Ironman Wales, Tenby 2012

Wales12-1

Time: 10:07:29
Swim: 48:25
T1: 8:01
Bike: 5:42:22
T2: 2:21
Run: 3:26:20

Race analysis here

I had high expectations for this race after last years was such fun. The build up didn’t disappoint with so many friends either competing or spectating there was no shortage of people to relax with ahead of the race.

Race morning Jo and I headed to transition to check our bikes at 5am. I was back in our room by 5:10am for another coffee and a lie down to collect my thoughts. We headed down to the start at 6:20am but the organisers had been very efficient at getting every down there from 6:15 so there was a massive crowd which we pushed our way through just in time to get a (very) quick warm up before getting in the start pen early to get a good position.

This time they had volunteers holding the tape parallel to the shore (not perpendicular like last year) – this together with a turn buoy about 100m out, the pros starting in the water ahead of us and marshals going along the line explaining the course ensured there was no chance of anyone thinking it was appropriate to run down the beach.

It was a little surreal on the start line when I strike up a conversation with the german to my right who says he’s a fast swimming. I quip I’ll get on his toes and then ask what time he’s expecting. “I should go under an hour” is his reply ! The other side of me is some spanish dude who’s incredible pushy and keeps putting his should in front of me. It was hacking me off so I asked him what time he was expecting “56 minutes” so I tell him I’ve been under 50 minutes the last few times I’ve swum so he should stop trying to push in front of me. He moved away.

Gun goes and the carnage started. I was ahead of the two ‘fast’ swimmers either side but immediately caught the pros. Through to the turn buoy was very rough indeed. Then a pro that I was passing rather quickly decides the best solution was to swim over me and grab me round my waist. Idiot … enough to say he got at least as good as he was dishing out. Round the turn buoy and it settled. I found myself at the back of a group and having decided that the whole swim should be controlled I made no effort to move through and sat at the back. One of the most comfortable swims I’ve done. Apart from the first 100m and a surge after one of the turns to get back on I was never even heavy breathing. Very pleased indeed when Marc shouted I’d gone 48 minutes. I’ll be honest, it was either short of there was a very strong current in our favour.

Ahead of me some pro’s were stripping there wetsuit before the ramp. Remembering how unbalanced I was last year stripping in on the slop by my shoes I did the same and then ran up, vibrams on and through town. Again it surprised me how fast some people were running, I just kept telling myself not to run any faster than I’d run the marathon. Of course, I was coming out with the Pros so I should expect some swift running through town.

On the bike I was again aiming to keep real control on my efforts. Last year I hurtled round the first big loop and suffered on the second smaller one. This time I would be very careful with my efforts, initially basing it on my breathing and later keeping my power around 240. With how I’ve been riding recently I didn’t feel the 250 watts I held at Roth was realistic. I’d also decided this time I would go with any pace-lines that came through and see how that felt. About 20 miles in a Swiss guy in my age group and then behind him (legal) was the lead lady also Swiss. When I see this I do wonder whether there’s some arranged pacing going on. As I tried to hang on to their little group for the next 20k it I was more intrigued as she clearly moved to ensure she was directly behind him. I plan to check the results to see how close they finished the bike.

I couldn’t hang with this group so dropped off the pace. We were now a third of the way in and I felt like I needed to pee and my power was dropping off. My thoughts also started to become negative as more and more in my age group came by.  Halfway through and I reckoned I was already in 12th. I started pondering not even running thinking I’d be better off getting back in to training straight away for Busselton. I also thought that next year I should go to an American race to qualify rather than here as this was ridiculous. I also wondered whether my days of qualifying for Kona were over. My power continued to drop through that lap till it was down to 234 average as I went through the first part of the second lap. I came to a downhill and decided I had to try and pee. For the first time in my Tri career I managed to do it ! There was a lot. Apart from the novice error of actually peeing on my gel bottle it went well ;o) I had some water to squirt over myself and the bottle.

The change was absolutely transformational. I felt superb. I was happy again, positive. I was smiling and acknowledging the crowd and my power was through the roof. On the flats 250 felt very comfortable. On the hills low 300s was fine. I started catching and passing loads of guys who’d passed me earlier. By the end my average was up to 241 which roughly equates to me average 255 watts for the final third.

Towards the end of the ride I was following this Kiwi guy and saw him drop a gel packet. It was immediately after he’d take it and there was no effort to put it in a pocket. I thought how I’d respected his beautiful country so why can’t he show the same respect. I left it as a thought until he went for a drink and accidentally dropped the bottle top – fair enough but he then finished the drink and just chucked the bottle. That was it … I rode up alongside to pass and said “I’ve spent a lot of time in New Zealand” at which point he started smiling “ and I never once littered”. He protested the bottle top had dropped accidentally so I pointed out that he then had chucked the bottle and early he chucked a gel packet.

Coming into Tenby the final time I came hurtling down behind a “Safety Marshal” on a motor bike – I thought it slightly wrong that the safety marshal on the bike course seemed completely unaware of a racer coming down the hill behind him. I had to shout to get him to give me space. It then dawned on me that in the whole race I not seen one single draft buster !

Having ridden strongly at the end I felt great coming in to T2. It felt like I’d had a conservative bike and was ready to run. Gone were thoughts of not running and replaced were thoughts of running some people down. I’d visualised starting the marathon running properly – no matter how I felt get into proper running form. This I did and it was great. I felt like my old self. I was seeing downhill splits in the 4:20s and uphill in the 4:50 which combined saw my average pace fall to 4:38 by the halfway mark. In fact, I went through halfway in 1:30 (note the course was at least 500m per lap short!). I was running really well and thoroughly enjoying it. I felt like my old self, running fast and comfortable. It also meant in the first half I passed people but was only passed by the odd person.At the end of the second lap I become aware of rubbing on my left foot. I knew I should stop to tighten it but didn’t. I definitely should have as you can see the blister I ended up with.

I kept pretty solid into the third lap but the climb out to the far turnaround did me in. I managed to run reasonably well back down the hill but as I started the final lap I was in pieces.   I could feel the blister and was aware of myself flat footing that foot. I consciously forced myself to forefoot strike and eventually I zoned out the discomfort. Uphill splits were now 6:xx and with 7km to go I found myself walking. I walked for a couple of minutes, gathered my thoughts and got going again.

I came in to the finish chute just like last year having thoroughly enjoyed the race. Despite knocking nearly 30 minutes off last years time I knew I was no where near a Kona slot (18 minutes off to be precise) but I was very happy indeed. The first half of the marathon had given me a glimpse of what my running could be if I manage to put the work in.

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