Race morning I woke up early, really early. I was on the 4:15am shuttle from Reebok Stadium. Tom-Tom got me there with “no drama” as coach would say. Shuttle bus to T1, and the day was started. And, it wasn’t raining…yet!
Swim start was in the water and it was old school in that the pros had about a 10 meter cushion. The water wasn’t ‘that’ cold, and I had my B70 Helix to keep me warm and floaty. 6AM and we were off. I was in good position at the start right along with Fraser, Stephen, and Axel. Fraser was leading and threw in several surges, but we stayed together through the first loop. About 1/3 way through loop #2, I got a weird cramp in my right calf…something similar happened to one leg at Hulaman last year. No idea why, just happened. Complete speculation here, but I almost think that it has to do with wearing a wetsuit for a longish swim for the first time in months. So, now I was at the back of the bunch turning my arms over, kicking frantically with my left leg, and trying to mentally coax my right leg into relaxing while I drug it along with me. My right foot was flexed and felt like a canoe paddle just dragging through the water. I lost about a minute or so over the course of the last 1500 meters or so. An Ironman is a long day of decisions, so I just kept moving forward even though I honestly wasn’t sure how things would pan out. Out of the swim in 4th with a now sore right calf. Today, as I finish this it is Thursday and my calf is almost back to normal.
Ran right past my T1 bag, smoothly turned around and went back for it. Grabbed arm warmers just in case…Coach said it would be cold. I didn’t use them, but in hindsight they might have been a good idea. Me, the P4, 3T, Token, and LG were off for a journey through the English countryside…or so I thought. The course was about ½ countryside and ½ urban navigation. The roads were rough…Coach was right again. It did rain off and on. After about 20 minutes I reached back to grab a bottle of First Endurance EFS, it wasn’t there! Or at least it wasn’t where it should have been. Seems the rough roads had caused my bottle holder to slip so that my bottles were now parallel to the ground, probably more aero , but definitely harder to grab. Luckily, they stayed there for the duration of the ride, and there were no ejected bottles.
About 15 miles into the course at the start of the loop, I got a time check 7 minutes down. 7 minutes, really over 15 miles…are my tires flat and my brakes rubbing? Yeah, I did a super quick check of the brakes. Nope, they’re good. I didn’t feel great, but I didn’t feel that bad either! I thought back to Amy’s IMUSA race where she didn’t feel that good. I was totally, and I mean totally, alone. Just me and some sheep on part of the course…and they were actually ON the course! Amy was totally alone and didn’t start so well, so she just tried to ride harder and push through it. I did the same and figured if I blew I blew. Lap #2 was over, and I got a split of about 15 minutes down from the lead. But, where were 2nd and 3rd place? Lap #3 came and went, still 15 minutes. OK, good I at least salvaged the last loop. A post race check of the splits showed that I lost all of the time to Fraser in the first 2 loops, and all of my time to Stephen and Axel in the first loop. Fraser continued to pull away on the 2nd loop, but I didn’t lose any real time to Stephen and Axel.
Did I mention it was part urban navigation skills? Yep, on loops 2 and 3 we not only had other competitors and potholes to deal with, but cars, buses, trucks, a tractor, to name a few! At least the sheep on ‘Sheep House Lane’ were gone, and yes, that really was the name of the road. There were times that I was passing bikes and cars! I had to ask myself if I was safer passing the cars waiting to pass bikes on the left or the right, I chose one or the other depending on where I was on the course. At this point, I was tired of wet and crappy roads, and had no idea how I was going to run, much less a marathon since I “felt” like I was riding hard. I was counting down the miles to go, the miles to hit that magical 112 miles. 112 came and went, 113 came and went, and I was still not at T2! SWEET, they even added a couple of bonus wet and crappy road miles to the course!
Avia Bolts and fuel belt on, and I was out to tackle the first 3 miles of off road running through a muddy, boggy, wooded area! I think that it is safe to say that the first 3 miles were a bit short as I do not think that I was running 5:30s! But, I am pretty sure they made up for it somewhere as I had a few really long and slow early miles in there. Miles 1-10 went by pretty quickly. I was about 20 minutes down from Fraser at this point, and I hit a bad patch from about miles 12-18 or so. I lost another 5 or so minutes and was passed to be in 5th place. I kind of snapped myself out it it and pushed through. Again, I gambled that if I wasn’t feeling that good, I’d try to push through and try to make something happen. It worked…or maybe it was the coke at the aid stations. My pace dropped and I was “flying”! Relative of course since this is an Ironman. My “mental gymnastics” were not going so well as I was a bit worried about being 8%-ed. Turns out I was o.k., but still that was part of the motivation to keep it going! And, when all was said and done, I had gained a few pounds!
A Few More Pounds than This!
5th place, 9:07 something. Not quite the race I was hoping for, but like my pre-race video, I was a fighter. I took some licks. I could have thrown in the towel after the swim, or any number of times on the bike. I didn’t win, but I gave it a good effort…my legs are still reminding me of that! Special congrats to Fraser who didn’t try to hide the fact that he started IMUK in 2008, but didn’t finish. He was back in 2010 to finish. He finished in great style leading pretty much from start to finish. He didn’t call 2010 his rookie IM, but he did feel that he was more properly prepared for it. Congrats also to TeamMates Stephen and Bella Bayliss who both took 2nd, and to Donna Phelen who was 4th in the women’s pro field.
Award with TriathleteMag Europe TeamTBB 'Expose'
The award didn’t quite weigh 16 pounds like Amy’s from IM Wisconsin last year or IM Lake Placid this year, but it is a step in the right direction towards the so far elusive Top-3! Oh yeah, thanks to TriCentral UK for throwing in the Triathlete Magazine after I purchased a new behind the seat bottle carrier. TeamTBB was featured in the article. After the race, it was time to get on with the best part of an Ironman…cleaning up the aftermath. Kind of looked like an explosion occurred in my room at “The High Grove Inn”.
Not too bad here!
Bags, Shoes, Bottles, Etc...all in need of a bath!
So, now it is back in Leysin. Some training to go. Rumor is that coach might have me head to Embrunman in France for a training day. After Leysin, it is back to the states for some more training and racing!