Monday, 18 May 2015

May 17th 2015 Ironman 70.3 Barcelona, Spain

1.9km Swim 90km Bike 21km Run - Temperature 80oF

Swim 33:13 - T1 03:07 - Bike 02:56:18 - T2 00:56 – Run 01:27:20 Total Time 5:00:54
6th 50-54 Age Group, 179st overall

For the last two years I done the 70.3 in Mallorca so it was time for change of scenery. My race selection centred around finding a race convenient to travel to, early in May and one with friends along to enjoy the trip. A great plan, perfect except for the total failure to simply click the button to open the course profile and check it even vaguely matched my strengths. A school boy error that I would be paying dearly for.
Two weeks before the event a friend who was also racing commented there was a significant hill in the middle of the course. So, I clicked the course profile button and there it was in all its glory, not one but three hills and 1400m of elevation; the flat run was of little consolation. To cap it all, the map hinted at some ominous wiggly roads up and down the hills. I very quickly dismissed any realistic prospect of winning or even being on the podium for a 70.3WC slot.

A further googly that revealed itself in the briefing was a rolling swim start. I wouldn’t even know if I was in the race or not until after the event. In most respects the rolling start made for a very civilised swim; just seed yourself on the beach and jump in with those of a similar speed. In a way some of the fun had just drained away from the start, a pity really as the adrenaline pumping just before the gun adds something special. The swim was uneventful albeit slow for most and I am not sure if that was down to conditions or the now neutered competitive experience.
Off onto the bike and through the streets of the town, navigating around pot holes, speed bumps and ejected nutrition bottles. In recognising the challenges of the first 3k there was an official amnesty on drafting. However, nobody told the draft busters that amnesty ended at the town limits – there was a good deal of pack riding with the marshals content to simply blow a whistle and keep the penalty tents unencumbers with the cheaters. Only the honestly of the course limited the impact of the cheaters on the podium. Climbing the hills was fine, just select the right gear and grind out the power numbers but the descents were different matter. There was a gulf of ability between me and the real bikers. I had worked hard to keep pace with them on the up hills but they just sped past me on downs as we hit the tight hairpins, me clinging to my brakes hoods whilst they majestically swung their bikes left and right at each turn. I was simply outclassed and had no response, I just focussed on staying upright and making it to T2.
Sure enough T2 came but I had taken 20 minutes longer than Mallorca and I considered that too tough for my inadequate mountain skills. I knew I was running for pride so set off trying to hold a 4min/k pace to land a 1:25 split. At times my pace wavered a little but more down to concentration than fatigue, I knew I would be in the right ball park for a respectable time. On the way round I picked up another Brit who was gunning for a slot and it was great to help pace him and see him cross the line to punch his ticket. The consequence of the rolling start was that he just needed to cross the line with me to actually post a quicker overall time.
Job done and in the circumstances the result was better than I could have hoped for. The weekend was great fun and next time I will check out the course before hastily pressing the enter button!

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