Race Report from IM 70.3

A nice race report form one of our athletes who did his first 70.3 race and rather than pick an easy one chose Wimbleball. A tough event but after months of hard work a great result, now we move to Ironman

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Having woken up to a beautiful sunshine on Saturday morning, I knew then I would be racing on good weather. Had something to eat and by 9am I was by the water for a 500m swim practice on the lake I would be racing the following day. The lake was considerably warm but what blew me away was how clear it was. How amazing it felt to see a few sun rays crossing my hands under the clear, warm water of the Wimbleball lake. I did the practice slowly and took my time so I could take it all in. The 525 meters were completed in just over 9 minutes with a pace of 1m51s/100m.
A great pace I thought, if I could reproduce it during the race the following day.
I then prepared my race bags, dropped my bike in transition and covered it with an IM bike cover just in case… (I almost didn’t bother given the sunshine at the time).

Bike race bag:
* bike shoes
* socks
* helmet
* sunglasses
* race belt with number and with 3 power gels, 2 of them classic, one hydro

Run race bag:
* Sunshade
* running shoes
* extra nutrition in case I lost the one attached to the belt during the bike, 2 powerbars, 2 classic power gel, 2 hydro power gel

Then I went with the rest of the family on a drive around the bike course. It was really good to do this. I took a mental note of the flats, ups and downs of the route and I knew it was basically a short bit from transition to loop start that was uphill, ~20 kms starting with a flat and then mostly downhill or with rolling hills and the remainder
~25 were uphill with three serious uphills, the last these with a 14% grade. So the leg bike was uphill ~ 5km, flat ~ 10km, downhill ~ 15km, uphill ~ 15 kms, flat ~ 10 kms, downhill ~ 15km, uphill ~ 15km to finish the loop and then downhill ~ 5km to transition totalling 90kms.

The rest of the day was really good with my daughter racing in IRONKIDS and a very well presented welcoming to IM70.3 UK session and race briefing. Most of the day I abstained from thinking about the daunting race that would follow.

Sunday (race day) the alarm rang at 4.30am and I told Jenny: ‘duty calls’ before jumping out of the sleeping bag to a horrible, truly horrendous weather. Dark grey, thick clouds were pouring constant showers. They didn’t look like they were going to go anytime soon. I sat down for a breakfast of coffee, a power bar, and two large slices of white bread, one with jam and butter and the other with nutella. I went to transition to pump up the tyres and fill the bike with nutrition: 4 nakd berry bars opened and ready to eat.

It was then back to the tent to get myself ready for the start since we needed to be in transition by 6.30am so all athletes could go together to the lake.

Got my trisuit, wetsuit, goggles and cap on and walked down to transition. As I joined the others in transition and started walking to the water a brief, last minute GI distress forced me back to transition toilets and got me slighty delayed. I was then the last to arrive at the lake and everyone was already on the lake floating start. I wanted to start pretty close to the front so I moved closed to the front row and tried to find myself some space on the extremely crowded start line.
Then I found myself in the perfect place, 3rd row with a small rectangle of free water in front of me that crossed the 2nd row. I stood my ground and stayed there. In the meantime the IM race presented talked and talked but what you could hear in the middle of the lake with a swimming cap on was ‘muah, buh, bah, blablabla’. Then you hear music and you notice it’s the national anthem… almost there. You see the canoes quickly moving away from the start and boom! GO!

I got quickly into a space in front of me and set off. It was a busy start but amazingly calm compared to the havoc I was expecting. It was like being in an orderly washing machine. Usually things spread off after around 200m but not this time. This time the field was still packed after awhile and I tried to push forward. About 500m in I found I was leading the pack I was in and tried to move to the next pack. When I closed in on the pack I targeted we were on our way back and with no warning I started seeing the bottom of the lake meaning we were done. I left the lake with nothing of the usual dizziness and set off on the 400m uphill to the T1. I quickly removed goggles and cap and pushed the wetsuit down to my wait. Many people were shouting on the way to T1 but a voice stood out from the crowd shouting ‘PAI’. That was my daughter. I looked, smiled and kept going. T1 was good. I got my bag and one of the volunteers there told me to sit down and literally ripped the wetsuit from me. Got my bike stuff, got ready and was on my way to the bike leg.

The bike leg started with a ‘gentle’ uphill out of transition totalling 300m in one fell swoop and then it was into the flat bit. The weather was suddenly pretty bad, with hail pouring down so badly that it felt like it was ripping off my arms skin. I had a guy coming next to me just to say that the current weather is certainly different to the one in Portugal. I managed to reply that I am used to this one as I actually live in England. Truthfully… it was pretty much the first time I was cycling with weather like this. I was wearing sunglasses which were too dark for the weather conditions I was facing and were full of water drops. The bike computer was full of water drops meaning I could barely read anything on the display. I kept going at an easy pace and seriously slowed down on downhills worried I might end up in one of the ambulances that passed by a couple of times. The first bit was easy and downhill albeit slow. As I am about to begin the 2nd part of the loop which is mostly uphill a guy next to me manages to say: “so this is where the fun starts” and I managed to reply something along the lines of: “pain…
you mean that’s where the pain starts”. The uphills were hard, yes!
Steep, yes! But not the end of the world. Problem was I had a goal and than goal was falling into pieces. I finished the first loop with a respectable 27km/h but by then I knew the goal of achieving 26.5km/h average on the bike leg was all buy a mirage, so all I could do was do my best. Nutrition was fine given I had two of my Nakd berry bars and one of my electrolyte bottles. GI tract was also still ticking and the issue before the race started was all but forgotten. However, I was slightly dreading going into the second loop. The second loop was more of the same with more rain and wind and terrible weather conditions.
Still, the support was phenomenal. In every corner, road bay or village we crossed there were people cheering or offering water and jelly babies. People would cheer your name as you crossed and that would keep me going when the legs started faltering. By mid-second loop all that remained was the uphill bit. It helped that I knew it was going to be the last time I would have to actually cycle them. It helped that I knew I would be disqualified if I pushed my bike up the hills. So I really had to ride them, and so I did. If I did the steepest uphill on the first lap at 9.5km/h, I did it at 6.5km/h on the second and all I could think was: “argh, I can run faster than this!”. I finished the loop and was happy. Back to transition… and the weather started to show signs of improving. In total I had 3 Nakd bars and both bottles of electrolytes I was carrying.

In transition it was a matter of removing the helmet and cycling shoes and getting into my running shoes. Now… should I put on a cap or just some shades? Shades it was then, given my hope for good weather was all but gone.

Now, all that was left was the half marathon… I was so happy. More so, because I knew that at any corner I would be seeing Jenny and the children and I was right. Right after the first few 300 meters I see Jenny and the children euphorically shouting. It was hard not to stop and just hug them. Kept going over what seemed to be two legs which I could barely feel. I could however feel their weight, they were heavier than brick bags. Early on I divided the run mentally into three laps of 7kms each, crossing Jenny and the kids on each one. My pace was horribly slow and I could actually not run faster. The uphills were steeper than expected and there was a long steep downhill that was basically a mud slide. On my first lap a guy went too fast and ended up in the bushes.
Close to the end of the first lap my body gave up… I had nothing left.
My quads tightened, my calves cramped and I could barely think. I stopped and stretched and then tried to keep going but my run was only just slightly faster than a shuffle. Only by the second lap (after crossing Jenny and the kids who were still shouting like crazy) I understood what was probably going on… my body was out of fuel and I had messed up nutrition by not eating and drinking enough. So, I started drinking at each station, then had a banana and a gel. Then I had some more drink and close to one of the stations there was a group of Portuguese that kept shouting to keep me going. It helped… a lot! Next station I had another banana and another gel and started to pick up pace. Crossed Jenny a third and phew… last time. The last lap was just my brain running, forcing my legs to move against their will. At one of the stations I stopped running but simply walked and took one of each of the items the station offered: banana, gel, water, hydro gel, redbull, and coke. Then I picked up pace and I knew I was there… almost there.
Two kms to the finish… and I started dreaming once again about the finish line. Closed my trisuit in preparation for the finish line photo and saw the much awaited path to the finish line followed by the IronMan red carpet. Suddenly I was not tired anymore, I flew the last 50m to the finish line. Stretched my arms open and smiled. Done! Completed my first
IronMan70.3 in 6h27m59s. I am happy.

Race Summary
Swim 00:32:53
Bike 03:39:55
Run 02:06:55
Overall 06:27:59

SWIM DETAILS | Division Rank: 70

Split Name Distance Split Time Race Time Pace Division Rank Gender
Rank Overall Rank
Total 1.9 km 00:32:53 00:32:53 01:42/100m 70 292 329
BIKE DETAILS | Division Rank: 102

Split Name Distance Split Time Race Time Pace Division Rank Gender
Rank Overall Rank
Total 90.1 km 03:39:55 04:18:10 24.59 kph 102 487 529
RUN DETAILS | Division Rank: 104

Split Name Distance Split Time Race Time Pace Division Rank Gender
Rank Overall Rank
Total 21.1 km 02:06:55 06:27:59 06:01/km 104 510 564
Transition Details

T1: Swim-to-bike 00:05:22
T2: Bike-to-run 00:02:54

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