Tuesday, 14 June 2016

June 12th 2016 Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire UK

1.9km Swim 90km Bike 21km Run - Temperature 15oF

Swim 32:40 - T1 04:22 - Bike 02:36:42 - T2 03:11 – Run 01:28:14 Total Time 4:45:09

50-54 Age Group Champion, 57th overall

When I entered I wasn’t sure how recovered I would be after completing Ironman Texas only four weeks prior. Normally after an IM race I am not only physically but mentally fried from the training building up to the race and obviously the race effort itself. However, despite the adventure IMTX turned out to be, just two weeks after the race I was ready to get back on it. A couple of weeks getting the body back into the rhythm of training and I was standing on the pier ready to red line it for five hours.

The swim start in 2015 had been an age group wave start which is the best of both worlds in a way, less congestion on the bike course but a head to head race with my peers. This year they kept the wave starts but then each wave had within it a rolling start – kind of ok and certainly better than the whole race being a rolling start. Thankfully the weather forecast had rain not coming in until later and so it had transpired. Nothing worse than hanging around in the wet waiting to get going.

There is something not quite right with ambling down to the water after the gun has gone, just too dam relaxed. The gun fired and we hit the water on the G of BANG. Just too dam relaxed, I missed the first half dozen guys smash it out to the first turn and so I ended up on my own for a 1900m TT, pleasingly no slower than last year but I had given the leaders a minute or so head start on the bike.

Out onto the bike course and the same deal as last year, 8 miles of pot holes and weaving athletes to navigate, all very frustrating. The same for everyone albeit starting last meant by the time I crossed the finishing line I had passed over 1600 athletes with some pretty near misses. My plan was to push the bike hard as a bit of a test and then see what I had left in my legs for the run. The passing and constant cornering broke my rhythm somewhat for the first 50k but I made a reasonable fist of keeping the power up however, once the rain started, I had to back off a little to avoid any dramas on the now greasy corners. The rolling nature of the course made it pretty honest although there are always a few clutching at any little slight advantage should the opportunity arise. The most upsetting thing was actually the wanton littering by a few, completely unnecessary and incredibly selfish.

In the last 25k I passed a couple of guys in my age group and figured I was now at the pointy end. As I rolled into T2 and racked my bike I couldn’t see any competitors’ bikes already there although I take nothing for granted. My faffing in T2 this year was a minute longer as my cold fingers struggled to pull on my socks and tie my laces, not critical but not great. Out onto the run course and straight into the noisy crowds, a fantastic way to give you a lift and get up to speed quickly. It’s a great run course with lots of variation of terrain and good crowds dotted all along it. Sub 90 minutes was the target and I established the right sort of perceived effort and cadence within a kilometre or two, now I just had to stay focussed and relaxed. As I ticked the ks off the only real threat to me nailing the run was the single file, slippery mud sections; to stay upright I just had to slow down and patiently trundle behind the other athletes as they navigated the quagmires.

I metered out my effort over the 21k and sped down the red carpet with my sub 90 time in the bag. With the field so spread out and the rolling start breaking up the head to head racing, crossing the finish line is in a way a little anti-climactic. There was one other athlete from another age group on the carpet at the same time and I had no certainty of what position or clock time I had have just accomplished. No dipping for the line, no jumping for joy, no BOOM champagne moment, just stood in the recovery tent wondering how I got on. 45 minutes later I found out I had won my second title - fantastic! In two weeks’ time the journey takes me to Exmoor, the toughest IM 70.3 course on the circuit…can’t wait!

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