So for those that want to read it, here’s my longer race report from yesterday.
In overall terms I’m really happy. 27th percentile mark (of finishers, excl the DNFs) in my age group is actually my best result ever, beating 28th percentile at Busso last year. Although I think US races are maybe a bit skewed to the slower athlete who just wants to complete it within the 17hrs. Looking at results overall, looks like relative to previous years it was a slow swim, a slow bike and a normal run.
swim went reasonably well. I lined up in the 1hr 10 area for the rolling start and was in the water quickly. Unusually for me I managed to swim on course and sight well, keeping close to the buoys the whole way (typically I have a habit of veering right). It was pretty open water the whole way, always with other people around, but never too busy. The swim felt like it lasted for a lifetime, Ironman swims always do, and relative to others this one did – 1:38:37. Based on my Garmin I swam a lot longer than course distance – 4.37km. Looking at Strava most people seemed
to do similarly. Probably not a bad time if I had just swum the 3.8km race distance ?
So onto the bike. I’d practiced a stretch of the bike course on Friday and really enjoyed it so was looking forward to riding hard and pulling out an awesome bike leg. I’ve definitely grown in strength on the bike over the last year. I knew this would be different to my practice ride within the first 2km. The wind! The course is 3 laps of 60km, slightly uphill the whole way out and slightly downhill the whole way back. This came with a brutal headwind to accompany the uphill. The benefit being the tailwind home was enjoyable. I managed to get the tailwind benefit to almost offset the headwind drag on lap 1, but couldn’t repeat that for laps 2 & 3, the headwind was just draining, both mentally and physically.
All of the talk amongst competitors today, the day after the race, is about the bike course. Everyone found it brutal, and apparently even the pros were 20 mins slower on the bike this year than last. It basically meant the bike leg just turned into a big mental battle. Just dig in and pedal. I think the bike course took it out of a lot of people with 27 DNFs in my age group alone.
My other challenge bizarrely was my toes. Occasionally in the past I’ve had an issue on the bike with the toes on my right foot getting really sore. But it didn’t tend to last long and I thought I’d fixed it. I was wrong. Instead I rode for about 130km in total with agony in all of my toes on both feet. I got off the bike at least 5 times, took my shoes off and massaged my toes. This fixed it for about another 10-20km before the pain came again. At the end of the second lap I was seriously considering pulling out. But the combination of a pep talk from some guy walking along while I was sitting on the ground massaging my toes and the thought of the explanation that would come with “DNF due to sore toes” ? got me out onto the third lap. Good job I bought new bike shoes a few days ago, because the old ones are about to go into the bin.
And onto the run. The bike leg had really drained me mentally and I was very low on motivation and determination at the start of the run. So I’d already decided that it would be a walk / jog and I’d just focus on enjoying taking in the atmosphere, something I don’t normally get chance to do. I h
ad plenty of time before the cut off time. So this is what happened for about the first 14km. Maybe ‘active recovery’ could start early! I spent most of that time admiring different tri kits that people were wearing. It certainly helped pass the time.
But then it was as if my determination bucket had refilled itself, and from the 14km mark I started to run. And I ran. And I ran. And it felt good. I had a good pace going and I don’t recall anyone overtaking me in the last 28km at all. And the number of people commenting on how well I was going certainly helped too.
And then the finish line. There are very few things in life as amazing as an Ironman finish line. As always happens, I forgot to listen and hear the announcer call out “Michelle Grocock – you are an Ironman” so I’ll have to buy the video again to find out. I hope it was Mike Reilly. I did hear them comment on my leap as I crossed the line. I’m not a good jumper, I probably got about 2cm off the ground but it felt like 2 metres to me!
Now time for a well deserved rest.
Determination. Consistency. No Excuses.