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Ironman Austria, July 16th 2006

The canal, very busy
The run, very hot

The Lead Up

Rode last year's bike course on the Wednesday before the race. Last year, in the same final training ride, I clocked 2:10 and this year I clocked 1:54 so things were looking good for the race. On Thursday I swam, testing out how I felt with the wet suit then swimming again without it, it definitely feels a lot better without. Swam about 1km in ~20 mins. On Friday it was the TT meet up and another swim. Wettie felt a lot better today and I decided to use it in the race, swam about a mile in ~30 mins. Later in the afternoon, about 3pm – when I’d start my run on Sunday, I went for a run. Damn it was hard work. I couldn’t run slow enough to keep my HR off max, well within a few beats of max. Clocked 34 minutes for 4.4 miles but it was clear I was in trouble in the heat. Finally, in the early evening I did a final shake down ride on the bike as the cassette wasn’t quite indexing properly, did the final bit as a sprint just for the fun of it.

The Day Itself

Swim was the usual fist fight to the first buoy. I’d lined up just behind the pro’s at the left hand side of the right lane. After the first buoy I went way to wide and found a lot of clear water, mainly because everyone was about 30 metres to the left. After the second turn buoy I had no idea where I was heading to but it felt wrong. Felt like we were heading back to where we’d come from rather than parallel to the outward swim. Later it turned out they’d moved the second buoy out a bit so in fact we were heading back to where we’d come from to get to the canal entrance. The canal itself was even more mad than the start. It was solid with people and there was no choice but to swim along in the pack and not over take. Exited the water in 80 minutes dead, quite pleased with it but my biceps were sore, mainly from the effects of the wettie.

T1 went well enough but I didn’t rush as much as I’d planned. They’d change the tent around from last year and that kind of threw my mental image of what I was going to do. But got through T1 in 4:35. Mounted the bike and set off at a casual pace. The first kilometre was setting myself up for the ride, a good dose of sun tan lotion before I threw it away and settled into it. Things felt good at the start, as they always do, passed Navin and received a shout then rode up behind Rob for a quick chat before continuing on my way. Seemed I was one of the people cutting through the field this year but my HR was steady at 150 which was lower than my Ashford 100m TT test ride so still within the safe zone. Carried on like this for about 40km then Rob came past me again wiggling his arse at me, surprised to see him to be honest but good luck to him. Climbing the first proper hill on the loop Jenny Budgent past me, saying hi and having a quick chat. On the first real decent I think I re-passed Jenny and Rob.

Things went on like that, hitting the first turn point at 3 hours exactly – well on track for a 12 hour race. Stayed at 150bpm until mile 70 when things suddenly got tough. I had no idea why but I also started to feel really sick when eating my CLIF bars. That confirmed something was amiss so I switched to energy drink and water and didn’t touch the bars again. By mile 80 I’d edited and re-edited my race plan, dropping from the attack plan to the just survive it plan pretty quickly. It seemed the heat had arrived for the day and with it my energy went. I’d dropped 30bpm off my riding pace just to save something for the run but by mile 100 I really had no idea what I was going to do to get around the run. I was out of plans.

Got back to T2 feeling shot but did my usual change over, clocking 4:51 and wet off for the run. I jogged out of transition just seeing how things felt. To my surprise they felt OK. I expected a whole load of cramp but things were fine on that front. Heading off up the first loop you’re out in the sun for most of it and it took its toll once again. By 10km I was firmly set on a run-walk strategy. It seemed the first lap went pretty quickly, certainly didn’t feel as far as last year. The second lap felt a whole load longer. The run got less and the walk got longer. As much as I tried to push on I was out of energy and deep into survival mode. At the last turn point I decided to run back to the finish to clock the fastest segment of the race, prove to myself it wasn’t as bad as it felt but I was walking again before the arch back to Woolworths (a lot less than 1km for those who don’t know the course). Crossing the finish line and seeing I’d clocked 12:53 I felt happy enough, a PB is a PB after all but still felt empty that I’d done all that work to clock 5 minutes faster than last year. The only other thing to note is I started coughing quite a bit while running up to the final turn point, probably the bug I’ve had for a while but I don’t think it slowed me at all (every time I took a deep breath I coughed for ages – so don’t take deep breaths right!).

Post Race Analysis

I had a 12 hour race in me on the day but the heat took that from me. I was way off an 11 hour race, not even close. In one respect I’m bitterly disappointed to clock 12:53 when all my training pointed to something more spectacular. Losing it to the heat was just annoying, it’s so damn obvious but I over looked it because it wasn’t that hot last year. But I’m not sure there’s much we can do in the UK to simulate mid 30’s. On the other hand, getting to the end in a respectable time and in reasonable shape is still encouraging. The distance in itself doesn’t bother me but I still fail to put in a decent run leg.

As much as I want to do another Ironman this year I think my time would be better used doing a marathon to give my running ego a boost. I’ll also do as many TT’s as I can because I’m still slow on the hills and need more bike strength.

Swim: 2.4 mile T1 Bike: 112 mile T2 Run: 26.2 mile Total
1:20:15 4:35 6:20:14 4:51 5:03:18 12:53:13
Weather: Sunny, got hotter and hotter as the day went on. Must have made mid 30's by the end. Water temp 25°C.

SPLITS (from Ironman Live):
SWIM: 1:20:15
BIKE: 6:20:14
RUN: 5:03:18
OVERALL: 12:53:13

TOTAL SWIM 2.4 mi. (1:20:15) 2:06/100m 1659

FIRST BIKE SEGMENT: 32km 32 km (1:05:06) 29.49 km/h
SECOND BIKE SEGMENT: 63km 31 km (1:13:16) 25.39 km/h
THIRD BIKE SEGMENT: 90km 27 km (1:56:39) 13.89 km/h
FOURTH BIKE SEGMENT: 122km 32 km (1:09:09) 27.77 km/h
FOURTH BIKE SEGMENT: 153km 31 km (2:29:51) 12.41 km/h
FOURTH BIKE SEGMENT: 179km 26 km (3:16:12) 7.95 km/h
FINAL BIKE SEGMENT: 180km 1 km (2:17) 26.28 km/h
TOTAL BIKE 180 km (6:20:14) 28.40 km/h 1594

FIRST RUN SEGMENT: 1.4km 1.4 km (9:06) 9.23 km/h
SECOND RUN SEGMENT: 6.9km 5.5 km (30:02) 10.99 km/h
THIRD RUN SEGMENT: 16.2km 9.3 km (1:07:23) 8.28 km/h
FOURTH RUN SEGMENT: 21.4km 5.2 km (39:50) 7.83 km/h
FIFTH RUN SEGMENT: 26.9km 5.5 km (--:--) -- km/h
SIXTH RUN SEGMENT: 36.2km 9.3 km (1:07:23) 8.28 km/h
SEVENTH RUN SEGMENT: 41km 4.8 km (3:15:18) 1.47 km/h
EIGHTH RUN SEGMENT: 41.15km 0.15 km (0:54) 10.00 km/h
FINAL RUN SEGMENT: 42.2km 1.05 km (0:35) 108.00 km/h
TOTAL RUN 26.2 mi. (5:03:18) 11:34/mile 1551

T2: BIKE-TO-RUN 4:51

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