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August « 2011 « David Dellow's Blog

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Archive for August, 2011

Embrunman

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Up until a few weeks ago when Brett suggested I do the race, I hadn’t heard of the iron distance event held every year in the French Alpes called Embrunman. Looking at the race website I saw Embrunman had a long and rich history with many of the best athletes in the world toeing the line over the past 28years. I also saw the course profile on the website for the 186km bike leg and I was surprised at how hilly it was with over 5000m of vertical climbing. For anyone from Brisbane that’s 13 times up Mt Mee and for people from the Sunshine Coast that’s 15 times up to Montville.
I knew the race was going to be a tough one but the thing that made me really realise that it was going to be hard was when I spoke to any of my TBB team mates who had competed at Embrunman in the past they all had a little smirk on their face when I was asking them any questions about the race.
Embrunman kicked off at 6:00am sharp in the pitch black with only a kayak with a light on it to guide the competitors over the swim course. After a few wrong turns I eventually swam up to the front group and settled in for the remainder of the swim. By the time we got into T1 the sun had come up and it was starting to heat up already. Straight out of T1 the bike course goes up a steep 7km climb and I knew there was some very strong cyclist in the race so I was ready to go hard out of T1. Unfortunately just a few days before the race I had a crash on my bike which had done a bit of damage to one of my ribs. The rib was uncomfortable in the swim but when I got out of the saddle for the first time on the bike my rib really bit and I’m pretty sure I made a noise like a dog that’s just had its tail stood on. I was 500m into the bike, instantly dropped by the front few guys, riding by myself, struggling to breathe and getting a bit negative at this early stage.
I eventually caught my breath and just settled into my own rhythm and prepared for a very long day. 40km into the bike I got a split to the front blokes and I was already 4min down. At this point I was caught by a Spanish competitor and we started working hard together and the gap to the front guys started slowly coming down and by the time we were at the bottom of the major climb of the day, the col d’Izoard, 80km into the ride we were only 2 min down. The col d’Izoard is a 20km climb and the first 10km is actually pretty gradual. By the 10km point of the climb I was really working my arse off just to stay with the Spaniard and we were now only 30 seconds down on the leaders. It’s at this point of the climb that the gradient just kicks up a few degrees and I slowly slipped off the back wheel of the Spaniard and I was dropped for the second time of the day when I could almost reach out and touch the leaders. Over the last 10km of the climb I worked as hard as I could but by the summit the leaders had a 3 min lead and I was alone again. I went for it on the decent and got the gap down to 2 mins and I thought I was in with a chance to bridge across but after the road flattened out the gap just started going out again and I was totally isolated.
Once again I settled into my own rhythm but by now I was totally exhausted and I was on the ragged edge, anything minor was setting me off. Hit a bump in the road – swear at the top of my lungs, fumble with a gel for a few seconds – swear at the top of my lungs, bad gear change – swear at the top of my lungs etc. etc. Thankfully Sutto was out on the course all day not really offering words of encouragement, more blood curdling screams. This was really what I needed to stay on track and to not spit the dummy all together. I finally made it into T2 and onto the run and the lead group had 10 mins on me and the group behind me was a long way back. Considering how hard the bike was my legs felt pretty good but the major problem now was not being able to take a deep breath because of the rib. Out of T2 I wasn’t even racing anymore, the mind set was just shuffle through this marathon, get the cheque and get me out of here.
I eventually crossed the line in 4th spot. Everyone from the team who’s raced Embrunman in the past has come out a few weeks or months later much fitter and stronger so I’m looking forward to the second half of the season now.
All the best.
DD.