Ironman Barcelona 2015
Chase 2 Race The Dream” was my slogan and target for a few years and when I qualified and raced Kona in 2013 that was “Done” and ticked off my list. I then needed a new target and “Chase 2 Race The Dream Time” was created. The target of sub 9 was set and I had two failed attempts in 2014 at Ironman Austria (9:14) and Ironman Copenhagen (9:07) although at the time both were personal bests, the chase was still on.
So when I sat down to plan my races for 2015 I decided to have one real good shot at it. Ironman Barcelona!!! This time I’d make sure I went into it shaped and taped!!. In the build up, I targeted 2 half distance races which both had sea swims as prep for Barca. They both went well. Gold and Euro Champ in my AG in Italy and 2nd in AG at Dublin and a Worlds 70.3 spot bagged for 2016 so both pretty good indicators that in 2015 I was strong.
The cool thing about Barca was that I had my best mate Stenno racing his first ever Ironman (his report here), friends Alex and Richard plus my main training partner Growy (Steve Grocock) (report also to come) who I probably spend as much time with biking as I spend with my wife (ooops).
Age Groupers go off at 08:45 so quite a late start for an Ironman and no need to get up at 3 am as you do for many others.
A rolling start whilst seeding yourself with similar ability swimmers and then go for it. Swimming as most of you know is probably the discipline I find the least enjoyable. As Barca is a sea swim it’s always in the hands of the gods whether it will be calm or rough. Luckily for us it wasn’t too bad on race day as the 3 days prior it had been horrendous. For a sea swim my plan is always to be out in under 60 mins and I’d set my Garmin to vibrate every 15 mins. At Barca they have distance markers in the water every 500m so you can keep check on your progress. I rounded the the halfway turn before the 2nd vibration on my Garmin so I knew I was up on time. During the 2nd half of the swim and out of nowhere guess who appears right at the side of me? Bloody Growy! I’m breathing to my right and he’s breathing to his left just like in training. I decided to shout and wave at him, not really sure why as I was only with him on the start line 30 minutes previous?! I should have been more focused on the job but it momentarily took my mind off the swim. The trouble was I started to laugh and took on a mouthful of sea water and Growy just swam off into the distance putting 60 seconds into me during the 2nd half of the swim!!!
Out the water in 58:45
I messed about trying to put compeeds on as I’d been suffering with blisters. Complete waste of time as they wouldn’t stick!
Bike 4 hours 37 mins
Barca’s bike is fast but you have to ride it fast in order for it to be fast if that makes sense? You need to hold an aero tucked position and put constant pressure through the pedals because its so flat. I rode the first 25 miles hard because as I left transition I saw Growy had already come to a stop on the bike and was searching for his water bottle which he had dropped. I had a little chuckle and then focused. The aim was to hold him off until the furthest turn around point on the bike, about 25 miles away. Barca is famous for its big packs, mainly because its so flat. Yes, groups can be large but nothing worse than what I saw in Kona in 2013. I’d also raced Barca previously so I was experienced and almost prepared for this. My plan was simple, overtake! If I couldn’t drop the pack (I tried this repeatedly the previous year only to discover it destroyed my legs for the run) then drop back and ride at the rear but ensure I maintain the legal distance of 10 meters. This is exactly what I did and before I knew it, the bike was done and dusted in 4 hours 37 mins. I’d averaged 24.1 MPH and more importantly, I felt good. I’d been that occupied with keeping my 10 meters the time simply flew.
Groundhog day. Again I messed about trying to attach the compeeds for the blisters and again a complete waste of time!
Run 3 hours 13 mins
For me, this is when the Sub 9 challenge really starts and after a solid swim and bike I’d given myself 3 hours 17 mins to do this. Easy right??? I was initially unsure how to play this…. two choices? I could set off conservatively (slow) and try to hold this pace for the full marathon. Or….. I could bag a fast first half marathon and then just survive for the 2nd half. I went for the second option and ran a fast first half marathon going sub 90 mins and getting in the mix of the race with guys up the road one of which was Alex who went on to finish 3 seconds ahead of me Kudo’s!. After all I’m a racer so lets race. Training Peaks shows I clocked 11 miles all at sub 6:59 pace then another 5 all at sub 7:30 pace (the plan was working). Quick wee stop and now it was survival time and the plan was hardly rocket science, but at least it was a plan “as I say the best plans are simple” . I tried to hold the coat-tails of the fresher runners that were on their first and second laps as I knew they’d be running well. The last 9 miles were tough. Anyone that has done an Ironman knows the last 9 -10 miles are always a struggle so it was just a matter of getting it done and holding a steady pace which I knew would get me under the 9 hours. I was that tired towards the end I couldn’t muster the energy for my usual finish line celebration. But…… as they say, ‘Pain and Suffering is Temporary (Sub 9 for me) lasts forever!!!!!
Sponsors and friends this one is for you
Lastly huge thanks to my wife Emily for the support and suffering she has shared with me on this journey.
What's the next slogan ?
You will have to check back soon to see!!!