Last Sunday I would say I delivered the performance of my life. 8 hours 53 minutes across the line. 3rd overall. 1st in age group. A performance that was months in the making, took everything I had to deliver and I probably couldn’t be much happier. My second Ironman a new PB and a big goal achieved.
My splits broke down as
56 swim. 5:00 bike. 2:51 marathon.
On race morning I woke up nervous excited and a bit stressed. I was up around 3 am and actually slept sound the night before. Breakfast was easy to digest and the body felt okay a little heavy. Down to race site and I was one of the first in transition, I wanted time to relax set up and feel in control all day. I did a bit of a jog warm up and swim cords to wake up more but also took time to just sit in silence, reflect and calm down.
I had this before at outlaw but in the swim pen and before the start I just wanted to cry. I’m not sure if it’s nerves, excitement or emotion but I didn’t mind the feeling. The sun was rising over the mountains and the lake and it’s just overwhelming thinking about what’s to come. I always tell myself once the gun goes all will be good.
I was the first group into the water and got off to a solid swim start, it was a nice temperature good visibility and I just felt fast. I could put pressure on the stroke and just ticked off the swim bouy to bouy. A few people caught me I caught a few people, no stress just good solid swimming. Once I knew I didn’t have far to go I tried to pick up the rate push on and finish the swim, I just remember thinking how beautiful it was with the sunrise, mountains and huge crowds lining the banks. Out the swim I felt good and hoped I’d hit a good time.
Into t1 and I actually had planned to go fast through transitions. I knew sub 9 would be a matter of minutes and I had a mantra all day: minutes matter. I got what I needed wasted no time and out onto the bike. Checking my garmin I saw id swam And t1 all under 1 hour. A very good start.
The bike was two laps of 90km with about 1100m elevation per lap. Onto the bike and I just felt incredible, my legs were there they could push when needed I felt aero, fast and in good control. I tried to eat a lot early on (solid foods) and stay hydrated. I rode alone for about 15kms and then randomly a guy I had raced a few weeks ago rode up and we seemed to be around the same pace. We worked together (as much as you can non drafting) and started to push on. The first half of the bike is pretty fast rolling and some great TT sections with the climbs and challenges coming on the second half. I always keep this in mind managed my power and got into a good rhythm. I was holding a higher speed that I thought I could on the course and just felt in control. I don’t ride to power or HR etc when racing just on feel.
Knowing towards the end of the first lap the speed was good and possibly sub 5 hours was on was super encouraging I rode past my support crew of my Mum Dad and good friend Will and got some splits and positions, I couldn’t really hear them but as we had a little out and back I knew I was in the race. I had been quite surprised no Uber riders has overtaken me and I was holding position this usually happens in most races to me!
Onto the second lap still riding with Stephen I wanted to try and push on. The heat started to rise and my stomach got quite tight. I had a rough patch and the wind picked up quite a lot, the average speed dropped and I had a worry that things would go downhill, after 20 more ks things started to feel good again, the power rose climbs came easier and speed held. The last 15-20kms of the course were actually really enjoyable, super fast flat TT roads speed always over 40km/h and a 5 hour ride was on the cards. Just get to transition with no mistakes and it’s go time.
Into transition 5 hours exactly. Sub 9 was on just don’t fuck up the marathon. Again a fairly fast transition, I actually was dizzy and confused in transition and forgot some gells to grab but out onto the run I calmed down. They make you run around a track at the start of each lap and actually this was quite nice to settle in and just get focused away from the big crowds!
The first 5ks I felt incredible, I was running by feel around 3:30-40 pace, I knew I wouldn’t hold that for the whole marathon but decided to just run and stick with the pace as long as I could. A lot of people say the marathon starts at 30kms but that’s bollocks it starts out of transition. The support team were giving me splits and telling me positions if im honest I couldn’t really hear or understand I think I was top 15 and on the age group podium. Good enough but work to do.
For me the first 20km were fairly easy good running nice pace and tempo. I spewed a bit after 18k and couldn’t take on much more food, my gells were also really warm so I decided to just take on some coke when I could and run "empty". 20-30kms were rough, I felt really hot, frustrated I couldn't run faster and like I wasn't making much progress - I was running faster than anyone on course but it just didn't compute to me, I stopped asking for splits and just wanted encouragement.
After the 2nd lap of 3 I had a pep talk to myself, one lap to go 14kms this is on. I started to check my watch and pace and realised sub 9 was on as was a sub 3 hour marathon. I was angry at myself at one point for thinking oh I can slow down and take it easier, I had always wanted to empty myself out there and not settle for anything less. I started to control my splits more, my stomach pain went and I felt I could run again. I was just ticking off section by section knowing I was getting so much closer. Its funny in an Ironman when you have anywhere under 10kms to go it seems like nothing! With 5kms to go I really tried to stand tall focus and finish the job. 2kms to go this is on, your on the overall podium, won your age group and about to go sub 9. My aim was always sub 9 and an AG podium so to take the win finish 3rd that was very special, on that course sub 9 was always going to be such a long shot.
I can't explain the finishing chute. The noise to me was deafening, I was screaming and just so happy I was more or less sprinting and getting the crowd fired up. I crossed the line to the voice of Paul Kaye and just felt completely overwhelmed with emotion. I went back along the finishing chute found the parents for a big hug and some tears and thanked the incredible crowd. I think moments like this are when its all worth it for me, that other people can see and feel how much it means to you is very special. All day the crowds were incredible but in that finish that was something else.
It's funny I didn't feel too bad straight after, my legs were gone and cramping but I think the happiness, endorphins and pure delight took over. I was easily walking around thanking some people and just utterly buzzing! It was very special to spend this time with my parents and Will and quickly get Rosie on the phone!
I have written this as piece 3/3 but I have decided I'll be writing another post from the ironman some further thoughts, reflections and a bit more about my training in the lead in. If you want something more just ask or let me know.
If you have made it this far thank you! and Thank you for all the kind messages, comments etc since Sunday its such a nice feeling that others case.
So here we are, the day before Ironman Switzerland. I write this on the balcony of one of the most beautiful places I have ever stayed, a small Village called Krattigen overlooking Interlaken and the high alpine mountains that tower over us. It is hard to believe places like this exist, that beauty like this you can just access, train or race in or just enjoy. Certainly a great race for my parents and good friend Will to come out for!
Tomorrow I'll line up at 6:40am and be going for it, a super hard course out here but probably the most beautiful place I have ever raced or seen. I rode the course last weekend on the bike and this really helped my mindset and to know how my shape is, whilst hilly the bike has some seriously fast and flat sections so overall it won't be a "slow" course.
Last week wasn't great and I started to worry and stress, all week I felt exhausted, kept needing to nap, could barely turn the pedals on the bike and motivation was pretty low. I've also been dealing with some personal things and this was all ramping up right at the wrong time. I kept telling myself I had time to freshen up, rest up and that I'd be okay. It was really hard to keep the mind at rest but with some good people on the end of the phone I kept calm and just listened to the body.
At the weekend when I went to Thun I did my final prep sessions that I'd been delaying and actually felt very good, the feelings had come back and I felt the sharpness that I needed. I also was starting to feel super excited for the race, really up for it and mentally started to shift some of the anxiety fog that I deal with.
It's funny, I wrote out my plans for the. 3 weeks leading up to the race and these have changed daily, I listened to my body, trusted how I felt and kept changing things. I feel with experience a a coach I can do that and trust in the changes. A plan is great but you need to be flexible things happen and change.
I tried to keep life load and stress quite low this week along with physical stress, If im honest I think that's the hardest thing to "taper" or control, no one really cares you have a race life keeps going on and people push on with their agendas regardless. You just have to manage what you can, control what you can and put other things away in your head.
Anyway, here we are in Thun arrived yesterday and done all the usual pre race training and logistics. I feel excited, ready to go but incredibly nervous and a little anxious. An ironman is no small feat. regardless of how normalised it is these days its a bloody big day out and in places and courses like here even harder.
I have high expectations for tomorrow, I know I'm fit, I have done the work and I feel confident. I know I'll go to a few dark places and there will be highs and lows which I can't control.
I'll report back after the race, ironically I won't publish any of this until after the race but that's where my head is at the day before.
See you on the other side.