Race Report here
Held off writing this until after the Hawaii roll down. I am pleased (very) to say I got my Kona slot. Chuffed to bits. Felt it was marginal whether I would qualify here and getting it in the bag at the first attempt this season makes me feel like normal service is starting to resume. It was a funny old roll down with loads of people not taking slots. For instance in my age group (M40-44) there were 4 slots and the top 4 all didn’t take them so I ended up getting the first slot. Then an older age group slot rolled in to our age group. A lot of happy vets. In the womens an older age group slot rolled down to the biggest age group but there was a tie. Both F30-34 and F35-39 had same number of finishers. So they checked starters. The same again. So they checked entrants. F30-34 had 52, F35-39 had 51 … at which point one particular lady erupted. There was a great vibe.
This post is really to review my race. I’ve written a report here. I’ll have more thoughts once I’ve had time to ponder the race but I find it worth while to record my initial feelings.
First and foremost I feel I had a great race and don’t feel I could really have gone much faster on the day. The only real area that may have made decent time difference was pacing on the run. By the finish I was content to have been run out of third as I gave it my all and the guys that chased me down deserved it. I gave my best and they beat me.
I got my usual nerves but used a lot of visualisation to keep them in check. Didn’t help me sleep but did get me to the start line in a very relaxed frame of mind.
Don’t think this could have gone better. Looking at recent swims it seems the difference for me in a wetsuit swim between 50:xx and 52:xx is whether I manage to get on a fast group. In this race I’d decided not to redline but just to go fast enough to keep towards the front. I managed to merge with the lead pack early and must have draft for 80% of the swim. First half was cruisey with little wasted energy. I had my usual doubts about 3/4 through … at that point I tend to start feeling the swim is hard work and my mind starts to ponder the enormity of the day ahead. I regularly have thoughts of some legitimate reason to pull out. It happened this time but I did self talk during the swim and got myself back on track. Cruising on my own for the final few 100m helped me really get in the right frame of mind for the bike.
My split was 3 minutes slower than last year but I feel it was a far better bike split. For one I was in the front age group pack the whole way which I didn’t manage last time. I also feel the course is slower. The changed bit has more undulations and is pretty rough service. Speaking to Matt Illingworth (he went 4:18 here a couple of years back and 4:30 this weekend) he felt the new section was slow. Also there was a much stronger wind and it rained making the corners very slick resulting in very slow tentative turns. I stuck to my guns of not letting any age groupers get away and it worked a treat. Ended with a pretty evenly paced ride. Looking at my power afterwards showed:
Lap 1 – Av power: 246w – Normalised power: 248wAv – HR: weird readings
Lap 2 – Av power: 245w – Normalised power: 247wAv – HR: 143
Lap 3 – Av power: 218w – Normalised power: 221wAv – HR: 142
The final lap didn’t feel like I’d eased up probably because no one caught us and we actually dropped some people. However, I do remember feeling relieved if whoever was at the front of the paceline wasn’t pushing it whereas in earlier laps that would have made me ride through. Also, two guys rode off the front. At the time I didn’t realise but they probably weren’t actually going harder.
Overall I was very happy with my bike ride. I executed my plan and got a good split without completely demolishing myself. In hindsight I wonder whether I should have gone easier early on but my belief is the advantages of establishing myself in the front group far outweighed the impact of the extra watts early on. The big thing it confirmed my feeling that Kona was an anomaly probably due to tiredness rather than lack of fitness.
Deserves a mention because it was 40s quicker than last year and I was putting vibrams on !
I started the run with 5:44 on the clock just like last year. So 3:15 would have be sub 9. I set off comfortably and seeing the 4:20 – 4:30 splits just rolled with it since it was keeping me on target for sub 9. 10k in 45 minutes meant it was still on the cards. By half way I was a minute of so off. It the really fell away. I was pleased to have gone for it though I believe this is where most time could have been save if I’d been able to go easier for that first 10k. I was in a race though and running into first. I was motivated to try and the last time I had that sort of motivation I ran 3:08. This time I wasn’t in that sort of run shape. I was found out.
You can see my splits steadily increased through the race. Note I ran this with a footpod which gave a marathon distance of 42.47k … pretty accurate I thought. I did monitor when it beeped my KM splits verses the KM markers to make sure I was aware of how accurate it was. There’s is a notable downshift in my HR. I’ve commented to Jo in the past that I always feel my run is limited by my legs, I never feel like I’m taxing my aerobic system. This graph shows it. In the race for the first half I was aware of my breathing for the second I wasn’t out of breath. Part of this I feel is my inability to focus and keep pushing. When I thought I was fighting for 3rd (in hindsight it was for 4th) every so often I pushed the pace and it was possible to hit low 5 min /k but then it felt like I wimped out at the feeling it was creating. The other part is just lack of hard running. November started to address this but it’s going to take many months of this.
For sub 9 I need to sort it out. A lot of guys run 3:15 in my age group. It’s not a ridiculous goal to run that and on a course like this it’s all I need. I feel this race has re-asserted my belief I have a sub 9 hour race in me just itching to get out.
Finally, it was quite pleasing that before the race I predicted my total time within a minute ! (admittedly I got the splits a little wrong).