2017 – Challenge Roth and Ironman Barcelona

I set myself a tough target for 2017, to complete Challenge Roth and Ironman Barcelona. I knew it was going to be tough to commit to training for Roth in July and then Barcelona on October 1st. Full of enthusiasm I started my plan in January, but within weeks I was suffering with a cold that would not go. The cold wet conditions endured at the Christian Brown ride in February turned the cold into a full on chest infection that stopped any further training attempts. I then lost my Father in early March which further set back attempts to get consistent training. I went to Tricamp in Mallorca, just about clear of the chest infection, but struggled to keep up with the week 2 group of superstars. However, I did come back fitter and ready to kick on, the training plan was ramping up now to Roth in July. Nicola and I were looking forward to a road trip to Germany in our camper van, we were all packed up and ready to leave. With a final visit to her father, next door, we found him suffering a TIA / stroke. Change of plan and rushed to Scunthorpe hospital. Nicola stayed at home and I headed off for Roth. Yet another sacrifice by Nicola for me. The race at Roth was not what I planned. The town and build up is great, the organisation with a split transition (start 10 K away from the race end) was really difficult to deal with on your own. Having to arrive at the start at 4:45, before the roads were closed, when my start time was at 7:50, meant a very early start. The swim in the canal although not picturesque is just like swimming in a pool, no real sighting required, simply sight off the straight sides of the canal. I was really happy with the swim and T1. The bike route is rolling and through nice countryside. Unfortunately, I did not get to complete the first of 2 laps. I was knocked off my bike on a descent at 30 miles, by someone who fell behind me and slid into me. My rear mech was damaged such that I could not change gear. This was my worst nightmare and race over. I did limp the bike round to compete the rest of the route in a big gear and got to feel the crowds on Solar Hill. After the Roth disappointment I settled back into training, getting as much open water swimming in as possible at Hatfield, long weekend rides and long runs. By mid-August I felt ready to race again, keeping the training going and not getting injured was a hard balance an Achilles niggle started to get worse, so I knocked back the running. Did an, 18 miles run beginning of September and then no more running until race day, trying to protect the Achilles tendon. Arriving in Callela, the weather looked perfect. The Ironman stadium and tents were erected on the beach. I registered Thursday afternoon. Friday, I had a short swim in the sea, at 8:20 am race start time, perfectly flat warm sea, about 21 degrees. Followed by a recce of the bike course. No wind and smooth roads, although a lot of traffic, other cyclists having a recce. Race day, – Assembled on the beach, to the rousing soundtrack of Iron Maiden and AC/DC to before the rolling start commenced with the Pros setting off at 8:00. I was in the 1:20 pen, watching the faster pens run down the beach and into the water and spread out towards the first buoy. It was soon my time to be released down the beach 2 steps in the water and then into strokes. The rolling start pretty much worked, I had clear water out to the first buoy, 300 metres done, right hand turn to the long leg 1900 metres. It was a long 1900 metres going against a current and the water was a bit choppier then it had been the day before. Past each buoy there was bunching, needing some elbow use to keep position. The return straight with the current behind us was much easier. After the final turn back to the beach down a narrowing funnel I did get a bit lost in traffic. Out of the water in 1:23, happy with that, but I felt really sick, assumed it was too much salt water swallowed. Managed to throw up before going into the T1 tent to change out of wetsuit. Space was a bit limited, but stayed focused and collected bike and out in 7 minutes.

Final notes. Turns out I had a sickness virus, I got worse Sunday and had to call a Doctor Monday. Was unable to fly home, so we had a couple more days in Callela. We saw plenty of Catalonian Independence referendum demonstrations and road blocks, but fortunately did not witness any of the violence seen on television.

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