Tuesday, September 20, 2011

End of the road

Another week and another race report- this time from Challenge Henley in the UK.
After Ironman Wales I made my way over to Henley midweek and started preparations for one of the "Challenge" series new events.
After a few races over here this year I have learn t that there is always going to be two common factors in the United Kingdom  1. Bad weather 2. Terrible roads
I had accepted that before the race had started  so there was no surprise that I was almost vibrated off my bike in the pouring rain several times during the race.
What was a surprise though was the atmosphere of the race and the lengths that the organisers went to, to make sure the athletes had the best day possible and were looked after.
As with anything for the first time there will be alot of things to change or improve but for their first event I thought it was great and am hoping that I will be able to get back next year.

As far as the race went, I finished third and put some more experience in the memory bank for the next race.
From the swim start Steve Bayliss and I broke away.  Steve did all the navigating following the lead canoe through some thick fog at the front while I tried to follow his feet and just hang on.
Getting out of the water we had close to a 7 minute lead to the next group of pro guys which is totally unheard of, Steve and I didnt know what had happened to them but went about trying to extend that lead during the three lap 180km ride and managed to push it out to about 10minutes at one point on the second lap.
On the last lap I tried to open it out even further and started to push a bit harder for the last 50km which broke Steve and I apart but the others now in a 5 man group also had the same idea and I hit transition with a couple of minutes to Steve then about 5 minutes to the group.
400m into the run as I went past the first aid station I started vomiting everywhere, I'm still not exactly sure why but I managed to get running again and some nutrition into my stomach but had started to lose alot of time. I hung onto the lead for the first two laps of four to make up the 42km but was passed shortly after by the eventual race winner and second.
I still thought it might be possible to get some form back over the last 10km and catch up with them so fought on as best as I could, running with Steve for a good part of it and finishing about a minute behind second and two minutes behind the winner.

I was planning on staying on in Europe for another couple of weeks before Challenge Barcelona on the 2nd of October but after a quick chat to Brett and a good think about it have decided to head back to Oz later this week to have some recovery time and start to prepare for the Australian season later in the year.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ironman Wales

Coming into long course racing I didnt think I would be in another sprint finish again but that was exactly where I found myself last weekend. After leading most of the race and getting off the bike with close to a 10 minute lead I crossed my fingers that I could hold on for the 42.2 km run. Frustratingly I was caught with 200m left before the finish and had to settle for second.
Anyway this was the first time that Ironman had been to Wales and the locals were so friendly and accommodating that I hope it will return for many years to come even if the weather was terrible! I have included a photo from our swim start at 6.30 in the morning where the crowd was lining the streets.
The swim was a rough ocean swim and I exited about a minute behind the leaders which consisted of a group of three including one of the local boys which got the crowd excited. Onto the bike we were hammered by strong winds and a very tough course. My garmin said it was close to 2500 verticle metres over the 180km! And I caught up to the leaders at about the 50km mark and soon after started to open a bit of a gap which turned into near 10 minutes when I got off the bike and began the marathon.
I started running pretty well and thoughts of my second IM win started to entertain me, but pretty soon I really began to struggle and at the 30km mark I was hardly moving faster than walking pace just trying to make it to the next aid station, once I made it there I got as much energy as I needed and soon got back into a good pace. But after such a bad period I had lost most of my lead and the gap was down to about a minute with 5km to go.
From there it was a footrace to the finish line and we were both flying. Unfortunately with about 200m to go I was caught and all my efforts to get to the line first were smashed.
Although that was a bit frustrating I had a great weekend and met alot of interesting people. Now I am preparing for challenge Henley this weekend and hopefully another solid result.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Gerardmer Wrap

Near perfect conditions greeted us on Saturday morning for one of the toughest races in Europe and a good day of racing for TBB athletes.
Mass starting about 1200 athletes usually wouldn't work, but the French managed it here without anyone drowning and we got away to a clean start.
Some quick swimming saw the field drawn out from the start with eventual winner Sylvain Sudrie leading out the swim with Dave, Steve and Faris close.
I was a further minute behind and struggled to make up any time on the leaders over the first lap. Two guys rode up to me and we caught up to Steve to form what was to be our group of four, for almost the entire bike leg but we failed to put any inroads to the leaders who had really put the pace down and started to split apart. Coming off the bike I was in seventh place with about 30sec to Steve and a minute to Faris. Sudrie had ridden well and opened up about a four minute gap with Poulat. Dave was tucked somewhere in between with Mathias Hecht and I was just hoping like hell I could do something on the run.
The first of three seven km loops I just caught Steve and we ran side by side for about the next 5km making some time up on the guys in front but soon Steve dropped off showing a bit of fatigue after completing two ironmans in two weekends and I continued to chase.
Starting the third lap Faris had about a 1 minute gap back to me and was in fifth place, I made that my goal and to my surprise caught Poulat first who was really struggling then caught Faris with about 1.5km to go on the run, moving me up to fourth place.
So what I thought was going to be a terrible race result turned into a respectable one. I was happy to hang in there and get some racing into my legs again before heading into Ironman Wales next week.
Dave had a great race and finished 2nd, strong all day and a well deserved result.
Caroline won the womens race easily and almost scraped into the top 10 men, so she is looking strong leading into Hawaii next month.
Tonight we have the presentation before we start our ride back to Leysin tomorrow morning.
Hopefully this will kick start me into the next few weeks of longer races and I can get some decent results.
See how we go!