Swim: 0:54:56 T1: 4:12 Bike: 5:00:57 T2: 2:26 Run: 4:18:19 Total: 10:20:50 (48th / 280th)
I managed to get a solid 4 hours sleep before waking every half an hour. As ever once I get up all nerves disappear. Sharing an apartment with friends also helps calm any pre race nerves. I forced down three scrambled eggs on a toasted bagel with lots of butter. I was in transition checking my bike at 4:30am and was home by 4:50am with over 2hrs left before race start. I managed to relax and mentally prepare. We wandered down to the start at 6:15am.
This race had one of WTCs swim start initiatives. Running across the beach there were marked areas for estimated swim time. It started with sub hour to the left and in direct line with the buoys. Then 10 minute blocks as you went right (and further from the most direct line).I’d decided to go to the front of the 1:00 – 1:10 block but shifted one group further over when I observed the surf coming in as it seemed worse further left.
We got a true impression of how big the breakers were when the pros set off. National anthem then we were off. Unusually they give a full count down down to final 10s and set off bang on 7am. The surf was great fun requiring diving under it and working hard to get clear. After a few minutes I found myself with the lead AGers. Pretty clear that the fast swimmers had made a similar start choice to me. I stuck with the front guy for about 500m before deciding it wasn’t worth the extra effort.
At the end of the first lap I got clobbered by a big breaker I tried to body surf in on. I managed for a while before it forced me in to a forward somersault. The second lap I cruised. I bilateral breathed and focussed on what my coach has been working on for ages now – long strong strokes holding the water as best I can. I reeled in and passéd some of the swimmers ahead and by halfway through the second lap found myself catching pros who had started 10-15 minutes head.
I really enjoyed the swim and was very pleased with how I went. It was tough conditions though that tends to make it more fun.
As I exited I heard them announced the Mirinda Carfrae was coming out of the swim.
Wetsuit strippers are a highlight of US races and this race did not disappoint. Wetsuit off in no time then the run through transition . It has a fair bit of added distance to run to the change tent and back to the other end of transition to ensure it’s fair. as you come to your bike rack a volunteer is there holding your bike. Great support.
I was in a good frame of mind as I started and set off at a decent pace. Caught a few people and was passed by a few including Mirinda who I wished good luck. Make no mistake, this course has very little on the scenery side, even when running along the coast a lot of the time high rises block any view. it is however pretty much completely flat and on very good road surfaces (bar the middle 10 miles). There’s also only two dead turns in the whole course, all other turns can be done whilst staying aero and not braking. It’s fast.
I felt comfortable and was seeing good power numbers. It was a fair while before the first group of AGers came through. They were riding legal, I pushed on a bit but soon decided not to go with them. At about 40 miles a larger group came by and they were proper close. At the back was a Pro lady who said something to me about getting swept up by them, I commented they were a bit close. She agreed and clearly was not happy. At the next penalty tent I saw her and felt sure she’d been caught out by these AGers cutting in as they went by.
Still my power was looking good so I wasn’t too bothered about being passed so much. The bumper section from mile 50 to 60 is pretty unpleasant but at least it’s an out and back so you can check out where you are. Given the power numbers I was seeing I was stunned to see how close Roger was to me. He was clearly having a great ride.
Not long after this another big pack went by and if the last one was bad this was ridiculous. They’d have done well to ride closer on a organised club ride. No shame whatsoever. I certainly gave them a piece of my mind and was able to stay close enough to see that very few of them were making any effort to ride legal.
Further back in the field there may be some excuses about not much real estate to spread out but at this point in the field there was tonnes. Throughout the race I would spend huge chunks of time on my own without anyone in sight and then get swept up by a group. There was plenty of room for them to ride a legal pace line. It’s in such stark contrast to my experience in Busselton where it seems all the faster AGers know how to and want to ride in a legal pace line. This was nothing short of blatant cheating in my book and unfortunately makes me look at any cyclist that start behind me and finished ahead on the bike as if they cheated.
Not long after this I saw Mirinda again. She seemed to have slowed a lot so as I went by I asked if she was ok. She looked a little non plussed and said “Yes” with an unsaid “of course”. I then asked if she was just validating which she confirmed. I said I felt it was a stupid rule and that people like her just completing to validate may help bring the rule to an end.
The final section was largely with a tail wind and I needed to do 40km in the last hour to get sub 5 hours. It was great fun but I fell just a little short. My power for the ride (normalised) was 261 watts which sounds amazing BUT as I finished I realised that it couldn’t be a correct reading. No way could I only do 5hrs in those conditions if my power was that high. I will try and do some comparison to Rogers power (he went 6 mins quicker) at some point.
I finished the bike still in a great state of mind knowing I was starting the run with about six hours on the clock.
Nothing much to report other than nearly forgetting my race number. We didn’t have to wear it on the bike which meant we had to get it out of our T2 bag. In 26 previous Ironman races I’ve never had to do that.
I decided that I would force myself to run properly from the off. I’d been wondering whether recently I’ve never allowed myself to get in to my running. After the first mile I felt great and was running well ticking off 4:30 KMs. For the first time in ages I was passing people on the run rather than being passed. The good old days. The speed I was going enough to get me a PB though I never really believed I would survive that pace till the end. I managed it to halfway through the first lap. I’d stupidly made a deal with myself to make it that far and after the turn my pace dropped and soon I was run walking. I decided if I was going to run / walk I would make sure I ran properly when I did run. For me this meant 4:45 / km pace. Unfortunately the amount of walking slowly increased till I must have walked for 20 minutes to the halfway point of the second lap.
I had quite a mental debate about whether to continue Ironman racing (despite already entered two for next year). It seems pointless if I’m going to walk the run. It’s meant to be a run. I did another deal and said after the turn I’d set a beeper to go every 2 minutes and go 4 mins running and 2 mins walking. This I stuck to and ran well for each 4 minutes. It felt good. In fact, the first two minutes of each 4 was more comfortable than walking but rapidly in the second 2 minutes it became tough and I was wanting to walk. I vowed never again to enter a race this under prepared. Then I remembered I’d made that vow after most of my races of the past two years.
I crossed the line with relief. I’d enjoyed my day. I confirmed my swimming is going very well. My ride was very satisfying showing I’d kept a lot of my bike fitness despite doing very little since Ironman Wales. My run was awesome for 10k, it felt good and a little like the good ole days. It was a fast day and I’d have had to PB to have got a Kona slot. Thats some consolation. My pace in that first 10k would have had to continue for the whole race to qualify. Thats also some consolation.