Ironman Wales Race Analysis

WalesAnalysis12-1Race Report here

Yesterday was another great day in Tenby. I’m close to saying I will definitely back next year but seeing how the competition has got even tougher from last year I think if I want to get to Kona when I turn 45 I may need to head out to an American race rather than try in a super competitive European race. We will see.

Overall I am pleased with my race. I did not get the result I’d hoped for which was a Kona slot, in fact I was 18 minutes off that however I am optimistic about what needs doing. I think I ended up executing a very good race and got a result that was perhaps a little better than my preparation deserved. This was by luck not judgement but having done it I will have the confidence to approach racing similarly. For reasons I’ll go in to below I found myself entering the run in a very positive mood having raced a very conservative swim and bike.

Since Roth I have struggled to get fully back in to training. We went to the Pyrenees to try and kick start training but I didn’t get as much done as hoped. Throughout the stay I had a very niggly heel which gave me too much of an excuse to not run. I was also still not feeling fully myself so ended up doing less biking at a lower pace than I’d hoped. I then had a bike fit and chose to change to 165mm cranks and q-rings. With hindsight given my not such good cycling form it was a little daft to make these changes. I threw myself in to 3 weeks of solid biking to try and adapt but throughout I just didn’t feel like I had form. Was this the cranks ? the q-rings ? or just lack of form ? The weekend before the race I tested myself back on 175mm and decided to switch for the race. During this period I got a really good block of running in – 150 miles or so in three weeks but no long runs, well, nothing beyond 22km. Swim training was back on but as start of season for the squad it was all skills based. The coach did make sure I did some work but nothing like I will be doing. That said things were really clicking with my feel for the water and stroke length.

This means coming in to this race I felt that I needed to be a little more conservative on swim and bike to have a hope of running well and if I’m honest  I felt it would be a miracle if I didn’t fade significantly on the run.


The swim was very physical at the start. They had a right angle turn about 100m out and the pros started about 10m ahead in the water. Once through this I settled at the back of the pack I was in. Made the sensible choice to just sit there and not bridge. This must be the easiest swim I’ve done and had me coming out in 48 minutes (probably short) feeling very fresh. Nothing but positives from this as I feel by my next race my swimming will be even better. This won’t mean I’ll get quicker splits just I’ll get easier splits.


Again I started off conservatively. I initially based this on my breathing with the focus on getting my heart rate under control – I didn’t wear a HRM so was judging this on feeling and my breathing. I’d decided to at least try to join any pacelines that came through. This I did but early on they all were too fast. After about 50km I started to fade, this seemed to coincide with starting to need to pee. I’ve never managed to do this on the bike before so didn’t worry too much about it. My mood started to drop, I think needing to pee made me less inclined to eat. I also found my interaction with the crowd was getting less and less. I started having lots of negative thoughts. This often happens to me and I think that I need to work on my mental focus for these races.

Anyway, in to the second lap and I decided I really need to try and pee on the bike. I’d been riding pretty much on my own for a while so decided I’d try and pee out on to the verge but I’d tied my tri shorts so couldn’t. I then found I if I just lifted the shorts a little to relieve the pressure I was able to pee. (sorry for the details) but boy oh boy did I pee… lots. The change was instantaneous. My mood upped, I start gussling and enjoying my gels and I  started hammering – it felt like those days on Epic camp when I could hammer on the front. I started reeling people in again and I felt great. Negative thoughts disappeared and instead I was thinking how my bike had been conservative and therefore I should be able to run well. I say to my athletes how you need to aim to be your strongest in the final third on the bike, if you do you’ve paced it right. I had my own advice ringing in my ears and I felt so confident.


The graph shows my normalised power each 5km together with trend lines. The linear one amuses me because it’s dead straight ! The other is a moving average. It’s pretty clear my fade in the middle and dramatic improvement. The high power in 85-95km is due to that being where the big steep hills are.

So… for future races I need to hold off my power early on even if people are passing as being strong at the end is great for my mental attitude. I also need to learn to be able to pee on queue!


OK… the run was short. I reckon about 2.5km short. I started my garmin in transition and it took about a minute or so to get a signal. It measured 39km. This means my marathon time is flattering to say the least. My average pace was 5:14 so thats 3:40 pace and given my fade it  means had it been full length I would have been closer to 3:45. So overall not good.

That said it was hugely positive. The first half of the marathon I felt like my old self. It was great. I was aware of it at the time and I was so happy. Loving it. I was running so well, felt great and most importantly it didn’t feel like I was running off the bike it just felt like I was having a good run. I was through halfway in about 1:32 (remember the course is short!) – this is the sort of pace I need and then to hold it. At that point my average pace was 4:38 which is 3:15 marathon pace. Of course, my lack of long runs hit bang on. In fact, it’s almost like I faded at the distance of my longest run. The actual point of my fade isn’t clear because I was probably climbing at the time but once I got on the decent it was clear.


The graph shows my KM splits together with the net change in altitude in each KM. The significant drop in pace at halfway is very clear.

Given how strong the field was even if I’d even splitted the run I would have got the final slot by 4 minutes – thats a MASSIVE if.

Overall I’m disappointed not to qualify but I didn’t deserve to. I am however happy with the race. I raced well and I recovered from a really low point on the bike. I’ve heard so many times people talk about recovering from a low spell in an Ironman but I’d never experienced it. Now I have which is a great memory to have for future races where I can draw on that to remain positive if things aren’t going so well. The run was the most positive run I’ve done since my surgery. I didn’t survive the pace and perhaps a more conservative pace would have got a better split BUT this was the pace required and I’m chuffed I was willing to give it a go. It also showed I could run at pace for a fair old while. I now have 12 weeks to extend that period of pace before Ironman Busselton.

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