HOME / Brian and Charlotte / Triathlon / EtonMan Half Iron
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Saturday (the day before the race) didnt go perfectly. We bought a bike from Tredz for Charlotte and they spent 2 hours! fitting the mudguards, so we didnt get home until 3pm. I made some spag bol and ate that. About 6pm I had a jacket with cheese and beans. I had hoped to eat better than that... I've had a cold for over a week and was still full of snot, and really wasn't 100% keen on the prospect of possibly 6 hours of full on exercise the next day. Its the first time I haven't been properly keen for an event. I dont know if it was the distance, or the fact I had a cold but I simply wasnt mad for it.

The night before I checked the bike was all good, then used masking tape to tape 3 gels and 2 nakd bars (alternating, slightly overlapping from front to back) along the top tube. I didnt want the tape unwinding like it had once in the past so I went around twice with the tape. The I started worrying that I might not be able to get them off during the bike but decided I probably could. To be safe I taped a final gel to the seat post.

I was up at 3:30 am, had usual grapes, yogurt and porridge for breakfast, and left the house at 4am. Registration wasn't due to open until 6 and my wave was off at 7, so I took it easy aiming to get there dead on 6, but I needed the services on the way and finally got to the car park at 6:15, and it was bearly full! I got the bike out, and filled a bag with everything I might need as I wasnt sure if I'd get back to the car. I ate a banana at 6am.

I found my number on the boards and went into the registration tent - and the queues were long! Luckily my queue (it was in surname order) was empty so I quickly got my chip, bib number, running bands etc and walked over to transition. Most bikes were already there but I found a nice slot that would be very easy to find after the swim and racked the bike. I layed out the shoes, helmet, socks, several gels and nakd bars and thought I was pretty much set. 

I found a toilet and got changed into my tri suit, quickly took my bag of stuff back to the car and got my wetsuit on. It was now about 6:45, and they were calling the final call for wave 1, so I checked I had my goggles, watches (one in swim cap) and had vaselined my neck and went off to the swim start. 

The air temp was about 17C, with a slight mist in the air, but certainly not cold, very little wind. I'd decided I'd do the bike in just my tri suit. They did the usual talk, and asked how many people were doing their first middle distance rti - almost everyone put their hand up (including me). Then they mentioned the bike out and run out and I realised that I hadn't had a chance to check where these were, but luckily they were well signed and I didn't have any trouble with them.

Swim

I'd bought new goggles last week and wore them once in the pool to set the size - I didnt want any leaks (and they were perfect al the way round, I spat in them at the start and they stayed clear for the whole swim - perfect).

The water was cold enough to make people make a note of it, and letting cold air down the front of the wetsuit made me catch my breath, but there was no pain in my forehead and nothing started trembling. The water was greenish but quite clear. I could mostly vaguely make out the bottom for the whole swim. I had plenty of time to swim a few strokes and calm down (I always enter the water as soon as possible). It was a deep water start, I was treading water just about on the start line (between two flags) with plenty of room. The buzzer went and I started swimming.

I didnt get hit or even touched at all at the start, nothing like London! There were quite a few people ahead as I'd started a bit to the right, but I aimed for the first marker and had clear water all the way. A slotted in just behind the feet of a swimmer for several hundred meters but eventually I overtook him. I realised there was a rope about 5-6 feet beneath the surface which the lane markes (for the rowing?) were attached to so I just watched that as I swam, I only sighted every 100m or so to see where the turn was.

I got around the turn at the end of the course and found myself all on my own. I almost convinced myself I was leading as there was no-one within sight ahead of me - but surely I couldnt be? I swam the width of the lake and turned for the final straight. Non one close behin or in front. I was passing swans and generally having a nice swim. I was going quite relaxed, alternate breathing every third stroke all the way. I got a mouthful of water at one point simply through lake of concentration but it tasted of nothing. Looking back (I always say this) I didnt swim particularly fast, just a good constant stroke. 

When I could finaly make out the exit I saw a cyclist go by - I knew I couldnt have been leading. I saw one or two more and then I was out. My legs felt fine as I ran over and easily found my bike. (I was 8th of of the water).

My time of 31:35 was OK and about what I'd expected, but I'm sure it could have been a bit faster.

T1

I took t1 nice and slow (too slow!). I sat down while taking my wetsuit off. Put my white running socks on (I had intended to wear think black 'coolmax' socks for the cycle, but could only find one with my shoes) and they were perfect for the bike and the run. I put my helmet on, my clear glasses on. I think I may have quickly eaten a gel too but not sure (or was it a nakd bar? or did I put one between my teeth and eat it in the 2nd mile of the bike???). I grabbed my bike and ran off to the mount line...

..only to hear a marshal asking where my race number was! Damn, I'd left it on the floor near my running shoes. I turned around (with the bike) and ran back to the position, put the bike down, picked up my race belt (with number attached earlier) and put it on. Picked up my bike and aain ran off to the mount line.

all in all a slow, poor t1. I never intended it to be superfat like for a sprint tri, but it was over 3 minutes, and it was possibly the shortest distance t1 I've doen, so a waste of 1.5 to 2 minutes!

Bike

I'd always thought I'd like to do the bike in hopefully 3 hours, ideally less. If I could do 19mph average then it would be 3 hours, and I was pretty confident I could do that - until I saw the bike route. I knew it was 10 laps, but within each lap there were two 180 degree very tight hairpins, and 2 more slower corners, so I suspected the slowing down and re-accerlerating from them would affect my average.

I set off at a comfortable pace, a little cold because I was wet from the run. The first hairpin was fine, very slow, but at the second one (about 3 miles in to the ride) I took it slightly too fast and the bike slid out from under me and I landed on my left hip. It was more of a surprise than anything serious, so I got back on and started cycling again. Luckily it was a slow speed so no damage was done to me or the bike, other than the left hand gear/break assembly was now pointing in at about 30 degrees - that must have taken the brunt of the impact. I also realised the cadence was no longer showing on my watch so that must have been knocked as well.

I think I ate a nakd bar about then, and then alternated between gels and nakd bars every other lap or so. Had no problems getting them undone from the masking tape. By the end of the bike I only had the 'emergency' gel left on the seatpost - perfect. I never felt hungry or low in energy during the whole bike.

Overall I drank just over a litre of water I think. I started taking sips early and often, but by about halfway round started thinking I could do with a pee. After a few more laps it was getting more urgent, and I saw a toilet near a bend so pulled over and went in. I slipped and crashed about inside, with wet cycling shoes on the plastic floor. Then I had to undo my tri suit, and afterwards I couldn't get the shoulder straps back up, so faffed about a bit. I remember filling the bottle between the aerobars with the contents of one of my other bottles then, before getting back on the bike and setting off.

For the frst several laps I saw a huge amount of people fixing punctures - it was carnage. I hoped I didnt get one myself but there were so many! I'd see people for 2 consecutive laps fighting with typres etc. Several people were walking their bikes back to the start, presumably dnf'ing (perhaps some of these would have finished ahead of me had they finished... but thats the race!)

I possibly lost two or three minutes because of that stop, but looking at the data it seems I increased my speed slightly, either conciously to try to make up for the time lost, or perhaps because I was no longer uncomfortable from needing a pee, or maybe the 2 minute vreak itself left me feeling more refreshed. Either way I think in the end it probably didnt cost me any time. If I hadn't have stopped I would have got more and more uncomfortable and would have stopped drinking which would not have been good.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. I was averaging 20.3 mph for the first few laps, and that picked up to 20.5 until I stopped for a pee. Thats higher than I'd expected, and I was happy, as my hr was lower than its been on an event so I knew I wasnt overdoing it. I could easily have carried on riding (though could I have maintained that pace for a full 112? I doubt it.

Again very happy with my time - before the race I'd been hoping for 3 hours, perhaps a bit less, so 2:44 was great. Especially considering the low average hr, and number of dead-stop hairpin turns.

Didnt notice discomfort from the saddle even only wearing the 2XU tri suit with thin pad, and dont remember my knees particularly hurting - all good

T2

T2 went fine. I instantly found my rack, changed shoes, picked up two more gels (I'd carry these in my hands) and was off.

Run

This was always going to be hard. Based on previous long runs I was expecting to be somewhere just under 2 hours, perhaps 1:45 if I was running very well.

As I set off I realised my watch was still in Swim mode! I think I must have pressed Stop instead of Lap after the swim, and again at the start of the bike (which restarted it) - anyway, it was wrong, so I messed about a bit and got it into the Run mode and I was off. After a few hundred meters I checked my pace and it was just over 7:00 min/mile! Superb! It couldn't be right, I felt like I was running slowly, and had never thought I could run at that pace after 56 miles on the bike. The first mile went by in 7:17, but I realised my hr wasn't displaying - the 310XT was connected to my other hr strap for run mode. I quickly went into settings and when no one was running near me got it to scan for my hr, it worked perfectly and from then on I could see my hr. I was already over 150, and I knew it would continue to climb.

I got to the turn around point on the first lap and was still going well. I felt like I might be able to carry on like this, but my feet were aching quite a lot by now, and I was worried it might just get worse. After a few more miles I completely forgot about my sore feet, I think everything just started getting harder to keep going. I wasnt tempted to walk, but it would have been very nice. The first lap came and went, and I was still managing around 7:30 miles. I didnt think it would last, and it didnt... I had my first gel at about mile 3 or 4, and I was taking cups of water from the water station on each lap, drinking just a gulpful or two (most of that splashing over my face) and pouring the rest over my head as a little wake-up - it worked. 

I was trying to work out where I might be position wise, there were lots of runners but most were from other events (the bib number showed what event you were doing). I saw plenty of Half Iron runners but couldnt tell what lap they were on (we'd been given 3 bands, one to be thrown away after each lap) and several seemed to have less than me on their wrist.

Lap 3 was the worst, I knew it would be. I started sipping at my last gel and kept plodding away, still doing sub 8 min miles. At about mile 8 I looked at the watch and it suggested if I kept the pace up I would be under 5 hours! I couldnt believe it, but I didnt know that I'd stopped it during t1! 

The last lap finally came round, and I was really quite tired by now. Nothing was specifically hurting though and I plodded on. When I got to the final turn I knew I'd make it all the way. About 500m from the end another half ironman ran past me, too fast to even think about chasing. It turned out he came 5th, running a sub 1:30 half (must have had a bad bike?). I crossed the line and instantly stopped - I was done. I drank a bottle of gatorade and went to find my results. They printed out and my time was 5:00:23, 9th position. I was well chuffed!

Afterwards it turned out at least 2 people in front of me hadn't done all the bike laps (I suspect a 3rd hadn't either looking at their lap times) so I came 7th, if not 6th - superb!

I drove home, having a BK on the way, but the rest of the day I was totally knackered.

The following 2 days I was sore all over - feet, legs, shoulders, arms, everything. By the wednesday I was getting back to normal, and on Thursday I did  an hour on the turbo (I swam on the Tuesday and Thursday) and felt fine. No running yet though...

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