28 July 2011

Ironman70.3 Antwerp

It's been a huge amount of time between postings, but I've been on various social networking platforms recently. Anyway, this year has been mainly focused around IM Lanzarote which turned out to be a bit of a letdown. I decided a while back to to do Antwerp as it was looking to be fast and flat. So I thought that I'd have a go.

A week leading up to the event my sore back had really flared up. I had a massage on the Thursday before, but the drive to Belgium made it steadily worse. So the question was, do it or not? I figure unless you're about to lose a limb or you're on your deathbed, there are no excuses.  The weather forecast looked bad for this event and yet another excuse to pull out. In fact all of Northern Europe was looking pretty miserable so various events were looking to be pretty wet and windy. Oh well such is triathlon, you can't plan around the weather!

The swim is in a lake just next to the Schelde. Funnily enough it wasn't brackish/salty as I expected. We had a good 17C in the water so it all looked good. The check-in was up until 10h, but my wave-start wasn't until 11:40. This meant waiting around in transition whilst it was blowing a gale! Brrrr.... Anyway, it gave us a chance to watch the pros finishing their swim. Bart and Axel were the favourites and were out pretty early. I saw the disabled athletes come out just after Natasha Badman before our wave was called. I did not have a good swim at all as my goggles kept on leaking for the first 600m. By then, my pack was way off and I couldn't catch them. My back started pinging a bit too, which was a bit worrying. I got out in pretty slow (36 minutes) and off the pace by about 4 minutes.

The bike seemed reasonable until we hit some headwind. We had what I can say is worse than I saw in Lanzarote this year. On a flat course this can be pretty painful too! ;-) At about 5 km we entered the tunnel to link up to the main part of the bike course. By the time we reached the bottom part there was a go slow section due to a fatality on the road. Arthur Aghajanyan (from Antwerp), sadly crashed in the Waaslandtunnel and later on died in hospital. It was an appalling sight, but we all continued riding. Things were okay until we hit a 3-lap section in the docklands area. The headwind got worse and my back was in severe pain. I had to ease off and used very little power. There was nothing I could do about it. The sections with the wind were fun, but again I could not manage to put any power in. There were a few bunches here and there which I tried to avoid. Unfortunately the refs were a bit overzealous and I got a penalty for slow passing! That's a first for me... I think that I managed about 2:56 and about 30 minutes off the pace.

The run was a three-lap affair through the city centre. It was okay, but I think all that wind wiped me out. And further insult to injury was a long penalty lap I had to run! I really hated most of that run. My feet were sore and my back was stiff. A 2:02 and the slowest Half Marathon raced in years. More than a half hour off the pace!

The finish was nice though as my family was around. I also got to see one of my coached athletes finish with a PB. I met Donna Dewick finally which was cool. Finally, I polished off the day with a fine Belgian beer (De Konnick)

Lessons learned:

1- When injured, don't push it and treat an event as training session
2- When it's windy out, eat more as you're expending more energy. Really!
3- Don't wear racing flats on a cobbled course. Ouch!
4- Don't try to pass when it's windy out or the race refs will get you!
5- Sort out that back!

So back to the drawing board. I'm a big boy so I'll pick myself up and hammer myself into shape for the Cologne Half which is in 5 weeks. Laters peeps!