Celtman

All race reports and results featuring Ythan Members

Celtman

Postby Colin A » Sun Jul 07, 2013 9:17 pm

Well done to Dave mac for completing the gruelling extreme triathlon. Over 15 hours of swimming, cycling and running.

Looking forward to he full report.
May I remind you of that scene
with your arms aloft in Aberdeen
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Celtman 2013

Postby dave mac » Mon Jul 15, 2013 4:04 pm

Celtman 2013

Awarded British Triathlon event of the year 2012

Not sure where to start here, with the usual stories of injury affecting training, the stories of folk who thought I was mad, the folk who thought it would be too much to achieve in a relatively short period of time which included my coach! Well perhaps all of the above is a given, anyone who has got their arse off the chair and stuck on a pair o trainers has, I am sure experienced all of the above.

Why the Celtman?

The answer is a simple one, I just wanted to see If I could train to get myself fit enough to get round the event, to swim 3800m, bike for 202km and drag myself round the "marathon run" route and to see if I had the mental strength and drive to get there. When I spoke this through with my coach Chris, he thought it would be too much, that I should focus on shorter events and do more of them, perhaps even a normal Ironman before tackling the Celtman. Definatly not what I wanted to do, so he set me challenges along the way which included a week of time trials in each discipline to check progress. Also, he wanted me to complete the Inverness half marathon in under 2 hrs or it was game over, that was going to be a challenge due to time off running prior to the event. Little did I know I would be close to running three half marathons a week at a faster pace than I completed Inverness closer to the Celtman!

So after months of training, the Celtman week arrived and we packed the car and headed off to our accommodation in Sheildaig. When we arrived they were setting up the swim/bike transition, it was right outside our front door with my racking spot directly opposite the door, what a great result, it meant I could role out of bed, open the door and rack the bike - afa handy at 3am!

The race is unsupported so you have to provide a support crew for the cycle section and a support runner for the second part of the run, either up the two Munro's, or around the lower route. My wife Brenda and eldest daughter Emma were supporting the bike section, with Nick Hyatt supporting me on the mountain section, Nick has a lot of experience in the mountains and had traveled up the weekend before to walk the route so he knew where he was going. This gave me tremendous support and meant I had no concerns about that section; all I had to do was get there.

During the race briefing they announced that the forecast for race day was 40mph winds, gusting 55 with rain later in the day, not ideal but what can you do. Due to the water temp they cut the swim short, from 3800m to 3000, must admit I wasn’t overly upset about that.

We had to board a bus which would take us to the swim start by 4am, Brenda and I walked the length of Sheidaig and it seemed like all the locals were out to cheer us on, what a great atmosphere. Once on the bus and heading to the swim start it, was interesting just to observe and listen to the people around me, some were very quiet, some were twitching looking more than a wee bit stressed, at that point I felt surprisingly relaxed and just listened to the very nice lady next to me who was doing this with her husband.

Arriving at the swim start with about 40mins to go before kick off there was a lot of activity, wetsuit checks made, caps and boots slipped on. There were a line of fire buckets taking you down to the sea, some folk were huddled round them just to keep warm, they must have been used to warmer climates, it really wasn’t that cold but it certainly was windy.

We were all funneled through a gate and followed a Piper like rats to the edge of the sea, one last team photo and in we went. I thought since the islands we were swimming around were on our right I would start at the right, seemed to make sense however, the majority started more to the left, perhaps they knew something I didn’t!

The horn sounded and away we went, just a couple of scuffles to begin with but that settled down very quickly, I just got in to a rhythm and ploughed away. Getting to the first island didn’t take long, the sea was a wee bit choppy but not bad and once your face got used to the cold it was ok. I felt alright but had no one in front, so had to make sure I constantly kept sight of the island, once round the island things started to get interesting! The wind was whipping up the sea and I am sure we were swimming against the tide. The second island seemed like miles away and this was when things started to get more interesting. Timing my breathing was very important, but it was almost impossible not to take a mouthful of sea every now and again. I could only see one swimmer behind me so took a moment to look around, the main pack were to my left with what I assumed was the lead group a fair bit ahead, nothing else for it just one stroke at a time.

Rounding the last island and seeing the fire buckets on the Sheidaig jetty was a great feeling, standing up proved to be a slight issue but there were plenty of helpers, Emma took photos while Brenda steered me to transition. My support team had everything laid out ready for me from a cool box full of warm water to stand in, to food and a drink of warm sweet tea, it was all there, perhaps a bit too homely as I took over 11mins to get out on the bike.

The swim went well 55th place overall, not that I knew that at the time, but that was much better than I expected. I remember the feeling of relief when I got out of the water and onto the bike at the Alpe d’Huez triathlon a couple of years ago, certainly felt it again here, just happy to have survived and now on familiar territory.

The forecasted wind should have helped the first 30 or so miles on the bike and it didn’t disappoint, I flew along the road to Kinlochewe passing a number of bikes on the way, turning left towards Gairloch. Along the shore of loch Marie I continued to catch and pass people. My plan was based on cadence and heart rate which I stuck to, I wasn’t stretching myself and not really pushing my legs that much, however, I did start to wonder if the lads I was passing knew something I didn’t, I would probably find out a bit later on. I had enough food and drink to last me until Gairloch, where the Celtman had orgnised breakfast for the support crews. We had driven the route the day before and roughly planned the first feed station, of course we thought that Brenda and Emma would have enough time for a quick breakfast stop before setting up – unfortunately they didn’t.

They took sometime to catch me on the road and of course I was making great progress (wind assisted) so was through Gairloch before they had ordered breakie – nae good. I passed the last point we agreed to stop, when they weren’t there I realised what had happened, they would have no idea I was through Gairloch. I was out of water and energy drink, so no option but to stop and call them which I did in Poolewe, how long does an iphone take to switch on !!!!!!!

A learning point but again because of the traffic they took sometime to catch up and 10 bikes had passed me when I was on the phone, so perhaps admittedly I was a wee bit grumpy, turns out they didn’t get any breakfast! Think I did apploigise a bit later on.

Now that we were together, the rest of the cycle went relatively smoothly, they tried to stop every 5 – 7 miles handing out food/drink etc. By now the wind had started to cause real problems, it was either a head wind or it was doing its best to blow you all over the road, I just watched the average speed start to decline. It’s fair to say the weather up to that stage was fine apart from the wind. I have been out in windy conditions before but never as strong as that, I just couldn’t make any real progress neither on the uphill sections, or getting any benefit from the descents, very frustrating and of course now I had to use much more energy.

Hitting the Ullapool to Inverness road, in my head, was the end of the hard cycle section. From that point on it became undulating with some real fast sections, well it would have if it wasn’t for the wind. Again, progress was slow, much slower than expected, I just stuck to the planned cadence and HR. Generally I felt ok on the bike, I had passed a few triathletes who had passed me when I stopped, so all was good and after all it is supposed to be Extreme!

The last section of the bike is heading towards Auchnasheen and on to Auchnashellach forest, I made a huge mistake here. Brenda and Emma had stopped not long after the junction and supplied we with new bottles, all ok so they headed to the transition point. On a good day this wouldn’t have been an issue, but now the wind was a constant head wind, this section went on for a lifetime (much like this race report!) I thought I was never going to get there, man that was a slog.

Eventually I arrived at T2 where Brenda and Emma had everything ready for me again; they did a great job throughout the day and coped with the real pressure of the task well. Again, I took far too long in transition – over 9 mins, not good.

Rucksack on – thankfully, as Nick and Brenda discovered I had left it in the house in the morning! Nick and Penny had to arrange to meet up with Brenda on the course to get it, very much appreciated, as my day would have finished there without it.

The first section of the Coulin Pass looked like a bit of a climb for the first few miles, then just undulating track for the rest. That’s exactly how it was, but man that climb was a lot steeper than I expected it to be. I was determined not to walk, but on that section I had no choice, by the time I got to the top and the first of the only two feed stations the rain had really started – joy!

At that feed station it became clear that they had closed the mountain due to the conditions, I found out later that only the first 11 got up the mountain, all the other competitors had to complete the low route. This was really demotivating as my clear objective was to complete the high route. Perhaps subconsciously I did let this get to me and didn't push nearly as hard as I should have, or could have for the rest of that section. The rain was getting heavier and by the time I got to the second run transition it was really chucking it down for. Nick met me on the road in full waterproof gear and guided me to where the girls were waiting at Transition. Penny had joined Brenda & Emma and they were all standing fully exposed to the horrible weather conditions, that was really humbling and very motivational, their commitment and enthusiasm really lifted my somewhat soggy spirits :-)

So, joined by Nick it was on to the low level route to Torridon and the finish line. We trotted along the road for a bit, then turned on to the hill, ‘low level’ clearly has a different meaning on the west coast, the first few miles were more like climbing the back of Bennachie! The race leaders were descending this part of the route and it was very impressive to watch, as they seemed to glide over the paths I was struggling to ascend. Nick was marching on; it was taking all my time to keep up with him. We eventually reached the top of the climb now we had to just follow the path through the valley towards the final road section; easy, after all it was the "low section”! Well I really can't think of the words that would describe just how hard the section was.

Driving rain and low cloud meant visibility was very poor, all the rain had made most of the paths, where there was one, disappear. Perhaps I could liken it to completing the Ythan challenge with a team of folk throwing buckets of water at you whilst blindfolded. In section I was all over the place, due to the conditions running trainers were a bit of a mistake because we were jumping over streams & bogs, but with Nick’s expert guidance we eventually got through it and I’, glad to say, in one piece. We were back on the road and only 4km to Torridon, my expectation here was a relatively flat section along the banks of the loch, perhaps that was just wishful thinking as we faced a couple of climbs which resembled Raxton :-( tired legs didn't really want to play, but we managed to jog along the side of the loch when we got there and certainly managed to run in to the finish.

What a day :-)

Beer, then back to the house where Penny had prepared a meal, the perfect end to the hardest day of my life!

The results and presentation were arranged for the following day at Torridon Hall. As you can imagine there was again a real buzz about the place, they certainly created a tremendous atmosphere. Think it's fair to say there were mixed feelings in the camp, all very positive and upbeat but a little disappointed that the mountain for all but the first 11 didn't happen, perhaps there will be a few of the 2013 entrants signing up again in 2014.

For me, this certainly was a challenge on many different levels, from the hours spent training just to get to the start line, running in the snow, turbo training for hours on end and of course the pain that is length swimming! That in its self took a lot of determination, however, it takes the support of friends and family to get through and the sacrifices weren’t just mine. Brenda had to live this with me for the months of training, supporting me every step of the way. My youngest daughter Ashley had suffered in the cold and rain when we drove to the Alps and had a go at the Alp d’Huez Tri. The promise of sun disappeared, as again it ended up freezing and hosing it down, perhaps it was only fair that Emma experienced the same conditions :-) Mind you, I don't think either Brenda or Emma would have had much time to enjoy the day if it had been perfect conditions, they were kept very busy from start to finish.

I have to mention my mate Andy who completed most of the training runs with me, especially the runs after a few hours on the bike where he had to really encourage me to keep going, this certainly was the case in the early days. No question that I would have really struggled to get there if it wasn't for his dedication to the cause.

Chris Roy my coach, who guided me through the training one day at a time

Nick and Penny Hyatt went above and beyond, traveling to Sheidaig the week before and both compled the mountain section just so Nick knew where to go. Their enthusiasm during the weekend and the support during the day was constant and the lovely meal’s that Penny prepared were delicious, I really can't thank them enough.

Finally, to all the folk who said they would track me on the website during the event, for the messages of support sent to Brenda during the day which were passed on, thanks. When you reach a dark place during a long day out, and you do, just knowing that people are watching and willing you on makes all the difference.

So what have I learned?

Extreme means EXTREME ! There was nothing easy about the Celtman but sharing the experience with family and friends made it a very very special occasion.

It’s amazing what you’re body is capable of and what it can achieve when you set your mind to it.

This for me wasn’t a race against others, it was a personal challenge, there were some seriously fit individuals in the event, nobody in their right mind would enter this one just to give it a go. Taking that into consideration being 55th out of the swim and having the 46th fastest bike time for me was a great result, areas to work on are definitely transitions, loo breaks (enough said) and hill running.

Still, on a day made even tougher by the weather conditions and where I think 5 people were pulled from the swim and 24 didn’t finish, coming in 71st overall, after 15hrs and 21mins wasn’t a bad result.



Still – I didnna get up the Mountain!!!!!!!
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Re: Celtman

Postby Neil B » Tue Jul 16, 2013 6:25 am

Great acheivement Dave and great read! There's always next year for the Mountain!! :D
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Re: Celtman

Postby Russ » Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:44 am

Brilliant Dave to quote the youngest 'epic!' you've done the alpe tri and his one, what's next?
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Re: Celtman

Postby Dave H » Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:14 am

Well done Dave, much respect. I've often bumped into you at the pool and on the road and know how much effort you have put into this. Not to mention trying to balance 20+ hours training a week with work and family life. Total awesomness, brilliant.
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Re: Celtman

Postby dave mac » Wed Jul 17, 2013 11:57 am

:D I would do it again in a minute but the time spent on training is a bit full on - whats next ? have to give that a bit of thought ;)
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Re: Celtman

Postby malcolm » Wed Jul 17, 2013 5:47 pm

Great story Dave, well done
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Re: Celtman

Postby bobhill » Thu Jul 18, 2013 3:41 pm

Brilliant Dave! I know how much effort I put into short Triathlons and could not really cope with training for longer ones - usually an overuse injury results. Only you will know just how difficult it was to train for and to compete. Really well done - an exceptional result! I assume you are taking a bit of a well earned rest now - and the family have a break.

And a great writeup - makes us feel like we were there. Bob
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Re: Celtman

Postby Nick_H » Fri Jul 19, 2013 12:06 pm

And a great writeup - makes us feel like we were there
Bob, indeed. Captures the spirit, emotion and exhaustion to a tee.

Dave, gutted that you didn't even get the opportunity to attempt the full course. Conditions weren't great but I've been out in worse. Guess the organisers have to err on the side of caution but gutted none the less.

Are you back in training :twisted:
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Re: Celtman

Postby dave mac » Sat Jul 20, 2013 7:22 am

Thanks Bob

Nick - still training - have the moray half marathon in September ;-)
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