Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Yeah Baby!

So do I feel a better person now? 2 days ago I raced my first sub 10 ironman. Against a backdrop of clouds and mountains and amidst some thunder storms I had a pretty good day all round. I have really enjoyed coming back to austria for the second time and there is definitely something quite soothing about returning to an IM course. I arrived 3 days before race day with plenty of time to settle in and avoid too much pre race stress. Shared a room with Declan for 2 days which was good company in the hotel porker (porcia) which I cannot recommend unless you like early 80s marble and chintz. Did the usual expo stuff and got the bike checked over on thursday. Friday had a good morning swim with a nice bunch of tritalkers thanks to Jevon and reminded myself why this is the best swimming venue I have been to so far. Friday I chilled out completely after a drive around the course to reacuaint the brain with the route. By saturday I was feeling good and had a nice calm to myself. I swapped hotels and then picked up the family from the airport. A quiet family supper then early to bed.

Raceday arrives and no traumas although rain looks likely, what do I care at least half my winter rides are done in the rain and I love it. Soon we are standing at the edge of the water and I decide on the right side this time with Jevon and Declan behind me for company:-). I know the drill this year as well, when they say enter the water that essentially means we are off and so it goes. I had a fairly steady swim, always keeping myself in control. Probably could have gone faster as when we got to the canal section (the last 800m) I was able to speed up and start picking of those ahead of me like pacman racing along a maze. Straight through T1 but had a major calf cramp as I pulled on my shoe then out onto the bike. The start was the usual high speed stuff and I was one of them! I had thought I would have a go at doing a sub 5 bike split to see if could at least recover my cycling mojo after Lanzarote. We had rain on the first lap. On the flat and some of the downhills I was a match for anyone, only on the hills was my form somewhat lacklustre, on the first pass of the Rupi climb I found myself going backwards but settled for a steady spin up the hill without going into the red at all. Over the hill and I was flying and soon went past the trunaround in 2.28 and some seconds, a sub 5 could be on I thought. Soon after I was passed by the first of 3 significant peletons of riders. I fully understand the concept of pacing of another rider but some of my continental friends especially the more italian names like alfonso seemed to think that the 10m rule means you all have to be within 10m of the lead bike (all of you!) any way they seemed pretty skilled in group riding so I dont think they were unsafe.

I felt pretty tired around 130-140 km but managed to keep my focus. Second time up the Rupi was much the same as the first but as I came of the top I decided I would hammer it home. I wound up my legs and went hard, there are a few rises where I would spin for a bit but soon as we were back on the rolling stuff (most of the last 30 km is downhill) I was back on the gas and it felt good as I cruised past some of the "bunches " of riders giving them a bit of abuse and daring them to chase me, some did but most did not.

Hit T2 at 5.04 something so dropped around 7-8 mins on my second bike leg. I definitely had a bit of lactate (or whatever) in my legs and was soon out on the run feeling a bit heavy and regretting my 40 minutes of lunacy in the last hour of the bike. For the first 30 mins I was not a happy man. First km that I timed myself on (from 2-3 I think) had me at 6min/km. I thought this was going to be lanza all over again, my legs were dead and I was making a deal with myself that if I took over 4 hrs on the run then my IM days were over (hey I was tired and emotional). I decided to HTFU and get a rhythm going. Next splits I did was for 3km and showed 15:20, suddenly my whole race changed, I discarded the previous split did some maths and realised if I could hold this I would do a 3.35-3.40 mara (my personal gold medal run time).

Suddenly I was on again. Knowing my usual run form I also expected it to get easier at least for a bit, and as I set out on the second quarter it did. This time I had a plan, when the running feels easy, eat a la Fink. So I was doing a gel every other feed station and "ezo" energy drink plus the odd bit of banana. Sure the food made me feel a bit sick but by pushing on I was banking my nutrition for the seond half (that was my plan anyhow) and keeping my splits on goal. At 21km ther was a race clock running and I think it showed me with about 1.55 to spare for a sub 10 but I cannot be sure. The third section was tough, as ever, but I was now catching and passing more than being caught and even able to track a few faster runners for a km to try and keep my pace up. I also elected to walk alternate feed stations to get a proper drink. When I got to the last 6 km I did some bad maths on the clock and thought I had only 35 mins to do the last 6 which was gonna be tough. I asked myself how much I wanted it and how much pain could I take. The answers came back as 1. Lots and 2. More.

I had been running with a group for about 3 km and decided it was time to push, and they dropped away, I also decided I would push fast through the feed stations. Counting down the kms there was again a rogue 6 min km but this was then followed by a 4.52 so I felt better but carried on pushing. When I got to the race clock about 1.4 km from the finish I was amazed to see it on 9.4something, my maths was wrong I had the sub 10 in the bag. I eased off but the realisation that the pain was the same whatever speed meant I picked it up for the last km. I was trying to find my family but could not see them. Finally approaching the chute I did not want a repeat of last year, I looked overtook the guy in front and stretched a bit to make sure there was a gap and into the chute, my name got called and I had done it 9.53 and some.

My next thought was where could I have found those 3 minutes.......

Todays thought is where can I find those 23 minutes .. see you out there.

p.s. Melly I love you.


lord_lordy said...

Fantastic race Gabriel. I was following the latter half of your run on line and was impressed with how evenly you managed to run it. Very well executed race. Get some good rest before hitting the training hard again.

Whats HTFU stand for ? Excuse me igerance ;o)

Jevon said...

Top man. Great race. You were flyin' dude. But I did stay with you (albeiit for 20 metres of the swim :-)). See you soon.