The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

JoEuropeanChampThis is what a European Champion and a “pleased with a terrible race in sub 10 hours” Ironman look like.

It was a tough race. The facts of the race are in my report. This entry is going to be a little bit of on the hoof analysis for me so bear with it ;o). The mental battles I went through on the run are the toughest I’ve had and unfortunately I don’t feel I came through them as best I could, it feels I gave in and accepted a lesser result. I’m questioning whether I’m willing / able to give it my all.

“THE GOOD”

The swim was awesome. Two consistently good swims on the trot now. I’m feeling so confident going into these swims. Yes, I’m nervous, very nervous at the start but now it’s because I expect and want an excellent swim. This one involved two surges early on and I’m pleased I was willing to take on the second surge to try and get with the lead pack of pros. It seriously hurt but great to look back and see how within minutes of the surge I had settled down into a steady rhythm and was back in control. This just boosts my confidence for future races – during these surges I get severe doubts about pushing that hard – but now I’m getting more and more evidence that it works. This swim was sweet. I even enjoyed it as it was happening. I’m looking forward to the Wisconsin swim and really feel 55 minutes at Kona is possible.

“THE BAD”

The bike was bad. At least it was due to mechanical failure. I was riding well, as I’d hoped and expected following my performance on Epic Camp. I did a steady ride into Frankfurt in just over 20 minutes (on track) then pushed well on the first lap and despite my bars starting to fail during the lap so I didn’t keep aero for certain sections I still did 2:18 and was on course for sub 5 hours. The complete failure of the tri bars on the second lap was BAD. I worked hard to keep my focus but inevitably some had to be lost as I HAD to work out a solution to the bar problem. I must have lost some time slowing for the bike service though I decided against it. I also spent alot of time none aero as I either fixed the bars, refixed them, took a break from being aero (as the sheared carbon fibre dug into my arm) or just had to be off the aero bars because the road surface was bad since the other aero bar snapping would have been end of race. Also, not being able to change gear unless I was down on the remaining aero bar meant I was unable to change once i was on a hill which, in turn, meant I had to be a thug on alot of the hills and strain against far too big a gear. Pretty convinced that without this I would have been within a whisker of sub 5 if not gone under. Like the swim this gives me confidence.

“THE UGLY”

Yes the run was ugly. VERY UGLY. I knew I wasn’t in great shape for the run. Since a week before Epic I’d not done anywhere near the run volume I’d normally do and I was carrying serious extra pounds. This was similar to IM Switzerland last year where I had a pretty bad marathon for 3:24. So I felt that I could run badly and still run 3:30. This was worse. I didn’t feel good initially but thats not unusual. What is unusual is my taking my KM splits. I was so determined to just try for low 3 hours that I decided to check my splits each KM. My normal approach is to go the first lap (or 10 k) without looking at my watch. Run on feel and then see how I’m going. Being a complete muppet and reading my watch wrong meant I was under the impression that despite my best efforts and working hard my times were dropping off. Two days before, on my final run, my left glute was seriously hurting and was  restricting my running. No idea why – had done nothing un toward. It felt like a trapped nerve or something. By the day before the race it was feeling like tightness , I couldn’t even bend over and get my finger tips half way down my shin. Jo did her best to massage it with some antiflam cream and even to her unprofessional hands she could feel some knots. It felt better than the previous day but it was restricting how fast I could run and seeing the splits just deteriorate made me think the best option was to ease off and just finish. I was absolutely determined I would finish and that I would run every single inch of the run. The truly disappointing thing is that when I realised my misreading of the splits and that I was in fact running sub 50 min 10k pace (ie sub 3:30 marathon)  for those first 5k I didn’t pick the pace back up to that level. I was happy to stay comfortable and nurse it round. With hindsight this is the most disappointing thing about the race.

Jo running past me was filled with so many mixed emotions at the time and post the race. With how I was going I so wanted her to pass me as for her to achieve her goals she had to catch and pass me. Reading her race report it’s nice to see she thought I was a lap ahead: that would have put me somewhere about 8:50 to 8:55 pace ! She has a lot of confidence in me but I’m sure the evidence that I wasn’t in that shape must have been pretty clear ! It’s tough racing the same race as Jo since her performances in the womens field are better than mine in the mens but this time she was outright faster than me. I just didn’t know how I’d deal with it, still don’t.

So why the bad run ? I’ve addressed the mental aspect but reckon at best that would have got me around the 3:30 mark. Not where I want and think I should be but would have been enough for me to come away happy with my result. The second lap on the bike  climbing in higher gears than planned will have contributed but I can’t believe it would have been significant. The weight I raced at is something I know has been an issue for a while. Well, I believe it to be and had hoped to test it out here but didn’t have the discipline to get the weight down. To compare I was approximately 12lbs heavier than at Ironman New Zealand and more like 16 lbs heavier than when I raced Longest Day. This is massive and really I need to work out how to address it. As was said in a forum I consult alot I need to ‘Man Up’. The final bit is my run training. I rested up ahead of Epic and then during Epic I didn’t run as much as I would normally. If I look at the 4 week period ahead of the final 3 weeks to race day for New Zealand I averaged 101 miles per week, for Germany 56 miles per week.

So there you have it. A bad Ironman performance under my belt. My sister knows how to say the right things. She texted and pointed out how we’d talked about my Ironman performances. I remember this, I’d said I’d been “lucky” that I’d not had a bad one but one day I would. She told me this was my bad race.

Well… I’m glad I’ve got the bad race out of the way. Roll on Wisconsin. Sub 9 there would rock ;o)

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