Ironman New Zealand – Analysis

IMNZAnalysis10.jpgIt’s fair to say I’m pretty disappointed with my race yesterday. My race report can be found here. It’s Sunday morning and as usual I’ve not been able to sleep and I find it quite therapeutic to think the day through and write down thoughts. I’ll put them here but I’m likely to mull it over more and my view will change. It’s changed since last night already !

The night before this race was the worst nights sleep I’ve ever had ahead of a race. I can’t believe how nervous I felt and I kept waking either way too hot, sweating under the covers or way to cold because I’d fallen asleep with the covers off. I felt utterly awful. However, historically I’ve race really well when seriously nervous. I think because my nerves are a sign I feel I’ve prepared well and I feel pressure on myself to do myself justice. Thats what I thought going in to this. I was pretty sure the run was a bit of an unknown but I felt my swim and bike had moved on since Busselton and therefore I would go seriously well. Yesterdays performance didn’t feel like I’d done my preparations justice at all. I have a table of my Ironman performances and I’ve marked my execution down, though that really is all due to the bike.

I was too nervous to eat breakfast. I’d read, a while back, from a reputable source that given the choice between extra sleep and breakfast go for the sleep as after a nights sleep it’s only a small amount of liver glycogen been used and though you may feel hungry your muscles are still fully charged and ready to go. I started Longest Day hungry and raced well. Last night we’d chatted about it and Russ said he’d seen research that showed no correlation between eating breakfast and race result it came down to race nutrition. The long and short of it is I drank a cup of coffee and felt quite calm about not eating.

Once in transition I felt more relaxed and my tummy wasn’t it’s usual rumbling self. Wondered whether it was helped by not having breakfast.

SWIM

Most satisfying part of the race. Pretty conservative. Easiest swim I’ve ever done. Sat in a pack for huge chunk of it and got out in 51 minutes. One of my fastest swims and definitely the least energy expended. I was slightly worried about that I’d let my squad swimming tail off in favour of sleep the last few weeks but it doesn’t seem to have had a big impact.

BIKE

Clearly I wasn’t as fit as I thought I was.

I genuinely felt I was in shape to go under 5 hours. In good conditions I felt it could be 4:50. The conditions weren’t good. In fact, second lap was very windy. We saw Cam Brown interviewed on the news and he said it was the hardest conditions he’d seen on the bike. I was confident and with such an easy swim I went for it. My initial thoughts last night were I went out too hard on the first 50km but I’m not so sure. I was on 4:40 pace at 50km but 40k of that was with a tailwind. By 90km I was on 4:56 pace which was bang on. However, even at that stage I could tell from the feeling in my legs I’d done a little too much. There were guys I caught and passed that clearly just paced it better and came back by me and managed very low 5 hours. I faded big time compared to those around me at halfway. I was in the lead pace-line and if I’d been able to stick with them would have got very low 5 hours. Hugely disappointing.

Of course, it gets you thinking ‘why has it dropped off so much’. My preps since Epic Camp for this race have been substantially different on the bike than in the past. Gone were the big over distance rides and riding most days. Instead I did focussed sessions with plenty of rest between. I think I succumbed to a lot of feedback I get that you need more quality and less quantity. I felt I had the base now I should add quality. Hell, I rode IM distance in 5:11 mere weeks ago in training and here I only manage 5:09. What’s up with that ? I’ve been able to absolutely hammer in training and then fade here. It’s nice being that strong in training but I’d go back to being weaker in training and racing well any day. I think about how strongly I rode at Epic Camp and how even when tired I could still crack on. I didn’t feel like that yesterday. Something was definitely missing (was it breakfast ? … only kidding). I’d lost something on the bike between Epic I now. I can’t believe I’d lost that much fitness so perhaps it was a pacing thing. Maybe  I need to start racing on a power meter ? Only way to do that really is SRM cranks… pricey !

My gut reaction is I need to build some volume on the bike again ahead of Lanzarote. Luckily I’ll be resting for a week or so before starting training for that so I won’t necessarily go with my gut.

RUN

This was a reasonable positive. 5;16 marathon at Kona, 4:30 at Busselton and then 3:52 here is a pretty steady improvement in very little time. You just can’t hide from lack of run training. I really only had 2 months proper training for this. I ran target pace for 24k then dropped off big time.

Here are my run splits. The view is the 11 and 14k markers were misplaced. Anyway – after an initial overly fast start I settled to pretty consistent running then at 24k it dropped off. You can see some pretty chunky splits followed by slightly better ones where I pulled myself together but couldn’t hold it.

I certainly hoped i could go 3:30 and there was some evidence to back that in training but as I think I hinted on this blog I really didn’t know. it’s pretty clear I’ve still got a ways to go. It’s easy to fall in to my old habits and just going long but I am going to resist that. Not only because my toe just may not handle that but also because I need to give this new approach time. So the plan is to continue with a focussed long run each week after days of running rest. Negative splitting long runs, hilly runs and then one or two shorter fast runs. Whilst I’m in North Yorkshire I will make the most of the hills.

I am gutted I didn’t manage a Kona slot. This time I was only about 6 minutes or so off. If I’d held my first 24k pace for the full distance (a big if I know) I would have 3rd ! Thats positive since despite what I consider a poor bike I was in position to do well and even managed to maintain an appropriate pace for the run for over half course. That said, 3:30 is not the split I’m aiming for. I want to be consistently under 3:20.

Last night I got to use Davids Normatec boots for 45 minutes and boy oh boy they helped A LOT. If they come up with some at a more reasonable price I’ll be in the market for them. The guys said it was better than the post race massage.

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