Ironman Wales, Tenby 2013

Swim: 0:55:53
T1: 12:14
Bike: 5:56:19
T2: 2:28
Run: 4:00:22
Total: 11:07:16 (20th / 97th)

Race Analysis here.

I had my usual pre race sleep of waking about every 30 minutes to look at my watch. There were many torrential downpours which sounded pretty dramatic laid in a room in the loft. I kept positive by thinking “better now than tomorrow”. The rain had stopped by the time I went to transition at 5am, checked my bike and came back to the flat for a snooze. I felt more nervous than usual in the morning and couldn’t face that much food only eating a couple of toffee waffles with a cup of coffee. I thought that since I’d eat well the night before there really couldn’t be that big a need for too much food.

I walked down to the swim at 6:15, quick warm up and then I got right to the front line for the swim just beside a massive fella who was going to lift the tape. I chatted with him and established he’d lift it high and would make sure he wasn’t in my way. I felt cold and tried to keep warm by moving a little and shaking my legs.

SWIM (55:53)

The course had been changed slightly in the hope of reducing how rough the start was last time. There was  now a turn buoy (in theory to make sure you swim rather than run down the beach) closer to shore and in line with the first main turn buoy. Unfortunately it was in line for perhaps the right hand half of the field. For those lined up for the shorter line it mean about a 20m swim to a sharp turn. Sensible the Pros were allowed right up to the buoy for the start.

The horn going is always a weird surprise, the reaction comes first and the realisation in your consciousness that your racing arrives seconds later. It was very rough indeed. Pushing and shoving before hitting the water and then just no water to pull in. I swam water polo style and had to go across three people to get some water I could swim in. Wasn’t convinced this improved the start at all, in fact it was worse as there was no space to spread out, I think everyone in the field could race to that buoy as quick as each other.

After that turn it settle quite quickly and I find a nice rhythm. I was enjoying it. We turned to swim parallel to shore and I start to feel cold. Coming in to shore we seemed to go through a very cold section so that as I ran between laps I was shivering. This continued through the second lap and I remember coming in on the final leg and being surprised that there seemed to be a age group pack pretty close behind.

T1 (12:14)

I exited and was so cold. I was shivering. Got to my shoes and struggled to get them on as my feet and hands were so numb and I was by now shivering almost uncontrollably. I had the sense to leave my wetsuit and swim cap on for the run to T1 hoping it would warm me up. I still wanted a fast transition so as I approached I pulled the wetsuit down to my waist. I couldn’t believe how cold I was when I did that. I felt really upset and wondered whether they would let me continue.

In the change tent I sat and was shivering so much I couldn’t get arm warmers on. I had a helper who did his best. Not sure I spoke any sense. I noticed Jo next to me, I thought “odd”, I said something about being cold but only found out later what she’d said to me.

BIKE  (5:56:19)

The bike starts with a decent which just made matters worse. I was shivering and wondering whether I should continue. I looked at the clouds and thought if it rains now I’m well up shit creek. I was trying to ride to warm up but had no oomph! Also the first 20k are pretty fast making each decent torture. I was getting quite concerned as I wasn’t warming up. I was going slow as people flooded by me. I had a massive internal debate about pulling out. I wondered whether I was actually ill. Not sure why I kept going I seem to remember the thought of  a pint with friends after the race having not finished clinched it. Luckily the it didn’t rain and the sun came out in parts. I found myself slowing slightly when the sun hit me as it was so nice to feel some warmth.

Near Angle there are some decent hills which I think helped warm me. It also helped getting a little angry at people coming by on the no pass zone. I had slowed down to not pass and three people go by including one female Pro. The first guy start to pass me, I told him it was a no pass zone, he dropped back then decided to come through anyway straight in to the path of an oncoming make pro who shouted at him forcing him to drop back. I pointed out that was why it was a no pass zone. He then went by anyway. I found out later there was a crash on that section.

By now I started to ride better and the flood of people passing stopped as I started to move up the field. The weather was quite changeable with some heavy downpours. Luckily I was now warm. I was now hitting my planned wattage and I could see my average come up. Starting the second lap I managed to pee and that improved how I felt. I pushed on even more. Enjoying feeling strong. It seemed that I had worked my way fairly well up the field and was pleased to see there were not too many bikes in transition – more than normal but less than I’d expected.

T2 (2:28)

This was quicker than T1 ! Was keen to run

RUN (4:00:22)

I felt terrible running for the first couple of KM but those that passed didn’t pull away too quick so I knew it wasn’t too bad. I wasn’t in the race so decided the aim was to run the whole thing as controlled as possible. The first goal being to run strong in the third lap as last year it fell apart at halfway. I got in to  my running after a few KM and was really quite enjoying it. I got through to halfway still feeling in control and managed about 3km of the third lap before it fell apart. The walking started on the steeper hills and through aid stations. The third lap was slow. The final lap I managed to pick it up and as I start back down from the first turnaround I decided that I could get something out of this run by running the last 5km as if I was in a race for the win. See if I could do it. I flew down the hill confirming that the discomfort running fast didn’t same worse than the discomfort running slow, it was just different. I managed a 4:20 km and just kept going. It was fun as I was travelling so much quicker than anyone else. It was a good way to finish.

Writing this I am incredibly disappointed with the race but like the other times the race has been tough there is a real satisfaction it sticking at it. If I’d pulled out I would have been in a very bad place mentally for heading to Ironman Florida but now I am positive about my bike as the latter part of the ride showed I am riding very well at the moment. Similarly the final part of the run illustrated that a big part of my run performances is my mental toughness.

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