Trying to keep all the reports in one spot - this one is from August 09:
Sunday, August 2, 2009
For full results
Vanessa’s Half Ironman (Barb’s race) – third place! http://www.athleteslounge.com/results.php?eventid=2710&subid=4085&Submit=View+Results
For a first IM I’d consider this a success, but as ever it leaves you wondering what could have been and wishing to re-wind the clock to do a few things differently. At the end of the day 10.00.51secs on a tough course, that has only had three people go sub 9 in its twenty year history, is a pretty good result. We chose this race for a number of reasons: because we had a wedding in Canada the week before, our buddies were doing it and had done it last year with rave reviews, and they had a women only breast cancer charity half IM on the same day that was perfect for Vanessa. The fact that it was not an M-dot race and is referred to as “the people’s race” made it an appealing first ironman – OK WTC “Ironman distance” race.
Vanessa had a good race in Barbs race but she got very cold on the bike and almost pulled out. The mornings are really cool here and she doesn’t go so well in the cold. She toughed it out, and had a great swim and run, she might have been able to win if she’d brought a jacket. I’m trying to convince her to write a race report - we’ll see if she does.
Having come from a couple of great training blocks in Noosa and Verbier I felt like I was about as ready as I was going to be. I had trouble getting my weight down below 84kgs as planned (blame Swiss bread and a long term addiction to protein), so I knew the run would be tough, especially if it was hot. I was relieved to see that the weather was forecast to top out at 30 degrees, much better than last year’s 40 degree carnage my mate Richard had warned me about. The 6.35 start which was 40 minutes from our lodging in the vineyards meant a 3.30am wake up and breakfast. We had planned for a 5am departure but ended up getting on the road at 5.20. After struggling for a park I got to transition about 6.25. So much for finally getting to a race on time. No room in my space on the bike race, so I racked it away from my number, lubed up and still did not have my wetsuit on when the first wave went off. Lucky I didn’t reply to the email from organizers asking if anyone thought they could go sub ten hours as they would have put me in that leg.
The Swim 59:10
The swim was a double out and back up the Russian river; which was eerily pretty with the low fog. I began quickly and tried to hang on to the lead group, but after 200m of hanging onto some feet, it was soon apparent they were too good for me and I dropped off the back. I seemed to be in no-man’s land and swam the next 1.5km by myself, trying to stay focused, on a high stroke turnover. Into the first turn around and a bloke in my wave caught up and started drafting on my hip. No problem with that, but he had no idea how to draft and was a very wayward swimmer. He reminded me of my Aunt’s Bulldog ‘Morris’ whose favourite trick is to run head first into your leg repeatedly, but this bloke swam head first into my ribs four times. Like I’d wanted to do with Morris but had never been able I sideways boot into his ribs saw him swim towards more open waters.
I eventually found another bloke to share some drafting with on the second lap and exited in my goal time of just under an hour.
The Bike 5:04
I spent a bit long in T1 (3:31), but had to put on my new Sindballe inspired White De Soto “Cool wings” arm coolers and my sexy white compression socks. Fortunately for young children and elderly ladies I went with black shorts, so I looked like a freakish gay waiter at Michael Jackson’s funeral. Onto the bike and the first 8k’s were dead flat, so I was able to pass a few and it felt great to be on my new bike on the flat after three weeks riding it up and down HC climbs in the Swiss Alps. I began my nutrition plan as per Noosa Ironguude's coach Kristian Manietta’s advice and kept passing people. My new aero helmet felt sweet as I was staying low on the bars, repeating the mantra “hide from the wind” over and over to keep me focused. I had my Garmin Forerunner 305 (love that device) strapped on the aero bars and set to display cadence time and distance only, so I was going pretty blind – no HR or speed, just doing what I thought felt right. 40k’s in and I finally tightened my helmet - only 1.06 had passed, so I might have gone out a bit quick, but was I feeling great and loving life. I then stopped passing people and rode by myself for an hour before coming up to a guy with about five Union Jacks on his bike with race No. 6. He must have replied to the sub 10 email. I stayed in the legal three bike lengths draft zone for a minute for a breather, but he was going too slow and looking at those flags was annoying me so passed him. I try not to look back, but was guessing he’d try to hang on for a bit. What I was not expecting was for him to re-pass me after two minutes and then drop the speed five k’s an hour as soon as he got in front of me. This is a pet hate of mine – why pass if you’re struggling to hang on in the first place….no doubt testosterone – I can understand that but still annoying. I dropped back and thought I’d take a breather if he wanted to set the pace, but kept running up his rear wheel so I put the pedal down and dropped him.
The course was quite technical with lots of small rolling hills, corners and variable road quality. I was staying on the bars through most of it, but that meant I hit a few bumps while hiding from the wind and not looking so one of my aero bars rotated inwards so it was touching the other one. I couldn’t get it twisted back out, but was not really an issue as I could still change gears and tuck down OK. I was cycling by myself for long periods again and my mind drifted to the famous Solar Berg at Challenge Roth where tens of thousands of spectators are lined up cheering on “Hop Hop Hop” but for me it was just the Pinot Noir vines to keep me company. I will be smashing a few of them after the race. I was trying to keep the cadence below 84 and feel my quads burn as recommended by Kristian and Brett Sutton, but I kept slipping up over 90 and occasionally 100 if I lost concentration. I felt the urge to pee rise and despite pre-race warnings you could get DQ’d for going anywhere else than portaloos at aid stations, I came to a nice gentle downhill with no-one around so I sprayed down the left straight on the road, without a stray drop hitting me. I was very happy with that performance but a group of ten cyclists were coming up the hill at the time I was finishing. I wasn’t sure if they saw me but judging from the disapproving looks on their faces in contrast to the whoops of encouragement I’d had from other cycling groups I’d seen I reckon they probably did. The California Highway patrol, complete with their tight fitting CHiPs style tan outfits were doing a great job controlling traffic and I made sure to thank them on each intersection. The volunteers were amazing too, so positive and helpful all day.
I eventually came upon another guy and asked him how many were ahead, and was pretty happy when he told me there were only two “up the road” and all three of them had started five minutes ahead of my wave. Damn I was coming third and maybe even higher! My mind started to wander and I had been running better recently so was hoping to hold on for a podium. I even started working on a speech “I’d like to thank, my wife, the volunteers and the Good Lord above (thought that would go down well with the locals). Anyway I climbed the last big hill OK in my new 11-23 rear cassette and tucked down for the last 20k’s of flat. I kept wondering if I had gone too fast and was going to fall to bits, but I just kept thinking “how do you feel about running now” and my answer was always “can’t wait” so I thought my level of exertion was OK. I spent the whole ride doing the math on calories and trying to hide from the wind. Into T2 and the announcer confirmed I was third “Bevan Colless from Japan??” rounds out the top three. Next time we’ll put our address as Australia.
The Run 3:50
The run course was a three-lap 7k’s out and 7k’s back with quite a few hills and not much shelter from the heat. Passing the plentiful aid stations twice meant there was no shortage of sustenance, but a lot of excuses to slow down at aid stations. I had recently listened to an IM talk podcast from running coach guru Bobby Magee who was very convincing in his belief that a run/walk program would improve almost everyone’s performance in an IM run. Being a tri-geek and following the latest trend like a Japanese schoolgirl I had decided to do it. 1minute walk out of T1 and then ten minutes run and one minute fast walk for the rest for the race. At high school I’d once had a go at race walking and done pretty well, so I knew I could walk quickly. I tried to keep the pace around 7 min k’s during the walk phase. During the first 14k’s I managed the run part at about 4.20k pace, and counting down to the next walk made it more achievable. The first 14k I did in 1.07 or about 3.17 marathon pace, and I was still in third, so far so good.
The second out and back was tougher as the heat had cranked up, and the walking had spread to the aid stations and up hills as well as the scheduled ones. It was proving a habit that was hard to break. My run pace had dropped to 5min k’s too. I was starting to feel ordinary and runners on their first lap were passing me quite regularly. I had one or two guys on their second lap pass me too, gun runners who were flying, one of whom came second with a 2.58 run split. A 1.22 14k run split was not great and ws thinking that I was in-line for a 4hour marathon. The third lap was tough too, but I found it easier mentally as I knew it was the last one. I turned with 7k’s to go and asked someone for the time of day – as I didn’t wear a watch on the swim and had no overall time - by my rough calculations I needed 4.55k pace for the last 7ks to break 10 hours and thought I was no hope of that as I had not run at that pace since the first lap. I managed a full ten minutes at 4.30k pace but that took it out of me. And had a couple of walks soon after. I’d resigned myself to not being able to do it, but manage a solid last couple of k and was able to enjoy the finish chute. I didn’t realize our wave started at 6.37am, not 6.35, so I was actually 2 minutes closer than I thought…next time I’m timing myself from the start. I’m not sure if the run/walk plan was a success or not but with the heat and hills I don’t think I could have run the whole thing no matter what so was happy to have done some pro-active walking rather than reactive (to borrow the lingo from Bobby Magee). It also got me used to getting running again after having a walk, which was important when I was really tired.
Anyway all in all a great day with a fifth place overall and third in my age group, being a good result, even got my name on Slowtwitch’s event wrap like a pro! The trappings of doing a race with no pros or Kona-hungry AG-ers. Provided I recover OK, I think I’ll do Ironman WA in December and I’m sure the opposition will be stiffer there, but I’m realizing that flat courses are my go, so it should be a good one for me. I will need to crank up the running a lot if I’m going to get any better and drop some weight too. For now it’s onto more important things….a wine tasting tour followed by Vegas Baby yeah!