Hey, nice on the replacement bag. CPH airport workers kicked the living daylights out of my bag too, brake needed twisting back too. Only a broken castor so no real damage. I do like the Scicon bags.
Just bought that exact same bag (the scicon one) for the trip to Lanzarote next year! Key selling point was the fact that you don’t have to remove anything other than the wheels, so hopefully the bike won’t need any adjustments once we get there! Let me know how you like it.
Shropshire Olympic this morning. Previous best at an Olympic was 3:11.
So, I’m rather pleased with my 2:34 this morning- gobsmacked in fact!
Oh dear! I’ve had a lot of pain in my foot since Sunday. So much so I ended up going to A&E this morning.
I’m now in a boot and have a fracture across my big toe.
Not the way I wanted to end this season, and a big come down from the PB.
I need to look in to the detail a little more, but my suspicion is that it started/ was caused when I stepped out of the training plan in order to try the ‘Kipchoge Challenge’.
Wow. Must be a big break!
@liberosis. The very same reason, I am not mechanically minded at all, so can take the wheels off, drop the seat post down and also point the front end downwards and I am good to go.
It isn’t the easiest to wheel around on cobbles! But it is light, you can load other items in the bag and shove it on top of a wardrobe or under the bed when you get to the race venue.
If for whatever reason I needed to purchase a bike bag, would probably buy the same brand.
Just got that same exact bag as well.
Well. Sorry to hear. But you still have the PR and season is over. So the timing was really good.
Challenge Almere-Amsterdam middle distance today.
Been travelling around Europe the past few weeks and although that isn’t the best taper plan, I wanted to do this race to end finish off the season and knock off my first 70.3 distance. Had my draft legal sprint distance bike because of ITU worlds in Switzerland a few weeks ago. Also was fighting a head cold and was just worn down from being a tourist all last week in London. Just wanted to go out and have fun to learn some lessons.
Swimming is my weakest discipline by far and something I want to really address this offseason. Bleeding time at the start of any race i’ve ever entered has gone on long enough. I enjoy swimming and feel comfortable in the water having learned from scratch 2 years ago, i’m just not fast. Swim conditions were good. 38:30.
After a piss break in T1 my bike didn’t feel right exiting transition, sure enough just as I reach the mount line I notice my front tire is completely flat. 10 meters beyond the mount line in a crowd of people I flip the bike and go through the tire changing process. Since I was so close to transition I sought out a volunteer and asked if there was a mechanic handy. No dice. C02 came out of my hand while filling the new tube, and although some members of the crowd were trying to help they ended up just getting in the way. Estimate my tire was around 60 PSI and I usually go 100, so mentally I was rattled heading out onto the bike. Whole thing cost me 6 minutes.
This bike course is as fast and flat as you’ll find. And although I couldn’t get very aero on my road bike and my tires were straight fucked, I felt myself flying past people the entire way. Conditions were spectacular. Ended up going 2:42. I have to learn to piss on the bike though, wasted another minute in T2 hitting the euro trough.
Originally I was planning on running 4:30 kilometres for the half marathon. It’s a dead flat 3 loop path of the lake. I felt good and thought fuck it i’m just going to adopt the go till you blow mentality. A guy went by me and looked good so I just stuck with him for the first 8k. After that I went by and didn’t even look at my watch until the final 7k. To my surprise it said I was running 4:15 kilometres which I held to the end for a 1:29 run. This is the same time I ran 8 months ago at an open half marathon. All those run miles I put in seemed to pay off. Final time 4:59 which i’ll take with everything considered. Awesome race and was glad I gutted it out and showed a little gangster.
It seems that against all odds you not only had lots of fun but also scored an amazing finish time @bretzky Sincere congrats!
Well, if you feel like coming back there next year again then we’ll probably meet at the start line. Reading your report and other event info makes me think it’s definitely one to go for. Thanks for sharing!
Cool! Sounds Like you had fun.
I live in Amsterdam and know the bike course well, go there sometimes for training rides. Guess you had excellent conditions yesterday!
Finally got the mental side of things down in this past weekend’s international distance.
In the previous two intl’s this year I had allowed doubts about my run (my weakest discipline) creep into my thoughts during the bike, particularly when the legs started to get a little tired. As a result, on the run it was easy to walk during the hurt, I repeatedly glanced at the decreasing pace on my watch and got discouraged, the walks became more frequent etc., all leading to 10:30+min/mile “runs.”
This time, during the bike I just repeated some form of “You’re going to have a great run today.” During the run I started a little harder than I normally would to see how long it would last, I never glanced at the watch, I kept my pacing song in mind, and I just focused on passing the next person in front of me…worked like a charm to get me a 8:33/mile pace. I know this is not “fast” for most of you, but it def is for me
Nicely done @bretzky! That’s a pretty solid time considering you were pretty hamstrung. And damn impressive run leg as well. It looks like you paced really well and then went really deep mentally to hit that 1:29!
Alright, time to write this while still fresh on my mind. Yesterday was a tough tough day! I got my brick, but wasn’t able to hang on for my goal time. That goal time was a bit of smoke that started using best bike split and an estimated IF compared to how I was able to perform on my longer rides.
For this race, I went ahead and upped my swim game and bought a full sleeved suit since the water temps are historically in the low 70’s to high 60’s. I also went with the Roka R1 goggles. Def a worthy purchase as it was a foggy start for the swim and I swam at a steady pace through the whole swim. Goal was to try and swim easier than I normally would go, equivalent effort to CSS+5 or so. Didn’t really kick at all and swam a 31:50.
After the slow jog up the hill to T1, I was able to get out of my suit relatively well. I still am not sure how people really pull their feet out so quick… I can’t step on the suit and pull my ankle out but can get it mostly off that way and need to pull it off my ankle with my hands.
Start the bike, I was going stick to the power plan as best I could. I had done some pacing efforts the last 3-4 weeks using the 3s avg power and HR as my display on my 920. BBS power plan had 270 watts as my steep hill target, 250-260 middle hill, and 220-230 flat to roller, and 190 downhill. I got passed by a lot of people in the first 3-4 miles, all of them really pushing it on those first couple of hills. Most of the first 15-17 miles are pretty quiet, with a small segment of twisty roads (they were not closed) but almost all downhill. I passed a few people on the twisty segments, but got passed by a few others. As I got up to the base of the westernport wall I could see most of the people ahead of me going straight up the hill. During the practice run, I used a bit of a weaving tactic to try and conserve for the final 28% grade at the end to grab my brick. Started the wall segment seated and powered up seated as long as I could until it really pitched up and then got out of the saddle for the last portion. With everyone screaming and ringing cowbells when you’re doing the climb, excitement got the best of me and I just powered up as best I knew to try and ensure I was going to make it up. I didn’t mention it earlier, but my tubeless tire got a slash in it on my last outdoor ride before the race and was no longer holding pressure above 35 psi so I had to use the tire that came with the bike for the rear. On the surface for that climb, with chunky and broken concrete, traction is an issue, and I could feel the bike squirm and tire slighly slip over every crack. In the end it was probably because I was using too much power, I guess that is what happens with adrenaline. But had one of the top times for that segment on the day.
So after the wall segment, starts the planned ~25 minutes of 270 watt target power… a few of the segments on that climb, you have to go super slow just to keep power under 300 watts, and that is using compact chainring and an 11-32 cassette. I think I did a pretty good job of following the power plan, but BBS calculated using average grade for certain segments even though actual roads are constantly changing grade. In training I noticed that I probably wasn’t going to hit the target power because of this, so I mentally prepared myself it would take about 10 minutes longer than the power plan. Much of the rest of the bike was a pretty steady effort, trying to reach my target, but sometimes it was too steep to be really comfortable… 235 watts at 65 rpm is still pretty stressful and it was getting harder and harder to maintain target power. I was able to recover mostly on the descents, and had a pretty solid effort up the next 20 minute climb. Up next were the series of 3 relatively short, but very steep climbs. From here on out, survival was the only thing that was important, I didn’t really try to maintain a set power on those, just instilling the same power cap on the steeper segments.
Once making it up the climb called killer miller, theres only one more wall effort with a grade above 20%, and another 10-15 miles of rollers to slightly downhill riding. By that time I was getting pretty tired, and riding in the drops, or aero bars wasn’t very comfortable so it was quite a challenge to try and stay low. Bike time 3:26, but 5800 ft of climbing… ouch!
On to the run, the goal was to try and run at a steady pace, roughly a 3 breath in/out effort except for the biggest climbs. This worked pretty well until about mile 4 and from there the climbs got harder and harder. Next up was the first time up the fire road “water tower” climb, and I walked a few segments during the climb. For nutrition I had been taking water/gatorade at most of the aid stations, but I could tell at that time that I had a nice sheen of salt on me. Earlier when prepping my bottles for the bike, I forgot to add in some salt. I make a custom drink mix, and the last few months I had been just adding in a touch of Himalayan sea salt as discussed by one of last year’s podcast guests. Gatorade at aid stations is a bit of a struggle, sometimes its too strong, sometimes its too watered down, so it wasn’t really making my stomach feel so good and I just alternated water/gatorade at the remaining aid stations. Somewhere between mile 8-9 I got a severe cramp in my left leg, to where walking was even a struggle. I was eventually able to massage it out and loosen it up and jog along at an easy pace. Basically after that though, I walked every hill. Once I got to the top of the 2nd time up the fire road, I actually drank 3 cups of water and got some icecubes. That was the spike that got me to the finish, from there it is 1.5 miles to the finish, with .25 miles of it at a nice downhill grade, up one more hill and then a slighly down/flat section for the last 3/4 of a mile. I was actually able to run up the last hill before the last aid station and just gutted it out for the remainder of the race. I changed my watch time to total time and saw that there was a chance for me to break 6 hours. I wasn’t able to push it any harder but from there it was just keep going until the end. Well 5:59:19 was my finishing time, good enough for 28th non-elite. There were 10 pros/Elite also racing, with the race winner finishing around 5:00 as I was finishing the first lap of my run. Wow, what a tough day.
Lessons: Short power is not a good prep for long course racing, and maybe even xterra. This year my bike finish was roughly neutral with my performance last year, even though my VO2 max was better, the metabolic cost of doing those hard efforts just get even harder when sandwiched between a swim/run. Anaerobic efforts when doing a solo bike ride/race are fine when you aren’t as limited for fuel or need to run afterwards. Well a bit of a gut-punch, but something like this is what usually challenges me to do better next year. Guess I have to see how much I can improve for next year!
Full race report from IM Wales coming soon, but for now …
IM Wales 2019 Race Report
I want to write down everything while it’s fresh in my memory, and also to give some pointers to other people doing this race. It’s my first IM branded event and also my first full distance, but hopefully it will be useful to some.
First of all, I think this race totally lived up the the hype and expectations in terms of the support and energy, from the people and the whole town of Tenby in Wales. It was an incredible experience. Two days later and Im still buzzing and struggling to sit down and do any kind of work. Having to push through crowds to get to the start of a triathlon was definitely a new experience, and you are made to feel like a rock star the entire day.
I definitely recommend getting down to the event on Friday so that you can register, and figure out the locations of transition etc, because transition is in a car park on the other side of town from the swim. So there’s a little bit extra to consider and get organised on race day. I also highly recommend the race briefing, which was a jam packed 1hr session explaining everything you need to know, even for a first time IM’er like myself. I also recommend booking accommodation way in advance, because the town is quite small and it was so nice being within walking distance of everything vs having to travel in from outside town. Its a long day.
Secondly, the course. Having only 70.3 as a reference, I can’t be completely objective but, yes, it definitely earns it’s reputation as a tough course, probably simply to the fact that there is no flat ground in Wales. Even the run to T1 is up a hill! You definitely need to be prepared for a hilly bike, and 4 loops of a sadistic run course. I definitely felt my TT bike was the right choice, considering I am an OK bike handler. I changed to a compact 50/34 up front with a 11/28 at the back and that was a good option for the day, for my power and weight. I still had to grind up the 15% hill x 2 and a few other significant climbs. More on that below.
Because transition is about 1km from the swim start, I got to transition at about 6am, with only a 5 minute walk across town. Bike racking, with bike and run bags was the day before. Bike and run special needs bags was on the morning. We then walked across town through the amazing crowds to the swim start which is down a zig zag ramp cut into the side of the cliff onto the beach, where you self seed according to your swim time. I thought I would do about a 1:08, but literally no one seeded themselves before the 1:10m marker. This was a mistake. Next time I know just to back my swim time. I think there are slower swimmers who put themselves a bit higher, hoping to catch some fast straight feet (fair play). I did spend most of the first lap stuck with people who were zig zagging on the swim.
You start your time as you cross the mat, run down the beach, through two marker buoys a few meters into the water, and take a sharpish left for the first of two laps around the bay. At this point it is super useful to be able to sight of the cliff, and not the orange marker buoy, which wasn’t that visible. Its quicker than first swimming to the line of yellow markers on your right, and the kayaks on your left will keep you on track that side. On lap one we turned around two buoys at the end of the course, even though on the course map it was marked as a single, and then back across the bay using the lifeboat station as a marker. You won’t see the orange buoy at all, and on the second lap we had boats drifting onto the course. Mayhem. For the turn back towards the beach, the famous Goscar rock tends to blend into the cliff, so the beige house behind it worked better for me for sighting, until the IM inflatable arch is visible. You go through the arch for another lap, or turn left onto the zig zag path where you will have hung you second pair of trainers for the run across town. I chose to take off my wetsuit and put it in my pink bag, which you need to take with you or you will be DQ’ed before you’ve even properly got going.
Sitting on a bench, in a marquee for transition was a really touch vs the usual grassy field, I really enjoyed that. The crowd support at 8am in the morning was unreal. At this point about 2 minutes into the ride, I hit my first bump and my BTA bottle decided to launch into said crowd. Luckily I got the bottle back, but my first 750ml of hydration/nutrition was gone. This was a great example of staying calm and not panicking as I knew the first aid station was at mile 25, and I had another 500ml on the down tube. It would have been super useful to have the aid station mile markers taped to the top bar, because you never know if you will have to recalculate your nutrition / hydration strategy on the fly.
The ride to start with out to Angle and back is actually quote pleasant and its definitely a temptation to go faster than you should. They say you come to Wales IM to slay the dragon, and indeed she is beautiful, but also sly. The latter half of the course is where the multiple hard climbs await you (2x 2 hard climbs) and beginning only past the half way mark for distance, so I was sure to stay well within a very steady effort (RPE, unfortunately. No power meter currently). There were many people pushing hard out onto the bike course, with the crowd providing such a massive boost I can see how easy it would be to go too hard all round the course.
There were also the idiots. I think this might be an IM thing, I haven’t really experienced it before. Firstly, you can pretty much forget the drafting rules, no one per se is on someone else’s wheel, but neither are they 12m back, nor do people overtake one at a time. I had a very scary moment on a left hand fast downhill turn, with someone on the inside moving out to the right, only to have a third person overtake the both of us half way into the corner. I also saw two pros, together with camera bike, with only 4m or so of separation for ages up the road in front of me, so hmmmmm …
I would definitely think about bike handling and how good you are at carrying speed around corners and back up hills. So many people were sitting up and adjusting gears before they had even go to the bottom of the hills. Most hills and dips also combine with turns. I have to say, it keeps you switched on, and is actually a fabulous course. We did see a very nasty accident on the way out to Angle, so you have to stay alert for that too.
I ran 25mm GP5000 tyres on Zipp 404’s with fairly low pressures (85 front, 90 back, 92kgs) and I felt this was a great choice. The road surface is definitely mixed and its a long day in the saddle, so it helped to soak up the bumps and some of the rough tarmac. I saw some pros with discs, but not many others, so if the weather is kind you may be ok. Usually the wind comes off the sea, even if the local forecast is quite mild.
The support in every village was outstanding, and the peeps at the aid stations were amazing. Thank you to each and every one of those people, they make the day so much easier. I definitely need to figure out how to work with a BTA bottle and an aero bottle and how to refill on the move. My nutrition strategy worked well, taking 7 Maurten gels with me, and collecting another 5 at special needs at 67 miles. I did have some cramping, starting with the swim at about 3000m, so I need to look into my hydration mix, because this was a perfect day, 18 degrees C and overcast - so sweat / salt shouldn’t have been a big issue.
I stopped at mile 50 to help a bloke fix a puncture. He’d clearly been having a problem for some time, as a marshall was with him, and when I asked if he needed help, he said he needed some tyre levers. Unfortunately this guy didn’t seem to have any tubes, didn’t know how his CO2 worked, and I suspect was not running a 700 wheel because we struggled like crazy to get a spare tube back on his wheel. For all the training and preparation, not to mention cost, please practice putting tubes on your race wheels, and make sure you have the right kit. I hope the guy finished, because the tube pushed the top of the tyre out, and he had had a 55 minute swim and looked strong. I left him after 10 minutes. To be fair it was nice to have a stretch off the bike. I think I only saw two other punctures the whole day, so not too bad for tyres.
Coming into Saudersfoot before the big climb, is actually a shorter steeper 15% climb, which in my opinion is actually worse, because I had to stand up and do a power stomp just to keep moving. For me this could be hugely damaging to your run, and you have to this twice. I was so thankful for Coach Chad’s over threshold and vo2 max interval workouts in the weeks leading up to the race because it was so critical on these big climbs. At the time I was like ‘What the hell Coach Chad, we are doing 112 miles steady state in two weeks time, why are you killing me?’. Now I see the light, I suspect also the shorter, harder stuff is a great way of staying sharp and decreasing volume …
If you ever wanted to know what it’s like climbing the mountains as a pro on Le Tour … this is the event for you. Crowds are standing in the road, shouting your name, inches from your face as you grind up the hills, covered in chalked names. Clapping, cheering, shouting. Unbelievable noise. People be going crazy, and you want to look around and say ‘Who me?’ It adds many watts, in fact you have to be careful not to put on a glory surge!
Transition is back in town, I had a pee stop, and ran out onto the run, which is a downhill into a 2mile or so uphill. I immediately had my cramp come back and knew I was going to be managing this the whole run. In a way this was ok, as a poor runner, and heavier athlete, I may have had to walk up the first part of the loop anyway, so this wasn’t the end of the world. You have to adapt during an IM they say, and this is so true. Be prepared to adapt. I starting eating bananas and tortilla chips at every aid station, and this held the cramps off enough to get to the next aid station. Because I started cramping on the swim, I don’t think this was a bike effort problem, but a poor nutrition / hydration issue leading into the race during my taper.
The run is specifically designed to torture you. I think. There are two cut backs from the course, the first to get a lap band, and the second down by the swim start on the cliffs above North Beach. Both make you realise you aren’t quite as far round the lap as you think. The run through town is spectacular, everyone has a pint in hand, is shouting your name, and basically telling you what an awesome idiot you are. The signs and comments are hilarious and helps lighten the moment when things get dark
You loop up and down the town, which is quite hilly, and I used the crowd support just to keep running up the hill.
Eventually you stick left, instead of another lap, and boom, suddenly red carpet on the esplanade, you are an Ironman … job done. And here we are two days later and I still can’t quite believe it. If you are in doubt about IM Wales, but you are prepared to train hard and smash it out, definitely definitely do it. What an amazing day, amazing place and an amazing event.
Awesome race report, @jameswestgate! I’d love to do IM Wales one day, especially after watching the live coverage on Sunday.
I’m curious myself about the swim seeding for my race this coming Sunday. I’m expecting to swim 63 to 65 minutes, but should where should I seed myself!? If everyone else is seeding faster than they are, should I do the same?
Fantastic report! Sounds like you had a great day, well done!
In a way, it’s too good. I shouldn’t have read it. Much like I shouldn’t have watched the coverage on Sunday and I shouldn’t have listened to the Oxygen Addict podcast special about it.
I was sure I’m not going to do a ironman next year. 100% sure.
IM Wales does sound pretty good.
Greg, not sure. But definitely back your time, and try stay ahead of any bunches if it’s a rolling start. Let us know how it goes!
Do it. You won’t regret it. I may even be supporting next year. Entries were full by December.
Killer run! It may behoove you to look into tire pressures. At 175 lbs, I run 85/90 front back on 25cc tires. It’s very possible that you serendipitously lucked into a faster tire pressure.
@teetopmlp, solid work. Having a positive attitude overcomes many things.
@Bioteknik, that is a seriously good race on what sounds like a super hard course. 20-28% gradient? Screw that! Lol. It would be very hard to have a decent run after that. What race is that btw?
@jameswestgate, great report and congrats on finishing your first IM. Big kudos for stopping and helping a person in need. I hope it brings you lots of good karma. If you have a disk, always use it if the race allows it. The wind only effects your front wheel. The back wheel doesn’t turn and is stable in crosswinds.