Professional Ironman Triathlete

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Three top tens in three weekends Part 2: Ironman UK

Ironman UK 2010 Race Report

I came into IMUK with a different approach to IM Austria a few weeks before where everything went wrong. I changed my race prep completely, opting to keep volume 50% higher than the week prior to IMAustria and just generally keep training most of the way in. The thinking behind this was that I had rested too much before Austria, and actually I felt much more comfortable training at near normal levels into UK.

The race set up and the location of my homestay made this relatively easy. I went up by train on the Thursday to Bolton, to stay once again with one of my best mates from Uni’s parents – Ernie and Jean Roberts. Big thanks to them for having me again! They live a few miles north of Bolton, and this year the race organisers had moved T1 further South West than last year, kept T2 in roughly the same place, and had briefings at a third location. Without a car this meant that I stacked up 70kms just commuting to the race venues on the Friday, combined with a short bike of a course recce, and then another 25kms just going to rack on Saturday morning. Throw in a couple of swims and runs and I was ready to race!

But you could have fooled me… the Saturday night I was having a crisis of confidence that I’d messed up race prep again and my legs were so tight that I thought I was headed for another race day like at Austria. My poor long-suffering girlfriend had to deal with the fall-out on the phone on Saturday evening (sorry honey!).

Bolton was a bit drizzly on race weekend… perfect UK race conditions! But come race morning it was looking dry if overcast and patchy rain only was to be expected. Ernie drove me the 30 minutes to the race start early that morning, and dropped me off with the words “Hurry up, I’ve got things to do this afternoon” :) Yes, sir!
Ernie’s understated psychological coaching in that car journey had actually settled me substantially – his “don’t worry about something that hasn’t happened yet” advice was good, and I resolved to enjoy whatever the day threw at me.

Swim start and I knew I had better cruise the swim or pay the price. My over-tense legs are a good sign of impending cramping if I push too hard, so I swam easy, and then even easier as the familiar cramps started to kick off in my groin and quads. Less kicking, easy stroke. They passed. Second lap started and the group ahead had gapped substantially. There was open water, but Yvette was along side and going about the same pace so I dropped in behind her. Thanks Yvette! I sat on her feet for the entire lap until she kicked for the finish when I kept with the precautionary principle and got out steadily.

T1 came and went. Happily the field was well drained so there was no mud bath this year! First hour on the bike I felt good and solid, and the wattage was a little above target. But then I just felt flat and apart from the first hour (which was all uphill) that feeling of riding well didn’t really materialise and the average power for the ride was some 10 watts below target by the end. Perhaps I just started too hard, who knows. But what happened next is the interesting part: Having come off the bike in 14th, I had some places to make up.

Within the first 3 miles I moved up into 10th. Then I eased into a final position of 7th (6th MPRO) cracking out a 2:53 marathon. While the course was short, this was only a couple of minutes of Fraser’s and Stephen’s times, so I’m pretty stoked with that. No leg fatigue, no lower back ache. Something worked! There has been some experimenting with bike positioning (that I’ll probably talk about more later in the year), but I definitely think it is helping my running off the bike (thanks to Toby Jones).

Finally I’m getting the run split that I’ve been working for. Among the contributing factors as I see it: 1. The Running School ( – Michael has been coaching me on technique since February, and there have been some ups and downs – dealing with acute injury (April/May), dealing with chronic injury (the whole way and ongoing), deciding to bail on Weymouth half in order to maintain recovery etc etc. Not least is the fact that for a lot of this period I’ve been running on very low mileage weekly due to the injuries and trying to implement a sane recovery plan. Thanks to Michael! 2. Bike position – what the trade off in bike time vs gain in run time is I don’t know, but just wait til I settle into that ride position! 3. TPT footballer… this was sent through a few weeks preIMUK and has made inroads into dealing with my calf issues, along with Sid my sports therapist of course. But having the TPT kit means that I can deal with issues on a daily basis. Awesome. 4. Having a really patient coach (thanks Mr Trew!) 5. Short marathon… gotta love it!

IM UK… great British race, mainly due to the incredible British field that assembles. Nothing better than cheering on hundreds of British athletes all out to conquer the ironman distance!