Challenge Roth 2012

Time: 9:41:11
Swim: 47:31
T1: 2:08
Bike: 5:00:16
T2: 1:33
Run: 3:49:45

Race Analysis here

There are not many races where you genuinely get to race the pros. Normally, though we’re in the same race they get enough of a head start that getting to swim with them takes a massive effort. Not here, being in the sub 9 wave meant starting in the same wave as the pros with equal rights. This meant I got in early and held firm to my spot on the front line. Turns out this is fair enough because the age group podium only excluded the top 10 pro finishers which meant that first and second in my age group were pro’s. Glad I didn’t give any undue respect to them before the start. Also glad I’d chatted to Matt (Malloy) before the race as he confirmed my belief I should place myself on the front line.

The gun going always comes as a bit of a surprise but I got some good early strokes and had my shoulders ahead of the swimmers around me. I held my ground and saw a small group (maybe three swimmers get away) but other than that I found myself sitting pretty in the middle of the front pro pack. Now to concentrate to not lose it. To the first buoy it was fairly hard work most of the time but there were periods of easier pacing. I could see Rachel to my side and then I was on her feet for a period (I tried not to tap too much ). There were surges that took a little effort to keep on but mostly it was pretty easy swimming and I got progressively more comfortable to the point that as we approached the second turn buoy I put a surge in to get a better position for the turn. I came out feeling relaxed and super chuffed in 47:31 and 11th overall.

The Tri London contingent had a little informal competition on transitions which kept me focussed. I’m usually quick as I have minimal stuff in my transition bags. Today it was my number and a mars bar. I ran out of the tent with Matt but knew I had the jump on him as he’d told me he had to stand still for 30s with his bike to let his power pedals boot up.

I felt pretty good as soon as I started the bike. With all the biking I’d been doing it was great to confirm what I thought should be the case. I was soon passing Rachel and we swapped positions for a while. We passed the first level crossing which had two german soldiers stationed either side who gave a very formal salute as we went by and into the aid station manned by the army. What a great touch. I loved it.

My power numbers were high. The thought “if I hold these numbers throughout it’ll be pretty unbelievable” passed across my mind. Good job I listened … if it would be unbelievable then it probably wasn’t going to happen. I eased back a bit and let my power average drop. Matt soon joined us commenting “nice helmet” as he went by. For a while we had a little three person pace line going of Matt, Rachel then me. I felt I was sitting pretty.

The first pack of pros soon came by which proved troublesome as they weren’t going that much quicker and they kept dropping in front of me. I felt it a little harsh that I got a word from the ref and then saw him go forward and have a word with Matt and it looked like possibly Rachel. At 30km Rachel just went – it was pretty impressive, it was visible to me she’d just changed pace and within minutes was out of sight. I stuck with Matt.

The wind was pretty darn strong. I could see I was riding well but also could see there was no way I was getting a low 2:40s bike split. A few KM out from the Solarer Berg the ref came alongside. I was no where near anyones draft zone. He started asking if I’d been up the Solarer Berg before and continued to tell me how great it was and I was only five minutes away.

It was utterly incredible. I was laughing and smiling all the way up. The crowds had to part to let us through and I had a pretty decent push from someone at the start !

I still felt pretty fresh as we started the second lap so I upped the effort a little and went by Matt commenting “nice helmet”. I had expected him to come with me but it didn’t take long for me to be out of sight. Soon another small group of Pros came through and I managed to latch on to two of them and pace with them all the way to the finish. I was pleased to see the soldiers were still saluting and the crowds were still on the Solarer Berg though slightly less enthusiastic. I was enjoying mixing it with the stars – I’d briefly been in a pace line just behind Lother Leder who had then gone up the road only for me to re pass him on the second lap. This was great !

Half way round the second lap the referee came alongside again. I sat up and had a chat. He was asking me whether the Solarer Berg was as good as I’d hoped. This time the bike driver was chatting and smiling as well. I told them I felt it was a little packed and would have been better if they’d kept it clear of pedestrians. Luckily they recognised I was joking and we had a bit of a laugh. They then left me to get back on the back of the paceline. I found it funny.

I finished the ride with an average power (excl zeros) which matched my normalised of 253 watts. Thats at least 10 above anything else I’ve managed. I was in a great place as I’ve felt so much worse than that finishing the bike in most other races. I knew I was high up my age group (with hindsight it looks like probably second) and I knew I’d put some time into Matt who was bound to be a contender for the podium. I was looking forward to the run but with a slight doubt about what the last three weeks had done to my running.

T2 was fast. Made me smile as I put my FiveFinger Bikilas on that people worry about the time lost putting them on. Well my T2 was 1:33 so how much time could I really have lost.

On to the run and I felt awful. Just like I do at the start of a brick run. It’ll pass. It did, I felt I was running nicely however looking at my garmin the speed wasn’t what it felt it should be. I was on the run in 5:50 so a 3:25 marathon would get me a PB. I knew it was not a sub 9 day for me.

I got in to my running and saw my average pace drop down to the low 4:50s which meant if I could hold it together a PB was on the cards. At km 6 Matt went by running really well. He told me he had his running legs. He did – a 3:08 ran him to third on the podium and AG ETU champ. I got through to 14km still holding pace. This is when things went wrong. I felt I should try and relax for the middle third and  push the final third. Not sure this helped. My pace dropped and soon a PB was off the cards. My legs were aching so much. Got to 23 km then started walking aid stations. This was getting hard. I even walked between aid stations briefly but this kicked me a little and I managed to pick it up a tad to the finish. The cobbles round the beer mile were very hard work and it wasn’t till the finish shute I got that final wind.

I made sure to look around as I finished, to enjoy it. 9:41 is very disappointing as a time but as an overall experience it was awesome and I loved it. For nearly 7 hours of that race it was going well (often very well) but with Ironman if things start falling apart it can deteriorate pretty quickly.

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