15 September 2013

Ironman Wales

It has been too too long since I've posted here. I probably should have posted only here and then pointed to this link as I've blasted this all over the houses.

Here we go!

Ironman Wales 2013 Report


We arrived at Tenby on Friday afternoon after a +4 hour drive from St Albans. The Ironman village was in a car park at the highest point in town which meant that it was the breeziest place in Tenby! As the weather had suddenly become autumnal within a few days prior to the event, Sunday’s conditions were looking pretty mixed, so that breeze was not a positive. The registration was pretty pain-free as we were processed and tagged and out the door pretty quick! Luckily, there wasn’t too much kit to buy, so we ended up buying the standard Ironman swag. Then it was suddenly time for the event Pasta Party. Not my thing, but we got a chance to meet up with Sue from Watford Tri. It was good to catch up with Sue as she and her friend Claire had been to Tenby before.


I had my customary pain au chocolate, banana, a bit of porridge, and coffee at 4am to get myself fueled up for the day. I had a look outside and it had already rained itself out and was about 6C. Hopefully, the weather could only improve. We got to transition with plenty of time to spare at about 5:30. Pumped up the tyres, loaded my drinks up and time to drop off my dry kit. What was different about this event is that the transition is about a mile from the swim start requiring a short run back to transition. So we were provided with bags to stick our running shoes to hang along the railings on the zigzag ramp down to the sea. Our walk down to the start was a surreal procession with 1600+ athletes in wetsuits and running shoes. What a spectacle that must have been. I realised that I ended up at the front of the procession and standing next to me was the legend who is Magnus Backstedt! He really is a nice bloke and was completely approachable. Nice meeting you Maggie!


The swim was pretty pan flat. It’s a two lap affair consisting of a big triangle with an Australian exit. I got a bit caught up in the crowd at the first turn which held a lot of us up. The rest of the swim was pretty much uneventful until we got to the last straightaway. Unfortunately, that bit was absolutely chockablock with people at various speeds and I absolutely couldn’t pass anyone. I got completely blocked. I guess either I need to get more aggressive or learn to swim underwater! Upon exit, we ran up the zigzag ramp where our T0 shoe bags were for the intermediary transition. The whole route leading up to T1 was rammed with spectators.
Swim: 1:13:50


Transition was pretty smooth. I did notice however that I must have brushed against a jellyfish as my left side of my face was a bit numb. Anyway, I started with what felt like an easy 32 kph pace and most people were pretty chilled for the first part of the 40 mile loop. Unfortunately, I punctured at about 10km as I caught some flint. It was absolute carnage as there were punctures all over the place! I road my heart out to catch up to the group I was riding with. Then about 15 km later another puncture and another piece of flint. I road through some really beautiful wind swept countryside and finally got to the secondary loop that we were to take twice. It really got hilly here. Up and down one country lane to another and then it started raining. There was no letting up and very few flat bits on this part of the course. Then, again it happened, I punctured again! I felt like chucking it in at this point as I was out of spares and sat down at the side of the road. This would have been my second Ironman DNF for the season and I was pissed! Suddenly, a fellow competitor asked if I was okay and he circled back. He actually gave me a spare tube and a CO2 canister and road on. I was absolutely gobsmacked at his generosity. I crossed my fingers and got to fixing this final puncture (hopefully). I finally made it around to the hard bits of the last part of the first lap. Geez that was tough! Scott Neyedli passed me on that 16% climb. He was looking strong and steady. Marek (men’s pro second place) passed me on heartbreak hill, but he looked totally flat. I pushed a little harder and road along side him until I had to peal off for special needs. The second loop was a bit of a survival fest for about 30km as I hit that infamous bad patch. I got some gels down me and finally got my act together. This was probably one of my worst performances on an Ironman bike course, but shit happens and that’s Ironman for you!
Bike: 7:37:17


Coming out of T2 I actually felt fine. The 4 laps of this marathon were both mentally and physically. The run out of town to the first out and back was uphill and long. It wasn’t until I got back into town on the 1st lap that my wheels fell off. My left achilles started pinging at this point and as this is a seriously hilly run course it’s not exactly forgiving for such injuries. I had to walk the uphills for about 2 laps until a handful of ibuprofen would kick in. After lap 2, it started to chuck down again and didn’t stop! My achilles finally cleared up for the last lap and I was able to run all the way to the finish line.
Run: 5:02:56

Overall Time: 14:14:41

I’ve done most of the tough Ironman courses out there and Ironman Wales hands down is one of the toughest out there. Even with more than an hour lost to mechanical issues, it is a knacker cracker! It’s got the hills, the weather and erm... more hills! However, it is one of the most beautiful courses that has great local support. It certainly is a world class event that I will surely do again!

Also, BIG thanks to Ian Pickett who served as my personal Sherpa for the whole of the weekend last week! You are a great friend and will do well at Kona next month. Good-luck Ian!