Normally when I start a triathlon I go really hard at the start of the swim to try and stay with the lead group, unfortunately what normally happens is that after a couple of hundred meters I’ve completely red lined it and the lead group pulls away then I spend the next few hundred meters trying to re-gather myself and latch onto the chasing pack. This time I thought I’ll start off with the chase pack and just stay with them for the whole duration of the swim in the hope that I would be much fresher for the bike and run. I did feel as though I was swimming much easier but the temperature of the water was so hot that I really felt like I was overheating, I actually thought I was going to be sick. I managed to swim at the front of the chase pack, so down to business and onto the bike.
The bike course for this race is pretty much pan flat on good road surface as well. I didn’t have the greatest o transitions and probably lost around 30 seconds in transition so had to go pretty quick at the start, I was pleased to see that I was averaging around 44km/h without to much trouble. I quickly caught the guys up in front and went to the front of the group and helped keep the pace high. I wanted to push the bike as I just wanted to race the Ironman hard an go for a good time, I knew that if I was on for good time then a decent position probably wouldn’t be to far away as well.
All was going well up until 50 kilometres in when disaster struck and I got a puncture, I heard it start to go down luckily I had some slime in the tire so it sealed it at what I would guess was probably around 50psi, so I could still ride on it fine but it was a fair bit harder. At the time when I punctured we were knocking along at a decent pace so I didn’t want to stop straight away as I thought I may not see them again, so I waited a for the pace to slow a bit and then at the first opportunity I got I quickly stopped got my CO2 cartridge out and pumped the tire up. I reckon I lost about minute and it took me 16 kilometres of absolutely hammering it to catch back up, I definitely burnt a fair few matches with that effort.
By this time we were around 65 Kilometres in and we could see the lead group in the distance. It was so motivational to see them so early into the ride as I wasn’t expecting to see them until around 150 kilometres into the bike. We eventually caught them at around 95-100 kilometres and at this point there were around 20 people in the group but riders were getting dropped all the time. Unfortunately for me though we were al riding 10 meters apart which at the speed we were going was around 1 second however we hit a drag and speed suddenly slowed from around 43-44kmh to 30kmh meaning I suddenly went about 3-4 meters closer to the guy in front. I swung out into the road as to make it obvious I wasn’t drafting but I got a penalty straight away. The referee who gave me the penalty had been with the group for 2.5 hour s and no one had been drafting so I think it was a bit of a harsh call, it was fair but very harsh as there was nothing I could really do at that time.
So I had to stop at 125 Kilometres, it was the first time I’ve ever received a drafting penalty and it was horrible standing at the side of the road watching all the group ride away and then watching guys who had been spat from the group come back past. When I started after the 4 minutes I could feel it in my legs and it took a good 5 minutes to get back into the swing of things. The last 55 kilometres I was just with one other guy and we were working pretty hard by ourselves, I could definitely feel it in my legs and I did think how the hell am I going to get round a marathon. This ride was the hardest I have ever pushed an Ironman bike
When I got off the bike surprisingly my legs actually felt o.k. despite feeling on deaths door at the end of the bike ride. I knew that I was down the field at the start of the run in maybe 11th or 12th so I thought I’ve got nothing to lose so I started at a quite ambitious pace, I think it was just over 6 minute miles for the first 10 miles. It actually felt quite comfortable and I thought bloody hell I’m going to smash this but it always feels like that at 10 miles in an ironman so needless to say the effort caught up with me and after the first lap I had no idea what position I was in as there were so many people on the course. I was also starting to fade and it was just a case of holding on to the finish. I was really pleased to see that finish chute and happy with an 8 hour 17 Ironman and 10th place overall especially when you consider luck was hardly on my side.