This was my final race for my 2014 season and it’s where I did my first Ironman where I managed to come 5th and have a great race, this time being in better fitness and on better equipment I wanted to go better then that. I had a big support crew come out to the race, I say support crew but I don’t think they knew they were a support crew, was more of a holiday for them!
As with all these races the swim started very quickly, the top swimmers do this on purpose to shell out the weaker swimmers as if you are a good swimmer you don’t want to let someone swim behind you using a lot less energy only for them to bike off and leave you later on. So with the fast start the stronger swimmers managed to get away and I found myself in a pack of about 15. It felt pretty easy and I did contemplate swimming at my own pace but I gave that a miss as I thought I would just end up towing everyone else around. I thought we were moving at a reasonable pace as there were a load of us together but it turns out we weren’t moving at a very fast rate and I ended up loosing 7 minutes 30 to the leaders, I was expecting to be around 4 minutes and in hindsight I should have just led the pack and swam at my own pace to limit the gap to the lead group so a lesson learned for next time.
Out onto the bike and I felt great, my plan was to stick to 300 watts for the bike and I was having to control myself so much at the start to not go to quickly as I now from experience that it catches up with you in an Ironman and you don’t want to have to many spikes in power. By 20Ks I was literally on the back of a big group in front of me which was great news as I knew they would have started off a bit quick and my power was going to increase as the ride went on so I would be taking a lot of time out of the others plus I would be able to run quickly off the bike. Unfortunately I punctured at this point, there was loads of crap all over the road due to the rain we had the morning of the race and if I’m honest I think Ironman should have checked this as the reason for delaying the race by 30 minutes was due to the state of the roads. Also just before I reached this point of the course one of the media bikes for the race crashed! This section of road was completely straight so you can imagine the state of what it must have been like to take down a motorbike. When I hit this section there was sand an inch deep completely spread across the road and lots of big stones! Unfortunately I couldn’t change the direction of where I was heading otherwise I might have lost my front wheel and ended up crashing, instead I hit a stone and instantly had a big puncture, I have slime in my tires which is great and normally instantly seals the hole so you only loose a little bit of pressure and can then fill it up with a CO2 canister. However this time it was too big and I couldn’t re-inflate the tyre.
At this point I’m not afraid to say that I had a few tears run down my face. I felt like I had let all the guys down who came out to watch me. As well as this I felt as if I was in the shape of my life and I wasn’t going to have anything to show for it.
Anyway there was no time to mess around and not be able to finish, I carried on riding a bit as I thought I would see if I could find a spectator who’s wheel I might be able to borrow. The first guy I came to said no, I tried to persuade him but he was having none of it, I carried on riding a bit more and got the same reply from someone else, this was not looking good and I thought I would find one more person and see if I could get a wheel and if I could I would carry on and if not then I was going to have to call it a day! Luckily the next guy said yes and he gave me his training wheel and in return I gave him a Zipp disc with a flat tub! As I had no idea who he was and that the Zipp disc I was using was a mate's wheel who let me borrow it I thought I better get a result now as I might not even see that wheel again and may have to buy my mate a new Zipp disc.
So the pressure was on, I was now at least 15 minutes behind the leaders in no mans land. Once I started off again I proceeded to ride at around 315w which was above target Ironman pace and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to even run off it but I had to take a risk now as I had nothing to lose as I didn’t enter the race to come top 10 I came here to win so I was going to give it my best shot and I always had it in my mind that the impetus in the lead group might go after 80 miles and I thought that I could take another 5 minutes back in the reminder of the bike after this which would see me back in contention for a podium if I could run well off the bike.
I managed to pick the occasional rider up who had been dropped from the group up ahead, they decided that they would have another shot at getting back into the race and decided to literally sit about 3 meters off my my rear wheel, they didn’t manage to stay there too long and were dropped after about 10-15 minutes, it didn’t bother me too much as I knew I had to get myself back into the race but it is frustrating as they should have had a drafting penalty and not had the option of being able to get a free ride at all.
By the end of the bike I had managed to ride myself up to around 16th place and was now only around 3 minutes behind the chase group. I finished the bike with an average power of 296w and a normalized power of 307w which included around 7-8 minutes of very easy riding and some stops while I looked for someone to get a wheel off.
Out onto the run and I could feel the effort of the bike. My legs didn’t feel to sprightly but I thought even with my legs feeling pretty shi*ty I was still confident that I could run a sub 2 hour 50 marathon as I thought it’s only 6m 30 miles which in my head didn’t seem that hard. As I was so far behind it was just a case of running from A to B as quickly as possible and picking off as many people as I could along the way. I started off at around 6m 20 pace and picked it up a little bit on laps two and three before fading a little on the final lap. Overall it was a well paced Ironman run and it was quite fun picking people off along the way.
By the end of the run I had managed to run myself up from 16th to 6th position. 5th position was still 10 minutes ahead of me so there was nothing else I could have done. My official run time was 2 hours 47 which included T2 where I had to do a full change from a skin suit to running kit so had it not been for this I reckon I may have recorded the fastest overall run as I was less then a minute behind with this included. I’m pleased with that as 1st and second were in a head to head the whole way and were going for the win where as I was by myself. My run as timed by me on my garmin was 2 hours 45
I’ve gained a lot of confidence in my performances as I actually executed my best Ironman performance I’ve ever done holding my best power output ever on the bike and running my fastest marathon to date. It’s just a shame that luck wasn’t on my side. One thing I also want to get off my chest is that the drafting in the race was absolutely horrendous! In the age group race there were packs of over 100 riders wheel to wheel, one problem they are faced with is Ironman doubling the capacity of the race so loads more people getting out of the water at the same time so it makes it pretty much impossible for them to avoid.
As for the elites however it’s absolute bollocks and a disgrace, the first group had 3 motorbikes with the group and didn’t issue one drafting penalty despite them riding about 4-5 meters apart every time I saw them. I’m really annoyed by this as there’s a lot of money at stake and also points for Kona at stake and they need to enforce the rules better. If you look at the strava segment you will see how little power some of the guys had to average for a lap of the Ironman course due to being in a pack. Some of them averaged 80 watts less and rode 1 Kilometer an hour faster!
Moving on from Barcelona I’m coming to the end of an end off season break. I’m absolutely dying to crack back on with training and am looking really forward to next year. Talking of next year I will be targeting Kona qualification, I followed the race this year and reckon that I can get a top 10 in Kona so I will be looking at qualifying with Texas Ironman which is the North American championships, it will be my most competitive race to date being a championship race but it has double the points of a normal Ironman. As well as this I will also be racing Ironman UK as I really want to win it having finished 2nd and 3rd the last two years.
I want to thank all my sponsors for supporting me this year, Mail Big File, Pedal Revolution, Functional Fitness, Tri Sports Lanzarote, Huub, and Clif Bar.