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Windermere One Way 2016

Windermere One Way 2016

 

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So this is what it was all about in 2016. One of the longest lake swims in the UK, the longest in England (apart from a Windermere 2 way!). When I finished the Dart 10k and the B2B for the second time last year I was looking for a new challenge, and this was it, over 10miles of beautiful and challenging swimming.

For those who don’t know swimming in lakes is harder that river or sea swims, why? Well, rivers have a flow and the sea is salty, so you are more buoyant (however it tastes horrible and has currents, so more challenging than a river), lakes are just, well, lakes and when they are this big they have waves/currents and respond to the weather. The Windermere One Way is frequently the first step on the way to an English Channel swim (and no I am not doing that…), and is considered to be roughly half a EC. The swim itself is just over 10miles from Fell Foot to Low Wray (or Waterhead for the BDLSA swim), and MyTriEvents have a compulsory pause/safety check at Storrs Hall to hand in the green wrist band as a head count. Another thing that needs to be/should be considered is the kayaker you choose/end up with – they are the second half of the team and important….more on this later.

So…with all that in mind and my taper complete we set of from Great Abington to Windermere last Saturday, the weather had been gorgeous for a few days, sunshine, no humidity, lovely. Last Saturday it was lashing rain and windy, all day, everywhere. We arrived at Fell Foot at the same time as Kathy and Ben for registration. Kathy is a fellow open water (OW) swimmer, we met through the BCTTT – a tri club I am a member of and Kathy raced for it once – and have kept in touch through FB as we have walked our way through the world of OW swims, meeting occasionally at Events. Ben is her husband and he was her kayaker/photographer/moral support/rock for this swim.We both registered, I met up with David Horn (my paddler)  and Team Sainsbury headed off for our digs – a hotel on the south of the lake which is stuck in the 80s (Newby Bridge Hotel – don’t bother staying there). After the compulsory fish and chips supper we hit the hay for a terrible night’s sleep before the race.

0445 – Race day

The alarm went off and after sorting things out and forcing some Bounce Bar into myself I met Kathy and Ben at 0530 for the brief trip to the start.It was pitch black and the path to the lake was lit with cylumes/or glowsticks – quite atmospheric. IMG_9758.JPG

After logging myself in I found my start pen and began readying myself for the off.

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I managed to find the start with ease and tried to smile for the camera….

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After the compulsory race brief, including warnings on boats/waves/etc we had 20mins to kill….this went remarkably fast….

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I spent most of it considering the physical side of the next 5-6hrs (that is me in the green/black Yonda wetsuit) – very contemplative…

0645 – The start

As 0645 arrived the first wave lined up to head into the lake – no mass starts here – all setting off 1min apart an individual effort throughout….

Wetsuits are not the most glamorous items of sporting apparel as modelled here by me…letting Dave know I was ready he sprinted to catch up…and off I swam into the mist in the rather chilly (I doubt it was the advertised 17deg) Lake Windermere.
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So that was the start – no gun, a cheering crowd of other loons who were about to embark on the same journey…

Fell Foot to Storrs Hall

The first hour of the race was probably the bit I most enjoyed, transitioning from early light to daylight, the bottom of the lake gradually receding into the green murk and the shoreline slipping past easily.

Following the first 2miles, 3.2km I stopped to tread water and have some food. I committed the cardinal error that I should not have done and tried new nutrition in a  race…I have never really swum on gels, occasionally I will have one before a short (3-5km race) to get things buzzing a few mins in), but I decided this would be easiest for the kayak and for me as I paddled in the water. To be honest they were unsatisfying and left me empty – something I used to love swimming in pools – “the empty fast feeling” but in a cold lake it is not that enjoyable…but IsoGels it was…for over 5hrs…hmmm…

This was also the time that I realised how much of part of the team the kayaker is. On the BDLSA website, in the longer swim preparation it talks of the boat/kayak and the crew being part of the team with the swimmer and I can understand that. Dave did a great job, by the end trying to keep me going as things were getting tough but as we had only met the day before we had no rapport at the beginning, he didn’t know how I swam and I hadn’t been clear enough on nutrition/how I liked to swim, this made the beginning/middle of the race harder than it needed to be. This is something to work on for next time.

After the gel and a sip of High5 Caffeine drink I set off again with my sights set on Storrs Hall (about 4.5 miles). At this point I was still on my own – there were no other swimmers around me, no-one caught me until Storrs Hall – it was quite weird being on my own.

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Between 2 and 4 miles the wind picked up and the water surface became quite choppy – I hate this, I don’t mind waves but chop just annoys you after an hour or so..

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Eventually after about 4 miles swimming I considered gel 2 and briefly discussed it with Dave but decided to push on, a big mistake as I left the nutrition plan and it took me some time to get to Storrs Hall, by which time I was cold, fatigued and cramping badly. I hadn’t intended to stop by I had to to try and release the cramp (incidentally it didn’t stop I had it until the end).

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Storrs Hall itself, I am the swimmer second from the right.

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The Storrs Hall checkpoint roughly 2hrs into the swim – I am the swimmer in the water on the right nearest the Jetty and bank.

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Me leaning on the jetty (left of photo), trying to release cramp in my legs whilst being fed banana and malt loaf by Amanda (and her daughters)  from FRANK Water

Storrs Hall to Low Wray

After Storrs we pushed on into the most challenging bit of the swim from the kayaker’s perspective, crossing the chain-link ferry path, Dave was fabulous and guided me through it.

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Although not me swimming here you can see the ferry we went past – it moved at some speed!

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It was at this point of the swim we really started to pick up a lot of traffic – the lake cruises were the worst (along with jet skis) as the wake was significant off them.

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After the ferry and 2km I don’t remember swimming, Belle Isle came into view – David and I stopped on one of the small islands near it for a biobreak and a bite to eat – I actually ate solids (mars bar) and it felt better.

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At this point we also had a Lancaster Bomber fly over us – very cool!! There is a film of this from the Lancaster’s point of view, you can just see the swimmers in the water and their support boats:

After the excitement of the Lancaster fly past we kept to the left of the bank all the way to the finish, the banks got higher and more rugged here and at 14.448km my Garmin decided to stop working, it simply decided that was too far, it also stopped the LiveTrack feed which Liz and the girls were following…all rather frustrating…

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What Liz saw on Live Track until Low Wray
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What my Garmin tracked…
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other impact this had was on my mental state, long distance OW swimming is a lot about how long you can keep yourself going mentally – it is not just sky, water, sky, water….it is what you do to stop going nuts….I think a lot about the stroke and technique, especially in bad weather or during a physical race, but I sometimes think through holiday plans, sing songs in my head (lots of people do this I found out), think through work/family stuff….anything to keep the mind active….when I lost the Garmin track at 14.4km I had no idea how far I had swum…had I done 15 or 16km….or was it 14.6km….it became really challenging, especially when Dave turned to me at a feed stop and said – only 2 miles to go…I thought I only had about 1 left…it was really tough. Also around the same time, 8 miles in my arms became really really tired, very heavy and sore…everything hurt, this combined with the mental stuff made the last 2miles the hardest thing I have done since IRONMAN Switzerland.

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Ultimately at this point is was just about keeping that thought in your head “…just keep swimming, just keep swimming….”.

Eventually the waves/boat wakes and endless corners of Lake Windermere gave way to the most magical sight, the red Zone3 buoys of the finish…the last few hundred meters were quite emotional and when I saw Lizzie and the girls after racing to the finish line (yes  another guy ran and I raced the last few feet) I was in bits, I couldn’t talk, I just collapsed on the bank of the lake…a really tough challenging experience.

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Overall I came 17/106 swimmers, I finished in 5:20:51.9, and going by several kayaker’s Garmins (which didn’t stop) it was a total of 17.5km. To top it all I came 3rd in my AGand I got a spot prize from FRANK Water, a rather beautiful slate with the swim logo on it:

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So the last question is where do I go from here – as I drank a pint after the race I thought, never again….but….after getting 3rd in AG with poor nutrition, cramp, not enough long training I am now thinking….maybe….

If you haven’t and you would like to support the Charity I raced for, FRANK Water, please head to:

http://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/IaindoesWindermerein2016

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Just keep swimming…..

Just keep swimming…..

So the majority of my swim season is done, one more big swim to come – Windermere, but before I get to that – a recap on the year so far….

Jun – Great East Swim 2016 – 5k (http://www.greatrun.org/great-swim/great-east-swim#about)

A great season opener – all the Great Swim series swims are enjoyably and well run. They have chip timing and normally a good mix of abilities. This time there was most of the Cambridge Tri Club including pro athletes like Lucy Gossage – great swimmer. A relatively uneventful race and it felt fast – all the base training over the winter and in the early season paid off. If it had not been for my lack of ability to count the number of buoys I would have been faster…I turned on the buoy for 1200m not 1400m on lap2…as a result I thought it was really quiet…sadly not, I was on my own and dropped about 400m on the pack I was with…

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Once I was back with the correct course I got back into the swimming hard, this resulted in a good time/place for me – 2nd in AG in 1:23:35 and 31st overall…I was really happy…race 1 done:

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A new wetsuit – Yonda Ghost

Just after the Great East 5k I noticed that the under arm area on one side of my wetsuit was wearing heavily – after discussions with Wiggle they agreed to take it back, upon examination it needed to go back to Orca, I am still waiting for the outcome of their review….

I needed a new wetsuit and fast, in the past I have tried: Orca (2 types of Alpha), Huub (Archimedes I and a prototype of the II), I have tried on Zone3 and ROKA – both too tight. After looking through the various forum sites and magazines I emailed Yonda, a small startup from Yorkshire, who only have one wetsuit, the Ghost. This has got very good reviews and after a few emails Angus, the company owner, sent me a suit to try.

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Wetsuit fit is a really personal matter, I have tried loads of suits and none have fitted quite right – this one is perfect, well almost, a little tight on the neck and long in the arm but the chest/body length is perfect. Also in testing in the lake it came out much faster than the previous Orca and Huub suits – over 10s/100m faster….

 

Aug – Inn to Inn Swim 2016 – 2.8k (http://www.nearwaterevents.co.uk/inn-inn-swim)

The next swim in the diary was the Inn to Inn – a fabulous local swim in Cornwall from one pub to another. Tapering for this was a challenge as the day after this was planned I had the Bridge to Bridge (14km swim) so I just planned this in a pre race set. My taper during this week was:

Sat – last long set (not really long – 3k – I did 110x100yd in the lido on the Tue before)

M0n – 3k in the pool

Wed – 2k in the lake

Fri 1.5k in the pool

On the Wed I swam at the fabulous Kernow Open Water Swimming Centre (http://www.kernowadventurepark.com/open-water-swimming) – the water is crystal clear and the staff so friendly – a great build swim:

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So race morning arrived and it was really lovely to have both Dad and Anja take me to the registration 🙂

The swim itself was a fabulous down river sprint – approx 2.7k from the Devoran Old Quay Inn (well the Quay down the hill) to the Pandora Inn. It is a small local event but with lots of good swimmers as you would expect from a Cornish race!

This is the swim start – beautiful:

Start of the Inn to Inn

The race went 100% to plan – get out hard and keep a fast pace – I had my new Yonda wetsuit (more on that later) on and felt fast – I kept the lead pack in sight for the entire swim but could not bridge so settled with a slightly low spot that I think I could have got…

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Coming in to the finish at the pub it was great to see the family 🙂 a fab race – and I came 9th!! Swimming it in 35:16 – four mins faster than 2yrs ago – quite T-Shirt as the moment…it really is very bright…

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Aug – Thames Marathon 2016 – 14.8k (http://henleyswim.com/events/bridge-to-bridge/)

The next day was the first of the ‘big’ swims – the newly named Thames marathon – or the former Bridge to Bridge, approx 14+km of swimming from Henley Leander Rowing Club to Marlow Rowing club (or now the park opposite).

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A fantastic swim, only three locks to navigate on the banks. The first 4k stretch is fast and furious in the pink wave as everyone ‘shakes out’ into their own place based on pace. In years past (I have done this twice before) the 4k mark was where you were put into pods – this year it was down to you if you wanted to swim alone or together, I tried to get a pod together and run it as a chain gang with each swimmer taking time on the front, but only 3 of us did this before it fell apart – as a result I swim the longest stretch of 6k on my own, cramping 40mins out from the next feed stop (at 10k) in both the from and back of my calves. I had to stop for 7mins to try and get rid of it, eventually I accepted that I could not free it up totally and started swimming again, having watched all those I had passed go ahead of me. The last 4km passed quickly and I overtook 10 people in the last 2.5km stretch before turning on the last buoy and reaching the park. I finished in 3:23:57, coming 91st – last year the time would have put me in the top 20…a lot of quick swimmers this year, but still a 14min PB!! Happy with that…

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Since the B2B I have been recovering – all was looking good until about Thur and then I began to develop nausea/vertigo and muscle aches, by today this has developed into lower back pain – I fear I may have succumbed like may this year to what looks like Leptospirosis, common in rivers and lakes – hopefully it will pass soon as I don’t want it to develop into Weil’s Disease, which could have me out of action for some time, particularly as my next race is the main event for the year:

4th Sept –  Windermere One Way 2016 – 16k (http://www.windermereoneway.co.uk)

Galway 70.3 Race Report

Galway 70.3 Race Report

So where do I start? I have written the beginning of this several times, I have started it in the bar of the Salthill Hotel in Galway, the departures lounge at Dublin Airport, the departures lounge at Heathrow T5 and now I am starting (again, as the computer crashed and lost my previous drafts) on the TGV platform at Geneva Station.

Let’s start at the beginning – how did the preparation for the race go? Well it has been a busy year. If you have read my previous blog entries you will know that I have had a hectic time running around the world with my work – I have visited over twenty countries in the past eight months (some of them multiple times) and this plays havoc both with the body clock (when changing time zone) and life in general. This has not led to building a good platform for middle distance triathlon performance. In addition, at home, Evie has led me to change priorities as well, I try and help out when I can, although this is not always possible. Through it all Lizzie has been unbelievably understanding and supportive and the children have not complained too much when I have not been there for breakfast (again) and then when I turn up from a run or ride, run away, as apparently, I am “all sweaty”. Also I have a fantastic coach in Mike, he is excellent at adapting the training program to my work travels and has helped keep me injury free all year.

So enough of the reasons why the year has been hard, what about the build up itself. In the last few weeks before Galway the session intensity increased, Mike put in a few of the (30EZ, 30 Tempo, 30EZ, 30 Tempo+) sets and one of the ‘put it in the highest gear and just go for it’ sessions on the bike, the runs got longer and the swims (when I could fit them in) were more pace focused. Finally a week out from the race and after a week in Chicago hammering the treadmill in the middle of the night I started tapering, and worrying about how to transport my bike on a plane. I eventually opted for the soft bike bag option, building a foam former to hold the crankset and BB housing in place and then using high density pipe lagging to protect the farm – I am glad to report it worked (see the pictures below).

After a great week of very little training (and finding somewhere to live for the next six months!) I flew out to Dublin on the Friday, checking my bike into the hold and taking all the important bits (bike shoes, pedals, running shoes and helmet with me in hand luggage. The flight was good and I was delighted to meet my bike off the plane very quickly at the other end. However, at that point, the day went downhill, I had booked my flight myself but everything else, transfers, hotel, etc through Nirvana Europe. My BA flight got in 10mins ahead of schedule however they had booked several of us on the same transport back from the airport to Galway (it is a 2+hr drive) and the others were coming with Ryanair – it was scheduled to arrive 5mins after my flight, but when I landed it had not even taken off! Steve, from Nirvana, bought me some water and a coffee and apologised a lot – eventually nearly 2hrs after we should have, we left Dublin for Galway. When we arrived on the west coast we checked into the Salthill Hotel, which I can recommend for this race – very well placed, just make sure you get a room at the front (as I did for the night before and after the race) as the room I had on arrival (at the back) was directly above the events room and as they have a lot of weddings there the noise level was awful. I built my bike (everything was fine), ordered a sandwich from room service and went to bed at midnight, the end of a long day.

The following morning I headed over to registration, or rather I was blown to registration as overnight a gale had hit the city, the wind was a steady 25mph and gusting up to 40mph….this was not in the plan. I registered, watch the race briefing PowerPoint presentation – without the worst bit of the build up as the race briefing always gives the race itself a bit of a “gee up” and a start point with all the athletes in the room – and headed back to the hotel to get my kit for the practice swim. This is the first time I have made a practice swim as I normally have family with me and the pre race day tends to be a register, rack and get away from it experience. So this was different. I was really glad to have made the practice as I have not swum in the sea properly since Galway last year, the conditions were absolutely awful, the waves were about 2m high (almost the height of last year’s ones) and as a result we were only allowed to swim about 200m out to a buoy and back – but it was enough to calm my nerves of sea swimming and get my head in the right place. I exited the water and went back to the hotel to fix all the new hole in my wetsuit (it is old!), organise my bags for transition and my bike.

Once I had sorted the blue (bike/T1) bag with all my kit for the swim to bike transition and my red one (T2) with all my bike to run kit I took the bike out for a quick spin to check my rebuild before racking it. As soon as I started riding I thought OMFG what have I done, I have brought HED3 trispoke wheels to one of the windiest places around! For the uneducated trispokes are wheel made almost entirely of carbon with a deep (50mm) rim and three big spokes, each about 40mm wide. They are phenomenally fast in most conditions but are hard to control in really high winds, think about being pushed across the road with each gust of wind….terrifying practice spin over I racked my bike, hung my bags in transition and collected my chip – I was ready to race.

I headed back to the hotel, and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon (after a quick 15min run and a short swim in the hotel’s amazing 25m pool), gave Lizzie a call and watched a film. In the evening I did the BCTTT required thing and had the compulsory pre race meal fish and chips (with an optional pint of Guiness). I went to bed early hoping for a break in the weather…..

The Race

I woke up aground 5am and headed down to transition, as I left the hotel, I breathed a sight of relief – no wind – as forecast the storm had passed completely. I did my final check on my bike, dropped some of my kit back at the hotel and headed to the swim start.

The sea was calm and I watched the pros and the first wave leave from Black Rock just as the sun rose over the headland – magical. The course looked fairly different from the plan at registration, there seemed to be orange and yellow buoys (not just yellow ones…) oh well I guessed I would not be at front so I could ‘follow the herd’. The 35-39 and the 50-59 AG waves were mixed together, we were an eclectic bunch of about 200 heading into the water at 7:05am.

Once we had hung about for 15mins bobbing about near Black Rock the horn went and we were off! I had intentionally placed myself on the far left of the pack and to at the front – this paid off, I swam over a few people to get clear on the left side and headed for the first buoy. the water was pretty calm and the wave fronts were pushing us back towards the beach at a frequency of about ten strokes (ie one went over you every ten strokes) but they were not that strong. At the first buoy I avoided trouble swam in close and exited for the 1km swim, straight down the beach, keeping the yellow buoys on my left. This was easier said than done as the waves kept pushing you in towards shore, however the current/tide kept pulling you back as you tried to move forward – this maybe the reason for the relatively slow swim times (either that or the course was long). I got into my rhythm and just swam my own race, keeping pace with one chap to my left. We caught the back markers of the 7am wave about 300m from the turn buoy and chaos ensued as they were engulfed by the faster wave. I kept mostly out of the ruckus and just carried on swimming my own race towards the turn buoy (which I had worked out what the orange buoys were). I turned and immediately thought “where do I go now?” eventually after swimming toward the only buoy I could see (a yellow one) a helpful kayaker pointed me and the small group I was with in the right direction (the big red buoy) about 200m off to our left – a schoolboy error – it probably cost me around 2 mins in total. Eventually we turned the buoy and headed for the beach. Once out of the sea we headed on the long run (about 800m) to T1 – the transitions in Galway are long.

Into T1, I got my bearings grabbed my bag and headed for a chair to change –

Wetsuit off, quick dry of the feet with a towel (sand everywhere!), socks on, shoes on, race number on, helmet on, pack wet kit in bag, eat a haribo sweet (to take the salt taste away), Oakleys on and away!

The T1 was in a tent, to exit T1 you left the tent, went up some stairs, all the way round the outside of racking and then in to collect my bike, the Joule Aerotic – I found it first time, grabbed it and did the long 300m or so run to the out line. I jumped on and started cycling, but I could not engage my left cleat. I stopped a few hundred metres up the road to take all of the grass and mud out of my cleats, this sorted I thought, ‘right let’s get going!’ as I crested the first hill I hit a pothole and the velcro holding my toolkit let go, my X-lab toolkit bag sailed into the air and landed about 100m back – did i want to carry on and hope that i did not get a puncture? Nope i guessed that would be a bad idea! I I stopped and ran back to get it, fun in cleats! Toolkit reattached I headed off (subsequently I found these two events cost me nearly five minutes).

The bike itself was fairly uneventful – it is a rolling (500m climbing) course with a few short, steep climbs. It is an out and back which means you get to see everyone on the course – including the pros and they were flying! The bike just sang, I wound it up to an easy(ish) average of 31kph, and just started overtaking people I was blasting along, attacking on the hills, cruising down the descents – awesome fun, and all into a light headwind. I tried to keep the RPE around 12-16 throughout and the cadence natural. I spent most of my time playing tag with a couple other guys in my AG, a grumpy French guy called Marcel whom I passed over ten times (and vice versa) but not once did he respond to my ‘hello’, and another Brit with with a wierd name that I cannot remember. Throughout the race I had no power, HR or cadence (the power was usual, the HR intentional but the cadence unplanned).

The crowds were not as big as last year at either Moycullen or Oughterard however they still blew their vuvuzelas with enthusiasm and shook their cowbells with fervour. The turn around was at Maam Cross this year which was much better, After the turn the wind was with us and my average pace jumped to 32-33kph, with little effort, I shot back to town – everything felt fantastic!

On coming back into T2 I felt good the legs worked. I ran my bike in, dropped it at the racking and for the first time was ecstatic to see that there were LOTS of people not back off the bike! No time for that though, I ran into the T2 tent, grabbed my bag and got ready for the run:

Helmet off, bike jersey off, shoes off, change socks, running shoes on, turn number around, running visor on, different Oakleys on, repack bag and run out!

I headed down to the three lap course of 21.1km, heading past the finish just as the male pros finished – they were that fast – sub 4hours for the top few. The first couple of kms of the run are usually hell as the legs get used to running not riding, but I felt good and was turning in 5:44/km (above my anticipated pace), however it was not to last. Just after the aid station at 3km I turned into the headwind and all the energy drained out of my legs – I felt awful, really….truly….awful. I had to slow to a walk until the gel I had taken on in the aid station kicked in, even after this hit the blood stream I found it hard to run again, I had ‘blown up’ properly. For the next 15km I ran as fast as i could, developed cramp in both legs (localised in my quads which came on and off for the rest of the run) and walked the aid stations, after 9km I could not take on gels so I switched to coke/water and that kept me going – just! As I came back into Salthill for the last 2km I just upped the pace as much as I could….it hurt…a lot….I was up to 5:40/km at one point, and as I turned through the last aid station with 1km to go I could feel myself slowing, I knew sub 6hrs had slipped away and I just pushed the last 1km doing high 5s for the many kids who put their hands out.

As I turned that last corner and came down the finish chute I was quite emotional, I am again as I write this, I kept giving the crowd high f5s and as the only person in the finish chute I got quite a build up from the announcer, I crossed the line in 6:07 – I had missed my target of sub 6 by seven minutes but I had a new PB (Personal Best) by 28mins, I had swum my own race, ridden one of my best 90km TTs and run one of the most painful 21.1km ever – I was an IRONMAN 70.3 finisher again! 🙂

Will I go back and race Galway again? Probably not, like the UK 70.3, I have done it twice now and they both have their own challenges, but I want a new challenge next year. In summary, would I recommend it to someone? Yes and no…this is why:

Pros
It is a genuine M-dot race
Fast flat bike – one for the TT freaks (surprisingly challenging though)
(Apparently) Fast flat run
Good support on the bike and run
Hard sea swim

Cons
Sea swim can be VERY tough
Lots of drafting on the bike (as it is flat)
Run can be hard if it is windy
Support was less than last year – will next year be better?
Locals put all the prices up for the race (according to the hotel)
It is a long way to go without using Nirvana or another company like them
It felt as if the WTC has pulled money out of the event after last year – less M-dot buzz

So there you have it, my thoughts on the race and my experiences from it. I love racing, it is one of the reasons I do the training – the Type A personality in me coming out! I hope you have enjoyed it, if you have please click over to my justgiving page and support the charity I am raising money for. This year has not been a good year for fundraising which has been unfortunate as the charity I am supporting this year is a good one (A Smile for a Child). They support families with children who are very disabled and need help with adapting homes, buying mobility devices etc. One of my friends has a young daughter, Beatrice, who has Type II SMA, an incurable disease which causes wasting of the muscles that control the spine and as such she will probably never walk in addition, as her muscles controlling her lungs are affected too, she is prone to serious chest infections, one of which she only just survived earlier this year. Bea has been helped significantly by this charity and I wanted to help raise money to give something back.

I know it is one request amongst many but if you could spare the price of your next sandwich, glass of wine, cup of coffee I would be most grateful.

Please click over to http://www.justgiving.com/DoingGalwayforTeamBea and have a look.

Thanks for reading,

BW
I.

Pictures from Galway 70.3

Pictures from Galway 70.3

OK so first off the people of Galway – WOW – really supportive – this is the welcom banner from Moycullen. This was the friendliest place on the bike route – loads of crowds, noise and cheering (BTW the bike is over 6ft high!)

So onto the race – this is the pro swim start – wow they hit the water fast – just google the race and youtube and there are several videos of them going into the water. Awesome efforts from all of them..I am a pretty good swimmer in lakes, etc doing around 24 mins for a mile, but the sea defeated me and I came out around 20mins (for a 1km distance) – the lead guy did it in 13mins!
So how did I look coming out of the swim…hmmm cold, wet and not looking forward to the 850m transition!BTW that is me on the left – not the fit looking chap on the right!
Out of T1 looking a little stressed – the run was a long one and the arm warmers were a bu**er to put on over damp arms! (note to self wear a long sleeve jersey next time)
Anyway onto the bike – great fun hammering along – just wish I held the gut in when going past the camera men – they always get me breathing in – most furstrating (well that is my argument!)

 

The last shot really shows how much it was raining – truly horrible!! So off the run (after crashing) and onto the run – I look in pain because I was – my hip and elbow hurt….a lot! It is now two weeks since the crash and there is one line that is excruciating to lean on on my elbow and a lump on the bone – I reckon I probably put a small hairline crack in it during the fall….anyway – some good pictures from the run again like the bike showing off the fab BCTTT club kit 🙂

 

 

Great running style in those last two….Again in these pictures you can really see how horrible the weather was – it only improved in the last 30mins or so – so in the inish line pictures it looks lovely! And finally the finish line – colours are a bit washed out due to the very green carpet and the bright sunshine! Yet again they miss me going across the line and punching the air instead I look like I am waving…grrrr…oh and the one showing the medal is a bit rubbish….

 

So finally what did the data look like – for all the Training Peaks Gurus out there here it is for both the bike and run…and yes I did hit over 100kph (60mph) on one of the hills – on the aerobars….scary!! oh and youi can see me die at the end of the run as my cadence drops and the walk/run starts! So here they are, the bike:
and the run:

 

A lot of photos I know – I hope you enjoy seeing them and they give you a sense of the race. It was a hard, but great day. I was very glad to compete and unlike UK 70.3 I think I will be back for this one in the future!

 

IRONMAN 70.3 Galway, Ireland Race Report

IRONMAN 70.3 Galway, Ireland Race Report

Note – Photos to follow – I had no time to integrate them…

Ironman 70.3 Galway, Ireland

Where to start
Well I wanted this season to be a little different – in 2009 I did my first 70.3 and in 2010 I did IRONMAN Switzerland, so I decided to do three 70.3 races during the season – The Marshman, IRONMAN 70.3 UK and IRONMAN 70.3 Ireland. The toughest of the year was always going to be the UK race, with its infamous hills on the bike and run course, but Marshman had its challenges too, being early in the season. So what about Ireland? Well when I entered I had no idea of course, location (apart from it starting in Galway), etc. When the route was announced as being fast and flat it looked promising, then they changed the route taking out one late hill and putting in another early on in the bike – it looked even better – only 400m climbing on the bike and the run was stated as being flat (no map at that point) – Game On!!

Well everything looked fantastic until we got out to Ireland….


The pre race training went really well, after my various illnesses and injuries following the UK 70.3 I managed to put in a solid four weeks of training and oneweek of taper. Mike and I had discussed taper length etc and decided that training hard up to the race and having a short taper was the best idea. I managed most of the long rides (2.5hrs being the longest) and runs including one 13km run – longest in ages. When I got to Ireland I was in the best physical condition I have been in ages – not as light as last year (I was 85kg last year at my last race – this year 89kg) but much lower Body Fat % around 15% – and I was carrying few injuries.

Lizzie, the kids and I toured around the Emerald Isle for a week before the race taking in: Slane Castle, the Barony of Slane (on of Lizzie’s Ancestral piles), The Battle of the Boyne, Trim Castle (worth going to), Blarney Castle (not worth going to), Connemara, the only fjord in Ireland and other places to numerous to mention. We also caught up with Fiona, Frank and Grainne at al (one of Anja’s classmates (who recently moved with her family back to Cork)).

We finally rocked up into Galway on Thursday afternoon. We had decided (based on Zurich last year) to stay in an apartment. We managed to find one in the Radisson Blu hotel complex which is near the city centre – the race was in Salthill so it meant a car drive to make it to the venue – about 3.5km away. The apartment was fairly good – more of a split level maisonnete but comfortable and well spec’d(although not cheap at €800 for 4 nights – all the hotels put their prices up and were full!).


On Friday I went for a quick ride down to the Salthill area to check the bike over. My first impression was wow the local community had really got the IRONMAN bug – there were banners and signs everywhere welcoming the Ironmen (and women!). the second thing I noticed was my rear gears were all over the place – a trip to the Bike Doctor before the race would be needed. Later in the day I registered and drove the bike route. It is an out-and-back flatish course with very little technical elements – the biggest challenge was the road surface, in bit brilliant in others awful. After that we went to the Pasta Party – I am not sure I would do this again unless I was on my own – it is a bit odd for families….

On Saturday we decided that I would rack my bike, sort out my transition bags and then we would head out for lunch north of Galway before the race briefing. This turned into the usual BCTTTesque cluster (“in joke” in the club) – I turned up to the bike doctor to have him look at my bike before racking and was immediately struck by the fact there was only one mechanic…for 2400 competitors..hmmmm…he was Russian (I think) and didn’t speak very good English but was amazing with bikes…he carefully played with the front gears resetting the perfectly and then dismantled the rear derailleur, at this point he mutter something about fishing wire and tried to explain I needed new cables…not good…he asked me to leave my bike with him and come back at 3pm…also not good – transition closed at 3.30pm and the queue to have bikes looked at was getting longer. Against my better judgement I left my bike with him and headed back to the hotel – you could not rack the bags until after the bike. We headed out towards Cong (north of Galway) realised it was an error (there is nothing, and I mean nothing out there) and headed back. We lunched in Lohans on the seafront at Salthill – quite nice and I went to collect my bike. Except the mechanic had done nothing with it, shrugged his shoulders and kept dealing with the minor issues other people were having. The time ticked on and 3pm came and went, by 3.20 I was getting concerned as the queue to enter transition had gone and the referees were looking like they were going to close the gates. Eventually I gave up checked the bike was roadworthy and took it into transition. I racked my bike in the middle of the longest racking I have ever seen (transition is 850m long – and you run it twice!) and hooked my bags up (well the blue one, my red bag just got dumped in a big pile). After racking we went home, put the girls to bed and I ate my new pre-race food of bean and bacon risotto – yummy!

The Race
Well. I woke up on race morning around 4.45 and looked out the window – not good, strong winds. The weather forecast has been mixed and undecided for the week and so it was very much a “see how it is on the day” race. Regardless I had put the 60mm SRAM S60 spoked front wheel on the bike rather than the HED trispoke – good choice.

After waking up and getting dressed we headed down to the race start – note no breakfast, this is my new nutrition ploy, and it seems to work – no food until needed. Getting to Salthill was challenging due to all the road closures for the race, eventually Lizzie dropped me off and left to find some parking with the girls. I headed in, said hello to my very wet (despite the IM plastic cover) bike, pumped up the tyres, re oiled the chain, filled the speedfil and set the Garmin. After that there was little to do apart from let the nerves build and head to the swim start.

The swim start was on Ladies Beach in front of the Galway Hotel. As the sun started to rise we could see the sea. I am happy to say that I normally have no fear of the swim, it is my favourite part of the race, today was not a normal day. The sea looked nasty, the official swell was 2.1m – it felt worse when we were in it there was a strong onshore wind too which was blowing a lot of spray. After lots of standing around – saying hello to Rachel Joyce (a UK pro) and worrying, they announced that the swim was to be cut. At the time I was gutted – they said they would cut it to 750m – as it was it was officially 1000m – when I got out I could see why. Lizzie and the girls met up with me and they shared my nerves for a while until my wave was called. I went forward and ended up in the second group of my wave (they cut the waves in half as a safety precaution too). The swim course was now a simple out-across-back route, the current was flowing left to right but the wind was straight in,  I put myself on the right side at the front, away from the main group. When the horn started I ran into the water, the water was quite warm (16 or so degrees) and I porpoise’d out until I could swim freely. As I cleared the wall alongside Ladies Beach the full swell hit me – it was massive, I normally swim pretty straight and never do breaststroke to sight, as I swam out I simply could not see anything but sea., no buoys – time for breaststroke!! I alternated about 30 front crawl strokes with four or five breaststroke and somehow I managed to keep a fairly good pace up, although breathing was fun as the waves didn’t have a nice rhythm as the wind was having an effect. Eventually I made it to the first buoy and turned left into the wind and against the current – it got harder, luckily this was only for about 100m until I did another left and headed for the shore. On the way in it was a bit easier although the swell seemed worse and I got swamped a few times whilst trying to breath – I drank most of the Atlantic I think…. I eventually swam in jumped up and ran up the beach access slope after 00:20:05 in 180th place. It was a really hard swim – one of the hardest I have ever done and more physically challenging than the full 3.8km at IMCH.

Once off the beach I started the looooong transition – about a 350m barefoot run to transition (no carpet…) then grab the blue bag – put on every item of clothing I had (including fighting with arm warmers!) – then run to the bike, then run another 500m to the mount line. I am not joking transition was nearly 1km long!

Once on the bike I started to really enjoy things – everything just worked. I saw Lizzie and the girls on the way out of Salthill, gave them a smile and a wave and put the foot down. Now normally every race I come out of the swim and spend the next few hours going backwards – not today!! I was on fire, everything just purred – even the hills were easy on the way out. I finished the first 10km without really getting the HR about 150, and I was overtaking people! Once over the hill at Barna the route opens up into a long out and back to Maam Cross, this is where the benefit of an aero bike really comes in. Head down I pushed the gear to 54-12 for most of the out leg, averaging around 40-45kph – it felt amazing, I should have realised this was wind assisted!! All through the countryside there were groups of supporters cheering us all on – they were amazing – especially the people of Moycullen – big banners, vuvuzelas, the whole works – fab! The nutrition plan for the race was based on the bike. Before the swim I had one ZipVit gel and then nothing until 30mins into the bike. All the time on the bike I had nuun (water+rehydration tablet) and from 30mins, every 30mins I had one ZV gel mixed with 50ml of water mixed in a bottle – it worked fabulously.

The weather started to worsen from just rain to truly soul destroying hammering horizontal rain at about 30km where I saw the first ambulance and casualty . When the pros came past (on their way back) around 40km they were looking fast, and the hail started (I was wondering what the pinging sound on my helmet was – then my arms hurt), I was so glad I had taken the time to put on all my clothing – it helped.  The turn at Maam Cross left a lot to be desired though. It was signed from about 200m and it was just a couple of blokes and a van in the middle of the narrowest bit of road I have seen in ages with a cone in front of it. We all had to try and do a 180 round this (I only just managed it) and then push for home. At this point things took a turn for the worse, the tailwind I had became a head wind and even in 54-12 with a cadence of around 80-85 I was only managing 28-30kph – really tough going. The rain continued and the road side support kept my spirits up and I carried on passing people. Eventually after lots of water, ambulances and passing people I made it into Galway. About 3km from the end the route did a dogleg through the University to avoid closing all of the N6 and this is where my day changed completely.

I guess I just lost concentration but turning left off the uni campus back onto the main road I stacked it. I probably went into the corner too fast (there was no marshal there) and as I went round I lost the back wheel that locked and I went down hard. I hit the ground with my shoulder, elbow and hip and the bike impacted on the handlebars, pedal and bottle holder on the back, somehow I also manged to sand down the top of my helmet! I saw it all in slow motion and as I write this I can see it again. Once I had stopped sliding (at the other side of the road – about 20ft) I got up and was amazed that I had not broken anything. The young marshal who should have been at the corner ran over and checked if I was okay, he asked if I wanted to stop – at which point I might have been a little rude and got on my bike and carried on.

The bike didn’t sound happy as I finished the last 3km, the handlebars were sanded down, the bar tape gone, the brakes rubbing all not good – I had blood running down my arm from the cuts and from under one of my fingernails where I pulled it off, my hip was on fire with pain and I just made it into transition – loads of people cheering. I had finished the bike leg in 2:50:11 in 371st place – a pb (I pb’d the first 40km by 10mins) and great fun – right up to the crash!

As I made my way into transition the bike didn’t want to behave, the wind caught it lots which made pushing it 400m down to my racking slot hard. I racked it and ran/hobbled down to the red bag tent (450m away…). Once there I asked for med help but there was none there, they suggested asking at the aid station. I changed painfully into my run kit grabbed a couple of ibuprofen and ran off to join the run route.

The first 5km of the run was absolute purgatory, I took the ibuprofen at 1km (the first aid station) after finding out they had no med aid either, these kicked in around 30min. the run route was basically a big out and back with some loops thrown in, all on the edge of the coast so the wind played a big role. Up to 5km I felt dreadful but then my legs gradually came back, and I was running well for about 10km. The pace varied from 6:15/km to 7:30/km into the wind – it was hard going. At around 13km I saw Lizzie and the kids and that gave me a huge boost – I saw them again at 14km they were shocked I was on my last lap!

I then started the last lap and that is where the wheels came off the run – I just ran out of energy. The nutrition strategy for the run was water/coke and it seemed to work, I had no GI problems but I just ran out of energy…when I turned the corner at the Spanish Arch to head for home I was reduced to a walk – I walk/ran to the aid station about a km away and took my time to get a gel on board and some fluids. After about 5mins I was running again and I kicked my heels for home – as I came up to the 1.9km turn to the finish line I welt amazing – I was running fast (well 6:15 at this point was fast!) and overtaking people again. I came up the green carpet into the finish cute where there must have been one to two thousand spectators, as I ran down the cute loads of kid put their hands out for “high fives” – who was I to say no so I ran down the cute high fiving everyone. I probably should have gone just a little faster though as my finish time was 6:01:23, my run had take 2:30:30, the last lap around an hour and I came in 1303th for that section. As I came over the line Lizzie and the kids were there – it was a great day.

Final thoughts
Well, it was a tough day at the office – a really challenging race, but finally a race on a course that suited me and with nutrition that worked. All in all, a fantastic experience. Would I do it again? Yes. I think there are areas for improvement but the weather is a little out of their control – if it was easy it wouldn’t be IRONMAN 70.3!


Finally a Wimbleball 70.3 Race report!

Finally a Wimbleball 70.3 Race report!

UK IRONMAN 70.3 – 19th June 2011

The days before….

So five weeks before my planned “A” race of the season (A race being the highest priority of the year) I overcooked the running…I put four sessions back to back whilst I was at EULAR in London, the weather was lovely, I had St James’ and Green Park to run through and running was going really well – however resilience was not on my side so I managed to tear both of my Achilles tendons on a hill set at the end of the week (not major tears but enough to impact my training). So, this meant lots of ice packs, massage, ultrasound and no running until the Wednesday before UK 70.3 and then the first run was a test to check whether I could even do the race! Everything worked fairly well – both ankles stiff but no needle sharp pains – a green light to start Wimbleball.

I wanted to practice my nutrition plan again so from Friday I started to cut out fibre – evening meal sausages with mash. Saturday was white bread and honey for breakfast, fish and chips (no peas) for lunch and pasta with green pesto for evening meal. All of this was okay, but, I think I had too much pasta – I was camping in the back of the XC90 and it was hard to measure properly! The plan on race morning was porridge made with water, Zipvit Recover (250ml) and the two gels 30 and 40mins out from race start. Once onto the bike I planned to use Nuun and ZipVit gels (with caffeine on lap 2 before the big hills) with a Biestmilch Booster (Colostrum and Gurana) for both the bike and run. On the run the plan was Nuun and a gel sipped slowly over 15mins every 45mins.

Time to race…..

So after quite a good night’s sleep in the back of the XC90 on an airbed – surprisingly comfy!! – I got up at 0350 to warm up and have breakfast – all done I went to transition to sort out the bike, that done I got into the wetsuit and warmed up. As usual at Wimbleball there was no warm up and the 10mins spent in the water before the race seemed to go on forever…..

The national anthem played and the horn went off – we were going. My plan on the 1.2mile swim was to keep wide on the left side and hammer the first 200m to keep with the lead pack. This worked really well and I kept on the heels of the second group of about 30 or so people behind the pros. The race to the first buoy was perfect, as was the turn but then I could not see the buoys and it was just “follow the feet in front”! At the second turn I was still with the group and that is where the swimming to plan finished…I headed for the next buoy, all good, but then I started to loose the swimmers to my right but I thought I was holding a better line as I could see what seemed to be three buoys which I assumed indicated the chute to come out of the water (no big IM arch which is normally there). Unfortunately I was wrong – after the second buoy on the return leg is was a straight line to shore and I had messed up and gone beck to where the start was – it really wasn’t clear if you were swimming!! After realising this and swearing a lot to myself I corrected and headed for the shore – I reckon it added 200 or so to the swim – I came out the water in 31:49 in 108th place…not the top 100 I was looking for…

Out of the swim and a quick run up the (amazingly steep) hill to T1 – grab my swim bag, change into bike kit and then I was out onto the bike. The bike was my biggest fear in 2009 and this year as it is a really, really challenging course climbing 5905ft over the 56miles with most of the climbing done on three hills in the second half of the course, these are done twice as it is a two lap course.

I had planned to use the first 10miles of so (with its two big(ish) hills) as a warm up before pushing and this worked well, I tapped up the first hill and overtook a fair few people on the next whilst keeping my HR below 165. The course then runs over and undulating section finishing in an insanely steep hill that descends to Machine Cross – the point at which I hit 58mph – great fun if a little scary!! Once the flatish undulating section was over the route hit the hills with short steep hill up to Morebath – I was amazed to see people off and walking their bike up on the first lap! I used a cadence of 10 pedal strokes seated, 8 standing which seemed to work to keep cramp and pain at bay – all looked good! The next big hill is the hardest on the course – with a max gradient of 17% and an average of 14% for 1.5km. All went well and kept to plan using standing/seated pedalling routine, right up to the point I changed down (I was about half way through the 11-28 block) and shifted my chain into my wheel disc (the spokes)…the pedals stopped turning and I only just managed to not go over the handlebars instead falling ungracefully to my right, bruising my hip and knee…after swearing at the bike a couple of times I got up checked over the bike (looked okay) and reseated the chain, spun the wheel and changed up and down a few times – no problems…preplexed I began the long walk up the hill…I had come off at the 17% section so there was no chance to get back on…

After an agonisingly long walk up the hill, watching all those I have previously passed zip past me , I got back on the bike and headed off for Haddon Hill the last big hill of the lap – again all went well, screaming down the downhill sections , tapping up the hills until the last section of Haddon Hill (it has two climbs with a short flat section in the middle) where I managed to repeat my chain debarkle this time not falling over but holding the bike upright until I had unclipped (to cries of “well held” from the surrounding competitors!)…again I reseated the chain and decided that changing from mid block to my lowest gear at the top was a bad idea for the rest of the bike – so I didn’t…I used the 11-25 gears…challenging up the hills but I didn’t come off again 

Once up Haddon Hill I zipped round the rest of the lap before starting on the second. The first short sharp hill of the lap is a killer but I went up it fairly smoothly (in 09 I cramped both quads on this hill!) and got into the lap – the second lap was fairly uneventful compared to the first – enjoying the downhills and pushing the hills. Overall I found the bike challenging but not half as hard as I found it in 09 – all the training with Mike from The TriLife has paid off!

As I got back into T2 I was pleased to see I had smashed my previous PB on the course finishing the bike in 4:06:02 in 09 I did it in 5hrs! T2 was fun – the standard process of look for red bag – run to chair and change into running kit…however once I had found my running kit I looked down at my wrist where I should have put my Garmin 310XT watch (after I had taken it off the bike) and it was not there…ARGH! I had left it on my bike, so I had to run back out into the racking area, find my bike, recover my Garmin and then get changed 🙁 very unhappy….

The run started like all 70.3 runs – painfully!! The first section of the run at Wimbleball is downhill to the shore of the lake before it loops up to the finish before going back to the shore before going back past the finish and up a 100m hill…you get the idea. Most people worry about the bike at Wimbleball, me included, but it is the run which is the hardest bit – there is over 1300ft of climbing over the course and most of the underfoot conditions are more reminiscent of a school cross country race than a half marathon. My half marathon run was really over before it started, as soon as I hit the first hill I knew I would be walking most of it – I tried running up the first hill and both my Achilles tendons developed the sharp needle like pain that I had in training, very unhappy, but I decided rather than DNFing (Did Not Finish) I would get round and get my medal. As it was I would have had issues regardless of the ankles, after the first hill I developed stomach cramps and these proceeded to vomiting after I tried running again. So I made my way painfully round the 13.1 miles of the run, walking the hills, running the flats and downhills until the GI cramps got to bad and occasionally being sick…it was very reminiscent of 2009…

Except this time I was not the last person, all on my own out on the course with no-one to talk to, instead I met a variety of people (some much fitter than me!) who had been humbled by the Wimbleball course and either had injuries or GI problems but were resolute in their determination to finish. In some ways this is the “real” bit of long distance triathlon racing. Whilst we would all like to be like Chrissie Wellington or Tom Lowe (the two current UK (and World for Chrissie) IM record holders) hammering round a 70.3 circuit in 4hours something or an IM course in just over 8hours the simple fact is we (the vast majority) probably won’t – I have a dream I could go sub 6hours on a 70.3 race and sub 13 or an IM one, both a achievable but equally a race where I come in 1.5hours after my PB is important, not for the time but for the fact that rather than giving up when my ankles hurt I decided (like those other racers) that come hell or high water I would get across the line and get my medal. In some part it is that place I push myself beyond in the really dark moments when I think “I could just stop now” that keeps me doing this, because very little – apart from my family – gives me as much sense of achievement and happiness. Ultimately I crossed the line in 8:04 – 53 minutes faster than 2009 – I would love to say I will be back to get that sub 7 at Wimbleball but I feel I have done it twice, the course really doesn’t suit me and there are lots of other IMs and 70.3s out there -this one has taken quite enough of my time and energy!

Swimming and a good end to week one of the taper!

Swimming and a good end to week one of the taper!

So the theory goes that tapering is all about winding back the distance so you don’t hurt yourself before the race whilst uping the tempo a little to push yourself and reinforce the neuromuscular pathways you will be using in race….

Well I hope I haven’t peaked a week too early is all I can say! Yesterday was one of the best races I have ever done, swimming or tri! I entered the Great East Swim (GES) 1 mile swim (1600m) on a whim a couple of weeks back just to hone the competitive swimming element of tri. During Marshman I had a panic attack, the start was more challenging and competitive than IMCH and other more recent tris combined with having my goggles pulled off, so I decided I needed more OW swimming and racing practice so two weeks ago when I managed one OW swim (the second this year) I thought well lets combine an OW swim with a race – the GES looks good 🙂

Wind forward to yesterday morning and we (the family) arrived at Alton Water for the GES, my first competitive swim since I was racing Masters pool swimming during my PhD – nearly fifteen years ago! The onsite organisation was a bit of a cluster – lots of tents and signs for spectators but a lack of direction to the start….anyway I eventually found it and waited to be logged in. Our warm up time arrived and we got into the (frankly tiny) patch (about 10mx10m) of water to try and warm up – we had a whole resevoir why such a small warm up area???? I kept waiting for more orange hatted people to turn up for our wave but we ended up with most of the 60 entered in the wave – apparently I had entered the top Age Group (AG) wave – the next wave was the elites….as far as I know I was the only triathlete there all the others were OW swim specialists…oh dear, this could be a disaster I thought…..we had an “interesting” warm up led by a fitness instructor and the starting klaxon was set off  (by the German chap who came 2nd in the elites). Prior to the race I had not really thought about the difference of swimming races vs triathlons that much, i.e. in a triathlon the klaxon or gun starts the time for everyone, in this OW race the time started when an individual went over the timing mat – hence I could have waited at the end and gone over on my own and into clear water, but I didn’t instead I was in the second row and sprinted in to the water. A short session of aqua-ruck later I was in clear water and heading for the second buoy. After a pretty uneventual swim – which involved a fair amount of drafting two other swimmers and trying not to kill people from the previous wave (who were soooo slow and just appeared from nowhere doing breaststroke….) I rounded the last buoy and headed for the exit chute. In a triathlon I would have controlled my pace a little more and thought about T1 from about 400m out but this was a straight thrash for the end (and it shows on the video) – I jumped up onto my feet as soon as my fingers hit the bottom and sprinted for the mat – over the line in 24:44! Sub 25mins is a pretty good time for an OW 1 mile race to give some idea I was 38th overall out of 1285 swimmers, 32nd Male and 4th in my Age group (and gender), all without specific training for the race – I guess if I get bored with triathlons I could always make a go of racing OW swimming!!!

Lizzie recorded a videos of the swim finish http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150284244735522&comments – and a photo too!:
A good day’s work! Very happy and slightly surprised!!
So why is this blog post not just entitled – a good swim? Well this morning I did a turbo 10mile time trial, basically a 25min warm up and then flat out for 16km of the last section of the Marshman route. My previous best for 10mile TT was 27:42 this morning I managed it in 26:01 🙂 Okay it was the turbo but I have it fairly well dialed in for accuracy as I managed 535W max/237W av and HR 186 max/162 av which is pretty close to what it should be!!
So there you go – taper 2/52 done – two swims, three turbo sets one rest day and a race – DONE! Next week is the final taper week to UK 70.3 IM in Wimbleball – turbo x2, swim x2 and 1 road session to test the bike. Also I have my mid week test run – my biggest fear…..why well three weeks ago I put some small tears in my Achilles tendons and I have been icing/ultrasounding/resting them as much as possible – if they are not 80% on Wednesday then Wimbleball will be a swim/bike and probable/planned DNF on the run….it was my A race but it is now my B race with Ireland 70.3 as my main focus….fingers crossed.
Finally if you find this interesting and want to sponsor my efforts please go to http://www.justgiving.com/Iaindoesthreehalfironmanracesin2011 and donate some money for the Urostomy Association – they helped my mother – a really worthwhile cause!!
Keep well
Iain.
Marshman 2011 – A mixed bag….

Marshman 2011 – A mixed bag….

Preparation

Before I start this race report please understand it is for you to read as much as for me to keep a record of my race (hence it includes lots of detail you probably don’t want!!).

The equipment I used for this race included:

Swim – Orca Alpha wetsuit + Predator Flex Goggles

Bike – Isaac Joule-Aerotic /S60 wheelset (11-28)+ Speedfil+ two bottles on X-lab wing

Run – Fuelbelt with two bottles/Brooks Summon running shoes

So the prep for the race didn’t actually start on Sunday morning but two days before. My single biggest challenge in racing anything over Olympic (1500m/40km/10km) distance is nutrition, on all of my major races (UK70.3/WCMD/IMCH) I have had nutrition disasters that have ranged from bloating to nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, cramps, etc they normally start about half way through the bike and continue throughout the run. I have tried various High5, Powerbar, Maximuscle, Buzzbar, Nakd products for nutrition but every time I have had the same issues. This time I wanted to crack it, so I started by thinking about my prerace nutrition slightly more. My main consideration was getting carbs and some protein in with limited amounts of fat and foods that are known to cause bloating/gas. Basically this meant a really boring diet for Lizzie for the two days before the race!

On Friday I started to reduce the amount of fibre in my diet (cutting out uncooked fruit/veg) and started to up the fluid intake (using half concentrate (1/2 a Nuun tablet in 500ml water). From Saturday am it was limit fibre as much as possible and focus on consuming carbs and some protein. Breakfast was poached eggs on white (no wholemeal at all) toast, lunch was a challenge as we were out at a brasserie, so I opted for beer battered fish and chips (minus the peas and tartar sauce) with water. In the evening we had pasta with green pesto and I made sure that this was all finished by 7.15pm (just under 12 hours before the race) – all the way through the day it was dilute nuun to drink (triberry flavour). No alcohol within 72hrs of the race (hard as we had a birthday party to go to the night before it!). I slept surprisingly well on Saturday night – going to bed by 10pm up at 3am 😯 to eat breakfast and head out.

Race Day

So a 3am get up for a 7am race…early!!! I had to drive to Lydd from Cambridge so I thought I would leave at least 2hrs – plus it meant I could try out my new pre race plan. I got up (and got the dogs up – they were not happy) and went for a 10min walk/jog to wake up, I then had breakfast – 40g/195ml of Scotts Old Fashion Porrage Oats/water with 500ml of Nuun (I tried Zipvit energy drink but it was not nice….). After a quick drive down to Lydd sipping Nuun all the way I registered and racked my bike – necking 2 Zipvit gels at 60 and 45mins before the race. The racking was a mixed affair, part carpeted, part grass/soil – which became mud after the swim :-(, but at least it was numbered. The race briefing was short and then it was straight into the water to go – I was in wave Alpha.

The swim

It was a deep water start and I placed myself as I usually do on the inside path to the first buoy near the front (all of my other races this positioning has served me well). I was about three/four people back from the front as the race started – it was one of the most competitive deep water starts I have done, it was really aggressive with lots of hands and elbows. This usually does not worry me however this was also my first time in the wetsuit for the year (plus I had not sealed it properly so my left arm was a bit full of water) all in all not a good start, it just did not feel right and at 200m I was going backwards….what really did not help was what happened next. I was jockeying for position with the swimmer to my right (oldish chap in a white club swim cap – I had seen him in transition) and he obviously got fed up with it as just as I put my head to the left to breath he pushed me under on his stroke and pulled my goggles off with his fingers (before the race I had tightened my goggles up so I know it was not an accident, ie. knocking them off). I immediately slowed and had to half swim/tread water to empty them (the water quality there is awful – really green and nasty tasting) which meant I got smacked into by the people swimming behind me. Once I had cleared my goggles I started swimming again – my confidence was a little knocked and it was the closest I have been to rolling on my back and putting my arm up in the air and DNFing in a swim – it was that close….

I persevered and pushed through the swim – passing the 300m buoy in clear water I began to pick up pace and chase down the front pack. The first turn was a bit of a mess as was the second (the swim course was a big M – 600m out and back with a 300m stretch making up the middle of the M) but the final turn was a perfect quick affair which took me passed two others. I finished the swim in 29th place in 30:32 – not my worst but not my best 1900m race effort. The exit was a slipway that led directly onto transition. I raced up it and down to my bike (not missing it like at WCMD last year!) and started to de wetsuit, however my bike was in a soil area so it all soon turned to mud – what a mess, plus I was pretty dizzy – T1 did not go well 4:12, it could have been faster – maybe no arm warmers next time (or at least roll them!) – once that was over it was out onto the bike.

The bike

The bike will be the defining memory to me of this race, I mounted well and pushed out onto the course zipping past the spectators and the Race HQ and off towards the course…and a good bike time….and that is how I hoped it would have gone, instead about 500m out from the Race HQ I tried to change up onto the large chainring and all I hear was a mechanical shearing sound and then I was pedalling like a maniac and slowing down…I looked down….no chain….I stopped and got of my bike…and swore at it….jumped up and down and swore some more…..ran back picked up my chain…realised that either end where it had failed had been damaged (the ends were chamfered in so a speedlink would not work)…ran back to my bike and swore a bit more….thought “well that is it game over – 30mins in – bugger” and then thought – multitool – I can take off the broken links and put the chain back on shorter and just race on the gears I can make…sorted! So I got out my multitool with chainbreaker and then realised that you need a no.6 hex spanner to use it – my only one was attached to the multitool…more swearing…..all the time people were zipping past me asking if I was okay…I wasn’t…..after I had sat there for a couple of minutes I realised there was a mechanic at Race HQ it was only 500m (ish) back so I picked up my bike and chain and legged it over the parking field to the HQ. The mechanics were all having a cup of coffee but after some persuading they fitted a new chain and I was sorted…well kind of….I had pretty much convinced myself that my race was over, to then try and psych myself back up to carry on for another 6hrs was tough, and I mean really tough….

I got back out on the bike course and I pushed as hard as I could whilst trying to keep to plan – I was aiming for Z3 throughout (147-160bpm) as it was I kept it near 163-165 throughout. The bike course itself is not challenging on this course – climbing was around 200m and 40m of that is on one hill…there are some fast bits but mostly it was a steady state effort – the biggest challenge being the headwind – it was simply amazing, to give an example there was one bit where I turned a corner and my speed dropped from 34kph to 14…..hard work.

From a nutrition perspective it all felt good – I drank fairly freely (Nuun triberry), making sure I was taking on fluids at least every 10mins and I took a Zipvit gel every 30 mins. For the first time on a 70.3 or IM bike – no GI issues and no cramping!!! However I think I may not have taken enough carbs before the race as everything felt flat – not sure why….also a first on the bike – I was overtaking people…not done that before…all the same I wonder if I should go back to a 54/39 rather than a 50/34 on the TT bike…average cadence 80….

I came back into transition in 3:31 (190th place for the bike) feeling a little dejected but overall at least I had made it round. T2 was smoother than T1. I racked my bike and stripped to my trikit to run – I paused long enough though to clean the mud off my feet (carpeted transition…hmmmm) and put on my fuelbelt and off I went.

The run

The run route has changed from the out and back death march that was apparently last years route. Instead it is a run from Lydd to Brookland and back – it is a pleasant route with several places where you run either side of the road – it was nice to see other people!

I struggled from the off to get my cadence up – I usually run at 90-95 strides/min but 80-85 seemed to be all my legs could do so I switched of my Garmin alarm telling me my cadence was low and just went with the flow. Everything felt fairly good on the run, nice and fluid no real pain in the legs – I saw Mike (my coach) heading back in (he had a stormer, finishing in 4:47) and the pace felt manageable, if a little slow 6:30-6:45/km – I usually run 5:50-6:00. At about 1:38 into the run the wheels fell off…probably due to too many carbs being pushed or that I had mixed a caffeine Zipvit gel in to see what happened…but I started to develop GI cramp and pain…I took some Colofac (mebeverine – a GI antispasmodic) which started to work around 10mins later but for around 3km I had a completely flat spot – it was a mix of nausea/GI pain and occasional vomiting…however with about 2km to go things seemed to improve and despite having a stitch I pushed through and finished fairly strong (6:20/km pace).

I finished the run in 2:23:22 (182nd place for the run) which I was fairly happy about as my fastest fresh ½ marathon time in 2:14. In total I came in 183rd in 6:35:14, only 5mins slower than my expected time and that included the goggles and chain fiasco, so all in all fairly happy.

As to whether I would do the Marshman again, not sure. It is an okay race, okay swim (although dubious water quality), fairly flat bike and run routes and it has FANTASTIC post race massage (approx 45min massage – although I had to wait about an hour for it!) – but it didn’t give me the same positive feel as the West Cornwall last year (and no beer at the end!).

Overall though – good race.
Iain.

IRONMAN SWITZERLAND (IMCH) 2010 Race Report

IRONMAN SWITZERLAND (IMCH) 2010 Race Report

Where: Zurich
Organiser: WTC
Cost: €400 (I think from memory – plus 30CHF if not a BTF member)
Date: Sunday 25 July 2010
Course profile: 3.86km lake swim, 180km bike (1260m climbed), 42.2k flat city run
Number of competitors: 2,222 signed up (2,183 started)
Distance: Ironman
Marshalling: Extensive and very good – roads mostly closed and run route very well marked
Aid Stations: Excellent (although a bit random in distance apart on the run)
Facilities: Everything
Freebies: Finishers T-shirt and towel, medal (for most…read the text!!), good quality rucksack with goodies in

Prelude

So here it is…after approximately a year of planning and training – IMCH! In the year running up to this event I have trained more than I have ever done before – swum further in lakes and the sea than I ever had before, rode over 100 miles which I had never done before and run over 25km which I had also never done before! I had left the Reserve Forces and changed my day job, injured myself several times (running) and been coached by a professional coach, all in a period which spanned less than eleven months – a pretty hectic time! With all that behind me it was time to concentrate on enjoying IMCH to the full.

Introduction

We (Lizzie and our daughters (Anja and Jules)) arrived on the Thursday afternoon, after driving down through France (and staying in a truly awful hotel en route!) and moved into the apartment we had rented for the week (my parents joined us later).

Late on Friday morning we headed down to the IM village at the Landiwiese (a recreation area on the bank of the lake in Zurich, the Zurichsee). After getting wet (it rained for most of the time before and after the race) and having a quick look around the expo and getting my bike “fixed” by the Scott mechanics (more on this later) I registered for the race and went to the race briefing (where I met up with Jon, James, Tim and Mark from the BCTTT, our club, Bridgetown Cona Testa Tri Team). The briefing was packed as it was raining, the German speaking briefing had been before and none of the Germans or Swiss had left the marquee! There was nothing earth shattering at the briefing and to be honest I cannot see why it was compulsory….We left after this to pick my parents up from the airport and then chilled out for the evening.

Saturday was a bit busy – I had forgotten that there was a bit of triathlon madness overtaking the city as I drove the family out to look at the bike course – loads of the roads were closed for an Olympic and sprint corporate event that went on all day….We headed out round the bike course – all 90km and 630m climbing of it…well almost, we could not get to Heartbreak Hill (one of the highlights of the course) as the road was closed…This recce was fascinating and useful. Firstly because I had ridden the bike course on my Tacx I-magic turbo trainer over winter and it gives a fairly accurate representation of the course both in gradient and through computer imagery as it shows the route via Google Earth, but also because it gave me an idea of how amazing Swiss roads are in their quality – phenomenal!!

The bike route is a two lap course which is pretty flat for about 30km (to the feed station just below Hombrechtikon) as it goes along the lakeside then it kicks up over one set of hills, climbing through the outskirts of Hombrechtikon to Bubikon and Gruningen before descending almost to the lake again prior to “The Beast”. This is the main climb of the course – climbing approx 230m in 5km it has an average gradient around 5% – which really isn’t that steep but it is just long – followed after a fun (50+kph on a bike) descent by another long drag that climbs another 150m+ over another 5km up to Forch via Egg. Once this section is finished it is downhill to the lake (through an uber –cool tunnel), back round to Landewiese and up to “Heartbreak Hill” at Kilchberg. This was a section which we did not get a chance to recce on the Saturday but is basically three short steep(ish) climbs which gets some unbelievable support at the race – think Tour de France hill sections (one bike up at a time with people shouting in right your face and banging instruments/blowing alphorns and ringing cow bells).

Following the recce it was time to rack the bike – hilarious fun as no one outside of the UK can queue apparently, there were set times to go and rack your bike but everyone decided that it would be good to go around 4pm – luckily my time slot was 5.30pm so I missed the 20-30min queue to get in. One word on racking at IMCH – take only your bike and helmet (and a lock – the racking is right next to the road) at night there is no space for anything else. Also security was much increased for this year as they photographed every bike (noting frame and wheel type) with the owner and race number and checked them on leaving at the end of the race. After racking my bike and repacking all of my race day kit out of my transition box and into bags to carry down to transition in the morning I had supper (intentionally bland tuna pasta) and went to bed at 10pm. I slept surprisingly well until 4am when the alarm went off….

The Race

So 4am….what an unnatural time to get up….I got up, sorted myself out and changed into club trishorts (never used before – something that should never be done at an A race – a bit of a risk but hey it was worth it as it said BCTTT all over it!) an Orca 226 tri-top and normal clothes. Following this I had breakfast – large bowl of porridge (with dried cranberries and agave nectar) and double espresso lungo and 500ml of Powerbar Energiser drink (CHO drink from here on) and headed down to my transfer to transition with Dad.

Once in transition I laid out my kit exactly as I would for an Olympic race (no bagged transition at IMCH) and got changed into my wetsuit. I wandered through the crowds and headed for the lake start point dropping my normal clothes off enroute. Once at the lake I warmed up (200m easy, 50m race pace, 50m strong pace) before getting out sealing my wetsuit properly and stretching a bit. I placed myself towards the left of the line up and at the front – aiming for a sub hour 3.8km swim. The pros set off at 6.55am, once they were away we sprinted into the lake and lined up for the deep water start.

About 30sec after giving the “1 minute to go” warning the gun went off and the IM race washing machine started. I have done a lot of open water races over the past three years but I can, without doubt, say this was THE most aggressive OW swim I have ever participated in – fists and elbows everywhere, a couple of people finished the swim with suspected skull fractures – I am a very strong swimmer (having swum up to national level when younger) but I found it hard work to push through the bodies – there were sooo many! In addition the use of yellow hats combined with yellow turn buoys made for interesting sighting!

Once I had clear water and had finished my 120 strong paced strokes (approx 150m) I settled into a cruising pace – avoiding most of the bodies and keeping on the left of the aqua-melee/swim – going round the first two buoys wide (to avoid a punch up again) before aiming for Saffa Island (the lap turn point). At this point I aimed for the edge of the island which was a mistake – the entry chute to go under the island bridge to the run over the island is marked by swimming pool lane ropes – not a problem but they were attached to a buoy which had a submerged steel hawser – everyone who took the same line hit it and a full blown aqua punch-up occurred trying to get round it. I think it was at this point my Garmin HRM was ripped off my arm…..after disentangling myself from the brawl I got over the island (you run over it) and headed back out into the lake for the second lap – all the time looking at my now empty wrist and thinking “b*gger – what do I do now?” – nearly all my training had been based on cadence, heart rate and pace – with only a few runs and bike sets based on feel or RPE (relative perceived effort) – without the Garmin I had no way of pacing myself or stopping myself going anaerobic (basically going too hard and stopping my GI system from shutting down). I tried to put the thought out of my head and focussed on the swim hoping I had put my spare watch in my transition area not in the bag I had handed in….

After struggling with focus a little on the second lap of the swim (although I did overtake two red hatted pros!) I came out of the water in 1:04. I made it into transition and found my bike – not easy as they had moved the barriers from when I had walked it the previous day – and took off my wetsuit. I calmed myself down and looked for my 15 yr old Timex IM digital watch (my backup – it only does stopwatch and one timer – no laps…the function is broken…) luckily I found it and set about trying to work out how it worked as a timer – this took me a couple of minutes, after which I dried my feet put on my sock, shoes, suncream, gloves, race number, BCTTT cycling top, glasses and helmet before grabbing my bike off the rack and heading for the bike exit. On the way out someone shouted “Go on Bridgetown!” which boosted my moral – thankyou!! I mounted and headed off on the bike.

One of the only challenges of being a good swimmer and a slightly below average cyclist is that I come out with the top age groupers and a few pros from transition and then spend a soul destroying eternity having everyone passing me!

So, as usual I watched everyone go by (some of them you could see thinking how did that big tubby guy get out of the swim before me????) and had a pretty uneventful first 30km although as I was getting fed up with being passed by everyone I probably pushed it way too hard.

Without an HRM or anything to give me an idea of pace it was almost impossible to pace the bike – whilst my legs felt great my HR was probably >155 which would have drawn blood away from my GI system causing ischaemia and reducing digestion speed, as a result my nutrition plan fell apart very quickly. My plan had been the same as my training plan – CHO drink throughout at a rate of one 700ml bottle per hour (unless a hot day when H20 would have been used too) with one PowerBar/hour – divided into two portions, half taken every 30mins. I managed this for about 40km of the bike, at this point I developed GI bloating and cramps on the aero position and just wanted to vomit every time I went down onto the bars – I managed to control it only retching once, about the time I went through Bubikon. I realised what had happened and stopped the powerbars deciding to go to “Plan B” – Powerbar gels (2/hr+H20 or 1/hr+CHO). I switched to the 1/hr+CHO to see if that worked – I kept that going right the way through to lap 2 around 120km when I had to go onto 2 gels/hr +H20 as I just could not take CHO drink anymore….all in all not a great way to feed an IM bike….

Anyway I reached the bottom of The Beast feeling pretty rubbish but dug deep and headed for the top – I got over the summit and felt better I think the band at the top helped! This was short lived as I had my lowest point on the next hill up to Forch – I just wanted to chuck it all in – I really didn’t care anymore – then a really nice chap came past, slowed and had a quick chat to me about my bike – it pulled me out of my blue funk and I cracked on. The downhill section was an absolute scream especially the tunnel (although the person wearing the fluorescent jacket telling us to go in the right lane probably should have stood in the sunlight not the shade – I almost killed him…). The lake bit was a bit boring on the return and then “Heartbreak Hill”.

I had no idea what to expect – I was thinking the hill out of Morebath on the UK Half IM course (>17% gradient and long) – so it was a bit easier than anticipated! The supporters were unbelievable and although I was probably >170bpm on the HR at the end the morale was high! From there it was a fast downhill (avoiding the guy who ripped his tubular off his wheel rim braking too late….) and then out on lap two.

Lap two was a little easier as although everything hurt a bit more (and people were still passing me). I knew what was coming so morale remained a little higher. It helped when Mark (md6 on the forum) overtook me at around 120km – we chatted for a while and things went okay until about 145km when my chain came off….I am not sure what the Scott guys did to my bike but my front derailleur is now ultra sensitive and the rear shift started to play up after my chain came off. Once I had sorted it out I headed on up The Beast for the second time. The GI problems persisted and it got more lonely out on the course – I had a period where I did not see another bike for 25mins…..I finally came into the city again after about 6hrs 30mins and it was odd – I saw no one but the support crew stopping traffic – no cars, no other people it was very odd – post apocalyptic almost!! When I hit Heartbreak Hill for the second time I knew I was having problems. My hamstring had developed a bit of cramp on The Beast but I had pushed through it, this reappeared on Heartbreak. I managed the first incline and then it spasmed. I had to get off and tried to stretch it. One of the supporters then came over and offered to massage it – a bit strange I thought but oh well give it a go – after about 2mins it worked and I carried on – I have no idea who that chap was but my thanks go out to him! At that point James (Jellybaby) shot past me and I had to watch him going up the hill in front of me – a bit gutted I continued. It was much quieter on the second ascent but it still had a few die hard supporters which made it worthwhile!

I finished the bike in 7hrs 24mins coming into transition just as the male winner was being awarded his prize – oh well no Kona place for me!!

Once off the bike I took off my bike shoes and had to strap my ankle – I had reaggravated the ankle injury I developed in training – which made T2 a monster 16mins…..oh well….out onto the run.

The run I can only describe as one of the most painful experience I have ever had…there is little detail to put down about it as it really was a case of putting one foot in front of the other for 6hrs and 24mins! I will expand a little though. Basically it was a flat run out of transition down the lakeside and then back in to the city before heading back out to the Landiwiese prior to going back to the city over the bridge and back before going back to Landiwiese to start the second lap – four times….The feed stations were randomly placed (not approx 2km apart as they are in most races) but some close together (1km apart) and others far apart (over 3km apart) which made doing a 9 min run/1 min walk strategy almost impossible – I eventually opted to run between them and walk the stations – it kind of worked…

The first lap went well and it was only after Mark lapped me and Jon (Jonhino) overtook me at about 13km that I had a bit of a meltdown. I had managed to contain the GI problems for nearly 15km but then it all went badly as I developed nausea and diarrhoea (plus vomiting – but at least that was only once!) – so the next 28km was a shuffle from portaloo to portaloo – not pleasant. That said when I came off the bridge for the last time I thought “sod this” and just went for it – I had about 2km to go and I just kept upping the pace – I had run/walked the whole race but this was just a flat run for the end.

I came into the finish chute – having overtaken five people on the last 2km – and was stopped by Lizzie and the girls. The girls joined me for the run down to the finish line (something I thought the WTC had banned) and I finished in 15hrs 18mins – placed 1854 out of the 2183 starters – to the words “Iain Sainsbury you are an IRONMAN” words cannot describe the feeling I had then and now just writing this report.

Final thoughts

In addition to me learning a lot about myself and completing one of the great triathlon global races I raised a significant amount of money for charity – a huge thankyou needs to go out to all those who sponsored me – Thankyou for your support.

On a final note – none of this would have been possible without the support of my parents, Lizzie and the girls – they have suffered me not being there on weekends, in the mornings and the evenings for the past year – thankyou.

Last year I found Wimbleball challenging and I never thought I could do a full IM race – this year I did it – fourteen years after breaking my neck playing rugby; four years after my decompression leg surgery; three years after taking up triathlon and after dropping 15kg in weight – anything is possible.

Iain.

Steelman – 4 July 10

Steelman – 4 July 10

Where: Dorney Lake

Organiser: Human Race
Cost: £70 non btf
Date: sunday 04 july 2010
Course profile: 1500 lake swim, 40.8km bike, 10k run
Age groups: the full works
Number of competitors: 800 odd
Distance: Olympic
Marshalling: signs and a few marshalls (mostly around transition)
Technical: drink station on the run offering water
Facilities: big tent things, portaloos and the lake cafe
Freebies: cotton t-shirt



Pre Race
This was my last race before IMCH so I should have felt good going into it…wrong! On Monday I did my last LSD run (3:30 v boring on your own) and all felt well but about four hours later I realised I had pulled one of the muscles on the outside of my foot (p brevis if you are interested :ugeek: ) lots of RICE ensued (well some)….and then to cap it all on the Friday I did a long swim set and aggravated a trapezius injury I developed earlier in training – I spent most of Saturday in a lot of pain but luckily this had mostly gone by Sunday am…

Sunday started fairly early with a 0645 breakfast before jumping in the loaded car – OMG I was organised this time…I don’t think I forgot anything 😮  😯  – and heading to Dorney Lake. Luckily I arrived early enough I managed to park right next to the crossing point on the bike course so I had a quick exit at the end…it was still a good 500-600m walk to transition tho…

I bimbled up to transition with bike and box (dropping the bike once and chipping the laquer finish on my carbon handlebars  😡 ) registered and racked my bike – simples.no sweat and for once transition seemed absolutely fine  😀 

Swim
After the customary wave to camera and (rather short) race briefing I headed to the front right for the swim – pole position  😮  I love swimming and thankfully it is one thing I am quite good at (as those who know me will know that is where it stops in the world of tri!) – the hooter went and off the washing machine went…it is the first time I have felt confident enough to go at the front and it almost worked except I forgot I have been training for IM not Oly – so I have lost a lot of speed – oh well – I just missed the front pack on the sprint start so I pulled back on the gas and cruised the rest – seeing almost no other swimmers in the process – it was a bit lonely!! One word of advice – if you do a tri at Dorney – follow the ropes that hold the rowing buoys they are like pool lane markers and they take you to the turn buoys – it took me one lap to work that out – DOH! Anyway swim went well – exiting the water in 25:53 a couple of mins behind the lead pack – I made the distance with my Garmin 310(with the swim upgrade) 1.7km so a little long…

T1
All went well for once – a little slow as always (as I put on socks/gloves) but not bad – 2:47

Bike
 😀  😀  😀  😀  😀  😀 
It went well – it was ****ing windy on the first corner behind tent city and then all the way to the other end of the rowing  tank but wayhay on the return leg it was FAST – maxing out at over 45kph and averaging 30.4kph. I have to say this was the first time on a bike leg I felt good and raced hard – over the past few weeks my LSD bikes have turned into long pace sessions (1hr at easy, 3hr at IM, 1.5hr at MD and .5hr at oly pace) and think god they have as my Garmin waved the white flag at this point and did not pick up HR/cadence from here on….it was all on RPE! Felt good, came in at 1:18:50  😀 (bike was a little long at 41.01km)

T2
At this point I had a melt down and decided that my prerace plan for nutrition was not enough so I stopped to pull another gel out of the box – grabbed my fuelbelt bottle (shoved in trisuit pocket) and another gel shoes on and off…1:58 – not bad for me!

Run
Okay so I had planned to push the swim and bike, cruise the run and push the last 3km….no plan survices contact so the wheels came off a bit..I had no HRM (as the Garmin was still sulking)…so I started out at what I thought was a calm pace and looked at my watch 5:15/km – I slowed down – inevitable stitch developed so I settled at around 6:15 – 6:30/km – I heard malteser shout which perked me up (thanks mate  😀  😀 ) and I just ran (slowly) round the route with my left ankle not enjoying things. I carried on in this vein until the last 2k where I pushed hard and held the pace at around 5:30-6:00/km – outrunning a few people finishing in 1:02:20 (run was 9.79km)

Overall time = 2:51:50 56/98 in age group and 266/482 finished

In summary a good race, if a little windy and boring on the bike (but good for practising maintaining max effort) – I was a little galled by the freebies (t-shirt only) for my seventy quid entrance fee but at least it was well signed/marshalled and run.

I.