2013 Season review and 2014 targets

2013 Season Review

The season began with 1 main target: qualification for the IM 70.3 World Championships, but there were a few sub targets beneath that:
– Sub 3:10 Ball buster in March
– Sub 3;10 Boston marathon
– Sub 60 minute 25 TT
– Give IM UK a real go, target sub 11
– Sub 3 marathon at York

This was the first season I had worked with coach Steve Lumley for the duration, and I’d also joined a masters swim group and usually made 2-3 of their sessions a week. I had an Achilles injury around December to mid January, but once that eased I felt great and training went really well. I enjoyed having the sessions set, and not having to think about what I was doing, just how to do the session set. However there is no doubt that Lumley sets a challenging volume and intensity of training and at times I was clinging on desperately, waiting for the next cut back week.

The first real test of the year came in early March with the Ballbuster, and this went superbly with a 3:09. A negative split across the 2 runs sandwiching a PB bike split and a long time target fell. Next up was Boston marathon, where I put out a well paced race but without any real taper and without sufficient marathon specific sessions I did not make the sub 3:10. Unsurprisingly I could not accelerate on the largely downhill last 6 miles as my quads were trashed. However a shade under 3;13 was more than decent on the day.

Attention then turned to the main event: Wimbleball, and the qualification target. Training went brilliantly until early May, and I felt my strongest ever on the bike. Then for some reason everything seemed to go wrong. Couple of puncture related DNF’s in key warm up events, my Achilles injury returned, I hyperextended my big toe backwards in an accident and the long term weather forecast looked apocalyptic. The race itself seemed ill fated; I knew conditions would be horrible and I’d be running with some pain and loss of pace from the toe and Achilles issues. On the day, the ill fate delivered in spades – I swam poorly after my Garmin was booted off, the weather was awful and my bike split no better than the previous year’s and I had some front mech mechanical issues. Result was I was some 15 minutes behind target schedule when the run began.

I dug deep in the run, but could only finish with a run 2-3 mins slower than last year’s and crossed the line assuming Vegas was blown. That all changed when I actually checked the results back at the cottage: 9th AG, a placing that should be good enough given the generous rolldown for 70.3 worlds. Everything changed in an instant. A marvellous moment, and I duly got the 3rd of 4 slots. The fella behind took the last spot; I’d taken 3-4 AG places on the run. The lesson is never ever give up.

With Vegas secure, thoughts turned to IM UK. A confidence booster came in June with another target achieved: 57:12 on the E2/25 TT. A fast day, but I nailed a great ride. Tenby long course weekend was superb: it was in the middle of that scorching hot spell, but swim was good (1:09), bike good (6:13) and marathon ok given the heat and brutal course (3:40). I was 10th overall, out of 200 starters. In hindsight, a marathon that tough 3 weeks before an Ironman was not wise.

The rest of July went well as I tapered into IMUK. Plan was sub 11, but the sub plot was to really give it a tickle and assess where I was to a potential Kona dig at some point in the future. Both my previous IM’s were conservatively paced, this one I was going to put it out there.

I was disappointed with my time, 11:13, but I have learned more from analysis of this race than any other. Racing an ironman is a very different beast to pacing one, and there were both good and bad signs. I had a decent swim (1:11), but caused myself issues on the run during the bike. I went a little too hard (TSS 308), but the real problem was a VI of 1.12 – showing I had a very uneven ride – surges and digs everywhere burning matches. This is not a good way to spend your energy in an ironman.

I ran some calculations and have worked out that I could have reduced my NP to that which would have given a TSS of 290 – the level recommended for a strong run, and then if I had ridden that NP at a VI of 1.05 I could still have raised my average power for the ride. So I could have ridden faster, yet put less stress/fatigue on my body and ran better off it. Hmmmm

I was out of T2 in 7hrs 15, but I blew on the run after 16 miles, and sub 11 drifted away with a 3:55 marathon. I had run 3:29 at IM Wales (3:40 pace for a full marathon), so I had the capability. Race execution let me down. From a learning perspective, job done. There is no doubt in my mind that I could, and should have gone something like 10:50 – 10:55 on the day; the last Kona slot in my AG went at 10:33. A long way off, but I feel not unbridgably so.

After IM UK there was a nice ego boost with an AG win at Cambridge Triathlon, although probably due to the fact it was run as a duathlon due to blue-green algae. Final training for Vegas went well, the race was superb despite the rain (!!!). I loved being part of the event, I can only imagine what being part of the real McCoy in Kona would be like. I swam horribly, but rode really well and ran nicely.

On getting back from Vegas motivation was hard, and I knew from a few run sessions that sub 3 at York marathon was way off. Bike and swim dropped off and I concentrated on run training for 4 weeks, but could feel that this was an end of season effort. I was ragged, with a few niggles and patchy motivation. Very glad I opted out of the Winter Ballbuster this year, but perhaps in future I should drop the October marathon as well. On the day I wanted a sub 3;15, ideally a 3:10 to keep a Boston qualifier and a VLM GFA on the books. Surprisingly the race went brilliantly: I started slow (6 miles at 7:30mm), built into the middle section (14 miles at 7:13mm), then surprised myself by finding a searing final 6miles (6:51mm) for a 3:09:40 Job done.

Conclusion:
Overall a satisfying season, however there is a bit of frustration in that I never produced a triathlon performance that I felt justified my fitness. I entered 6 triathlons:
– Dorney Eton sprint – a scratchy and rusty 1:08
– Dorney Olympic – I was flying in this. 26:30 swim, and smoking on the bike when a puncture hit – DNF. Results show the AG win was there if I had carried on riding at that pace then produced a 41 minute 10k. Arrggghhh
– Wimbleball – job done, but not the race or time I wanted.
– IM UK – blew on the run
– Cambridge tri – ended up as duathlon
– 70.3 Worlds – shit swim, rest good though

Swim:
I am definitely a better swimmer but results were patchy. Some good – a 26:30 1.5k and a couple of IM distance swims 1:09 (Tenby) and 1:11 (IMUK). However there were also shockers at Wimbleball (41mins) and Vegas (44mins), so I am inconsistent and need to improve my racecraft.
Best swim: the 26:30 at Dorney. Felt brilliant.
Worst swim: even the possibility of having booted Gordon Ramsey in the face cannot disguise my 44 minute time shocker!

Bike
Definitely stepped up on the bike TT’s were quicker and I feel like I am pedalling smoother. Next year it is all about riding smoother (low VI), combined with getting the FTP above 300; do that and I’ll fly.
Best ride: 57:12 TT on E2/25.
Worst ride: 100 TT on B100/9. 4hrs 40 mins of grind in grotesque conditions, then at 98 miles smashed into a pothole hidden in a puddle, double pinch flat DNF and cracked disc wheel (now replaced).

Run
A solid year, but one without a single run PB. I need to do something about the bouts of Achilles issues I get – it might be trainers, it might be mileage based.
Best run: York Marathon 3:09:40
Worst run: IM UK Apologies for any nearby buildings damaged when I exploded at mile 16.

Next year:
I am still interested in Kona. 70.3 ambitions have been fulfilled, so I am going to focus on Iron Distance racing and see how it goes. I lack the talent of a BB or a Deenzy, but am prepared to work hard and consistently. I think I can get good enough to be in the Kona mix, and I owe it to myself to give it my best shot. If it doesn’t work, so be it. I’ll know I’ve done my best; and then I’ll start working down the bucket list.
To get to Kona in my AG I think I need the following
– A sub 1:05 swim, so 5 mins+ improvement
– A bike FTP of 300+, so 24 watts more than 2013’s peak
– Ability to ride with low VI on race day
– A better pacing and nutrition strategy on the run, so I can convert my 3:10 stand alone marathon pace into a 3:25 IM marathon off a bike with TSS of 290ish.
– To execute a perfect race on the day
– A huge dollop of luck in terms of who enters the AG, and roll downs

Not a lot then! I have thought about it a lot, and thought it was probably a bit too much to ask in 2014. You need 4-5 Ironmans, properly raced, to really know and learn the event to get the best out of yourself. I’ve raced 1.

2014, then, is all about learning to race Ironman while working on those fitness requirements. I’ve thus decided to race 3 next year.
May – IM Lanzarote
June – Forestman
September – IM Wales
I’ll see where I am after Lanza and Forestman.

If the first two go well enough (a sub 11 at one of them?) and training suggests I’m getting there on the other stuff, then I’ll enter IM UK 2015, and possibly IM SA 2015 with a Kona slot in mind. If I feel it is too far away, then I am going to do IM lake Tahoe in 2015 as a bucket list race.

IM Wales, with the 3 raced IM’s behind me should be good, and I’ll expect something close to 11 hours. There may a 100-1 Kona shot at IM Wales, who knows. Something around 11 hours puts you in the mix according to 2013 results (2013 was a tough day, with a full length marathon so probably 15-20 mins slower than 2012).

Down to the detail:
Obviously things have to change for the coming year to get anywhere near this. I’ll be trying the following

Swim:
– Up the volume of swims aiming to hit an average of 3.5 a week.
– Man up during the swims and push harder.
– I will look to do 90 minute efforts at least once a week (last year it was all 1 hour max)
– Regular monthly CSS pace test to check progress

Bike:
– Work hard on the threshold stuff on the turbo
– do a regular monthly FTP test (only did 3 tests last year)
– Get out with the club weekly ride; improve handing skills
– Learn to ride evenly, track and measure VI

Run:
– Get a trainer fit assessment done
– Less races, more training
– No more ‘winging it’ in multi sport running; a better pace and nutrition strategy is required at IM level, get the calories in early and build

Diet:
– Train at 72.5kg, race at 71.5kg (both 1 kg less than last year)
– Take diet seriously, eat lean meat. Reduce carbs, especially reduce high GS carbs and late night sugary snacks
– End the reward eating – workout then have a sugary snack habit
– Max 3 coffees a day; more water/decaff green tea

Rest:
– Need to make more time to sleep, avoid the conflict between sleep and training of last year (sacrificing much needed sleep to get training in; means that training benefits not optimised)
– Proper rest days built in. I need them.

On Monday 4 November, it begins. As ever, bring it on……

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Ironman 70.3 World Championships + announcement

 
ImagePre amble

At last! This was a race I had been aiming for over the last 2 seasons, and I really wanted to enjoy it and produce a worthy performance. By way of further backdrop my better half and I had decided to get married shortly after, as it presented a chance to have a no frills ceremony. We told some family but not others, so I have had to keep schtum until appropriate family members had been told. Second marriages can be complex…but time to let on now….so quite a holiday was lined up.
I had no real time or position aims for the race, it was all about performance, but something sub 5:30 would be the time I wanted to finish. 

I’d arsed up Ironman UK at Bolton racing a little too aggressively and had blown on the run at mile 16. It was a bit ofa  knowing gamble, but the lesson was well and truly learned. I had gone a bit too hard on the bike with a TSS of 308. To run well in an Ironman 290 is ideal and anything over 300 dangerous. Worse was the way I had ridden – a VI of 1.12. The M40-44 winner had ridden the same course much smoother with a VI of 1.05. I had capped things nicely in the 3 drags up Babylon/Sheephouse but spent the rest of the ride surging out of corners and up short lumps.

Basically I learnt that riding that way had pissed away my hard earned increase in power and blown the run. Some calculations showed I could have dropped my normalised power to that which would have given a TSS of 290, and if I’dridden at that NP but with a VI of 1.05 I would STILL have had a higher average power and faster bike split. So a faster bike split and not blowing in the marathon just by riding smarter. It was a harsh lesson but it coloured my approach to Vegas – I was going to ride smart, run well and finish strong.

Pre race – Vegas

Arrived on Wednesday and checked into the Green Valley Ranch in Henderson and then had Thursday as a tourist day with trips to the Hoover Dam before getting into full race preparation mode from Friday. The weather was already unusual; a pattern of sunny days early but with high humidity and then thunderstorms around 4-5pm. Locals were commenting on it and moaning at the loss of their usual dry desert heat.

A quick run showed the effect of the heat and humidity. I ran a lap of the run course, and even at 8:20mm had got hugely overheated on the uphill: the HR had roared into unsustainable last mile of a 10k territory. It had done this without me realising, which was even scarier. I usually run by feel but decided this was no time to risk DNF and the medical tent so I decided to run the race with an uphill cap of 160bpm, recovering to 155 bpm on the downhills. This should be sustainable, but I had no idea what pace it would result in.

The bike recce was similar, HR went ballistic on the uphills and I decided on a conservative pacing strategy with an IF of 0.8 (220w). I’d gone at 0.84 at Wimbleball and ran well off but that felt too hard in these conditions. Learning from Bolton, I was also going to ride as smoothly as possible and track AP as well as NP. Overall research showed that 170-190 TSS should lead to a decent run in a half Ironman, so I was going to aim for 170.

Registration, expo spending and bike course recce all went well. I don’t usually go to Welcome Dinner pasta parties, but made an exception this time and it was well worth it – a spectacular acrobatics show, videos, pro race previews, speakers etc. Fair to say I was more than a little pumped after!

Saturday was relatively straightforward. The approach in US is very different to the UK – you sign all sorts of disclaimers in registration, and thus they don’t check your helmet or bike as they would entering Transition in the UK.

Race day.

Leaving the Hotel at 4:30am brought a huge shock – it was raining. Steady, consistent rain and judging by the roads it had rained for a while. Locals later said they had not seen rain like that for 10 years; forecast was for it to continue most of the day. No need to put arm coolers/sunscreen on in T1! The UK lad I hung round with most was excited, thinking this played into our hands but personally I wanted to test myself against the desert heat and was a bit gutted to be racing in the rain again.
Set up went well, albeit in a sodden and partially flooded T1 and soon we were huddled under the bridge watching the Pro’s go off. The cheating sods really creep forwards, they must have crept 8-10m from the start line when the gun finally went. Starting in the third to last wave of 18, I was at least going to see the Pro’s exit the water.

Swim 44:08 162nd AG

Soon it was my time to enter the warm, murky water for my third ever non wetsuit OW swim. The others were IMDE and a practise about 3 weeks earlier. Positioned myself conservatively but did not have a good swim. Early on someone grabbed my ankle, and held on. In fact he was clinging on tenaciously until removed with a kick, hopefully to the face.

I got swamped by the faster swimmers in the following waves, especially the M25-29’s and lost some rhythm. I was still shocked to see 44 mins in the clock when I exited though. Terrible! However it was a slow swim, a club mate out there who had almost the same swim time as me at IMUK recorded 42mins, the lad I hung about with had talked up 37 mins beforehand and also got 44 mins. My swim has been hit and miss all year – some good swims showing real progress, and some terrible ones. This, however, was the worst of the lot, not a good start to the day.

One positive to emerge was that in my wave was one Gordon Ramsay. I was about 20th from last in my wave out of the water, and he was some 2 mins behind. The chances are that after 5-10 mins we were roughly in our finishing order in the wave, so he would have been close behind. I thus think there are pretty decent odds that HE was the ankle grabber who I booted in the face…at least I like to think so.

T1 4:08

I was quickly around the lake and off on the bike without the need to faff around with wetsuit removal, sunscreen or arm coolers and had shoes attached to the bike so T1 was almost entirely the distance covered. The grassy bit around the lake was like the old Gateshead Cross Country course from Grandstand in the 70’s, not what I imagined racing in Nevada was going to bring….

Bike 2:51 (overtook 35 up to 127th AG)

I took a while to get going to be honest. The bad swim and p&ssing rain had put me in a bad place, but once I entered the Lake Mead recreational area I got down to it with more focus. The course was spectacular, except it looked more like Mordor from the Lord of the Rings than the scorched, parched desert landscape I was expecting. Spray and rain was making it hard to read the Garmin, but I was trying to ride on power target, and nice and smoothly. HR was where it should be and I felt very comfortable. I was very tempted to push, but lessons from Bolton have been learned and I enjoyed the feeling and was passing people regularly. I was so focused to riding to plan that I was not taking much notice of pace, but I had averaged about 20 mph at the turnaround, and so a sub 3 hour bike was very much on.

The next bit is extremely fast and great fun, I really wish it has been dry as well. All too soon I was exiting the Lake Mead area and heading towards Henderson, and it…finally…stopped raining. The sun came out, the temperature shot up and almost instantly everything was dry. It was as if it had never rained. It would have been better to have had a hot bike and some nice cooling rain on the run, not the other way round.

I reached T2, delighted to see the OH and my mother for the first time and to see I had a 2:51 bike. TSS was 168, IF 079 and AP was only 4-5 watts below NP so I knew I had ridden this well, and conservatively.

T2 1:51

Odd how it’s the world championships, yet your bags are laid out on the floor in rows without any hooks/racking as you see at IM UK 70.3. However there are plenty of helpers and mine was found quickly.

Run 1:42 (overtook 26 up to 101st AG)

The run went exactly to plan, and as such it makes for a dull report. You start with a mile or so downhill then begin 3 loops of 2 miles uphill and 2 back down, save the last which has only 1 mile down as you finish where you start. Legs felt fine and I watched the HR carefully on the way back up and capped it at 160 as planned, before recovering to 155 downhill. I kept cool at aid stations with ice and water and it felt sustainable so I stayed with it.

You really get the feel for the standard of the field when you start the run – it feels like everyone is smashing out sub 7 miles. My pace turned out to be about 8:00 uphill, and around 7:20 downhill. This was OK, and I knew I’d finish well inside 5hrs 30 – which although some sort of nominal target time  I was never going to chase it if it wasn’t on.

I was cheered on by my family which was great (first time!). The lad who I’d hung about with and who had started in a wave 10 minutes earlier came into view and I passed. He’d talked up a 5:15, so I had a sneaky smile of satisfaction. Results showed we had almost identical swim and bike splits but he had blown huge on the run. I patted myself on the back for the wise strategy and lessons learned.

It was actually sad when I completed the final climb and had only the last downhill mile to go. Finishing was going to be great, but I knew the amazing experience and *grits teeth* journey was nearly over. I could have squeezed a few more seconds out, but instead joined another lad in bigging up the last mile, high fiving and celebrating all the way. It was fantastic and unforgettable stuff.

I finally crossed at 5:23:58, a big smile and a nice pair of sunnies hiding my very rapidly tearing up eyes. It was emotional, to say the least. I saw someone standing just past the finish with the most enormous medal; like a dinner plate. I assumed he may have been a pro, or a podium AG-er and I wondered what our medals would be like. Then I noticed that we were all getting them. The fucker weighs 0.34kg! It really is a fantastic medal.

Aftermath

I ate like a gannet. I gambled. I got married. I entered IM Wales. I put 70 minutes on Gordon fucking Ramsay. I had the time of my life. If I do nothing else in this sport it’s been worth it.

 
 
 
 
 
 
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The tale of my third Ironman….

Pre-amble:
This race was never my ‘A’ goal of the season, but I certainly wanted to do well. With qualification for Vegas secured at Wimbleball I suspect that my major Half Iron ambitions are fulfilled and that big goals in the future would be over the full distance. I knew that I was some way off any Kona ambitions, but was hoping this race would show whether such goals would be remotely possible in say 2-3 years time, or I should stick to ‘completing’ races like Norseman, Lanza etc.

I was certainly fitter than any previous IM, and expected a large PB and hoped to sub 11. For reference in 2012 the last Kona slot had rolled down 1 place and final guy went with 11:01 – however it was a slow year as it was a rare extremely hot race. I can’t even remember an extremely hot day last Summer, but this was one allegedly…. One thing I did want to bring to the race was an improved Swim-Bike. In Triathlon I’ve had a good strong run and always knew that things could become interesting if I could deliver myself to T2 a bit quicker. With a full winter of Masters swimming and Steve Lumley’s Training on the bike I would be pretty annoyed if I hadn’t shown a major step up.

A recce of the bike route on a cold wet February day showed that the bike was not as hard as IM Wales. The climbs were less punchy and descents maybe a little quicker so I was hopeful of a good ride around 6 hours. It was definitely a course for the TT, and with lightish winds forecast I opted for the 808 front and disc rear. I did not recce the run , which was an error…

Build:
Arrived at the Reebok for registration, and all was good so far. A quick practise swim in the Flash showed two things: it was pleasantly warm in there, and the water quality was not good – more of a primordial soup of micro-organisms and bird shit very reminiscent of the Serpentine. No visibility, and thus a lot of bumping and boring was likely on top of the usual biff as it was impossible to see other swimmers or follow feet. Back to the Reebok for briefing, which told me nothing I didn’t already know. Final weather check showed showers from late morning/midday ish then some heavier rain in the PM.

Racking day was uber faffage and I got a bit annoyed by it. Bike off at T1, then battling traffic across town to T2. I got lost, missed a turn then found a huge queue waiting to drop bags off at T2. Still all done by mid PM, but as it had taken so long I canned the final planned recce of the run route and the Sheephouse climb. Early dinner then the traditional sleepless night’s sleep before 3 am alarm call.

Race Day:
First shock was getting up and finding it p&ssing down. 3:30am is not my definition of late morning…I was pretty sure the rain man curse was striking again and that a wet bike was on the cards. It rained at time during set up, but then cleared about 5:30 just as we started to head down to the Flash for the swim start.

Swim: 1:11:07 (42nd AG, 450th o/a, target 1:10)
I opted to start wide right, as I felt this was the most likely biff free route and that I’d gradually ease in over the outward leg as the field spread. This worked pretty well but I still took a few shots, the most annoying was a glancing blow the rolled my goggles off, so I had to stop and reset. Managed the first turn OK then had sighting issues coming back as the sun was now out, but I was swimming OK and fighting to hold my space in the water. There were a few bumps throughout the swim, but nothing as bad as the utter smash fest of the first 10 minutes of IM Wales. Reached the end of lap 1 around 33 mins, pleased to see a club mate who usually swims quicker than me so I knew the first lap had gone to plan.

Second lap was pretty uneventful, and fairly comfortable apart from the odd blow. I emerged at around 1:10, pleased with the overall swim especially as the swim usually dictates how the rest of my day goes.

T1: (6:27)
This was an unusually straightforward transition with no bloody great hill to run up, so an improvement on Tenby/Wimbleball. There were more bikes than normal in Transition, which was good. I took the time to put an extra layer on, a long sleeve zip up compression skins top. I have worn this previously under the wettie but had left it in the T1 bag as the weather forecast was looking good so it was there just in case. With the pre race rain I opted for caution, but it was a faff to get on costing a minute or two in T1 and the rain held off for the bike so it wasn’t needed anyway. Arse….

Bike 5:57 (21st AG, 197th o/a, target 6:00)
For the geeks: 204w Ave Power, 201w NP, 326 TSS, 0.99 VI (I do not understand why NP is lower than AP, or VI is less than 1. Not seen that sort of stat on a ride before)

Started the ride with 20-25 mins of nice steady pedalling, getting the HR down, legs working and the nutrition going before settling into race intensity at 200-210w. It felt nice and comfortable and I reigned myself in a few times on any climbs to stop burning matches. The point to point was done and I went up Babylon, then past the T2 turn and up Sheephouse. All was very comfortable, and I knew patience was the game at this point. Before long it was fast descending sections and my average pace was way up and I was thinking 5:45 bike split. However the last quarter of the loop has some false flat which pulled the average speed down but I remained on track for sub 6.

It was a very uneventful bike to be honest. Effort stayed constant and I had no real down spells. The crowds built up on each lap at Babylon, at the T2 turn and up Sheephouse. Holgs COLT crew were amazing, and I laughed at the old boy about halfway up Babylon, in the midst of IM carnage, obliviously cleaning his car. The fellas with the camper van in mankini’s and a blow up doll made me laugh as well. I really enjoyed this bike; felt comfortable and strong and there was no rain at all (:-O). I knew I had worked through the field, but probably not quit as much as usual with a better swim, but had a quick inventory of where I was in the last couple of miles. I reckoned I’d be on the run by around 7hrs 15 min. A 3:30 run would deliver a finish around 10:45. I’d estimated the last Kona slot going between 10:30 and 10:40, so 10:45 was maybe a 1000-1 shot.

T2: 2:28
Uneventful, however as I trotted out of the school hall it began raining….

Run 3:55 (16th AG, target 3:30)
I took one hell of a beating.
Set off at nice steady 8mm pace; I knew a better approach would be to start more conservatively and build, but I opted to gamble. Nothing to lose and a 1000-1 shot of a miracle to gain made it a no brainer. The first point to point 8 miles is very sparse, quiet and almost eerie but I was going at a decent clip and feeling OK. There were a few sharp digs as you climb away from the canal and join the mid point of the out and back loop to be repeated 3 times.

I think joining that loop was the moment I knew the game was up and I’d made a huge blunder with run pacing. Each out and back consists of a bit of fiddling around Bolton then a bloody great 2 mile uphill drag out, then back down. I hadn’t recced and didn’t know what was coming until I was there, so a big error there. I don’t think 3:30 was ever realistic on that course. On the positive the run course felt nice and empty when I joined it and the pro race was in full swing. I did not have that feeling on either of my previous IM’s – I remember Raelert finishing at IMDE as I started my run.

Powered up the full climb first time and I think that cooked it for me. Pace dropped and I was done for the day.
Sad to see Beeber out there also struggling, I was convinced this was his time. It will happen for him and how sweet will the lava fields feel when it does. Also saw Bella Bayliss walking and in big trouble, Lucy Gossage was flying though. There was lots of pain and lots of people crashing big time. This is a hard IM, and in the race if it is vaguely pointy for Pro’s, AG podiums or slot chasing you are looking at folk who are treading a razor thin line. A tiny bit over the line, or something going wrong nutritionally and it’s a big crash and a long way down. A good IM athlete, having a good day will be on that line but not over it. The final piece of the jigsaw is knowing how to walk that line. I love the amount people have to give of themselves in these races.

I shuffled out the last two laps, think the bit around town before the final out and back was the hardest, a few walks and it took a couple of cans of power horse to get me going again. Enjoyed the final downhill and some finish chute arsery and I crossed in 11:13.

Aftermath:
Finish 11:13, 16th AG, 165 o/a.
I’m happy with my performance. This was the first IM I have raced; the others were about finishing (with a reasonable time). If I have half a brain I’ll learn more from this race than any other. Swim and bike have both shown the step up I was hoping for, and whilst I crashed on the run I know that a good IM run is there if I execute the race properly. It’s a 30 minute PB.
There were 5 slots in my AG; I don’t know whether there was any roll down but the final guaranteed slot went at 10:33, 1 roll down would have gone to 10:39 and a second to 10:44. Realistically I needed to have been off the bike 15 minutes sooner to have a prayer. On the positive I think 15 mins quicker to T2 is achievable, it’s probably about the level of improvement I have put down this year.
I loved being on the edge of the slot battle and would love to improve enough to be in the mix for real.
And I’m still going to Vegas….

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