Well, many people actually and I think the medical teams were working hard, especially towards the end.  This one guy was very pale and clearly in distress.  His wife started to run with him for support and I estimate she ran about half the marathon wearing a skirt, bikini top and flip-flops!!  Remarkable.  I hope he finished.

    Into the second lap and I was still paraniod about the time.. was I going quickly enough...  the sun burn on my thighs (and I later found through the pirate shorts.. I have lots of dots on both hips!) was painful and even factor 50 cream didn't seem to make much difference.  Kanga caught me up.  He was suffering too, so we decided to stick together and we did most of the rest of the run together.  It was really important to me that I finished.  There was no way I was going to miss the cut off, so with about 6k to go at the end and time running out Kanga told me to go on ahead.  It was a hard decision, but I had to do it.

    So.. I ran probably most of the last 6k, with a few walking bits... 

    Getting to the finish tunnel was an experience that makes doing an IM well worth the effort.  The noise, music, cheering, support, hi-5 to umpteen people, dancing girls, cheerleaders, hoards of pirates screaming like crazy...  it was an emotional and unforgetable moment.  I crossed the line in about 15:50 I think.  I haven't checked the offical time, but it was pretty damn close the limit!  

    Then.. there was the countdown to the end and soon after that the firework display.  Brilliant.  What a way to end an incredible day.  I had done it..!  I got my medal and t-shirt and I am so absolutely chuffed to bits. 

    After chatting with people, I gathered my things and biked back to the hotel.  I had a shower and went to bed, unable to eat. 

    The pirates are the best...!!   Seriously....  what an amazing bunch of people..   The support was exceptional and so important.   Thank you to each and everyone of you.  Too many names to mention specifically, but thank you.

    I am seriously considering doing another IM next year, possibly with the pirates in Switzerland...

    What did I learn from this...?   With training and effort, IM is not out of reach.  Pirate support is really important and they give a lift when you are feeling bad.  The psychology of it all is just as important as the physical effort.  Pushing forward when you feel bad or are in pain is hard to do, but must be done.

    That's my story.

  • debbodebbo ✭✭✭

    BtS here - don't know which thread to post on so am about to commit the cardinal sin of posting on multiple threads.

    I have uploaded all my photos from France to two locations - album 1 and album 2

    If anybody else has photographs and wants to use the same site to display them email me or Debbo for the password - there is a total of 2gb storage and I have used about 250mb so there should be plenty of space.

    If you see a photo you like and want a  high resolution copy emailed to you (or - for the price of printing and posting a printout) email me or Debbo.

    If anybody wants a photo deleted let me know.

  • Debbo I missed the bikeimage and its great to hear the individual story of the race
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