Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Ironman France Race Report

Ironman France break-down: came into the race off the back of 2 consecutive half IM distance races. I’d raced hard at Wimbleball and still feeling a bit tender. Had no real expectations, just gain experience and check out the course.

The swim was a brutal nightmare from start to finish, after only about 200m i stopped in panic, had a look around( terrifying) but realized that despite my upright, non swimming stance; i seemed to still be moving at the same rate at the mass, and since there was no way out, put my head down and continued with the beating. both eyes were kicked in, then i lost my hat. the f*ckers started pulling my hair!! it was a hateful angry experience, trying to see and breathe through a mass of tangley hair (L'Oreal Paris never did get back to me about the "I’m worth it” campaign) I exited the water angry and ready to give up on the race, but was pleasantly surprised that my time not as dire as expected, that there were SEVERAL bikes remaining in the Pro ladies' rack. It was a nice day with an awesome bike route to be explored ahead. getting warmed up along the flat 20km at the start of the course there were a couple of girls to chase, keeping the pace and HR up. I'd been warned to expect a lot of drafting, which there certainly was, and with a 7m zone front to front, it really was a case of judging the legality of one's position of a pretty crowded stretch of the course. This works for me, paranoid about getting in trouble it means that i never really settle and keep pushing to pass riders rather than tick along at a safe distance behind them. When the climbing starts, it really does so in style - the steepest hill on the course is the first one that we encounter - its something like a 15% - anyway, requires riding out of the saddle. The day was hotting up, and i was hoping for an aid station soon. trialing another adaption to my nutrition, i had the gel mix up front(this time 6x strawberry and banana + 3x vanilla Powerbar gels in a 750 bottle, topped up with water, so more dense than last time) and a red bull + water mix in the rear holder for a caffeine boost. but a little oversight in that left me with no room to carry a drink of water, so i was reliant on drinking at aid stations on my way through. these were placed about each 30km, so i just about got away with it but not ideal as it did mean i had to slow at each one.
Feeling strong and riding well on the climbs which make up the first half or maybe 2/3rds of the course, i'd ridden into 7th position by the 'top'. Feeling great (thanks to the RedBull!) i was beginning to visualize running into the top 5 and prize money. The descending was fun, i thought i was being brave and trying to be smart by following the lines of riders ahead. there were a lot of local club riders out on the course (not participating) which was getting me p*ssed off until this point, but here they could prove to be a good guide through the descents, knowing the roads as they do. if only i could stay with them....like those other girls who flew by me. i was gutted ! all that work and they just sail past - i simply do not have the nerve, skills or experience to descend like that. so i did the best i could, determined to make up for it on the run, and get in some more practice at this!
the long down hill gave my legs a chance to recover; hitting the final, flat 20km home, head down and hard. the same stretch of road as the start offered more opportunity to pace off a group, but i found i was riding away off the front of the guys around me. they didn't seem to mind, in fact i think they were loving it, and occasionally one of them would ride by and give me a brief break from setting the pace. then i took a wrong turn at the last RAB, had to dismount to turn (doh!) before heading off back after them and to the finish.

into transition with another FPro, but with my feet still in shreds from the previous weekend’s race i'd determined to take my time and get my socks and shoes on properly. i would even have used a toilet - if there had been one! anyway i was pretty sure i'd catch her soon enough. perhaps a bit blasé, but i started the run feeling relaxed and running fast. at 5km mark i checked my pace - just under 4:24/km and it felt great. lost about a minute over the next 10k but still thinking wow - this is gonna be an awesome run split! i thought i just need to keep this up and i saw the potential of a run PB on this flat 4 lap out and back course. Of course by about half way through, i was beggining to wonder about this, but still running well despite the heat, had passed the woman from T2 (took longer than expected)and had a posse fro, Taunton cheering me each time i passed, which was nice because i am here all on my tod and so had no one to cheer me on. about 18km in the blisters that i'd picked up at HIM UK, and had been gradually re birthing inside my shoes, burst painfully bringing me to an instant stop whilst the searing pain courses though my body. ohF*ckohf*ckohf*ck i didn't know what to do; i sure as hell couldn't run on it, but walking would be equally as painful - and take much longer. i tried hobbling in a way that didn't hurt , but there wasn't one, and that'd brought the risk of injury with it too. i reckoned if i could somehow draw energy from the pain i could think of it like a sort of rush or stimulation rather than a negative thing and get me through. that worked and it became less noticeable, i was able to run and bear it but my pace didn't ever recover, i felt terrible and just wanted to get to the damn line as soon as possible. which really is what everyone wants, of course. in fact its the whole point of doing this which struck me suddenly as odd, and i began to feel sad that it would soon be over. that when i knew i was loosing the plot, needed several gels, drinks and to get out of this damn heat!

10hr 07, put me in 8th place. i felt i raced well, but failed on technical grounds to achieve the potential position that my performance on the day deserved. luckily these are things that can be addressed. For a start those foot screwing, piss-reeking shoes (i had been blaming my sibling's cats for the stench in my bike box!! sorry fat cat and skinny cat)are now in a bin on Boulvd D'Anglais, and i eagerly await the arrival of my new Saucony runners. and look forward to a trip out here to ride some of these type of descents in the future before having another stab at this one.

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