Race report – Ely Monster Middle Distance 18/08/13, 1.9, 83, 21
I was fairly apprehensive about my first half iron distance race, but felt I had done enough training in the preceding months under the Guidance of Off That Couch Fitness and felt pretty good at the duathlon five days before. I arrived in Ely the afternoon before and decided to have a drive around the bike course, immediately it was obvious that it was incredibly flat and windy, with vast expanses of open road. Then it was back to the hotel for tuna pasta, rice pudding and a 9pm bedtime. Nerves kept me from sleeping much but the 4.30 alarm came around pretty quickly and I headed to the start, got my stuff ready in transition and walked to the race start. The wind had died down from the previous day, but was still what could be described as quite breezy and conditions overhead didn’t look great.
I started in the first wave and made my way upstream through the canal, narrowly avoiding several (thankfully stationary) boats in what was a fairly uneventful swim and my watch said 27 mins, 5 quicker than the 32 I was aiming for. Transition, however, didn’t go to plan – first I couldn’t get my wetsuit off over my garmin and then the base of my helmet fell out three times…never mind, and after a 3 min T1 I was onto the bike with a strong tail wind to begin with, and started picking some people off thinking now I understand the importance of the tough Turbo sets my coach had been setting me week after week. After about 7 miles, I realised a group of three or so of us were exchanging passes and decided to use these guys to pace myself, particularly as we turned left onto a dead straight road into the wind. I stayed with these guys for the next 40 or so miles and kept at a decent pace, finishing the bike in 2.18. Bike nutrition definitely something to be worked on – feeling sick due to energy bar not agreeing with me was not ideal.
I took my time in T2, ensuring I took a good drink and a gel in my 2 minute T2, and headed out onto the run, where my Garmin immediately decided to give up, meaning I had to run on feel for the duration. I had a figure of 1.37 in my head for the half marathon and I only had an idea of time by asking competitors what their watched said. The run course was anything but flat, with three reasonably large hills on each of the 4.25 km laps, but it was around the center of the city, which meant there was a great atmosphere. After three and a half laps I started to feel pretty sluggish, but knew I had to keep pushing hard as I saw a couple of guys pass me for position in the race. The final lap was a bit of a blur but I was delighted to see 4.25 on the clock as I pushed for the line. After visiting the timing tent I saw I had done a 1.34 run, a PB by 5 minutes on my stand alone half marathon time, and later found out I had come 21st out of 300 or so, and won my age group (which was only me and one other person in the ‘19’ age group), but also beat the 20-24 age group winner. I had 4.30 as my ‘dream time’ so was absolutely delighted with how it went, but can’t really move now.