I recently took part in arguable the most prestigious ironman distance race, par Hawaii World Championships. Challenge Roth is a race that has been raced under 2 different names for the past 25 years attracting the world’s best athletes. This year, current-triple world champion Chrissie Wellington (GB) raced for the second year in a row, smashing the world record again and coming 7th overall; she ‘chicked’ the majority of the male pro field.; is there an end to this girls talents. In the men’s pro race, double Ironman champion (2004 & 2006) Norman Stadler (Germany) was racing, as was Faris Al-Sultan (Germany); 2005 world champion. The tri-stud list goes on. However it was Danish athlete Rasmus Henning, beating the German superstars who took the win. Not only did he win but he also recorded the 5th fastest Ironman time in history. Check out the challenge Roth web site..
History in the making – Chrissie Wellington smashing the Iron distance record (again)
Whilst I didn’t set any records, I did have a good race. This is my second attempt at the ironman distance. The last time I raced an Ironman, was Nice in 2006. I finished in 10.51 on a hilly course. That race was more about finishing this was about a lot more.
Whilst I’m more suited to the ‘Olympic’ and ‘Middle/70.3’ distance triathlon races, the ‘ironbug’ gets you ever so often. So last August I signed up. The goal was to beat my ‘Nice’ time (pre-marriage and family) and ideally sub 10hrs. To do this I knew from the outset that I would need to train very effectively with the limited time I had available. Indeed, my average hours for training, in the lead up to the race were 11 hours per week. Far from ideal and I’m sure most coaches would say that I would be a ‘finisher’ and should not have any expectations of a ‘sub-10’.
Bang goes the gun for my wave. I’m off swimming on my second Ironman journey.
The swim was steady affair, I’m a relative strong swimmer, so I’ve been neglecting this aspect of the triathlon to concentrate on my weakness – running (perhaps I should get some pointers from fellow Torq athlete Nick Shasha). The swim was a fairly uneventful event, nice and controlled, just steadily passing other athletes from previous waves. I completed the 3.8k swim in 56mins. Not ideal as I did 48mins at Nice, but nevertheless I did hit my goal of getting on the bike within the hour.
Leg 2, the bike; the event to make or break your goal time – I would consider myself a good ‘time-trialier’, so I had high expectations for this leg of the triathlon. In the build up I had done a 100mile time-trail in 4hrs 20mins at Ironman pace, so I figured I should be on for a sub 5hrs. This I accomplished; 4hrs 53mins. As I previously stated, I’ve not been doing the typical +20 hr weeks most people like to do for Ironman, so it was all about controlled pace. I saw so many people blow themselves up by attacking unnecessarily. Ironman is all about saving yourself for the run, so consistent steady effort is always going to be faster overall.
The bike at Roth course is unique; I have never felt so many emotions in a race. The best feeling is when you come face to face with the Solar Hill. The support from the crowds is unbelievable; they fill the road and only part to let you through. The only way I can describe it is the Tour-de-France Mountain finishes.
Leg 3, my least favourite triathlon discipline the run. The event to make or break the whole race – For the run I chose to use a GPS watch (compatible with Powertap) to ensure I didn’t blow my race by racing too hard at the beginning and then walking to the finish (‘it is a swim/bike/run not a swim/bike/walk’). The start was hard with lots of people around me charging off at silly paces but I resisted and raced my own race. Another issue was the temperature; Germany was having its hottest July on record. Inevitable, I slowed and had some bad patches but I worked through them. I had expected some dark stages due to lack of training hours and lack of experience at the ironman distance. I firmly believe the ironman distance needs to be respected and it is evitable that the body will say ‘why am I doing this’. It’s at this point you should have your answers ready, or you will not be carrying on. Mine were that I had put my wife and daughter through a lot to get to this point and I was not going to let anything stop me getting my sub 10hrs.
I did achieve my goal, 9.44.23. I’m truly happy with the result, but as with every athlete I can see improvements and believe that on a perfect day with more even more run focus, I can go faster!!! The Ironman is special event, not everybody can achieve the feat of doing an ‘Ironman’. If you are one of the few people to get the chance you should be proud no matter the finish time.
As for the race, if you want to experience +200,000 (slightly intoxicated) people cheering you on making you feel like a Tour de France rider, then try this race. I loved it. It is truly a unique event with a special atmosphere.
Thanks to the wonderful sponsors who have made my ironman dream become an easier experience.
Bikes: Quintana Roo www.quintanarootri.com
Wheels: Fast Forward www.ffwdwheels.com
Power: Saris www.saris.com
Cycle shoes: Lake www.lakecycling.co.uk
Delicious, natural and healthy nutrition: www.torqfitness.co.uk
PS – Thanks to my brother for the support in accompanying me to Germany. Although testing my car on the Autobahn’s was not the ideal Ironman preparation!