So, all the talk on the forum's and blogs before this race, was that it was gonna be a rapid day's action. On the test runs last year a 4hr 25mins was recorded, and that without any extra race day adrenalin.
AD had worked this race into my IM Wales plan nicely, and we were looking at it as an 'A' race.
The worries leading into it were - the 6 a.m. swim start, which, in itself was not a huge issue, but having to rack the bike on the same morning before that 6 a.m. start, made for a 4 a.m. alarm call.
I arrived by 4.50a.m, and had parked and racked the bike by 5.30 Then into calm mode to focus on, and tackle the swim.
295 starters, all off on the same gun.
Was quite bumpy early on, and due to quite heavy mist, had to initially rely on feet in front to head out to to the first boat.
As this is my 'home' lake, I was aware of the geography, even though we were swimming in an anti-clockwise route, (compared to the usual clockwise), and I felt that I was swimming pretty straight.
I found it easier (and, after Tenby, was more careful), to sight much more frequently. I started off breathing to the left on 2 strokes. Turned out that's the way it stayed for the whole 2 lap stint.
Looking back, I don't remember actually 'stopping' at all. This is perhaps the reason for the T1 shenanigans.
I exited the swim in 38mins 14secs. this was about 1 minute quicker than Ironman UK 70.3 last year, so as expected, I shall not be worrying Mr Thorpe. 152nd out of 275 finishers.
Made the 100 yard dash to T1, and found myself at the bike, taking the wetsuit off, and falling over, rather comically, and rather quickly to the left.....3 TIMES!!! I was really quite dizzy, and felt like I was going to vomit there and then. At this exact moment, I felt like pulling out, so I sat down, and waited 30 seconds or so.
Thinking back, I recalled the words said by the IM Wales crew before the start of the Wales swim......"you may feel dizzy, dis-orienatated, and quite sick"...they were talking about me!
After my 30 seconds of sitting, I decide to get up, go for it, and see what happened. It became apparent that all was well, so I then re-started my transition routine, and made my exit. On reaching the bike exit, I realised that I had left my glasses on the floor. With the impending sun shine, and possibility of insect strikes, I decide to go back for them, and a marshall helpfully held on to the bike as I went back...
So, another big learning here, and a dreadful T1 time of 4mins 4sec.
Onto the bike, and due to the sick feeling just a short while ago, I decide to take no nutrition for the first 20 mins or so. Despite this, I got into a great rhythm quite quickly, and found myself riding alongside another chap (Chris Bowden #77) for quite a while, so a little banter was exchanged.
There was quite a bit of drafting and chain ganging going on, and I made a real effort to avoid it all, and at one point another guy, who I was cat and mousing with commented "you're doing quite bit of work for that lot behind" to which I replied that "I was trying to stay on my own for some practice for Tenby"
I was keeping a close eye on my ave. speed as my main guide/motivator for the day. My pre-race plan was to ensure a minimum ave. 19 mph to result in the 56 miles completed inside 3 hrs.
I was also closely monitoring my heart rate, to see what effort I was racing at in comparison to my strictly controlled heart rate based training.
I really tried to put out the same effort for the whole bike leg, and was happy with the final ave. speed of 20.7 mph. The ave. heart rate for the bike was 152, which put in right on the top end of a L4 ride, and almost into L5 territory.
I did not give it 100%, (as I wanted to run the whole 13.2 miles off this bike), and I estimate I was giving it about 85-90% effort. I reckon the weather helped me maintain such an even effort, with the cloud cover keeping it quite cool.
The time for the bike (and I reckon it was a little short at about 53.2 miles) was a competitive 2hr 34mins 35 secs. 102nd out of 275 finishers.
Nutrition consumed on the bike amounted to x1 750ml bottle of High 5 extreme with caffeine, x1.3 750ml bottles of High 5 Zero electrolyte replacement, x3 Maxi fuel gels with caffeine boost, & x2 O Bars. I was left with x1 gel, 0.7 of the second bottle of High 5 zero, and x1 O Bar.
Into T2, I was feeling good, and keen to not repeat the T1 disaster, and it resulted in a much better 1min 37secs.
I set off onto the x3 lap run, with the weather still on our side, and made quite a good start. I noticed the 1 mile marker, and a glance at the watch gave me a first mile of 7min 25sec. This was a quick start, but it encouraged me to try and maintain a pace close to it. The first lap went by quickly, and I didn't take any thing on apart from a quick half cup of water whilst on the move.
Then the sun came out, BIG style. It was still quite early at about 10.15 a.m., but it soon got very hot, very quickly. Second lap was approached with same conviction, but I was clearly unable to keep with that early speedy pace, and was soon drifting towards 8min pace.
I wasn't even paying any attention to my overall race time at this point, but by now I had made my mind up that a) I would not stop running for anything, and, b) to get as far inside a 2 hour run time as possible.
Again after only a quick slosh of water at the 2nd lap aid station, It was only at about mile 10-10.5 that I started to begin feeling a little sluggish. At the 3rd aid station, I again did not stop, but grabbed a handful of jelly beans to keep my mind occupied for the last push.
Mile 12 and 13 were actually quite tough, and the sun did not help either, but on checking the watch, I realised that a sub 2 was on, and this lifted me the last half mile or so.
I did not even look at the heart rate for the entire run, and it revealed an ave. heart rate of 163 and a max of 176, so a low-mid rate L4 run. The very same intervals I hate so much in training!
So, to see a run time of 1hr 51mins 31secs (122nd out of 275 finishers), made me happy, especially as it was only 3 minutes slower than my (non-triathlon) half marathon PB at Bath back in 2008.
On seeing the finish chute, and on first view of the official clock ticking at 5.09.47...., I actually sprinted like crazy for the last 100 yards to try and break 5.10, but alas, I missed it by just 2 seconds to finish with an official time of 5hrs 10 mins 2secs.
On reflection, with the 'helpful' bike conditions, I was very happy with this result, and whilst it is not really equatable to compare & contrast to my only other half-ironman distance race (UK 70.3), it is seen as great progress, and it has to be noted that the same distance was covered, but 1 hour and 37 mins quicker.
So all the training and expert advice and guidance from Ade is clearly paying off.