Race Analysis here.
I was so nervous for this race. I had the most disrupted night’s sleep ever and then couldn’t face any breakfast so only had a coffee. This did make me much more comfortable immediately pre race and I felt that no breakfast or a very light breakfast was the best approach. Once in transition and checking my bike I felt much more confident. In the past bad nerves have been a precursor for a good race. Inside I felt quite confident.
I lined up at the front of the swim. My swimming had been going well and I’d judged that in this race the depth of strong swimmers wouldn’t be huge and felt there was no need to absolutely blast off the start. When it gone within a minute some guy just move about 5 metres forward of everyone else which I thought was a bit off. When within seconds of the gun I was on top of him ,
I though ‘bloody idiot’ and had no qualms about swimming straight over him. I soon found myself leading the middle surge of swimmers. Over the course of a few buoys I merged over to the main pack. I’d missed the front few age groupers but was clearly in the next pack. Throughout the swim the leader of this pack would veer off after each buoy as he seemed to initially sight off the buoys on the other side of the course. This was annoying and very so often I would take the straight route merging with them later. It was clearly harder work doing this and I wasn’t getting ahead so I spent most of the time in the pack swimming very comfortably. I’d prepared myself for a 55+ minute split and reconciled it in my head that it would set me up for the bike this easy swimming. I was nicely surprised when I ran out of the lake on saw the time was 51 minutes.
I was looking forward to the bike. I’d biked really well the previous two races and felt with Epic Camp followed by lower volume with a focus on quality including some Ironman Distance rides at pace I’d improved from then. I set off at a good pace up the hills out of town and with the tail wind really kept the pressure on. No one came by me and I was catching everyone. About an hour in I was told I was the leading age grouper. At the turnaround I saw that the last 3 guys I’d passed had formed a paceline behind me. I hit 50km with an average speed of 38.3 km/h (that included the pushing the bike out of transition!) thats 4:41 pace ! I now had the headwind but was in a nice line of 4 all the way back. We got passed by Matt Illingworth but knew he’d be off (he did 4:41 for about the fastest split of the day). The little group worked well to keep the effort up with someone moving through if the person on the front slowed. I really felt in a good position. We hit 90km at an average of 36.4 km/h which was bang on what I’d set out as my target pace. Just needed another lap like that. I was a bit gutted that our little group got split up and coming out of town a big paceline was bearing down on me. It went by on the hills out of town and I didn’t manage to get on. My legs felt like I’d pushed a little too hard on the first lap and now the wind (REALLY) picked up and I suffered. Spent the lap riding on my own or with just a couple of others and I dropped off to a 5:09 bike split. Very disappointing.
I flew through T2 in under a minute and out on the run. Didn’t feel great or fast but I hit each of the first 4 kms in 4:30 despite trying to ease up. I was seriously choked up as soon as I hit the run, literally in tears. Running on this course after last year was a lot more emotional than I’d thought… well I’d not actually thought about it. It was pretty positive as I wasn’t feeling great but running a decent pace. After 4kms I managed to get the splits more at the 5 minute mark and I just sat at that waiting for my run legs to kick in. I felt I’d done enough training to at least have a period of running freely. This continued like this till I’d hit 24km in 2hrs (bang on 3:30 pace) then my body skipped the running free stage and went straight to the sufferfest stage. It felt like I was about to fall apart but pleasingly I (more or less) held it together. Splits went up to closer the 6 minutes mark, I walked some aid stations and even had to walk at random spots a couple of times but each time I pulled myself and got going again pretty quickly.
I was getting close to cramping in both calves and left quad so was popping the salt tablets and gels to try and keep it under control. At the last turnaround I decided to give popping a few Ibuprofen a go (Jo does it quite a lot). I had four with me so took two. Then a couple of minutes later though “what the hell” and took the others. Not sure it was them or getting nearer the finish but from 7km to 2km I ran a lot better and then the cramp really started to get close to halting me. I had to nurse myself all the way down the finish shoot. I was pretty choked up as I finished and when I saw Jo in the finish tent after I burst in to tears. Great to finish this race but still feel I need to come back and do it properly.