It was up early on the Friday to set off for Ironman Wales. All the preparation, planning and procrastination was now behind me. All that remained was to load up the car with the 101 necessary triathlon items - oh for the simplicity of running - and drive 240 miles from London to Tenby.
|All packed - The bike, the gear, the nutrition and the supporter|
|And the winner for Best Banner goes to...|
Arriving in Tenby it was clear that Ironman-fever had taken over the town. Banners and flags were everywhere and athletes in lycra were parading their beloved bikes for all to see. Once settled and unpacked I went out to register where it was quickly evident that in terms of protocol I had no f***ing clue. Day licences, bike covers, zero littering policy, special needs bags...well, I know now.
|The only unshaven being at registration|
|Talk amongst yourselves|
Back on dry land I packed (and repacked) my transition bags, set-up my bike and racked it all at transition for the morning. It felt good to finalise proceedings and waving good-bye to Daria (my bike - named after my favourite supermodel Daria Werbowy) it was back to the room to eat, stretch, eat and eat again. Hitting the pillow I fell straight to sleep and slept like a log till the 4am alarm!
|All tucked in for the night|
With the traditional 'walk down' to the start set to commence, I had my usual rush and struggle with the wetsuit and joined the mass of participants somewhere toward the rear. The sky was biblical. The setting could not have been more dramatic. The streets were lined with cheering supporters. My girlfriend accompanied me on my walk down to the beach to settle my nerves. Excitement and anxiety jostling in my mind.
|Heading out of T1|
It was with great relief that I turned into T2 having had no mechanicals nor punctures. Running a marathon was all that was now required. I dismounted the bike with assured footing and set off on my way to bring it home.
|Heading out of T2|
|Feeling comfortable after lap 1 of 4|
With 5km to go I was handed my final armband that signified the home straight. Keeping to a sub-4 hour marathon, I remained relaxed and made sure I soaked up the final stages of the race, continuing to smile and high-5 the kids.
Turning toward the finish line chute I took one last competitor to ensure a clear gap and with arms aloft came through the finish line to Ironman Europe's Paul Kaye announcing 'Craig Norris you are an Ironman'. My emotions were equal parts joy and relief. Job done.
After coffee and pizza and fish and chips and mushy peas, I returned to the finish line with champagne in hand to cheer on the final finishers in their hope to beat the 17 hour cutoff. It was incredible to see the emotions and witness the race as a spectator for those final moments.
Much to work on for next year, I can't wait to return to Tenby to do it all again.
Ironman Wales 2014 / 12:35:47 / 408th overall / 71st in Age Group