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It’s been nearly two months since the event, so this is more race reflection than race report per se. Since then, I’ve had a chance to digest, review with others, and educate myself further in race day strategy.

How it Went

In short… two-thirds well. The swim and bike felt great, but as often is the case, the run is what can break you, and mine was much rougher than expected. Looking back on it there are a few things I can do differently next time to improve significantly. I had the fitness, and executed my plan… just turns out the plan wasn’t quite right to begin with!

Here’s how it all went down, along with a few other thoughts and photos from the day.

SWIM 1.9km / 1.2mi

For only learning to swim a year and a half ago, this was potentially a scary part of the race for me, but one I felt reasonably well prepared for by raceday.

The swim only amounts to about 10% of your overall time in the race, so going a bit faster or slower doesn’t make a huge difference. I had been training for about 6 months with an endurance plan from SwimSmooth and was comfortable enough in the pool. Open water was another story but thankfully it warmed up early enough in the UK to get in the lake a few times with the
Barracudas.

My game plan was just to surive, enjoy it, and finish comfortably, and I’m happy to say I stuck with that. I was predicting 35-40 minutes and finished in 38:55. Add in a reasonably speedy T1 of 3:52 and I was well on my way. The only major thing I’d like to focus on for next time is sighting as I felt there was some unnecessary zigzagging going on!

BIKE 90.1km / 56.0mi

This was the part of the race I was most concenrned about. The course packed in over 3000 feet of vertical and I didn’t have much experience with that riding in East Yorkshire. Driving the course a few days before the race was moderatley frightening but the training ride on Friday made up for it. About a hundred of us set off with a full motorcycle escort to ride 1 lap of the course and I actually managed well. The climbs didn’t take as much out of me as I exected and I was left with more confidence that I could actually finish the bike in one piece.

On race day things went a little awry but I didn’t realize until well after the race just what happened. First, it was over 30C the entire time I was racing and I hadn’t experienced anything quite like that in training (bless mild English weather).

The plan, later revealed to be flawed, went something like this.
– stay in HR Z3 except for the hills where I just planned to get on with it and get up and over whatever it took
– eat a 100 cal GU gel every 45 minutes
– drink plenty of water and electrolyte throughout

Notice any issues with that? I haven’t worked out exactly what I ended up consuming in calories but suffice it to say, it wasn’t enough. In my longest training ride / run brick it worked out fine, but I don’t think I ever went far enough for the lack of fuel to to reveal itself.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The bike actually went really well in of itself. I completed the first lap in 1:27:20 and the second in 1:29:08 with an average speed of over 19mph and felt great. I kept reminding myself to keep it at a comfortable pace and not overdo it but I might not have fully appreciated what that meant.

Coming into T2 I was on a rush from the bike and clocked another speedy transition of 2:17. Elapsed time so far was 3:41:07 so a sub 6 hr finish seemed well within reach. Or so I thought!

RUN 21.1km / 13.1mi

I tried to calm down a bit on the run, but my excitement had me cruising out of transition at a 7:30/mile and it took some time to settle into a more reasonable pace. Unfortunately, after the first couple of miles I started running out of gas. It was blistering hot. I stopped at a porta john and thought I was going to pass out inside. My stomach wan’t happy. Suddenly I was concerned and wasn’t sure what to do about it.

Within the first 4 miles or so my average pace had slipped back to well below 10min/mile, then 11, then 12. It was soooo hot I literally thought about my legs cooking on the pavement as if running across a massive frying pan. I avoided eating anything and only sipped the smallest bits of water thinking my stomach was upset from overdoing it on the sports drink. Turns out this was probably the wrong decision as I’m confident now I was out of fuel. As a friend and 2 time Ironman commented afterwords, “The car wasn’t broke, it just ran out of gas.”

And so the back half of lap 1 was spent walking/jogging, trying to let my stomach recoup and to get my strength back. How I was going to do that without eating is now a mystery though! By lap 2 it wasn’t getting any better so I decided I’d stick with walking and, finally, start to eat and drink. I wanted to finish rather than fight to save 10-20 minutes and risk ending up in bad shape or not even making it. In hindsight I’m not sure if I gave up too easily and what sort of thought process I’ll have at the end of a full IM. That’s something I’m going to need to work on as much as the physical fitness.

In the end I made it, and couldn’t have been happier to see my family and friends at the finish. A 3:02:07 run (for a half… yikes!) gave a total of 6:43:15 and rank of 112th out of 136 starters in the M25 age group.

Other Thoughts

Here are a few other random things that come to mind.

Location and Organization

This was my first Ironman brand event and longest race I’ve done so don’t have much to compare it to, but overall things seemed well organized and much of the concerns or questions I had were based on my own inexperience with how it all works.

The location in Rapperswil-Jona Switzerland was gorgeous and easy to access from the UK with a short <1hr train connection from the airport to town. Accommodation was challenging to find with ~2500 athletes and countless others descending on the small town but Jen did a great job finding a little place in Hurden which was a 5 min drive away. The biggest drawback was that Switzerland isn’t cheap and we quickly found that eating out burned through cash quickly.

Cost of Ironman

I will say that overall the cost for entry seems a bit extortionate, let alone once you add in all the extras like merchandise, food, drink, welcome party, race license, saline drip (if needed) etc. At times it felt like forking out dough for every little thing which was exasperated by the already high prices in Switzerland. That said, the races regularly sell out so can you really blame them?

Future Plans

After much deliberation, I plan to enter a full IM with haste. Why? Because I’m lucky I can, and that says something in of itself. Plus I’ll turn 30 in April so seems a good milestone to break new ground. My buddy and I already tried to register for IM Lake Placid but could not get through the process online before it sold out so we’re now looking to Louisville or Madison. Time will tell.

Photos

Finally, I’ll leave you with some photos from Jen and my Mom. It’s great they captured so much of the event!

DSCF2343.JPG Which way to the race?? Race Number DSCF1762.JPG Wetsuit:  check! DSCF1767.JPG Fellow orange-capped starters DSCF1779.JPG DSCF2383.JPG Out of the water DSCF1789.JPG little wave to the crowd.... DSCF2402.JPG DSCF1794.JPG DSCF1814.JPG DSCF2421.JPG DSCF2422.JPG DSCF2424.JPG DjD Finish ~ IronMan70.3 DSCF1822.JPG DSCF1823.JPG Happy to be done!

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This weekend I’m racing in my first Ironman 70.3 and this is what 6ish months of prep work looks like… Tapered off a bit earlier than planned but it is what it is and I’ll get to see the results in the next few days.

Packing is complete and all I can say is we’re going to use up every gram of that baggage allowance.

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49 days and counting

This marks the completion of Week 22 of serious training and the distance has really been racking up. Only 7 more weeks to go…

Training Progress - Distance

Training Progress - time

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Winter’s still here but the miles have slowly been accumulating. Now 11 weeks into training and happy that the sun is finally starting to make an appearance again. As of today there are 126 days until Ironman 70.3 Switzerland.

11 week progress chart

Grand totals thus far are:
Swimming: 61.0km
Biking: 0.0km
Running: 99.0km

Finally, here’s a video from a recent SwimSmooth swim clinic I attended. It’s definitely given me some more self-awareness and a few things to look out for!

http://www.facebook.com/v/585660853839

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5 week progress update

It’s been about 5 weeks since signing up for the Ironman and I’ve been steadily making progress in the pool. I’ve been following a training program from SwimSmooth which has been great for keeping to a schedule but also, keeping it interesting.

I’ve updated my Training Progress page with automatic charts to track my progress. It uses Google Docs to update things automatically as easily as possible.

Grand totals thus far are:
Swimming: 39.7km
Biking: 0.0km
Running: 26.0km

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I’ve been waiting to pull the trigger on this, but the idea has been rumbling around in my mind for months. I’m happy to say that I’m now registered for my first Ironman 70.3 race next June in Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland (Official Site). For those that aren’t familiar with the Ironman series, the 70.3 is a triathlon with a 1.9km swim, 90km bike, and 21.1km run. The full Ironman is twice that, so we’ll save that for another day!

Key details

When: June 6th, 2010
Where: Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland (Google Map)
Why: One thing leads to another…
Goal: < 6 hours based on a back of the napkin calculation

It’s been a long time in coming, but between completing my first marathon last year, finally learning to swim this year (seriously), and entering my first sprint triathlon in August, it’s time for a big one.

Along the way I’ll be posting my training schedule, progress, and tricks I learn here on Across the Pond. If you happen to be racing or would like to show your support, consider joining our Facebook group.

And of course… if anyone’s looking for a vacation in Switzerland in June… it’d be great to see you! 🙂

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First Triathlon Results

A few weeks ago Jen and I completed our first triathlon (400m Swim, 20km Bike, 5km Run) with a few friends of ours. Everyone did great (if we do say so ourselves), and for me, it felt good to finally tackle swimming; something I never actually learned as a kid.

Swim Bike Run Total
David 8:02 39:56 23:39 1:11:27
Jen 6:34 52:38 27:31 1:26:43

As with the marathon last year, we’re taking a slight breather from training while we contemplate plans for next year. I think it’s safe to say that we’ll continue with more triathlons though. The combination of specialities really helps keep things interesting and offers more well-rounded overall fitness than running or cycling alone.

 

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