Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Two very different races.

Race Report - Mallorca IM70.3 - 11th May 

Following my last update, training had been coming along nice and consistent with some good quality sessions. Before I knew it was time to get packed up and head off to Mallorca for my first main race of the year. This was my third trip to Mallorca to complete in this race and this year I was feeling nice and relaxed without the pressure of trying to secure a Vegas slot.

After an early morning flight on Thursday from Stansted to Palma we picked up our hire car and drove across the island to Alcudia where we checked into our hotel; Just in time to meet up with some friends for lunch on the seafront prior to popping along to register. Then a little 30 minute run around the course and assembling my bike before an early evening meal.

Friday morning was a quick 45min brick session, transition bag packing and then feet up till the race briefing on the beach, trying not to be sat in the sun to long then it was back to the hotel again to chill and enjoy the weather before raking the bikes.

Saturday morning and up at 5:30am, breakfast, then the long trip to transition, well 100 metres or so. Tyres pumped up, nutrition loaded, then back to my balcony for a coffee before the short walk across the road to the beach to watch the pro start at 8:00. Then it was on with the wetsuit and into the starting area. I positioned myself about 4-5 rows back on the left hand side, hoping I would stay away from the biff on the right and as the first right hand turn was some 900m in I wouldn't end up swimming to much extra. With over 500 in my age group I was ready for a scrappy first few 100m but my plan seemed to work and I was in clear water from the start, got on some feet and just swam. Conditions where good, sighting easy and all in all a pretty uneventful swim. I never wear a watch in the swim so I had no idea what I had swam at the time but as I ran through T1 there seemed to be more bikes still raked than normal.

Out on the bike and I soon got into a nice rhythm. The first section along the coast to Puerto Pollensa is fairly fast then you head inland to Pollensa where you start to slowly climb before hitting the main climb upto Lluc. The plan was to ride to power for the whole ride with a target of  85% of FTP and capping it at 95% of FTP for the climb. I stuck to the plan to the letter and as I approached the top of the climb in Lluc I checked my time and it was 1:10:00, bang on the same time as 2012. Every time I ride this course the hill seem to feel shorter and the decent faster. There is nothing like knowing a course and before long I was winding through the streets of Inca and on the last 40km flat section back to Alcudia, but unlike the last two years the wind was blowing which made it a little tougher than normal. As I rolled into T2 I felt pretty good and was looking forward to the run.

I ran through T2 trying to count bikes which is never easy, but thought I saw 6 or 7 so knew I would have to run well, a quick slick change and I was off. The weather was much cooler this year and running felt easier, I ticked along at 6:00-10 min/mi pace thinking the elusive sub 80min half marathon off the bike was on the cards. The first lap flew past, but by now the course was getting busy and the aid stations were manic. I managed to maintain a steady pace up till about mile 11 when the legs started to feel a little heavy and my HR started to rise, pace dropped to 6:25-30 min/mi pace and it was now a matter of just hanging on, I downed my last gel and not really knowing where I was currently placed, I just tried to hang in. As I came round the corner and into the finish chute I heard the announcer say 3rd M40, with a quick look over my shoulder to see nobody else.  I jogged over the line in a total time of 4:26:12. I missed the 80min run split by 61sec but I'm getting closer ever year....
In the finish area I whet over to congratulate the M40 winner, he asked if I was racing the ITU LD Champs in Belfort, I replied "yes" and he said ''that's my home town'' I thought 'bugger !!!' ...   

Second Lap of the run
Podium (yes, male & female together)
The long walk to Transition

Race Report - ITU Long Distance World Champs BELFORT - 1st June

I originally entered this race not knowing if I would actually race it or not due to racing Nice IM three weeks later. Therefore it was a late decision to race,  with the plan to use it as a late prep race, hoping it would be nice and hot to help me get acclimatised to racing in the heat.

The week prior to the race it was very clear it was not going to be a hot one. In fact the complete opposite as snow had fallen on the top of the Ballon d'Alsac (the main climb on the bike). We arrived in Belfort to the news that due to both water and air temperature being below the minimum levels the swim had been cancelled and replaced with a 10k run, the bike leg shorted from 120k to 85k and the run leg reduced from 30k to 20k, this was not the prep race I was hoping for.

The day before the race the weather was cold and wet and after a short brick session in the morning I was far from happy, but kept thinking its the same for everyone, we have come a long way, lets just get it done. So after the team briefing in Belfort it was off to Lac de Malsucy where the race was based to rack our bikes.

Luckily the morning of the race the weather was looking kinder and after a 5:30am alarm call and some breakfast, we headed off to the start. As a poor swimmer my tactics come race day are normally survive the swim, smash the bike and try and work my way through the field then hang on for the run, this was different, with a 10k run to start (in age group waves 2 minutes apart) I thought I could be quiet close to the front from the start, then stay with the leaders on the bike and then have a running race at the end. So the plan was to run hard and stay insight of the leaders which was the case to just before half way where the 4 leading guys started to open up the gap and I settled into a good pace with a fellow GB'er, we ended up coming into T1 in 5 & 6 place about 2 minutes down on the leading 4.

I had made the decision to wear all my gear for the bike on the run which meant I didn't need to located my bike bag and change in the tent which saved valuable time, I just ran straight through the change area to my bike, helmet on and I was off. As I got to the mount line I was now right behind Anthony Philippe (the Frenchmen who won Mallorca).

Once on the bike I tried to stay in touch with Philippe but I was having to work hard and my legs just didn't want to play ball and he slowly pulled away from me. At this point I was over taken by the Uber biker runner David Slavinski from the USA, last year's winner and the 2011 World Duathlon Champ, he was flying (he ended up being the overall age group winner) and also disappeared into the distance. At this point I was not quite sure where I was in the race but possibly third so I pushed on but was not feeling good at all. After about 26 undulating miles I was at the bottom of the Ballon d'Alsac which climbs quite quickly for a start with a few switch backs before settling into a steady climb with a gradient of 5-8% for around 6 miles.

At this point I was regretting running a 44/25 gearing, not the ideal setup for  climbing and as the auto stop kept appearing on my Garmin this was not helping my mental state. Not long into the climb a couple of GB guys I had passed earlier on the flats caught me and we started to chat which helped take my mind off the climb and I just tried to keep to my power cap. Just before the top I was overtaken by a Danish and Russian guy both in my age group I was slipping further back. Once we neared the top we were in the mist, it was about 3 degrees and I was wearing my aero helmet with a visor, the combination of 3 degrees a boiling hot head meant one misty visor so as I started the descent I couldn't see a bloody thing not ideal travelling at 42mph with switch backs and no barriers. 

Bike Course Profile

Once down the descent my legs were starting to feel a little better and I pushed on over the continuing undulating course slowly making back the places I had lost on the climb and finally ride into T2 with Anthony Philippe.

A quick run through a muddy T2 in my socks, racked my bike, on with the Sketcher GoRun2's for the second time of the day and then run around the bike raking to the bag racks, grab my bag into the change tent for a quick change to remove as many layers as possible before running out for two more hilly lays of the same course we ran in the first run.

Run Course Profile
As I ran out I could see the Danish guy not far up front and I knew I had overtaken Philippe in the changing tent but knowing he ran a 1:17 in Mallorca I know he wouldn't be long.... Result.  Danish man stops by first tree for a pee, at this point I was unsure who was up front apart from Slavinski. It wasn't long before Philippe caught me and after a quick chat about who was up front he was off. It was now just a matter of survival and ticking off the miles and dreading the inevitable pain of the last hill of which I was determined not to walk up. Once there it was one last big effort to keep running to the top knowing it was downhill to the finish and not to let anyone pass me.

At this point I realised my tactics were completely wrong. I had ran the first run way to fast (6:00mi/m) I should have just jogged round and saved the legs, 2 minutes slower on the first run could of meant 5 minutes faster on the second run and as it turns out a podium, but hindsight is a great thing. Lesson learned.

All in all not the trip I or anyone else was expecting. On a day where I didn't feel 100% and made mistakes tactically, I was happy to come away with 4th in my age group, 21st overall AGer and overall 4th Brit...

Coming Up - Ironman France - 23rd June

With just over a week to IM France in Nice my legs are still not back to where they should be but hopefully with a good tapper I will be on the beach in Nice a tightly coiled spring ready to go...

As always a massive thank you to Johnny from Racetime Events and Sketchers for their continued support, also the guys at The Gorilla Firm for the superb service and bike support.
Cheers for now..


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