Monday, July 24, 2017

My 1st Ironman DNF

My First Ironman DNF Had a 1st yesterday, First time I haven't finished an ironman I started or triathlon of any length for that matter. I'm certainly proud of adding this to my list of sporting experiences but under the circumstances in my mind at least it was the right decision to make. The reason was pretty simple, I felt terrible!  Since arriving in europe a couple of weeks ago I've just been stuck in a bit of a rut. Following my Ron Burgandy exploits at Le Tour de France last week I was reminded what a cess pool of germs a bike race is and ended up with the stomach bug that seemed to wipe out a good portion of the Peleton this past week. After spending the weekend driving the porcilen bus I hoped I'd regain my strength for the race yesterday. ever the optimist I lined up at 6:25 am believing the extra rest days would only be a benefit to me and I'd be as sharp as a tack for the race of my life in nice. I say the race of my life as that's the result I need. I'm here in Europe to try and score enough points for automatic Kona qualification and a top 3 is what I need. Having never finished on the podium before as a pro it certainly makes it the biggest challenge I've set myself thus in this sport.  My original plan was to race The Zurich IM next weekend however that changed to Nice when many convinced me this was the perfect course for me, hard bike and a flat "easy" run. Yeah writing that down now make me realize how stupid I was, hard bike followed by a flat "easy" run!! When is running a marathon ever easy let alone after a harder than normal bike ride!! Yeah I was a little bit of a silly Billy on this one. Anyways I listened to advice and planned on nice. When I got sick I immediately decided to skip nice and just focus on Zurich. As I felt better day by day during the week and the excitement around Nice grew for the event it was like a red rag to a bull. I was staying here in the thick of it anyways so thought "bugger it" I'll line up and see what happens, worse case scenario I do some good swim bike training which I did feel like a needed and pull out after a few km's on the run. So sure enough race day rolled around and I was on the start line! Despite my apprehension to race and knowing it would be a miracle if I had a great day i still stood on that starting line expecting to be up front. The gun went off and I had a great start and for the first 100m I was in the lead which is becoming normal for me. Once I backed off to find fast freddy van leirde's feet who was playing along beside me I copped my first real good fist to the goggles!! Man that hurts and instantly shook me and was swamped by a couple more bodies. I then tried to accelerate to catch back to the front guys and that's when I knew it wasn't going to be a miracle today. I simply didn't have the spark and spent the next 53minutes floundering around in the ocean telling myself "I told you so, you shouldn't be out here"! Anyways I swallowed my loosen and thought bugger it, stick to the plan and at least do the bike leg.  When I exited the water I was 4 minutes down which was a good thing as in my mind I was already out of the race so meant I could ride a nice steady bike leg and focus on my nutrition and hydration and getting to know the new position on the bike I've been working on. Slowly but surely I still managed to start plucking off the front runners and soon it was only Freddy a few minutes ahead as we started the climb. I decided then that I'll aim to catch him by the finish as he's very strong and I didn't want to finish the bike on my  hands and knees, this was still in my mind a solid training session. Sure enough over the next 100km I slowly pegged him back and by the transition we where separated by a handful of seconds. I had an excellent transition and came out hot on Freddy's heals, I couldn't believe I was in this position. I decided I'd do a lap and run at a pace I one day dream of running the entire way at and try and get a feel for how fast Freddy was running. For the first 6km I kept him pegged so was good to know the pace these guys can still go at after a "hard" bike, its pretty remarkable. Obviously this wasn't easy for me and still seeing this as a training day I quickly reverted to common sense and backed the pace off to my more pedestrian pace as I like to call it. At the end off the first 12km where I planned to stop I realized 3rd was still 8minutes behind and hadn't closed at all and Freddy wasn't far ahead. This was where the mind games started, should I keep going? Well I had to keep going as it's bloody disrespectful to pull out of a race when 2nd in front off everyone when you have no obvious signs of suffering. I figured I'd just do a few 2km efforts till 2nd and 3rd catch me so I jogged to each aid station, stopped and walked and enjoyed the free buffet then jogged to the next. I did this for another 6km or so but still they where 7 & 10 minutes back respectively so I picked a quiet spot which wasn't easy to find and waited with fallon for the boys to come past. By this stage I'd plodded 18km and that was more than enough of a training day for me. I walked through the halfway mark in 4th place and then retired from the race and we walked home, it was certainly a solid hit out! Do I feel good about what happened, not at all. I honestly at the start of the 2nd lap tried to convince myself to rally and commit to racing the whole thing regardless of the outcome but that to me was pointless. I was there to try and be on the podium and with how I felt I could very well have been walking the last lap if things went the way I expected them to go and I could have finished god only knows where. I've never quit a race before. I've pushed myself to the point of peeing blood in the past simply to get to the finish line and that destroyed my entire year. Perhaps a race isn't the place to go through the motions and open yourself up but I honestly didn't know what would happen on that start line yesterday morning and the outcome was the outcome.  Anyways onwards we go and Zurich is just a week away. After all that I'll be doing the race I originally planned to do anyways, funny how things worked, fingers crossed it was meant be!! What have a learnt form this?? Well if I'm at all dubious about my health an ironman isn't the place to be expecting peak performance. A marathon at the best of times will highlight the weaknesses in anybody but after swimming and riding they will highlight them even earlier!! A few weeks out from a big event perhaps it wasn't the time to be off playing TV host with Mike Tomolaris with the TDF coverage but that was a commitment i made and at the time I felt like I could de everything. So here we are, I got my wish, I'm racing Zurich and I promise that whatever the outcome on Sunday I won't be leaving anything in the tank. Cjw