SHORT REPORT 0:52:58 - Swim 0:06:05 - T1 5:43:59 - Bike 0:02:16 - T2 4:08:44 - Run 10:54:02 - 14th M45-49, 68th overall
Race Preview HERE
Race Review HERE
The usual pre night sleep was the worst I’ve experienced. Most of the night I was waking every 15 minutes, twice as often as normal. Whilst conscious I could calm myself down with loads of rationalisations but it seemed as soon as I drifted off loads of irrational thoughts woke me up. Once I’m lined up for the swim I have no nerves at all and I know that so it all seems utterly ridiculous and it was rather hacking me off. It was also made worse that I had a rather upset tummy which was sending me to the loo quite regularly. I kept remembering the fact I ate Neils salad as he didn’t eat it the night before a race as it was viewed as a little risky. Perhaps he was right.
Thanks to my friend Guy, I was in the hotel right next to the transition so I got there as soon as it opened loaded up the bike, checked my tyres and was back chilling in my room by 5:15am. Neil popped by and we hung out. I feel a lot more relaxed just sitting nattering with a friend. Reminded me of IM South Africa last year where I sat with Neil and Roger relaxing before the start.
All my recent swims have been in very rough seas including here on Friday when we arrived. The forecast for race day was bang on though. Zero wind, the sea was swimming pool flat and the sunrise over the Jurassic coast was awesome. The rolling start was set up very sensibly with gaps to allow you to slot in to the right spot without having to work your way through 2000+ competitors. They also restricted the start so only one or two people crossed the matt at once. It made for a very civilised start.
Once in the water my aim was to just cruise. I spent a lot of time waiting for the start pulling up my Blueseventy Helix. If was time well spent as when I started to swim I felt very little restriction around my shoulders. Focus on long strong strokes and not raising my HR too much. I have a little check I do which is to bilateral breath – if I can do this I’m going easy enough. I think I’d finished my first lap just as the last swimmers were entering the water which meant I had masses of people to pass not he second lap. I kept telling myself each one was one less to pass on the bike and it was far safer to pass the slower athletes in the ocean than on the road. It also made me realise how hard it made sighting. I’ve no idea why all these athletes were spread so wide – it’s a sure sign most don’t sight very well, if they did they’d all be a nice neat line (and easy to pass). Instead ahead there’s a mass of red and green hats which in the low light blend rather nicely with the orange and yellow buoys making sighting quite difficult.
I exited the water in about 53 minutes. Looking back it’s great to see such even splits for the two laps and that I was third out.
I set out on the bike feeling good and determined not to get too stressed about all the traffic. There was loads and I reckon it was borderline whether it was safe. Early on there are a few tight corners through a village which you enter at speed due to a descent. if you know it and have an open road you can whizz through it. Here though there were loads of athletes. I’d passed two relay riders and then had to slow otherwise I would have not only had to cross the centre line (a DQ) but would have had to do it on a blind corner. Those two relays riders just went straight round the outside on the other side of the road. I shouted at them that they’d get themselves injured. When I re-passed them I told them I’d slowed specifically not to cross the centre line.
A little later there’s an out and back where you have to stay right. Despite the detailed explanation of this at the briefing and the big sign at the start AND the fact it’s surely common sense I must have had to tell 50% of the people I passed to move over. Some argued you had to stay left !!
Then a little later still I just avoided being taken down by a rider that over-cooked a corner just ahead of me. Thanks to the spectators that quick as a flash were shouting to ensure we all managed to avoid the guy.
Having said that, it’s a lovely course with large parts of it fast and enough hills to keep it honest. All the traffic in the first half would make it hard for packs to establish. That said the whole first lap was effectively passing a continuous line of 70.3 riders. I’m sure it contributed to me getting through halfway in 2:42. I was looking forward to the second lap as it would be empty and I’d be more in control of my pacing.
The wind picked up and the second lap was certainly harder. In the end it took me just over 3 hours. This was a little disappointing but based on the riders around me it didn’t feel that I was fading too badly. For the whole ride I had the most consistent mood and energy I’ve had for as long as I can remember. My nutrition had been my own home made energy bars (about 250g cals per hour) plus two bottles of Ribena and a bottle of the energy drink from the aid station.
Coming in to Weymouth the view was awesome. I’d counted 3 M45-49 pass me and thought I was in 4th. For this race I’d decided to race in the same shoes I’d done all my training in so I stuck on a rather worn pair of Vibram Bikila LS. I set off on the run thinking I was in a slot position and that to keep that I’d have to run at 3:3x pace. This was a bit ahead of what I realistically thought I could do but I was pleased I was thinking about racing. I wanted to be chasing a spot. I felt great in the first 10k going through in just over 51 minutes – this was about 3:35 pace. My pace started to drop a bit and I need a pee. At 20k I decided I should stop and it was worth it. I felt a lot better but my pace had slowed and was closer to the 5:30-40 range. Still on course to do about 3:50 but probably not fast enough hold on to my position.
I was getting great support from Naomi who told me I was 7th off the bike and I’d been passed by Chris (a friend of Robs from Gibraltar ) so was in 8th. At 30k, surprise surprise, the wheels really fell off. It’s hard to describe – it’s clear it’s nothing to do with fuel, it’s clear my lungs and heart aren’t being challenged, it’s plain and simple my legs just don’t have it. The brain over-rides it for a while and I can push on. Then I find myself walking. I felt so disappointed, this was worse than Texas. I pulled myself together and plodded along, the pain. I wonder how everyone else seems to be coping better then realise that I don’t know that they are. We’re all just getting through this as best we can. I take consolation in the fact that I tried, that I’m not going to look back and think I was so close as it’s pretty clear I’m not going to be ! At least it’s been a fun day.
I cross the finish line happy. I feel quite positive. I feel I have the motivation again to train and what I’ve done this summer has set me up. Though I appreciate it will take something special to qualify in Frankfurt. Having got my t-shirt my legs are in pieces. I can hardly walk. That perks me up.