Friday, 15 October 2010

Ironman Switzerland Race Report 25th July 2010

Swim: 1:01.08
T1: 4:13
Bike 5:50.56
T2: 3:27
Run: 4:22.10
Overall - 11:21.55,8
place overall: 899
age group: 82

So all things considered preparation had gone well. No mishaps, and after a successful 15 hour drive leaving early morning Wednesday, we (myself, James and Chris - two first time ironmen) arrived Wednesday evening at my brothers house about 25km from Zurich. Sorted the bikes out and went for a 2 hour spin on Thursday, had to change cassette on the wheels i borrowed from Kev, and after a swim in the lake on Friday, nothing Saturday it was time to race.

During the previous 2 weeks i had regualrly been getting 10 hours sleep and felt like I was very rested.   This time I had no nerves in the run up to the race, I spent most of my time making sure James and Chris werent panicking, and felt at home (having spent lots of time in Switzerland at my brothers I guess it kind of is).   As such I hadn’t given much thought to my actual race. I knew my strategy, but I suppose I just hadnt had time to actually sit quietly and think about it. As a result I got almost no sleep the night before since it was all I could then think about. Perhaps a 3 hour doze.  Up at 3am for breakfast. Ive not slept much before other races, and it doesnt seem to make a difference. Adrenaline seems to carry you through.

I had not had any caffeine for 2 weeks previously and made a pot of literally nuclear coffee as I woke up.  A bowl of fruit salad, and apple, a banana, peanut butter and honey wholemeal bagel and 3 pots of rice pudding with honey. Can of red bull in the car over, and half a lucozade, the rest watered down, and taken to sip during prepping for transition.

After I had pumped the tyres and set everything out, (its an open tranistion at CH) I got a(nother) coffee and wandered down to the swim start to have a look around, listening to my ipod in my own little world. I felt very calm and felt the race was going to go well. Got the wetsuit on and wandered down to the swim start.

I had planned on wearing compression socks during the bike and run, but at the expo had bought some compression calf guards instead to save a little more time. I was wearing these all morning, and when i started to jog and jump around as I made my way down to the swim my calves did feel tight.   As I got into the water to splash around and warm up a little, I felt like both my feet were starting to cramp (oh shit!).  I’ve NEVER had this before, and only cramping at swimming if I’ve run earlier in the day. Wanting the swim to go well, this was NOT good. Realising there was little I could do about it with only a few minutes before the start, I just ignored it (it must have been just lactic from jumping up and down)

Swim start, as we all lined up on the beach i felt some nerves come over me. Here it was, the public goal of a 1 hour swim, I knew I was capable of it, just time to execute now. I’ve done the training, no problem. I decided to position myself much more central this time, but towards the left of the middle (next to the ’women only’ start area).  This was with the thinking that I would probably be swimming faster than the ladies who werent wanting to go in with the main field and if it got ugly, and even if wasnt swimming faster than some of them,  i could head out in their direction where it wouldnt be so aggressive.

Right to the front of the start and off we went. I swam hard, and didnt come across any rough and tumble for the first straight, couldnt find many feet, but knew there would be some soon. Pushed again and got a thwack round the head as I rounded the buoy (it didnt knock my goggles off and was the only physical contact I encountered).  I found some reasonable feet and settled down.  Along the straight into the island turnaround on the first lap a gap of about 10m had opened up infront of the person i was drafting. Do i? dont I? I felt good and wanted to be in that pack for the second lap, its now or never - so i went for it. 30s of pushing, im about half way across, ugh this is hard work im thinking. Pushed again and just as i was thinking this would be too much, someone swam alongside me and was trying to bridge the gap also. I latched onto their feet as they came past, and although they didnt quite make the gap, they got me close enough. Onto the island 28.30 (ish by my watch - not what my splits actually were)......hmm I knew the second lap was 200 m longer - the hour isnt on the cards at the moment.

Shit, I thought - but ive been pushing the pace, and swimming fairly aggressively, is it just a long course or am I just not up to it. my perceived effort was that of IM UK 70.3 easily.  Anyway, I ran and dived in, and the pack had thinned across the island. Found some more feet but I could tell he wasnt moving fast enough, hmm.  I looked around, noone close - I didnt want to do any work so sat with him and thought about what to do. If I push any more I could ruin the race, its a long day. Then (luckily) this guy came mowing past. He was definitely on the go and it only took him a few metres to move past.  Not to look a gift horse in the mouth I latched onto his feet but I had to work to stay with him. But he was chewing up the other swimmers. These were some good feet. I stayed with him all  the second lap. Amusingly, the times i got to close and brushed his feet, he kicked hard, to lose me. It only made him go faster. It was like whipping a horse, except i was tickling someones feet. It made me chuckle.

Coming out of the water, on my watch was 1 hour and 58 seconds. Hmmm again.  My watch didnt tally with either of my times so dont relly know what was going on there. I am however not disappointed (well i am that i didnt get the time), but I honestly dont know how I could have safely gone much quicker, maybe if I’d found a draft earlier on the first lap - who knows. Ill try again at Outlaw.

Out onto the bike, and kevs 808s felt smooth, light and gooooood. 22mph feeling easy all the way along the first 30km. then into the rolling section. I was just holding back and concentrating on eating. Felt comfortable and no aches or pains. Decided to time getting up the beast (13 mins 37 seconds) and then back onto the lake out round to hearbreak hill where lotte and my family and friends were waiting. What a buzz, the atmosphere is awesome.  Purely because it was so much fun, and just about short enough, i kicked up a couple of gears and powered up the hill absolutley loving it. Pushed the HR up a bit though!!

Second lap I tried to concentrate and just maintain my effort, pushing in the last 1/3rd if I felt good. A quick loo stop at one station and up the beast again, (13 min and 30 seconds).  There is a misleading climb after the beast that isnt named, having cycled the course before I knew it was there, and paced myself on the first lap. The second time however, in passing over some nuun to an RAF chap who had been suffering with cramps, I dropped my last gel, and so didnt have any to take after the beast for about 40 mins, and only water in my bottles.  I eased back and took 2 bananas, 2 powerbars, 2 gels, and some cola at the next stop and had a good feed. There is an awesome downhill section on each lap and both times i hit 75kph.   I felt much better and down along the lake and round to Heartbreak hill for the last time i dug in.  (N.B. there was in general an HORRENDOUS amount of drafting on this course, lots were getting penalised which is good, but lots were BLATANTLY drafting, quite shocking really. I dont really understand it)

Came off the bike and as i left t2 there was 7 hours cumulative time on the clock (or thereabouts). Ok so here is where it all begins to get serious. I had run consistenly since 70.3, about 3 x a week, and my longest run since then was just over 1 hour (once), everything else had been 30-45 mins easy. Anyone with sense would tell me to expect nothing from the run.

I held it back fairly steady on the first lap, getting used to the rather complex looping switchbacky run course. Lotte was telling me everything i wanted to hear, ’keep it steady, stay focused, you know how to do this’. My rather excited, but equally well meaning family werent quite as constructive, with my grinning mother sitting there with a sign saying PUSH! with Andy written underneath. Maybe later. Unfortunately, lotte and my family do all know what I’m like though, and knew that I knew that 11 hours was on the cards.  On the cards, but Ive never run 4 hours before, let alone in an IM marathon. However, id taken 1 hour 10 off my bike time, 15 mins off my swim time, and about 20 minutes off my tranistions so far, so why not take 15 mins off my 4.15 run from bolton, that was undulating after all, and I’m a much better athlete than I was then!!

I had said to myself and Steven (coach) before the race, that I’d enjoy myself if I went for it, so I suppose I had already made the decision then (to go for a time). Its arguably the WORST thing you can do to yourself in an Ironman, especially when i have little or no training to back up the attempt.

Anyway, I felt ok on the first lap, and started to push a little, but only a little on the second lap. I wanted to get every lap faster than the last. I probably should have just tried to negative split from half way, or more sensibly still just see where i was with 10k to go and see what I had left, but I didnt want to lose touch with the 11 hour target. The first lap was shorter, so although the  second lap was slightly slower, the laps were all the same from there on in, and i had in fact run it at a slightly quicker pace. Ok I knew it was going to start to hurt from there on, but its only pain, thats all it can do, hurt.  I know how to dig deep if nothing else. As I started the 3rd lap, Lotte, my brother and everyone had been closely monitoring my times, they knew i was close and Lotte said ’you can still get 11 hours but you are going to have to push’  (where was my mum with her sign now!?) I started to kick on, but about half way round the 3rd lap, I couldnt take anything on, even water made me sick. I tried some soup, that made me feel better (real food). But I didnt feel well at all, not a sickness in the sense of bloatedness, but just very weak, and extremely sick, I felt like i was slowing up and by the end of the 3rd lap, I knew that my legs didnt have what it took to keep going at that pace.

I switched off the moaning, and remained rational. Jsut as you can always feel worse, you can also start to feel better.  I just carried on running even though I knew I was slowing and wanted to see how it played out. I didnt even know that finishing the 3rd lap i had actually gone a little faster again was still on for it. It just didnt feel like it was there. The run walk strategy became hard, and despite essentially running completely on ’empty’, I promised myself I wouldn’t walk except the aid stations.  I mean why WOULD you walk? it is a race after all ;-) (plus oli would probably take the piss)

What made it worse, was during the turnaround, about 3 or 4km into the last lap I had by now completely dropped out of contention with the 11 hour target. Although I knew it, and although they didnt want to show it, it was obvious on the faces of everyone. It was a dark place and my brother tried to sing a line from the transalpine song ’keep on ruuuuunnniing!!!!!’ I ashamadely snapped at him and told him where to shove it. saying ’not now’ after a bit of swearing. He was only trying to help, and I immdeiately felt awful. This sort of race strips away every layer and leaves you with your raw emotions. Its hard to not become irritated by everything when things aren’t going well. He was only trying to help, but he couldnt. I felt like I’d let everyone down at this point, myself included. I had pushed too hard too early and was now acting like a dick to top it off. I guess you have to keep pushing  though when you are aiming for a time. Even though it wasnt a time I should have been aiming for. But I had made a decision to try and this was the result. 1 bloody painful lap and me losing my temper.  I carried on running, (pretty slowly) but carried on.  I just wanted it to end.

Lotte came across over to another bit of the course where there were few supporters and gave me some more encouragement, she knew I was broken, but said all the right things. I cant even remember what she said.  Outlaw was another thought that came into my head at this point. The thought of running another race two weeks later actually made me feel physically ill (in an amusing way).

Im glad that I never stopped. I didnt need to keep running, but I’m glad that I did. Its important for me to know that I had no excuses ’if id carried on running i might have been close’.  I wouldnt have been, and I wasnt.  Its great to know exactly how short I fell from my target (regardless of how silly a target it was to impose) I couldnt have run that last lap faster. I gave everything.  In a strange way its completely liberating to know that youve given everything even if its not enough. It makes everything more simple. Next time Ill simply have to try harder.   When I finished my last Ironman I felt emotional and wanted to cry (i didnt obviously, because im tough etc etc) but running down the chute this time, I didnt even feel anything. If i can describe it, I was emotionally completely exhausted. The catcher asked me if i felt ok, I said no. I felt so sick.

I went out thorugh the food tent, tried to drink some water, and didnt want to put it in my mouth. Tried the same with coke, the same result.  I wasnt responding to people talking to me properly. Bumped into Nick Mills who has finished strong, and asked him about his race, he seemed happy which was great. I wasnt very responsive. I apologised, and collected my bag, and took it out to my parents, and decided i needed some sort of help. I  stumbled back round to the finish line to a helper and said ’where is the medics tent’ he turned to see me and said ’oh shit’ and carried me to the medical tent.  All I remember them then saying as i walked in was ’Rot, Rot, Rot!’  Which means Red. Hmm, slightly concerning. My blood pressure was low, and they put me on a drip. Didnt feel much better, but after another i started to do so. Somehow, I managed  get up from the bed an discharge myself and get a shower and a massage. I still hadnt eaten anything, but eventually forced down a protein shake and some chips and a plate of pasta, and some more chips, and a bratwurst (I dont need to feel THAT well to eat apparently).  I apologised to my brother.

So yeah, looking at my time (which isnt the important thing) I finished with a 92 ish minute personal best, which i suppose is good. (It IS after all a faster course) Perhaps Ill be able to get sub 11 next year if i do another Ironman then. I wasnt THAT far off taking into account run endurance. I know how to pace myself, my nutrition may have gone slightly wrong. but im improving still.

I am now 100% keen for Outlaw, 1 hour swim!!!!!! 1 hour SWIM!!!! ahhhhhh!!!!

I love how the body forgets pain.

No comments:

Post a Comment