Tuesday, 16 June 2015

June 14th 2015 Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire UK

1.9km Swim 90km Bike 21km Run - Temperature 15oF
Swim 32:23 - T1 04:14 - Bike 02:39:57 - T2 02:18 – Run 01:27:06  Total Time 4:45:58
50-54 Age Group Champion, 54th overall
I have done Wimbleball 70.3 a couple of times so it was great that WTC have put another 70.3 in the UK calendar. I needed a World Champs qualification backup in case Barcelona didn’t work out and it hadn’t worked out so Staffordshire was my only shot now.
The swim was a wave start and our age group was all in one wave, great. This was way better than the rolling start of Barcelona and the absence of any head to head racing. I was at the front of the white caps treading water feeling confident about my ability stay clear of the washing machine start. The air horn sounded and we were off and a strong start meant lactate filled shoulders but no right hooks! Half way round and I was at the point of the white caps, about half a dozen of us ploughing ahead of the field. As we rounded a buoy the right hook finally landed and I had to momentarily roll over to straighten my goggles. By the time of righted myself I had lost the group, not critical time wise, but actually I was enjoying the very novel sensation of being at the tip of the spear. Oh well, nice whilst it lasted.
A rather lengthy run over a stony path to T1, a reasonably unremarkable transition and onto the bike; I figured there were a maximum of two or three ahead of me. The first ten miles were over dreadful roads, potholed and narrow and since we were almost the last wave they were full of bikes weaving from side to side. It wasn’t time to push so I kept a firm tempo and focussed on safely picking my way through the field. Once I had navigated that initial stretch the roads opened up a
little more but the route was constantly punctuated with sharp rises and tight turns. Throughout the whole 90k there was little opportunity to settle into a rhythm and sit on a big gear for a few ks, a split of 2:30 was looking increasingly optimistic. I had not been paying much attention to race numbers but couldn’t recall passing anyone on the bike in my age group. When I leave T2 it’s always nice to know how far behind I am. I reckon 10 minutes is doable if I put my race face on and am prepared to hurt a little, more than that and its a dependent on the other athletes running ability.
Post-race it transpired I had been 3rd out the swim and 1st off the bike but I didn’t know that as I set off out of T2. I settled into a comfortable pace for the first couple of ks and purposely didn’t look at my splits. Relaxing and establishing a good rhythm is more important at this stage than outright speed. I finally looked down once I had taken on some coke and got away from the crowds; 4k down and just over 16 minutes. I just had to concentrate on rolling along at this speed and the time would
take care of itself. The run course was great, always something different in terms of terrain and scenery with a good number of noisy supporters throughout, I would come back just for that course alone. A couple of ups and downs took the edge of my speed but sub 90 minutes was never in doubt.
I crossed the line pretty confident I was on the podium but it wasn’t until a friend got the update from Ironmanlive that I knew I had won my first Ironman 70.3 event, and by nearly 20 minutes. That was brilliant as I had no real expectation of winning at this distance. I took my slot and booked my trip to Austria where there will be some very serious European 70.3 specialists, should be fun. Presently I have my foot in a bucket of ice to treat what I hope is some simple bruising on the ball of my foot…….fingers crossed I can start training again by the end of the week to race at the Grafman and then enjoy my week in Roth, taking part in the legendary event.

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