Swim 00:29:25 - T1 04:07 - Bike 02:57:53 - T2 01:52 - Run 01:26:22 Total Time 04:59:39
2nd Age Group 45-49, 35th Overall
Wimbleball was my fifth race in seven weeks and the third half Ironman, my performances getting progressively better. The strategy to race and not ease up on the training was working but I had some unfinished business from Wimbleball 2011.
The weather forecasts for the weekend were looking dreadful with high winds and torrential rain predicted to hit race day hard. I toyed with the idea of not making the 5hr road trip to Somerset and just doing a hard brick session from home, albeit in the rain. Anyway, the plans had been made and I had paid my entry fee so it was time to show a little Iron spirit.
Race day I was up at 0400 for my porridge and banana and then just worked through the normal routine, arriving in the water at 0730 composed, focussed and ready to race. It was a deep water two wave swim start, one thousand competitors in each wave, and the water was a balmy 14oC. I don’t think anyone even waited for the B of the Bang, we were off in the usual melee of thrashing arms and legs but I quickly broke free of the main pack and found a good line for the first buoy. From there I locked onto some friendly feet and drafted pretty much the second half of the swim, exiting in good shape and under my target 30 minutes.
It was a long run up the hill into the mud bath T1 had become. Quick change and out into the bike, desperately trying to navigate round the previous wave that were strewn across the road, walking or wobbling or zigzagging as they attempted to set off. It was chaos but I tried to keep a cool head, run up the road a little further than usual and then jump on and put the power down. Since I was in the second wave it was almost half way into the two lap ride that I started to get some clear road but it was always a challenge to safely pass whilst pacing a very hilly course. Over the 56 miles it is said there are 56 hills, testing the riders with over 6000ft of ascent. I metered out my efforts as best I could but on some of the steeper hills there is no choice but to just concentrate on turning the cranks as hard as possible. Having grabbed a couple of minutes on the swim compared to last year I was determined to do the same on the bike but leave my legs fresh enough to nail a really hard run. I was really excited to roll into T2 having completed the toughest bike course on the Ironman 70,3 circuit on plan, a total of nearly 5 minutes ahead of 2011 and ready to go to work on the run.
A smooth T2 and out onto the toughest run on the Ironman 70.3 world circuit, a three lap trail run with not only a challenging terrain, some 1500ft of ascent, but now crammed with runners running at various paces on muddy footpaths. I spent lap 1 shouting at runners to move to one side so I could get through whilst trying to keep upright on the deteriorating running surface, clocking 28 minutes. Lap 2 I completed n 30minutes, reigning back a little to conserve energy for the final lap. Lap 3 I just let rip and ran as hard as the conditions would allow and as I approach the 11mile mark I realised that it would be possible to go under 5 hours if I pushed hard. I shut down the sensors, narrowed my vision and went for it, crossing the line with only 20 seconds to spare!
I had swum well, biked well and executed a great run. I was thrilled with breaking 5 hours and had finished high up in the overall standing in a very competitive field. I am now ready for the real deal, Ironman UK in 5 weeks.