Time: 5:19:34 Swim: 27:32 T1: 5:54 Bike: 2:55:51 T2: 2:23 Run: 1:47:54
Race analysis here.
We’re so lucky to have such a fantastic race as our local race. It also means I don’t tend to get nervous about it. I slept straight through to my alarm and then had a good breakfast – scrambled egg, some fried jacket spud on toast with lots of butter. 30 minute drive, check bike and I’m left with 90 minutes before the start. I find somewhere quiet to sit and just close my eyes and relax. I’ve read a minuscule amount about meditation and just tried to remove all thoughts, make my mind quiet. It was nice and very relaxing… my Mark Allen moment.
Unlike last year they held us out of the water till a few minutes before our start. I managed to flush my wetsuit – thanks Andy G for persuading me of how good that is. Mel was with me as I’d persuaded her to try and swim on my feet. We’ve swum together numerous times in open water and I know that I have to make a concerted effort to drop her The sort of sustained effort I wouldn’t want to do in a race. With this typically being a civilised start I was sure there’d be no need for a sprint start so Mel could stick on.
The start was just the same as last year more or less no one (other than Mel) within 10 feet of me in any direction. So civilised. The gun goes and I start steady and there’s Mel on my feet. Before the first buoy we’ve caught some of the previous wave (started 15 minutes ahead). I look over my shoulder every so often and I see Mels stroke. I see a guy to my right who I reckon is swimming the same speed but for some reason is sighting to each of the intermediate yellow buoys rather than straight for the orange turn buoy and those buoys were in a big arc. Between the next two buoys there was a continuous line of slow swimmers from the previous wave but they were all off the straight line so I had a clear run.
At the next buoy there were far more swimmers and I lost Mel. I tried to pick as straight a line as possible through the mass of slower swimmers and soon had Mel back on my feet. I could see the other fast guy to my right but I was still in the lead. I was then thinking how cool it would be for Mel to be pretty much first out the water from the second wave.
As I came on to the beach I noticed that the person behind was starting to sprint me for the timing mat. I was thinking how what a sneaky lass to do that to me when I realised it wasn’t her! As I ran up the bank I kept looking back for Mel.
[ASIDE – chatting after the race I find out that Mel lasted about 200m on my feet and decided it was too quick. She ended up over 2 minutes back. The person on my feet was Richard Hobson through to the second buoy when I dropped him. He said that then the fast guy to the right sprinted and got on my feet. It makes me smile to think if I’d known it was not Mel I would have tried to drop them]
T1 was mayhem but at least this time I was ready for it. I was also ready for cold hands so was swinging my hands as I ran. It didn’t help particularly. It was frustratingly slow to get my transition started. The mount line was even worse than last year. Two people tried a running mount but clearly weren’t up to it. This start up a hill you’d have to be slick to do a running mount. Then I’m getting mounted and someone falls off blocking the road. I found myself shouting “Stopping” like I was on a group ride. Up the first hill I worked very hard not only to warm up but to pass as many people as I could. I held over 300 watts for the first 15 km and must have passed hundreds of people often four abreast. Once up the hill it was a bit easier as most were single file. I was riding well and the early hard riding didn’t seem to have been at a big cost. I was confident in my riding as I’d been riding so well in the Pyrenees.
Coming down the no pass zone I was stuck behind a girl who was on her hoods. I remembered the advice Ian gave to the guys in the Pyrenees so when we got on to the flat section I pulled up alongside and explained why she should be on the drops for steep descents and then rode off.
A few kilometres down the road I was coming up on another group of athletes. At the back was a guy in the middle of the road so I shouted “move left” which he did. Then as I went by he moved out right to go round the others and we clashed shoulders. He lost control but somehow I stayed upright as he slid across the road behind me. I rode on till the right angle left turn when everyone slows down and it was safe for me to turn. I went back to check he was ok. Of course he wasn’t impressed and said something about giving him his 1.5 metres. I didn’t want to argue that he should have looked. It’s almost certainly that we were both to some extent at fault. I said I was just checking he was OK (he clearly was) and whether he needed some help and then turned and continued on.
The rest of the ride was uneventful other than I felt strong throughout and saw 291w average power as I finished. I was very pleased as it confirmed how well I felt my bike preparation had gone.
In to transition and still got slight cold feet which made getting my Vibram FiveFinger Spyridons on a little tricky. As ever how long it actually takes is never as bad as it feels at the time. Out on the run I felt good and was thoroughly enjoying it just like the past two years. I worked hard for about half a lap but it was soon clear that I could not sustain it so I backed off and focussed on running with good form. In my head I was thinking this is my first long brick run of my Ironman Wales preparation. Unfortunately running 15 minutes slower than last year meant a few chased me down but overall I am very pleased with the result.