quite happy with my swim - standing on that start was possibly one of the most exhilaratingly terrifying experiences since i stood on teh same beach on teh morning of my very first iromnan 4 years ago. the pros go off the same gun as the rest of the competitors, lining up with there feet in the water, with the hungry mob of 1500 150m or so up the beach ready to storm down to the sea. as it turned out, after the initial drumming an thrashing of 100 or so fast age groupers swam over me, i quite soon found myself being swept along in a space at about my own swim pace and stayed amongst them for teh first lap - was able to swim moderately hard with an occasional tow. looking around and occasionally seeing teh yellow and green 'pro' swim caps nearby, i felt reassured that i wasn't doing so bad, and actually really started enjoying the calm, clear ocean swim. i felt pretty good. and was pleased to glance my watch and see 1:03 as i stared the long run through transition, stripping my suit. (actual swim time 1:02:30 - a bit better than last year)
Transitions here are lengthy due to what i'd estimate as over 1km running - lucky for me as a pro most of this is without the bike, which is racked right near the exit, and as usual i find that i run through transitions a lot faster than most people are able to on exiting the water.
I started teh ride out of town a lot calmer than usual - and teh HR monitor ht i'd strapped onto my bars verified this - whereas the rush out of transition and first 30 min o the ride had my heart 10+ above target zone, this time it was about that much below. i felt uncommonly comfortable spinning a high cadence in lower gears and gradually bringing my HR up to the of of AeT and finally pushing it a bit on the first ascents away from the coast. I was pleased to pass two pro women in quite quickly on teh course. A bit of a bento box disaster as finding all my halved powerbars melted together into one lump, which i had to fish out and take messy bites off lost me some time and i was re-passed briefly - a good thing as that gives me something to push against, and by the start of fire mountain i'd re-passed and put enough distance on her not to worry any further.
As usual i find myself riding amongst the same male age groupers, i always shout out teh brits i see and receive lots of encouragement in all languages as i pass the guys on the hills! The conditions were perfect - light winds and relatively cool/overcats for most of the morning, I was feeling good on the bike and having no trouble keeping my focus and Hr up throughout the ride, high cadence, no chaffing and sunglasses wern't even annoying me as they had been in training! in the foothills approaching Haria - teh half way point, i pass Yvette - a british neo pro who i used t race Olympic distance. a good swimmer and very fast runner over oly and half distance - putting as much space between my rear wheel and her drove me on hard for the next hour or so! Climbed Haria singing Boys Dont Cry and passed another pro women in the process. I think she was Swiss, Alpine trained- so she got me on the pretty scary hairpins down - I wanted to go as fast as possible, but not die! anyway - i got her again on the next, and really nasty climbs between Haria and Del Rio. This is usually the low point o teh ride for me - its a grueling bit of road, after 3.5hrs of riding - but i'd prepared myself for it both mentally and by riding it in training. Just on teh very steepest nastiest bit of road on teh whole course i saw Hilary Biscay ahead, not looking so great and could not believe it when i passed her! that's something strange about racing in pro - those athletes who've i've read about in magazines, seen win races, listening to their awards speeches and becoming a fan and making a role model of is now my competitor. And, as i turns out, on a good day ( and bad one for her) might just find myself passing. i was already working hard at that point, Heartrate above LT and teh shock/excitemnt tipped me over since from that point on a tight knot of cramp formed in my stomach. The majority of the return is aero riding so i just could not shift that cramp. Lucky i was able to continue to ride through it - just not really wanting to eat or drink anymore. It was fortunate, i thought that i'd had so much food the previous day - though that may well have been the cause of this gastric disturbance. Pushing on with the fear of loosing my positions gained i rode solid all the way back, encouraged by the information that i was 4th and 22 min down (no idea if that was true, but it inspired me!) and that i was looking at beating my target split of 5:50. in fact the ride had gone so well that in the final 10 miles i became totally paranoid about puncturing! I hit T2 in under seven hours race time - so had 3:30 to run the marathon and still make my target of 10:30hrs, and i had not planned that i'd need that long, but things mostly dont go all to plan in ironman!
I faffed around a lot pulling on compression socks in transition - having made the decision to wear them to preserve my legs for my next races i'd not put spares in the bag to ensure that i actually did. i though that this extra sitting time might help ease my stomach cramps, but it did not. i felt pretty awful running out of there, but i was at least running quickly - 4:30 pace, which i eased off to my target of painful 4:40s. soon into after about 4km cat Morrison came steaming by, asked if i was doing ok. i was quite honest and said No. she told me she'd lost half an hour with a broken chain, and by the looks of it was running angry.of course she went on to run through the whole field for the win. Avery exciting race. The course consisted of one long lap (19km) and two short(11.5). After about 40 min of running i'd managed to release the knot of gas from my gut in the form of hilariously raucous flatulence and started looking for a gel at the next aid station. Nada. ran on to the next - none again. This started to freak me, and on retrospect when my weakness showed itself. I knew/believed that i couldn't keep that pace going on empty for long without some carbs in, and knew i was being chased down. It was hard to stop the negative thoughts at bay, a i became increasingly desperate at each station, and quite angry. a sure sign that i needed some sugars. i was just about hanging on at 4:50's but feeling it slip away from me. even after i found some gel, and filled my pockets, i couldn't really recover my attitude. When Yvette appeared from behind, i went with her a bit and found she was running my target pace 4:35, and it felt perfectly within me - i've trained at that pace a lot - but i just didn't want to run beside her, so let her go, falling back to my easy pace watching her slowly pull away. I guess i was just settling for it. Another woman went by and, again - once she told me she was AG i was relieved and let her go even though her pace really was not much quicker than mine. I was glad of the brief pick up but i was in a world of pain and just wanted to finished, and focused on holding 3:30 marathon pace. given how well my running has been going since the foot injury, i was disappointed not to have run to my potential, and i think that mental strength is what let me down - i guess i was just so enjoying the experience of my first Pro race, and not being last, that i felt pleased with my performance without knocking out that 3:15. Next time i wont have that excuse to make!
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