As promised, here is a race report. I may add to it in coming days or weeks as I remember extra things to add.
The day we arrived (Thursday) we ended up having dinner and putting the bikes together. I got mine assembled and ready. I then assisted the others… notably with a missing magnet for a Polar speed sensor (luckily I had not removed mine after switching to Garmin) and a Profile Design aero bottle (managed to get the extension lugs to fit Claire’s aero bars…).
The day before the race was somewhat disorganised. We seemed to do far more walking than I had intended or my coaches had suggested. We eventually had gone for a test ride, checked in the bikes, checked in T1 and T2 bags and attended the race briefing. The race briefing was meant to be at 17:00 in English according to the race literature and website. The event office advised that it was definitely at 17:30 in English. Anyway we arrived at 17:25 to hear the last few things about the race in English. Clearly there was confusion. In the end we managed to get a brief race briefing in English – good thing to as the run course and the 6 passes through the stadium was a bit confusing.
Up and at breakfast at 06:00. Had some chocolate covered cornflake type things, a couple of bread-rolls with honey, some orange juice and a cup of not-so-great coffee. We headed over to T1 to check the bikes and put the nutrition on the bike. Then to the toilets (again). Oh to be a woman at a triathlon… no queues for the toilets, unlike the men’s…
On with the wetsuit. Not so difficult as have had a few practise runs. Bodyglide on the underarms, neck, ankles and wrists and suncream on the back, shoulders and arms. Got it on and comfortable and got the goggles and swim-cap in place. Oh the crisis – Chris had lost his goggles (later to be found in a compartment in his bag…) and was in a spin. Luckily I had a spare pair of goggles with me just in case… He was ever so happy as they were the same make and model that he uses.
We wandered into the water and I got the water into my wetsuit and got ready. I positioned myself near the back to avoid the scrum at the start. The gun went off and we started. My “near the back” plan was working as I had somewhat free water in front of me and no one swimming over me… until some idiot came flying over me and I felt something on my backside. Closer inspection revealed that the idiot who came flying over me actually put a nick in my wetsuit 🙁 It’s almost through the neoprene so I am going to have to try get it repaired.
Anyway apart from that the swim went well. The swim out to the first buoy was a bit cramped and I kept catching up with some people and swimming past. I took the buoy wide and found some clear water. I found my rhythm and then just enjoyed myself to the end of the first lake. We had about a 200m run/jog to the second lake for the next 1000m swimming.
Found my rhythm quite quickly in the second lake and just kept going. I managed to pass one or two yellow hats (swimmers from the wave before us!!). At the turn around buoy I took it wide again and then had the exit in my sights. I got out the water after 40mins. Excellent swim as far as I’m concerned given my swimming skill level in March… Who would have thought that I actually enjoyed the 1900m swim and could have actually gone further 🙂
What can I say.. went smoothly although I could do with a bit of fine tuning on the transition.
Headed off on the bike with the first 18km on the S33 highway. Bliss riding surface. My nutrition plan called for a gel every 20 minutes (so roughly 330kcal per hour), a bottle of sports drink every 45mins-60mins with a target of 1l fluids per hour and a salt tablet every 40 mins. My bike started off loaded with 12 gels, a bottle of slightly strong Isostar and a bottle of Nuun electrolyte drink. My thinking was to use the Nuun to make up the fluid intake while avoiding too much carbs.
The plan was working well and I reached the first aid station (25km in) with the Isostar gone which was the plan. I picked up a bottle of Powerbar drink and a bottle of water. Powerbar drink into aero bottle and dump the bottle I picked up. Very smooth indeed.
The next few kms were downhill and fast.. a couple of corners came up sharper than expected so had to hit the breaks… Then headed out along the river/lake for a gently rolling section. The nutrition and fluid intake was going well, my legs felt strong albeit aware they had done around 45km. Around this stage there were a number of groups of cyclists flying past in blatant abuse of the no drafting rule. It was somewhat satisfying to see one of the cyclists pulled over and getting a penalty!
Just before the second big climb, roughly 60km-65km, I had a toilet stop and then dumped the remaining water I was carrying. I was pretty much out of fluids at this point to minimise the weight to lug up the hill. Not a bad plan since I dumped nearly a pound (500ml) of fluid. The hill was tougher than I figured and managed to pass a few people while being passed myself. My training in Spain definitely helped out here and I kept remembering the words “stop bobbing”, “watch the cadence”, “power over the top”. The hill ended and we hit the aid station. Again I picked up water and Powerbar bottles. Then onto the next smaller hill which I had know about. After this hill my plan was to treat myself with my usual chocolate-almond bar which I’ve always enjoyed on the bike… not today however – it just wouldn’t go down and I didn’t enjoy it so I ended up having a gel instead.
And then downhill all the way home. Had a couple of good downhill stints only to be hit with another climb which I wasn’t expecting. It really was depressing to see a third, albeit lesser, hill to climb. Manged to grind up and then back to the flats and downhills. Figured it was time for another salt tablet… alas none left. “Huh?” I thought.. then I realised I had not filled it up after my sprint race the week before… “DOH!!”. I wasn’t too concerned as I knew I had some extra tablets on my run belt.
We went though a number of towns and villages along the way and the support was amazing. It’s difficult not to push things with “oompa”, “supa”, “go go go” and “up up up” being shouted at you. It felt wonderful to have the support, especially when travelling at 40-45km/h through the towns on the downhills. So a BIG thanks to all the supporters!
Watching the distance count down I knew I was on for close to 3h on the bike, in the last couple of km I worked out that I would have to average close to 45km/h to get sub 3h so eased off… If only I had not eased off I would have shaved off those 2 seconds…. anyway I am ecstatic with 3h00:02 for the bike leg! On the final few hundred meters into T2 I decided to have some big gulps of drink to avoid having to drink right away on the run…
Uneventful really. Off with the helmet, gloves, cycle-shoes and socks and on with the running socks and shoes and grabbed my run belt which had a couple of gels and salt tablets.
I couldn’t get my Garmin 405 to start on the run. It took nearly 800m for me to get the thing working. It got into some mode that it decided is where it wanted to be. Sigh. That silly front panel is just to fiddly when running after the swim and bike legs.
Very quickly I did start to feel off. My legs and body felt strong and up for the 21.1km run but my tummy had other ideas. The tummy pains started fairly soon and stayed there. I had thoughts of going to the loo, stopping, walking but managed to get into a rhythm of running and walking at the aid stations. The first lap (10km-ish) was painful but the second started off worse. 4km out along the river on a dirt path with almost no support and the second rate drinks station which only had water. I then noticed my time and figured I was on for a sub-6 hour if I kept my pace up.
Once I got to the next aid station around 13km I knew I was on the home straight.. managed to get some coke into me (sloshed it around my mouth to make it flat before swallowing) which helped.
I kept the walks through the aid stations and managed to feel stronger on the run. My tummy was feeling better. When I got to the 17km-ish aid station I knew I was almost home and it was going to take me falling over to not finish. I powered on and kept going. The last 4 kms were relatively easy. I knew I was going to finish sub-6hr so long as I kept going.
The last run through the stadium and around the race track and back into the stadium was amazing. What an amazing feeling to be finishing with strong legs! I went through the finisher lane while watching some other competitors heading out on their second lap of the run. I put my arms up and ran through the finish. 5h56:46. AWESOME. Far better than I had ever imagined for this race.
Went to the loos and immediately noticed my sunburn. I had wondered why my arms and back felt so hot on the run. My shoulders were red.. bright red. I was later to peel and loose the brief brown tan I had… anyway, in the loos, I figured out why I had such a sore tummy – just full of wind and nothing really wrong. Man, if only i had let rip on the run I would have probably felt much better much quicker!
- plan for the day before and get the transition bags all ready and check everything in in one go and then take things easy
- practise T1 a bit more and get the order of things to do sorted
- double check *all* nutrition items (including salt-stick)
- take Nuun tablets on the bike to make some more electrolyte drink on the way
- possibly take Isostar tablets on the bike to make energy drink if the race provided one doesn’t taste good – although I have been training with the Powerbar drinks on the bike and don’t mind them too much
- Don’t gulp fluid just before T2.
- Practise fiddling with the Garmin 405 when running
- Maybe do a VO2max test to work out my correct HR zones as I raced above my planned race HR
- Practise consuming gels on climbs
This has to be one of, if not, the most difficult things I have ever done. An Ironman 70.3 isn’t easy but is doable with a reasonable amount of training. Did I feel knackered after the race? Yes, but not as bad as I had expected. Will I do another one? Yes… sooner the better 🙂 Will I do a full Ironman… well I do have a place in Ironman Austria 2009 if I want by virtue of doing Ironman 70.3 Austria this year. Have I entered yet? No, but the voucher expires in mid-July…