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Ironman France - Triathlon

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Triangle Sports
25C / 77F
Total Time = 11h 30m 51s
Overall Rank = 757/2548
Age Group = M19-24
Age Group Rank = 18/53
Event warmup:

Paddle about in the sea or a bit then go for a pee in my wetsuit.
  • 1h 20m 9s
  • 3800 meters
  • 02m 07s / 100 meters

Until the day before the Ironman I had never swam in the sea and I’d never used a wetsuit. So, on the Saturday I thought it would be a good idea to try it out! Initially I felt very claustrophobic in the water, which I though was a bit odd given the vast expanse of the ocean. I soon got used to it, unfortunately not before I had solved the problem of rising sea levels…

The start, as I had been warned was chaotic and I did not feel comfortable at all. Eventually I found someone’s feet that were going at my speed and just followed them. A period of time went by where I felt comfortable and in control but this was soon ended as we approached a turn where everybody wanted to take the shortest route. Still, a few mouthfuls of seawater later I had settled back into a rhythm.

The swim course was two loops and the return of each loop seemed to take forever. Maybe this was due to the tide but I’m pretty sure it was a mental thing where I felt I was nearly back at the beach but actually it was further than I thought.

I was pleased with my swim time and got out of the water feeling good and ready to take on the bike course, which I was really looking forward to.
What would you do differently?:

Practice swimming in the sea with a wetsuit might help...
Transition 1
  • 07m 37s

I didn't rush this. I was helped out of my wetsuit and had suncream rubed onto my shoulders.
  • 5h 43m 36s
  • 111.85 miles
  • 19.53 mile/hr

The bike course was stunning. It started with 20km along the flat during which I started to drink and take on some gels. The course soon headed up into the mountains and the first climb kicked up to 10% and left me wishing I had installed a smaller chainring. Still I was making up lots of places after my usually slow swim. The next climb we came to was 20km long and was an amazing climb. At 10km there was a feed station and I actually thought this was the top. There were, however, another 10km to be climbed. I was starting to fade during the last few kilometres of the climb although I think this was from the intense heat rather than fatigue. I had made the decision to use an aero helmet whereas most people had chosen a standard road helmet and was paying for that choice on the climb.

I found the middle section of the bike leg the hardest and I started to loose some focus. There were periods of flat ground and I felt like I was loosing quite a lot of time on these sections. The final major climb was 7km long and I rode it fairly hard, trying to gain as much time as possible thinking that I would probably loose a lot during the marathon. The downhill run from the top of this climb was amazing. The corners were mainly smooth and sweeping and my speed was in the high 30s (mph) for ages. I think I made the right choice in going with drop bars with clip ons rather than a proper tri bar setup as it gave me a lot more control on the decents.

The final 10km seed to go on forever and it was a daunting feeling knowing that I would have to run a whole marathon before I could call it a day.

I deliberately rode the bike course hard and even if it was a stand alone bike race I don’t think I could have gone that much faster. Maybe 30 minutes or so but my legs were pretty shot over the last 10km.

Transition 2
  • 05m 7s

Again, no rush. My bike was taken off me so I just had to find my place and put my running shoes on.
  • 4h 14m 22s
  • 26.1 miles
  • 09m 45s  min/mile

I started the run with the assumption that my knee would give up on me after 40 minutes or so and my plan was to try and run a full 1h 30 before having to walk the rest. I didn’t wear a watch during the run but I think it lasted about an hour before it started to hurt. However, I kept running as best as I could and after about 20 minutes it had pretty much gone numb. So, other than walking the food stations I ran the whole marathon and the only thing that prevented me from going any faster was I had absolutely no energy left after riding the bike course so hard.

The run course was mind numbing! It was an out an back along the Promenade des Anglais, 4 times! The first lap I felt a little sluggish (although it was my quickest) and the second lap was done in agony as my knee began to hurt. I looked in envy at the people running the opposite way to me who had a white, blue and red band around their wrist, signalling they were on their last lap (ah, it’s just twigged that these are the colours of the French flag…). I felt fairly good on the third lap knowing I only had to run along this stupid road one more time, although I was about 10 minutes slower than my first. The fourth and final lap felt like it was going on forever. My legs were so painful by this time and it was so tempting to give up and just walk.

I found it interesting how I played mind games with myself. The aim was always to get to the next aid station where I knew I could walk for a few meters while I took on water and gels. I found the hardest part the top of the course between the last aid station on the way out and the first aid station on the way back because it was far longer between them than any other two aid station. Because of this I was over heating badly (there were showers at all the aid stations) and I would always feel very sick at this point (many people were). So, I made my toilet stop at the turnaround which I found myself looking forward to each lap.

Crossing the finish line was amazing and finally having the medal around my neck was a dream come true. I have had a picture of the medal on my wall since last September and now I finally had the real thing. However, within a few minutes of crossing the finishing line I felt emotionally numb. Was it worth all the suffering? Was it worth giving up many things that I love to do the training? Would I do another one? That evening if anybody had asked me any of these questions I think the answer would have been ‘no’. But, the next morning as I hobbled my way around the streets of Nice I found myself clutching my medal in my pocket (my neck was too sore from chafing and sunburn to wear it around my neck) and grinning to myself. So, a day later the answer to all of those questions is a big ‘YES’.
Post race
What limited your ability to perform faster:

The biggest thing would have been to not get injured. I think on the day I went as fast as I could and wouldn’t change anything if I could go back. It would be tempting to ride the bike course at an easier pace but given the amount of climbing everybody was suffering by the end and the run was never going to be comfortable. I think more (run) miles in my legs would have allowed me to go faster in the run and this is what I want to work on if I can stay injury free.

Event comments:

My initial plan for the race was probably much the same as anyone else’s. After a controlled swim ride the bike fairly easily then finish it off with whatever I had left in the marathon. However, five weeks out I picked up an injury to my knee and this prevented me from training for a full week. It also meant I only completed about six runs in the final five weeks, all less that 30 minutes long with the exception of one 40 minute run which ended up irritating the injury. I therefore fully expected to have to walk most of the marathon. Given that walking takes pretty much no energy at all I thought my best option would be to ride pretty much as hard as I could in an attempt to save a bit of the time I thought I would loose during the marathon.

The advice I had picked up before race day was to not try anything new, take the bike easy, practice transitions and have a nutrition plan ready (and stick to it).

I ignored all of this advice. I used a top tube box for the first time on race day, which was a mistake because I pedal with my knees very close to the top tube and my left knee would often catch the Velcro on the box so I now have a patch of cut up skin. I also chose (the day before) to use my road bike saddle rather than a tri saddle with a padded nose as I found that when I was not riding on the tri bars this seat was uncomfortable. I also used a different energy drink on the day, one that I had never used before. This turned out to be fine but I do realise this was a very stupid idea and is not something I will do again.

I had done two triathlons before (both sprint distances) and in both I got off my bike whilst wearing my bike shoes. The first time I nearly slipped over and the second time I did, resulting in some minor cuts on my leg. So for the Ironman I dismounted after taking my feet out of my shoes on the move. I’d never done this before but it worked fine.

As far as a nutrition plan goes I simply didn’t have one. I’ve never followed one in any race. My theory is if you feel like eating, eat, not then don’t eat. I think there is very little point in forcing food down your neck if you don’t feel like it and this will probably result in feeling sick and being detrimental to performance. Once you know your body it’s pretty easy to know when you need to eat. This is what I did on race day and it worked fine and I’ll do the same in the future.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2009-01-02 12:00 AM
01:20:09 | 3800 meters | 02m 07s / 100meters
Age Group: 31/53
Overall: 1734/2548
Performance: Good
Suit: Full wetsuit
Course: Two loops
Start type: Wade Plus: Shot
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Good
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 07:37
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed: Good
05:43:36 | 111.85 miles | 19.53 mile/hr
Age Group: 14/53
Overall: 529/2548
Performance: Good
Wind: Some
Course: Lots of climbing
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 05:07
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
04:14:22 | 26.1 miles | 09m 45s  min/mile
Age Group: 20/53
Overall: 954/2548
Performance: Good
Course: 4 laps of the Promenade des Anglais
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2009-06-29 7:42 AM

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Loughborough, England
Subject: Ironman France

2009-06-29 8:05 PM
in reply to: #2249512

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Subject: RE: Ironman France
You are a true Ironman to finish (with a very respectable time) after your injury.  Way to stick it out!
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