I set to myself a few goals before travelling to Busselton (150km South of Perth) to race IronMan Western Australia, to make sure I am on track. Those were basically 4 goals:
1. PR at Marathon Prague (May) – done, by 9 min with a time of 3:12:37
2. Improve my ranking at the Wassenaarse ZwemLoop (Aug), a 1km Swim, 10km run at the local beach – done! moving from rank 18 to rank 4 and retaining my title as Fastest Wassenaarian. The only title I will probably ever hold.
3. PR at the Olympic Triathlon distance (July) (1.5 Swim, 40k Bike, 10k run). Done! by 9min at the Olympic Triathlon in Friesland, The Netherlands with a great time for me of 2:21, and this in very strong wind conditions.
3. PR at Half-IronMan Cologne – done, by 8 min with a time of 4:51. I elaborate a bit on this one:
I travelled on Sept 2nd to Cologne for the race and slept at my cousin’s place in Bonn. She and her husband are dedicated to the sport of triathlon in general and Ironman in particular. Just to mention the level of my female cousin (42), she beated my at the half Ironman in Kraichgau (Germany) in 2011 by 32 min…. but it is great to spend some time with them. I learn a lot and they will always give me some useful tips as well as diagnose 1 or 2 things for which I have a blind spot. I had a great sleep. Never had such a good sleep before a race. It actually worried me whether I was really motivated. But Isa, my cousin, told me, sleep is the best doping there is in town. Go and race hard. So I travelled to Cologne to meet first with a friend that would race with me and together we went to pick-up our starting packs and rack our bikes next to each other in the transition zone.
The gun went off at 12:30. Quite late for a half distance (1.9km Swim, 90km bike, 21.1km run), but it was great weather and water temp was just below 21. Perfect. I took it really easy with a 17:30 pace, found “good feet” to slipstream and let myself drag during the whole course. At my last Olympic distance I took a 15:00 pace but it was too fast and came panting out of the water needing a few km on the bike to recover…. To my surprise, when arriving at my bike, I see my friend already there. He was not supposed to be that fit!!! so I hurry up and leave transition 30 sec before him.
The bike leg came with perfect weather conditions and only a 6kmh breeze. Great marshalling on the course to prevent drafting on this non-drafting course. All packs were immediately broken up. I have never seen so many yellow cards (even saw one black! -disqualified). The result list shows 40 yellow cards, meaning 40 people where warned of drafting and got a penalty of 4min! I wanted a negative split (riding the second half faster than the first), but it did not happen. I was enjoying this thing too much, riding at 36kmh on average. Still, I did not go all out and kept enough in the tank for the run. Very happy with the bike improvement over the last months. I wonder what pace I could have gone with a disc and an aero helmet…. Will I be going back to the triathlon candy store soon? Anyway..it took me exactly 2:30 to transition number 2!
I started the run with surprisingly fresh legs, no jelly feeling. I paced and felt really strong. After 2km I knew 4:45 total time was in the bag and I was pumped and thrilled, but at km 4 horrible pain in the liver area! I discovered later tthis typical pain kicking-in is due to lack of sugar. I had to reduce speed as the pain was too horrible when going under 5 min pace. It is so frustrating to have great legs but somehow the body says NO and you see your time flying away without being able to do anything. Finally, at km 10, I took some Coke and from then on the engine restarted and I knew what I had to take at every aid station. I finished strong the last 11km nearly 5min under the first half. Unwanted neg.splits….Very disappointed with the run. A 1:37 would have been easily feasible, instead I have to live with a 1:42. I saw my friend on the run course about 5km behind me. He had a great finish for his first Half-distance of 5:09. I finished in 4:51:02, 27th AG40-44 in the first 25% and 144/830 overall. Good lessons learnt for the upcoming Ironman in 2 months but need to review nutrition when at higher pace and start the run easy.
So far, so good. The big question though is, will this improvement be enough to shave nearly 40 minutes from my last Ironman to come under 11 hours of racing? This is the challenge I have given to myself.