Race Analysis here.
I managed to keep my nerves in check for most of the run up to this race. In fact, the night before as I lay in bed completely awake for 3 hours I managed to quieten my mind and visualise the race and feel so relaxed. Imagining a great day and enjoying it. I then fell asleep for 4 hours and woke with a knot in my stomach and massive nerves. I lay and slowly brought it under control.
I still didn’t feel like eating but forced down a 4 egg cheese and peanut butter omelette before heading to transition. Bike was all AOK and once thats checked I like to just leave it as being around your bike just encourages faff which is of no use.
I warmed up early for the swim and got in to the pen early to be on the front line. It was very annoying to me and the people around me that the marshalls allowed people to join the pen from the sea (which they weren’t meant to do – as they were meant to go across the timing mat). This meant by the start though we’d not moved forward from the start point it had now moved forward to allow 3 lines of people in front. Now, I know that there is no way that many people are quicker than me in the swim… I definitely should be on the front row but there was no way of pushing through.
The gun goes and I can’t run immediately and there is so much pushing from behind I only just stay on my feet. In the water it is mayhem. My plan was to not redline at the start and to be honest I had no chance of doing so. Despite swimming easy I was passing people. Clearly these plonkers (yes they were idiots to seed themselves so high) should have been further back and they got no sympathy from me. One guy as I passed him pulled me back by the shoulder. I can tell you he got more in return. The first 150m were a fight and by then I’d lost any chance of getting with a pack of Pros. I broke clear and swam the whole thing without any feet to draft off. I had one pro on my feet and then a second I caught on the second lap. It ended up comfortable and I was chuffed to bits coming out in just under 53 minutes. My swim training had backed off a lot since New Zealand but pretty clearly I’d done enough to keep the gains I’d made over the winter.
I knew I was up for this race with the speed I moved through transition. I came out of T1 with Bella Bayliss and Cat Morrison but went by them as we mounted out bikes. Focus on the bike was to feed and be conservative. I felt good, my breathing seemed right and I was moving AOK. By El Golfo I found myself riding with Richard Hobson and Cat Morrison. This was a fine state of affairs as I knew they were strong riders and felt between us we’d pace a good ride.
I took my first swig of gel to find my bottle was leaking gels. My own fault, the bottle was split but it had been OK with water all trip as I’d gaffer taped it up. However, gels clearly seeped through and you can imagine what a mess it was. My fingers were stuck together which in turn were stuck to my shifter. I decided to work my way through it in the first half and then move on to my bento box contents. This meant by 2 hours in I’d had about 15 gels – not quite standard practise. I ditched the bottle and went about getting water and dousing the bars, my hands and getting rid of the stickiness !
By Famara (about 80k in) I had tried to eat the contents of my Bento box but it just wasn’t nice. I remembered something Tim Deboom said in an article that if you can’t eat on the bike it’s probably because you are riding too hard. I decided to ease up a little. This had the added benefit of ensuring I kept it controlled up the biggest ascent that I was about to start. It worked and I was soon eating the stuff slightly better (it still wasn’t a taste sensation). At Teguise I saw Cat at the side of the road with a broken chain. [ she lost 46 minutes at the side of the road then went on to run a 3:04 marathon and win the race! ]. Even easing up I was passing people up the climb. By Mirador Del Rio I felt great and could see I was on for a good split. This was going just as I’d visualised and I knew I could push a little more home. Along the highway I was at the back of a nice pace line of three then up the final proper climb I dropped the guys and rode back more or less on my own.
Back in town I stopped the clock at 5:20. Beyond my best estimations and I had ridden it conservatively. I remember thinking “you’re clearly fit’ ;o)
As I ran through transition (a lot longer than last time I did this race) I got my shoes out of my bag and put my helmet in. I was keen to get running and had a fast turnaround. Out on the run I felt good. Knocking out 4:40 KMs for the first 3k and then settled down to 5 min Ks which was the top end of my target. At the far turnaround I couldn’t believe how far ahead the leader in my age group was. What was worse I was already in 5th ! I’d started the run thinking even a 4 hour marathon would be enough based on last year for a slot but now I knew it wasn’t quite in the bag. As I turned I could see the competition and was only 5 minutes ahead of losing my slot.
For the first lap I ran a lot with this german lad and then on the second with Richard Hobson. It’s strange how at times you just can’t stick with the pace but it’s so slight. So for ages I was behind them by 50 – 100m but could always see them and then later I passed the german guy. I felt pretty strong on the run but that an increase in pace would result in me blowing. A Kona slot was really down to what the others did with their run but I felt by running 3:30 they would have to earn it.
There were of course some low points but I never buckled and my ~6k laps were all within 3 minutes of each other with a gentle slowing. I ran the WHOLE marathon. This was the real satisfaction from this race – I was running, I was racing and I felt I was in the race competing.
As I approached the finish shoot, annoyingly some Danish guy (not my AG) dashed by with a massive flag and then stopped dead in the finish. I nearly ran in to him. He then proceed to take what seemed like minutes posing (you’d have thought he won the race) … means my finish photo isn’t exactly natural.
Biggest bonus of all is I finished 9th in the final Kona Slot position !