Ironman Barcelona, Callela 2014

0:52:40 - Swim
0:03:24 - T1
4:58:04 - Bike
0:01:04 - T2
4:19:12 - Run
10:14:24 - TOTAL - 58th M45-49, 510th Overall


Quite a start to race morning with Marc and I walking to check our bikes as the rain starts. We checked them quick as it got very heavy and by the time we got back to the hotel there was a massive thunder storm rolling over. We were pretty convinced the swim would end up being cancelled.  I laid in my bed with the curtains back and the window open so I could hear the rain. It helped me relax.

I wandered down in my wetsuit for my wave start and arrived just in time to hear that the start had been delayed by 30 minutes. I was in the last wave before the relays went off. The waves were heading off every three minutes and it was a little bit manic. Not sure the volunteers were ready for this massive increase in numbers. The entrance to the start area was narrow and there were several cases of people arriving late or even having the wrong coloured hat which added to the confusion.

I managed to get right to the front with Richard Hobson and Matt Molloy. On the start line there was a brief false start due to a whistle but when the horn went I had the best start I’ve ever had for a beach start. I think the fact the beach shelved very steeply helped and within two strokes I was clear of everyone. As I approached the turn buoy I could see Matt coming along side and passing. I hopped on his feet as we turned the buoy but quickly decided to let him go. I felt that his pace was a little solid for me and that I’d probably lose him through the masses. He was flying and went on to have the fastest swim of the day.

BarcelonaSwim14Now started the rhythm of the swim; clear water lovely swimming then catch the white hats (I believe these were first), several minutes of aggro and random changes in direction of swimmers in front the clear water again. Next up purple hats. I would hazard a guess I passed between 1500 and 2000 swimmers in that swim ! My observations during that swim confirmed my belief that poor swimmers should really learn how to sight ! If you’re slow the cost of swimming the wrong direction is even higher. Despite all the argie barge starting behind 2,000 other swimmers heading in the same direction is certainly beneficial as I had a very cruisey swim for a pretty decent time.

Transition was a little different from normal in that your run bag was hung above your bike bag with benches running along side. This meant you returned your bag to the hook. All very sensible. Shame I hadn’t walked this through in my head. Firstly I hunt around and find my bag only to realise I was searching run bags! I get the right bag, change and then realise finding the one hook available again  was tricky. Compounding this I run straight past my bike going for row “U” instead of row “V” ! So, in the middle of my 30th Ironman I’m doing all the rookie mistakes. It made me smile.

The advantage of warm races is my T1 mars bar is a lovely soft consistency. Here though I had to wait 3k before I was able to eat it as the first part of the ride was very twisty turny, it was wet, there were speed bumps, chicanes and lots of people. Of course, it being a race, the majority of people have switched off common sense. One guy passed me as we approached a corner, I was on the inside line but he still felt he should take the racing line. Luckily I’d predicted his stupidity and was ready to brake. I couldn’t believe the people hurtling on their aerobars. This behaviour is what puts me off doing a race with a proper technical descent (e.g. Nice,  Mallorca).

BarcaBike14Out on the road I settled in to my aero bars, munched my mars bar and kept a lid on my efforts. Within 10k Richard Hobson cruised by looking very strong. I thoroughly enjoyed the first half lap then the first of several packs caught me. As they went by I’d freewheel, sit up, eat drink and then once by get on with my race. Thank god I didn’t think I was on for a Kona slot otherwise it would have annoyed me even more than it already did. I wasted some energy shouting that they were cheats and calling some out by name. The referee in tow with this first group did nothing other than tell me to calm down. Zero riders at the next penalty tent was a clear sign of the sort of refereeing he’d been doing. This was to be repeated for the rest of the ride. I have one fantastic spell in the second half of the 2nd lap when four of us dropped out the back of another pack that was passing and managed to ride a proper pace line for about 30k. I was also distracted with my chase to get Marc before the end of the bike. He was 5 mins ahead at the first turnaround when I thought I was doing well as he’d started 18 mins ahead of me. At the end of the lap it was up to 6.5 minutes. I was stunned ! Little did I know that rather than gaining at most 10 mins on the swim I’d gained 15 so in fact he’d been pulling away the whole lap. With 30k to go he was 2.5 minutes up so for a brief moment I decided to try and catch him. I then came to my senses and continued my ride.

I thought I’d be just over 5 hours so was very pleased to see 4:58 in the results. This season I seem to have got good at riding a sensible effort level.

T2 went a lot better. To be honest though I think their timing is somehow amiss as I not only put on laced Vibram Five Fingers but I put on socks as well.

BarcaRun14-2Out on the run I didn’t feel great but hearing Marc was only 1 minute ahead I decided to catch him and then run with him. On catching him he told me his achilles was playing up. I agreed with him he should stop. This was a mental blow. It took a good 5k to feel like I was running OK. I then ran well for 10k before I caught Rob McRitchie. He has a knee problem and was walking the whole marathon. So… I walked with him for about 2k. It was fun to natter but I tell you I could no way walk the whole marathon, absolutely torture so hats off to anyone that does it. I had to get running. 3rd lap (of four) was a struggle but it was expected then on to the  fourth lap I decided that I may as well practise what I’d have to do if I was chasing a slot or a time. I forced myself to run hard. It felt great, it felt fast unfortunately it was only 5:30 min / km.

I was running hard as I hit the finishing chute. I’d enjoyed the race despite the drafting on the bike. I raced down the final KM for no other reason than I wanted it. It felt good. I was quite emotional as I crossed the line. I knew no one there and I felt pretty alone. I walked straight through and back to my hotel room. I’d done it. 30th Ironman in my 10th year of racing long course. No real reason for that meaning anything other than the mathematician in my likes the symmetry. I reflected on the seasons racing, it’d been as fun as my best years racing. I want that again next year but next year the plan is to be fun and fast.


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