Ironman 70.3 Wiesbaden part 2
If you read the last blog post I finished it at the Swim so this is continued….
Hectic is the word to describe my first experience of Ironman transition tents, in the race briefing we were told that we could put most of our kit on our bikes as long as it was off the floor which I considered doing but we were then given the news that it was going to chuck it down with rain during the night and they were not using bike covers due to high winds I decided I didn’t want my helmet and transition belt to be over the other side of the transition area when I turn up at my bike. I stamped off my wetsuit got my Rudy Project helmet firmly in place and attached my number belt eventually, I also had to run with my bike shoes on which was fun. I tried to find my bike in the thousands of others and was directed down the wrong channel so had to run round. I grabbed the bike and out of the transition area as quick as I could, I then got myself on to the bike with no problems and saw Aimee again as they made their way to the shuttle bus which gave me another boost.
Bike: 90k – 1500m of climbing
The bike started with bad point when my bottle cages attached to my seat decided that at the sight of a pothole they were going to shoot out both of my pre filled water bottles, this made me extremely nervous and really pissed off on the basis I had 1 water bottle to last me the whole of the way to the first aid station. This aside I felt very good. My legs were firing on all cylinders and mentally I was in a good place, in fact I couldn’t believe how good I felt it was strange. The longer transition must have played a big part in that as I am usually very quick at transition and need to recover in the first kilometre of the bike but this one was a little more relaxed which allowed time to get my breath back.so I started on the 90 kilometre bike course and was storming past people at what I thought was a decent pace that I could maintain the whole way through the ride, looking down at my Garmin (which wasn’t showing me my speed) I noticed that I had completed 10k and was feeling exceptional. As I ploughed past more people even up some of the hills in the first 20k I was thinking to myself “this is great” “this pace is really good” but it was starting to warm up and I could feel myself losing fluid. I had used a good half of my only bottle and had a Cliff bar by that time so was wondering where the first feed station was. Eventually it came into sight and I took on two more bottles one with ISO and the other Water, they went straight into my bottle cages at the back hoping that the incident on the first corner was just a blip. I quickly found out that it wasn’t as about 2 miles down the road I lost another two bottles over a small bump in the road… SHIT!!!
This played on my mind a little but I was thinking about a part in Chrissie Wellingtons book about her staying calm during getting a puncture at Kona and sorting the situation calmly so I carried on thinking about conserving the bottle of ISO that I had in my only other bottle cage. After 30k my Garmin started to work and I was given some data, by this point I still felt pretty good and I was going strong but the data was confusing… I had averaged over 20mph (33.8kmph) for the first 35kilometres!!! SHIT!! This was way too fast and way past the target that I had set myself. I knew that the biggest hills were yet to come and I had smashed the first part of the bike course at a pretty fast speed which wasn’t going to help me later down the line. I started to slow down and follow the Garmin to a point, by the 39k we had only done 400m of climbing and marked the start of the climb up the “platte” which is a 7k climb at 6% gradient of 340m. This definitely constitutes as the hardest climb I have ridden to date and it was very humid by this point which made it worse, it seemed like it was never going to end and I was starting to suffer towards the end, I tried to maintain a good amount of fluid throughout but I was running out and wasn’t sure where the next aid station was. I knew that this wasn’t a good sign on the basis that there were more hills to come and steeper ones at that. I plodded on and was greeted at the top of the Platte to a nice downhill that I could use to recover and take on some food which was in the form of another Cliff bar. The next 30k of the bike was a complete sufferfest and layered with constant hills at silly gradients throughout, I remember that on one of the climbs I wasn’t moving as my back wheel was spinning on the spot and I had to sit down on the seat again to put some weight on it. it was torture… this wasn’t the end of it as the descents were hair raising going from very steep to a hairpin bend at the bottom.
I was in a lot of pain from around 75k onwards, the hills were really hurting me and they just didn’t seem to end. I took on the last of my clif bars and drank the rest of my water but this didn’t seem to help. I have bonked in training before and this was starting to feel similar, I had no power in my legs, my head was light and I had around 10k remaining with a half marathon to contend with. What came next was even a surprise to me… I was in such a bad way I got a little emotional and started sobbing to myself 🙂 I have honestly never been in so much pain in my entire life and I was really struggling to compose myself. After my brief stint of tears I managed to gain a bit of momentum on the last hill climb, I was not thinking about the run and I was aware there was a long downhill on the way back to Wiesbaden. I looked at my Garmin and saw that I was definitely on track for the 3hrs 30 mins for the bike course which made me feel good but my legs were hurting a lot so assumed that I wouldn’t be able to run the 1.45 half marathon that I had set out for to hit my sub 6 hour total time.
After the final hill the descent into Wiesbaden was fast and I tried to get as aero as possible to save a tiny bit of time, this seemed to work as I was passing people who were pedalling and managed a max speed of 75kph which is pretty fast.
I saw the crowd and was instantly impressed at the amount of people that had come out to watch, there was hundreds of people all around the barriers and as I got to the dismount line I saw Aimee, my Mum and little sister holding their banners and shouting encouragement in a very good spot to watch, this was another point in the race were my eyes welled up with tears and sent me into an emotional daze about 10 seconds before I saw them I was in a position of disbelief that I could finish but after I saw them cheering I was given a massive boost. All I needed to do was concentrate and take the run steady at 5.15k pace, Follow my Garmin and I will smash my target of Sub 6 hours…. If only it was that easy.
I had my feet out of my shoes ready to jump off my bike which I did without any problem, I then ran through the line and gave my bike to one of the race officials which was easy enough, I also knew that I need a toilet break so was focussing on undoing my trisuit in preparation, I grabbed my T2 bag and ran into the changing tent, I got my running trainers on, hat on and made my way to the portaloo’s, tried to be as quick as I could but I knew I was losing time. On to the run course and I thought my run legs felt ok.
So all I needed to do was to stick to 5.15 kilometres and I would be fine, my Garmin would give me an accurate pace so I looked down to see what I was currently running at and… it wasn’t there. That’s right my Garmin wasn’t there. I had forgot to take it off my bike so not only was it not on my wrist and helping me to victory it was now sitting on my bike in transition ticking away and skewing all my data… I was not a happy bunny and this was another stumbling block that I had to overcome mentally, I never used to run with a Garmin and it was fine but since having one I have been running a lot better due to knowing my pace and understanding what I can maintain. So the battle starts, I was 21k away from crossing the finish line and it wasn’t going to be easy, the first kilometre I managed to run pretty steady and noticed there was an aid station after the first 2.5k so managed a slow jog to that, I took on some well needed fluid, carbs and sports drink including crackers and power bar. In my plan I was allowing myself to walk the aid stations as they were not very long but allowed a very short recovery. After the aid station I felt ok and plodded on for the next kilometre, It then hit me and I went through my second big explosion of the day. I instantly felt sick and had stomach cramps which wasn’t the nicest experience, I continued but I was reduced to run walk for most of the first lap which then merged into the second lap, I was really disappointed with the amount of times I was “having” to walk, I saw my dad on the other side of the park and gave him some shouting of encouragement and was then massively worried when I saw my brother had passed me without me realising I saw him on the way round and he was one lap down on me so I relaxed a little but he was running like a man possessed so was panicking that he may be able to catch me throughout the rest of the run, having got my third band and knowing I was on the last lap I managed to pluck a jog and probably ran the last 3k at a snail’s pace. The support was incredible and I got my 4th band through the town and was on my way to the finish, I saw the blue finishing carpet and heard my name being shouted to the crowd as I ran round the corner. I saw my name on the screen above the finishing line, the music was blaring and it was epic, it was spitting with rain at this point and I saw Aimee, My mum and little sis and had my third episode of tears of the day. I crossed the finish line, was greeted with an amazing medal around my neck and then fell to the floor through exhaustion.
After the race:
After I had composed myself and refused a fluid drip from one of the medical staff (I must have looked bad) I made my way to the grandstand where my family I had some sit down time and a hug off them and waiting for my brother to run through the finish line.
We congregated around the expo afterwards and exchanged our stories from our first Ironman 70.3, grabbed our bikes and rode (extremely slowly) up to the hotel. I fell asleep instantly for around 2 hours and woke up in an achy daze.
I checked the results online and this is what I found:
Swim: 32.45 – 577th Overall
Bike: 3.25.42 – 1129th Overall
Run: 2.21.57 – Not sure on the overall for this as it doesn’t say
Overall time: 6:28:15 – 1402nd Overall
Really happy with my swim as I felt fine afterwards, maybe could have gone a little harder but it my first race at this distance I really wanted to pace myself. It’s a real shame I didn’t think about that strategy on the bike as I went out way too hard on the first 35k and paid for it on the back end of the bike and nearly the whole of the run. My run was disappointing but I was in so much pain and had already exploded at 80k on the bike so couldn’t expect anything more. I didn’t hit the sub 6 hours that I wanted but if I had hit my run target then I would have so my run let me down again.
So it was a steep learning curve and one that I will learn a couple of things from which include:
- Smash the swim, I can go harder than I expected at this distance and still recover ok
- Understand what my Ironman and half iron distance bike pacing is and stick to it
- DO NOT underestimate 1500m of climbing on a TT bike
- Remember to take my Garmin off my bike next time
- Test all equipment previous to the race and don’t use new kit on race day (bottle cages)
- Wear a two piece if possible instead of a tri suit to allow easy toilet breaks
If you had asked me straight after the race whether I enjoyed it or not I would have said absolutely not but after a bit of reflection and time to recover I loved it!!! I have already booked another middle distance local to me and have decided that I my dad and brother want to do a full distance Ironman next year!!