Deca Recce 2016

I have just come back from my first run since the Deca Recce and on that run I thought to myself that it’s time to attempt to make some sense of what happened a few weeks ago…

It’s tricky for a number of reasons. The first being that it’s hard to really recall what actually happened, the days / nights are all jumbled up and I have memories but I’m unsure of what day they belong on… The second reason is that it’s still uncomfortable to think about it all. I failed. Again. And that stings a bit.

I will start by saying what went well with the event.

The courses are really good, perfect for a Deca. I completed the bike course (42 laps) 5 days running and I didn’t get bored. Maybe that’s because I was seeing my crew a lot. Maybe because I was enjoying the lack of cars or maybe just because I was totally in the moment, loving what I was doing.

The run course… well, that was slightly different and I really suffered on it, but I expected that. The Boat House lights seem to never get any closer and I saw a lot of weird stuff, that I knew wasn’t actually there! But in terms of the recce, I was really pleased with how it works.

The lake is chilly obviously, but in terms of swimming, it’s lovely. Very scenic and makes for a great swim.

The HQ area. This works very well with all the three disciplines coming back to it every lap. It means all the future Deca athletes will be properly looked after by their crew and event staff. It also works well from a event timing perspective.

My crew. I can’t say enough good about my awesome crew, Mark, Martin, Rob and Lou. They were perfect and supported me in every way possible. I was just sad that I couldn’t finish the 10 days for them.

My support. I had such amazing support from everyone. Those who visited… My parents, Graham, Claire, Jim, Justin, Clive and Brett. Also, everyone on Facebook and Twitter. It helped massively to have people who want you to finish.

So what went wrong…

Well, I was right in my previous blog when I said I should swim in lakes more. A LOT MORE!! I knew from day 1 that I was in trouble and that the temp was a couple of degrees less than what I had hoped and was used to. Rob and Lou dealt with it well, but I struggled on day 1 and 2 and then day 3 was just too much. I swam two thirds of the course and then just decided to get out and go home (!!!) I was definitely mildly hyperthermic at this point and Mark drove down the run course to pick me up. Once back in the tent, in two sleeping bags and two duvets, I shivered uncontrollably for about 40 minutes. I’m pretty experienced with hyperthermia, but I knew that this was far from ideal!!

Once I had stopped shivering, I got back into the lake to finish the swim with Rob and Lou either side of me. Martin said he felt quite emotional towards the end as he watched us swim towards the bank. I personally felt pretty low still as I felt that I had let myself down, but at least I had finished the job.

During the bike later that day, I came up with the idea of finding a pool nearby so I could at least keep trying. As usual my crew came through and located the venue and it was decided that the event would continue. The only real issue with the pool swim is that the traveling added about 1.5 – 2hrs to my day and with my glacial pace, I could ill afford to lose those precious hours.

The bike section was a mixed bag. Bender really sorts the back problem, but he is so goddamn heavy and I never averaged over 12mph. The road bike was much faster but with it came the inevitable pain and I would slow down with that. Still, I never once thought about stopping and apart from the last 10 laps (always in the dark and always cold) I think I enjoyed it!

The run was pretty good on days 1 and 2 but days 3, 4 and 5 became a real battle with the sleep monsters. I became so frustrated with myself as no amount of will power / pep talks / coffee / mini-sleeps would stop the sleep walking. By night 5, on the last 6 laps, I fell asleep almost every minute it seemed. I was aware of my crew watching me as I fell asleep over and over. It was horrible.

On the morning of day 6, I was woken after 1.5hrs of sleep and I felt so ill that I knew in my heart I was done. My face was swollen, my asthma was bad and I felt like I had flu. I talked to Mark about the reality of the situation and he agreed that I had just run out of road. I cried then as my Deca dream once again, was over.

Post event, my crew spoke to me about trying again. They all agreed that with a few tweaks I really could do this and they would all be happy to support me again if they could. This meant the absolute world to me and from that moment I started to plan my next attempt. I intend to come back stronger, faster, better acclimatised and with a new, faster recumbent in 2017 and I will finish this!

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