Tuesday, 9 September 2014

September 7th 2014 Ironman 70.3 World Champs Mont Tremblant, Canada

1.9km Swim 90km Bike 21km Run - Temperature 75oF
Swim 30:56 - T1 04:42 - Bike 02:29:04 - T2 02:22 – Run 01:25:43   Total Time 4:32:47
8th 50-54 Age Group, 432nd overall
I had signed up for this race as a spur of the moment decision back in May reckoning it would be a great place for a holiday and there would be no real pressure to attempt to be competitive over the distance, after all, I am a diesel engine trained for double the distance. But as the race approached my ambitions rose to a point that I felt I could have a shot at getting a result if I focussed with some specific training. The flaw in the plan was a great race at IMUK and a real sense that I could finally nail the result I want at the full distance IM champs in Kona. I came to MT having fudged any real intensity training for the shorter distance and opted to put in the volume of work required for Kona right up to the race. The silver lining to this was a great block of run training to build my capability to deliver a strong marathon – I would need this to claw back the time I would undoubtedly give away on the swim and bike portions of the race.
The setting for the swim was simply stunning with tree clad hills rolling down to the water’s edge. A straight forward swim in the pristine lake would ensure I could limit my early losses. The fireworks boomed, we sprinted down the beach, into the water and settled remarkably quickly into an orderly pack. Exiting the water and I headed straight for the strippers...wetsuit off, a 500m dash for T1 and onto the bike.

During the week I had ridden the course a couple of times so I had a solid plan figured out. Stick to the power numbers unless passed then ride hard and stay with them. Over this distance it’s a race, red lining from gun to tape! Sadly there were a number of big packs of riders and little in the way of draft marshals to deal with the blatant cheaters, the only issue that marred an otherwise superb event. I made up a few places on the bike but knew the only way I was going to bag a result was to run the life out of my legs.
The last 20k of the bike had a few sharp rises up a hill then a dead turn and 50 kph downhill with some awesome sweeping turns. I hit T2, handed off the bike to the catchers, grabbed my gear bag, slipped into my running vest and took off after the field ahead. Setting out in 21st place I had my work cut out but a result was within my grasp if I was prepared to suffer a little.
The run course was rolling with little opportunity to set a rhythm for any length of time and the temperature was rising but for me, tougher was better. The course was spectacular, along the lake, through some wooded sections and eventually completing the lap up through the narrow streets of Mont Tremblant and back out for the second and final lap. The aid stations were slick, the crowds immense, cheering the athletes on as the course narrowed to almost one body wide up the hills. I set out with the intention of 4 minute ks and to see how many competitors I could hoover up in the first lap. I passed nine in my age group by the time I hit the turn. Figuring I was in with a shot of a top ten I eased up for the next 5k to consolidate and prepare for the final all-out effort.

I picked off two more before I wound myself up for the final 5k, wanting to finish with a sense I had left it all out there and delivered the run I was capable of. I pushed, zoned out, racing every step until I crossed the line certain I had given my best over the 21k.
Oddly I didn’t immediately go searching for my splits and result, in a way it wouldn’t make a difference to how I felt. Ultimately I had raced hard and felt certain I had bagged the top ten result I coveted but importantly also nailed a fast run to build confidence for my season’s finale in Kona. I met up with Mary and she told me I had come 8th. I was thrilled as it was beyond my expectations and a massive bonus for the season. It still hasn’t sunk in and I guess it won’t until a certain race in October is over.

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