Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My first Ironman victory!!

Without any doubt this has been my most rewarding week of triathlon in my career so far. Two long distance races in the space of four days and my first Ironman victory.
Starting from the beginning..
Sunday we began our trip to a midweek race in France, the "Alpe D'Huez triathlon". Each year most of the TBB athletes make the trip over there and use the race simply as training. We ride about 300km over there Sunday/Monday do some light training Tuesday race Wednesday then ride home Thursday/friday. I managed to get out of the ride home as I had to get to my next race in Bolton (UK) four days later.
The race consists of a 2.2km swim 115km bike and a 22km run and as the name suggests its all based around the infamous Alpe D Huez.
This was probably one of the coldest races I have done, the weather was totally horrid during the event.
We started in the freezing waters near the base of the Alpe in a small lake with the weather closing in fast and by the time I exited the water about a minute behind a breakaway of three guys it was starting to rain. I swam well enough to be in front of most of the main contenders and pretty quickly passed the leaders who each had their own problems, from there I put my head down and rode solo for the next four hours.
The ride consisted of three main climbs and some very scary descending on wet roads in terrenchal rain and fog, finishing with the most dawnting, Alpe D'Huez which is where one of the guys in the chase group caught me and lead into transition only to be given a drafting penalty handing me a head start into the run leg.
I battled to the best of my ability on the day but faded to 3rd place. Respectable but not the win I was after.
This was my first trip to Alpe D'Huez and apart from the weather it was everything that I had imagened it would be. The actual climb was covered in paint/ Graffiti the entire way to the top from where the tour de France had been through many times.
So much sporting history has been made on that one climb that I felt privileged to ride on it, although the race went alright this was the highlight of my trip by far. 
So after crossing the line in the freezing cold it was a quick pack up, presentation then in the car back to Leysin to prepare for Ironman UK on Sunday.
For an Aussie driver in Europe without a GPS I reckon I did good arriving back at our base early Thursday morning but without getting lost!!
I unpacked then packed again hitting the road Friday afternoon, touching down in Manchester that evening followed by the short drive out to Leigh where the race was to be held.
It seems lately every time I travel I have some sort of issues with baggage handlers breaking or damaging my bike and once again I arrived with my rear derailer bent so badly I thought it might have been cracked.
Luckily I found a good bike shop that were very helpful and spent most of the day Saturday there, then checking in for the race the next day.
Although looking back it sounds stressful I was totally relaxed, maybe I am getting used to these last minute issues and dealing with them better or maybe it was just because it was an English speaking country and I didn't have the added stress of not understanding the language which usually makes things really hard.

Everything worked itself out and we hit the water for race start at 6 on Sunday morning. It was a small field of pro men and I managed to sit in with what ended up being the breakaway of three in the swim.
Once on the bike we were totally blown apart from one of the french guys Romain Guillaume who by km 20 had put a two minute gap back to me then about another 2 minutes back to third. I didnt let the gap worry me and stuck to my race plan of building into the bike and if I was feeling good for the last 40km start to put the pressure down.
At about the 100km mark the time splits started coming back in my favor and I was feeling good bit by bit I was closing the gap but still weary of staying hydrated and having enough energy to get through the marathon.
I caught him at the 150km mark and he looked like he was in alot of trouble. This was the best possible news for me as I knew that I already had a big gap back to the next group behind, about 10min. From that point on it was head down and whatever it took to get the race win.
I jumped off the bike feeling like I could run the 42km (unlike my last Ironman) and had no cramps or worries. I got my legs back quickly and found a comfortable pace which I thought I could hold for the 42km run and immediately started to open the gap. This was the point I just wanted the race to end how it was but I still had the best part of 30km left to race.
The run started with a stretch into the city then three loops around the city centre. I was hoping for a flatter course but again there was alot of uphill running involved. After the first lap I was feeling great and had a 12minute gap back to second, I just had to keep in control and the race was mine.
I managed to hold on and came across the line in 8 hours 24 minutes hardly able to take the smile off my face for the next three days.
Amazing the difference a great support base, coach and training partners can make, thanks for all your support and I hope I can write many more blogs as enjoyable as this in the future.

Cheers, Aaron.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats Aaron. I heard the great news through the family grapevine! Mum and Dad send their best wishes (they just haven't worked out how to leave messages yet) xx