Swim - 55:28
T1 - 2:53
Bike - 5:49:05
T2 - 3:03
Run - 3:59:00
First things first. I really enjoyed the whole week, largely due to the fantastic company of Tri Londoners, but also because it is a fantastically organised race! I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone.
If anything, this race has made me appreciate a few things. First, in iron distance races, (barring illness/mechanical misfortune etc.) you get what you deserve. Second, it is crucial to contextualize your race, and the preparation required. It is easy to be influenced by the goals of others, and fall into the trap of assuming that what is important to someone else should be important to you. Moreoever, I think we can also too easily assume that what we intially think is or should be important, actually is.
We all place value on different things, which is fine in its own right, but I believe however we should all challenge these assumptions on a regular basis. I certainly have learned that many of things I once thought I placed value on, perhaps are of lesser importance than I first thought. Finally, I think that endurance challenges - as bad as they may be for your short/medium term physical health, are a great way to focus one's perspective.
Anyway, the race.
|My bike, does that rear tyre look flat to you?|
|The girls entering the water|
|Nervous smiles before the swim?|
The gun went and I went "f****n' mental" (as was the plan). I pushed as hard as I could, until I could barely breath, and settled into some feet just ahead, but this guy wasn't settling and sped off into the distance. I merged across and swam alongside 2nd in the wave for a good while and then settled onto his feet. Within 4 or 5 mins we were starting to swim through the waves ahead and the guy I was drafting was obviously doing a fair amount of navigation to steer through the crowds. I would have personally chosen a line closer to the buoys, but I preferred the draft. After the turnaround and more of the same, other than feeling incredibly hot, I decided to go it alone. I veered left and took a line closer to the buoys leaving the guy ahead of me on his own to the right. A couple of guys were on my toes and followed me. I continued to work hard all the way in, remembering all the training I'd put in, the moments at Cally where I could barely breathe, and what I would feel like knowing I'd slacked off at the end of the day when there was nothing to do but rest. The second turn around seemed to take a while to come, but the satisfaction of smoothly cruising past the stuggling swimmers ahead was great, (in fairness some of them were probably swimming around the hour mark ;-)).
I kept pushing and felt tinges of cramp in my calves, which stimulated thoughts of 'oh my god, I've done a lance!' (re: Lanza 2010). I felt ok getting out the water and charged through transition. I did have trouble getting my suit off as my arms were aching pretty bad, but with only a number belt in my bag, was away pretty quick. I saw Tomas in transition, faffing around, and gave him a shout (sadly I'd not managed to make up the ten minutes in the swim and 'dunk' him as had been bantered earlier in the week, but I'd take leaving transition before him - beggars can't be choosers and all that). I was pleased with my swim having done a least half alone, considering the traffic, dead pleased with 127th fastest men's swim (inc pros) out of 2570. I was 20 out of 160 (inc pros) in my AG. I ended up 4th in my wave too.
To the bike. Tomas soon screamed past me shouting something, it was presumably in Irish and about potatoes?! I was taking it steady to start, and stuffed down a daim bar in a bid to recover from the swim. I noticed the wind on certain parts of the course, and was pleased to have been lent Chris Wilson's disc wheel. I felt pretty good, and was pushing with a cap of 150bpm on the flats and a cap of 160 on the hills. I soon passed Ana and gave her some encouragement. She certainly seemed to be having fun. I saw a lot of people get pinged for drafting and was careful to ease off or make a concerted effort to pass around the many risers that caused the field to bunch. By the Solarerberg I saw my brother who told me Lotte was just ahead and before the end of the first lap I passed Roz, Lotte and Naomi in quick succession. Jokes about whether it was a club ride were exchanged.
Coming round past T1 again, I got out of the saddle on one hill and noticed my rear tyre seemed a little soft. I ignored it, but soon it was clear it was really down. A slow puncture.....hmmm, thoughts rushed through my head, do I use a canister to refill it and hope it holds, then my second canister to change it later if necessary. I stopped, busting for a pee and got that out of the way first. I decided, no, I've got to change it. Do it once, do it right. I only had one small valved inner for the disc on the back and one long for the rim on the front. I had to get it right, as the pump I had wouldn't attach to the right-angled adaptor for the disc either. I checked for the puncture but it wasn't noticeable. Shit. No real guarantee this just won't pop when I fill it, or go down slowly again. Deep breath, and inflate. It worked!!! I didn't fill it all the way, and left a little splurge of gas in the canister in for emergency refill. By this time, Naomi, Lotte and Roz and Nick had now passed me all asking if I was ok. I got back on the bike and worked hard to catch them again in the hope that if I was ahead and I punctured again, at least they might be able to lend me a canister or tube or something. It had taken me exactly 10 mins to change the tyre, but I wasn't riding angry - these things happen. I remained positive and thought, better to get one in a long race than write-off a short one.
|My brother and his wife warming up for their support act (mit der Tri London tea towel)|
I did feel like I had overcooked the bike a little (thanks Naomi), but had done well with nutrition and soon enough I was onto the last stretch into Roth. My calves had continued to cramp a little, but other than a few aches I felt good. Looking at my splits I had slowed on the second lap of the bike quite dramatically, which is an honest reflection of the long rides I've done. Only 2 rides of over 100 miles in May, and reduced cycling volume through June as a result of a knee niggle from using someone else's bike in Geneva. Estimations from the pros of the bike were 10-15mins slower compared with other years due to the wind, and 10 mins for my puncture, puts me around the 5.30 mark on a good day with which I would have been happy before the race, so all things considered I am pleased with that leg.
In T2, the little kid struggled to find my bag, and I went for another pee costing me precious time on the split competition.
Onto the run and I planned to take it steady until 30km, put my music in, then see what I could do. Nick came flying past early on with some banter, but knowing he'd not got much nutrition in on the bike, could be a risky strategy. On the first out and back I saw, Jo, then Tomas, with Kris hot on his heels, then I saw Russ all coming the other way, giving them my encouragement. I just tried to keep it rock steady, walking the aid stations to make sure I got on everything I wanted. I'd said to myself before the race I'd rather have a steady yet unremarkable race than blow entirely. My HR was sitting pretty at just under 150 bpm. I saw Nick a couple of times at the turn around and marked my splits to him. By 20km I had reeled him back in, chatted for a short while then pushed on at 21km, he looked like he was in a bad place. Here I took on some bananas, and over the next few km started to feel an horrendous stitch that slowed me to a walk! ARRGH! Take it easy, just recover and get moving again. I walked the 60-70m or so into the next aid station, and had some more coke, but no solids from now on. I stopped for ANOTHER pee!!! and at the final turnaround seeing I had made 4 mins on Nick, but only had 9-10 mins on Roz and Naomi, wanted to really push on. At this point, cramp had returned, (despite) regular salt tablets, for which I stopped shortly to stretch it out just before the 30km mark. This really was a no option rule - I was going to run, and run hard to the end, so thought it best to treat myself to a stretch while I could. I saw Lotte who looked like she was having a bad day at the office, then Ana (WHERE DID SHE COME FROM!) only moments behind. A dark horse indeed! She looked very happy and I screamed some support. Some caffeine pills and my final salt tablet, a coke, some sports drink and a gel, music in. Let's do this.
|Early celebrations with 3km to go...|
|You can see a in HR recovery at just after the 580 min mark split (where I put my music in)|
I will race another, of that I am pretty certain, but it won't be without a level of preparation that matches my ambition. We had some in depth discussions of time goals and the reasons for them, and I need to have a long hard think as to what those are, why, and when I might be ready to commit to them.
Next up, Transalpine! :-)