So Ironman Bolton was a bit of a late decision after the Marathon Des Sables to see if either myself or Evan could pick up a ticket to Kona. Having not done a lot of biking or run speed work we knew that it was going to be a long shot (Especially for me) but thought that we would give it a go never the less. I hadn’t raced a full Ironman for nearly 3 years and in a way i was quite excited to give the long distance another go. My previous goes were more fun than racing and i had gained some good experience in the last few years racing 70.3’s so wanted to see if that counted.
After trying to recover from the MDS i had started to build up my training in the last 5-6 weeks with a nice trip to Mallorca to build some bike fitness. My swimming had come back to me quite quickly and i was benefitting from swimming lots in our local lake, something i hadn’t done so much of before. For lots of various reasons, i didn’t manage to do much running training and so i knew that this was going to be the tough part.
Due to local bush fires, the bike course was cut short, which to be honest didn’t bother me that much. I knew that i didn’t really have the distance in my legs anyway so welcomed the decision! Fresher legs i was thinking. haha.
The trip up wasnt too bad and we stayed right next to the swim start which was such a time saver and made it less stressful. I took the misses and kids up with me for some support and Evan also had family there.
Racking and registering was all easy despite the split transitions and i was relaxed and excited to get started for sure.
The plan: SWIM
Having not swum much during the MDS training i had to restart my swim training soon after it and also move up to the 3.8Km distance which i really struggle with in a pool. Luckily we have a lake about 30 mins away from us and with the good weather that we have been having meant that it was warm enough for me to swim in it (Over 20 deg).
The lake has a 1.2km loop so i have been swimming that in about 54mins so i knew that if the conditions were good i would nip under the hour mark which would be a PB for me. (Previous was 1:01 at Ironman Lanzarote).
The plan: BIKE
Having not really got enough bike training, i was glad that the bike was cut short, although there was a few extra climbs put in that would not make it that much easier! I was confident that i would come out close to the front of the race and so my plan was to keep my head down, not to go too hard out on the first lap and try and finish on a normalized power of 200W.
The plan: RUN
I was hoping that the MDS training that i had done would transfer into some good running performance even though i had not done much speed work. the longest day on the MDS was 86km so i knew that i had the distance in the legs, it all depended on how trashed they were from the bike. The aim was to try and sneak under 3hrs 30 mins which should be enough for top 10 position and maybe a roll down!
The Reality: SWIM
Staying so close to the swim start meant that i could have a bit of a lay-in until 4:45am and walk down to the swim start with only a little time to start. I Check my bike over, added my nutrition and made my way to the sub 1hr pen. I didn’t realise that we were starting at the same time as the Pro Athletes but they were starting about 100meters ahead in the water. Normally they start 5 or so minutes before us age groupers and never see them again!
The swim start was a jump of a jetty into the water and an anti-clockwise swim of two laps. I was wearing my new Zone 3 sleeveless wetsuit as i feel this gives me good buoyancy with a freedom in the shoulders. The water was nice a warm and after an initial sprint i settled into the first lap of the sim. One thing that i did notice was that i was feeling quite relaxed and not my usual working hard and blowing. The first lap was fairly uneventful with an Australian exit into the second lap. I exited the lap with a few other and as i got in i could see that there wasn’t really many people in front so this was a good thing. A quick check of the watch showed me 29mins so i was on time to go under the hour.
The second lap was much of the same apart of catching the slower swimmers at about halfway around the lap. This start to be quite a problem and i had to constantly sight to make sure that i didn’t swim over someone. I actually had to queue to get out of the water in the end as it was totally congested which was frustrating but at least i was done. Offical time was 58:27 mins and 4th in my AG and 24th overall including the PRO’s. I was hoping for better than that but i was sure that they were not too far away. My Garmin said that i had swam 4034 meters in 58:14 at a pace of 1:26/100m which is more accurate than how the course was marked out. Most people that i spoke to say’s that the course was long.
The Reality: BIKE
As i was fitter this year for the swim i didnt have to recover on the first part of the bile and could set off at a good pace. My transition was uneventful and being 24th out fo the swim overall meant there was no one in transition, which makes for a good transition time. Out on the bike and i settled in fairly well. I knew that i didnt have the biking legs that i had last year so my aim was to take it a lot easier that i normally do. Some 20Km into the bike and a few Pro’s passed me.. Then Will Clark passed me with another pro on his heels which was very weird. Had i outswam them? No it turns out that Will had been sent them the wrong way on the bike and was playing catchup. I tried staying on their wheel but they were pushing way above my threshold so it was going to be suicide to stay with them.
Then after a short while, Lucy Gossage came rolling up to the back of me and stayed there for a little while. The reason i knew this, was she had a camera motorbike with her filming her! At that time i was riding with two other AG athletes, one in my AG and another in the AG below me. What was annoying was the motorbike that was filming Lucy kept getting in the way especially when she decided to push forward for a while. With the course being so twisty with lots of turns the bike kept getting so close to me and nearly knocked me off at one point. So i decided to sit behind her and let her ride her race and stay out of the way. The other guys in our group pushed forward a few times but i decided not to get involved and stay back.
Near the end of the first lap Lucy was in front of me with the other guys behind me and the camera motorbike just in front of me when i decided to sit up and have something to eat (As i find it easier to eat solids sitting up) when all of a sudden a referee pulled alongside and showed me a card. I immediately raised my hand and asked what it was for and was told for drafting. FFS i thought! I had been extra careful due to the live camera feed and honestly felt that this was unjust! After all, i was also sat up eating at the time as well. Straight after this the guy behind me rode up to me and asked me if i had just been carded and i told him i had and he said that he and the guy behind him had also just been carded. He didn’t seem like a happy person but i didnt know if he had or not as at this point they were behind me! After this incident no one tried passing Lucy as i think they were too scared, just in case they got another card and then DQ’ed. So in a way it stopped the race from happening and i decided to just let her go on and stay out of her race and the camera motorbike which were getting in the way far too much.
I lost my mojo a little after the card and was annoyed… i felt that they were protecting the Pro unnecessarily and had spoilt the race at the front of the age groupers. It took me a little while to get my head into order as i knew that the card was going to cost me 5 mins…
As the second lap unfolded i decided to reduce my watts as i was over what i was expecting to hold and i wanted to leave some for the run. I was up at the 245W level after the first lap and should of been more like 220W so i decided not to push when the two guys i was riding with passed me at an aid station.
Coming into T2 i had to divert into the penalty tent for my 5 mins which turned into 5misn 30 sec after it took the refs in the tent to stop chatting, take my number and start the dam stopwatch! They were too busy chatting and eating an apple! FFS 🙂 I did ask the lady for a massage but just got a stare back… humor not needed!
Racked the bike and limped into the tent as standing getting my penalty i had developed severe cramp in my left foot!
Bike time was 4hrs 41 mins and my normalised power was 227W, just about where i needed it.
The Reality: RUN
So the plan on the run was the go out at an easy pace and try and preserve the legs for the second half of the marathon. What didn’t help me was my Garmin decided to have a spaz moment and not sync its GPS so the speed was being calculated from my cadence. I think i passed my first few km’s in under 4min per Km which i knew was wrong and this threw me off my pacing. I wasn’t sure how fast i was running and decided to slow down just in case i was running at this pace. Then after a few km the Garmin decided to spring into life and update itself. FFS!
The first lap passed and i actually felt quite good, it was only on the latter part of the second lap did i really start to feel it! So i decided to walk the aid stations to preserve my legs, which at this point they were starting to scream at me. I’d did lots of endurance training but not too much speed training. The Marathon Des Sables had provided me with the legs to get over the line but no real speed. The longest day on the MDS was 86Km, carrying about 10kg over the sand. So i knew i had the legs, just not the speed so it was head down time and push on.
The third lap was where i knew it would kick in and i stuck to my plan of walking where i needed to and run where i could. Coming out of T2 i think i was about 8th and all i could think about was trying to limit the damage a below-par run would place me. Pace slowing at this point and i was holding on for my life.
I was hoping to hold on for a 3hr 30mins ish run but i knew that this was not going to happen and any chance of a roll down was slipping away. I spotted Evan on the run course a few times and he looked to be running well. There was only 1 slot in his AG so it’s always tight! I had my fingers crossed for him as we had predicted that he would be behind when coming onto the run but had the legs to catch his competition up and hopefully get in 1st!
The Bolton run course i found as difficult as IM Wales, there are some sharp climbs and a long out and back that does nothing for your moral 🙂
Somehow i managed to slip under 4hrs for the marathon which i consider to be a disaster but i got what i deserved. I was where my training had been and if i was honest with myself i didn’t deserve to be any higher up!
Finish time of 9Hrs 51mins and 24th in my AG.
Evan didn’t quite make first finishing in 10hrs 39mins and unfortunately didn’t get the roll down which was hugely frustrating. It must be soo hard to be in an AG where there is only one slot!
Time to move on and prep for the 70.3 world champs in September.