Last post happened a fortnight before the launch of my racing season which went underway back on the 10th of June at Ironman70.3 Staffordshire in the UK. Considering everything, it went well despite a few troubles prior and during the race but I made it to the finish with a personal best, tiny one but you have to appreciate it.
#RacedaySunday started at 3:30AM, waking up as early as possible, I didn’t have the best night even if going to bed around 7:00PM the night before but woke up fresh and started the day in a good mood as well as mentally strong. Shower and breakfast went good, fueling the best way possible, porridge, banana and coffee got me all setup for the day I thought…
…Yeah, I thought all was good but found myself on the floor around 4:15 as I woke up again next to my bag. Everything was ready for me to leave the happy place I was lent for the weekend but I had just suffered an epileptic seizure. Honestly, I thought my day was finished when I found myself there, stood-up, got around the house a few times, wasn’t really feeling strong at that point but I decided to go for it or at least, I decided to give it a try.
An hour and a half later, I arrived at the starting point, the trip plus shuttle to the start gave me some time to reflect on which race approach I should take. Basically I took the decision to simply start and see if I would survive the swim. By 5:45AM, I was in T1, checking the bike, pumping the tires, going for the usual white bag drop just before starting my own mental game.
As the starting time was fast approaching and the sun going up, the fog just happened to get worst and worst over the swim course… I would have normally said that it was a bad thing but considering my own issues, I thought it was a good thing, more time to get it all together in my head, by 7:00AM, half an hour late we got the information that we were to start pretty soon. By 7:15 roughly, we were off and the rolling start procedure started.
As I jumped in the water, the only thing I can say is that my race mode got activated and no matter what had happened before, it happened, I was just gonna race that course anyway, no matter what! Got a good start kept with a good group throughout the distance (1.9km) even if some of the turns and buoys more or less felt like a big traffic jam but with a time of 34:43min it was altogether faster than what I previously achieved.
Position at T1 / 49th AG / 281st Men / 334th OA.
Transition 1 was long with a good 600m of running distance, getting the wetsuit off and getting on the bike, as usual I happened to lose quite a bit there with a time of 6:06min which is really bad I think but this is a weak point that I need to work on so I can hammer it next.
Out on the bike, I just felt like killing it when I started, altogether and from feeling down, I just got back together after that warm-up swim I guess but as the day was to be plagued with troubles, it didn’t last long. 10k into the ride, got a mechanical problem with the rear derailleur getting messed over a bloody pothole and I mean a massive one as I almost got off the bike. As I was stuck on the big gear and smallest ratio available going over a series of steep ups and downs on a narrow road, I had to actually stop and walk a hill while getting passed by let’s say a 100 other racers at least…
6 minutes later, I had figured out the problem, got it together and got it going again. I felt like everything was over by then, seriously it was too much to actually think I could achieve anything… I then took the decision to try my best over the rest of the race and to take it as a giant brick session, with the time lost and as the coach had said, minutes gained on the bike are to be lost on the run if trying too hard so I settled on the aerobars and worked my way through the field.
It went smoothly and I got very surprised as even though I got passed by what I thought was a lot of people while standing to fix the bike, it also happened that I passed pretty much everybody again and by km 80, I was on my own, catching up on some fast boys and girls. Getting closer to transition 2, I felt good again and just like the start of the race it was a true rollercoaster but as the run draw closer I thought I would have to keep it together for 21.1km more.
The ride had been strong, 90km in 2:35:16min which makes it an average pace of 34.83km/h, not bad after standing still for 6min and getting back at it. Still transition 2 happened and with 3:32min I got it better that time but still not as fast as I would have liked. By then, sun was out and temperatures were up, total time was of 3:19:37min as I got myself out on the run.
Position at T2 / 23rd AG / 173rd Men / 184th OA.
Running hard, running hot, running long as I got out on the last leg and yes as said still a half-marathon to go. Got out thinking I would try my best out there, nutrition had been alright and unlike my previous experiences, the stomach and legs felt good. I tried not to burn it as I started it, trying to settle for a average pace of 4:30/km which I thought would be alright to sustain the heat and twisty course which consisted of 3 loops in and around Stafford.
First lap got together alright even if I didn’t appreciate that the course was a mix of road and trails through the city and park with very little shadow but that was it, I had to make it. As I got on the second lap, legs were feeling very good if considering the previous swim and run and good thing is that I got it paced by a bunch of pro girls which were on their last lap, the average pace got a little better and I could really settle in my zone.
All along the course there were quite a lot of people cheering on us which also played in the equation, aid stations which consisted of three along the course were perfect, I got plenty of hydration along with a lot of water thrown over myself which helped keep it cool. What felt even better was that I wasn’t passed by any other racers than the pros which were going very strong.
As I reached the end of the course, I thought it had been a great race all things considered, got it finished with a time of 1:32:52min over the distance which made it an average pace of 4:32/km, not bad as I finished the race with a total time of 4:52:29min. A personal best by 21sec which I wouldn’t have thought possible but performance is nothing if you haven’t got the will to achieve it I guess. That is pretty much what happened.
FINISH / T 4:52:29 / 18th AG / 124th Men / 132nd OA.
The lesson I learnt that day is that you can only control the controllables and with a few thing making it harder than I would have originally thought, that result was mega. Nutrition plan had been perfect which was a key point I wanted to get together and the result was still a better one than my previous IM70.3 back in Rapperswil the previous year.
Now it’s 11 days to go before Ironman140.6 Frankfurt and which is the main goal this year, there’s been a lot of work since Staffordshire and fingers crossed, it will go smoothly.