On Sunday in Salou Spain i finally put together a decent Triathlon. Some might think I've raced bigger events and seemingly had more significant results but for me this events stands out as a real validation for me deciding to attempt a 3rd elite sport. The Fact i was even on the start line was in itself a very random culmination of events. I'd been due to race the Ironman in Lanzarote on the Saturday but with the airport strikes in Europe and the fact I'd been sick with a chest infection the past week the travel there just seemed like a mission, let alone racing the Ironman on top of that. So i made perhaps the smartest decision i have ever made to stay home in Andorra and race a local race down in Salou just south of Barcelona so an easy 2hr drive away.
On top off that i knew Pablo Dapena was racing who'd a few weeks earlier beaten Patrick Lange and ran 1 minute faster than him on the way to winning the Challenge event in Gran Canaria. Lanzarote is a course designed for me like wales was. I can ride a solid bike and get a significant advantage and my run isn't put under any pressure like it was in South Africa. This course in Salou was flat and fast so I'd struggle to get an advantage on the bike and then have to run my backside off to win, I saw it as a far greater challenge and test of where i was at having to face Pablo. So Saturday Fallon and packed the car, threw the dog in for her first race aswell and headed off to Salou.
Despite knowing that to win the race I'd have to dig deeper in my run than i ever had before, i was surprisingly relaxed on the morning of the race. The one good thing about racing so much is I've got things pretty well dialed now and with the luxury of driving to the race its a hell of a lot easier than trekking across continents to get on a start line! To put myself to sleep the night before i had googled "how to run a fast half marathon". Pretty simple you might say but i knew I'd have to run quicker than i ever had in the past to beat Pablo Dapena. There was pages and pages of ideas but the two things that stuck out where to start slower than you feel you should and that its normal to suffer! The second one really struck a cord with me as I've been so paranoid about injuring myself in training and racing that as soon as i start to feel uncomfortable fatigue while running i back off. The article simply stated that how can you expect to get any better if you don't push yourself. Hell the pain I've been through in rowing and cycling quickly reminded me that my running career to date had really resembled that of a mothers wagging group! No offence mothers, i love my mum! Anyways with starting easier so you can finish stronger and making myself hurt in my mind I couldn't wait to get onto that run course but first i had to swim and ride!
I love beach starts so when the gun went off i was quickly into the lead. I'd lined up beside Pablo knowing he was a fast ITU swimmer and the only man who's been able to swim alongside Josh Amburger in long distance races. My goal was to stay with him as long as possible and test my swimming speed and I know my swimming fitness is still lacking majorly but a good test none the less. I swam stroke for stroke with him for about 300m till i felt the shoulders filling with lactate and getting heavy and retreated some feet more at my pace. Although i was annoyed I couldn't hold him it was good to know my speed is coming and like every other discipline i need to just continue to log the hrs of work to improve. Coupled with that i still had gunk on my chest from my infection the week before so the swim was always going to be a struggle if i went to hard for too long, getting air is rather limited when your swimming! I'd ultimately exit the water just over 2 minutes behind Pablo so I'd put even more pressure on my run as i knew the bike would be fast so limited time to firstly get into the lead and the secondly eek out an advantage.
One positive about having a nice steady swim was i felt fresh as a daisy once i hit dry land. I quickly scooped up the Bolide, gotta say coming into transition and seeing my bike compared to everyone else's really puts a smile on my face, it just looks the business!!!! Once aboard my rocket ship i immediately felt amazing, perhaps the best ever. A couple of weeks earlier Richie Porte and I had had another of our adventures this time doing a 6000m of climbing elevation day which took us 10hrs. My coach Tim Kerrison said if i have the energy to ride that far then the next day i can run a marathon so i ran from Nice to Monaco and back with Tim on the bike following me. Was a solid weekend but as it was followed by 2 weeks of fighting the Man Flu my body probably absorbed it well and recovered at the same time, consequently having me feel at the absolute peak of my powers in Salou. As expected the bike course was flat and fast but having said that i was surprised how quickly i was able to pass my rivals and pull away from them which reaffirmed that i had good legs.
After 35km i had Pablo in my sights and started to plot the best place to pass him. I knew in the next few km's a series of roundabouts was followed by a sharp 200-300m climb which led into a dead stop tight U turn, one off 3 such U turns per lap which there was also 3 off! I wasn't happy about these slow corners as it was ruining my Ave speed! Back plotting my move into the lead. I sized up Pablo and once onto the first roundabout which i noticed he took with caution i ripped passed before the 2nd one and and kept the gas one through the 3rd. I glanced back and saw him try to respond as we hit the hill so i dug even deeper hitting 700 watts on the short climb and my heart rate rocketed to 190! I kept my head down to the corner knowing I'd see him on the way back. Sure enough he'd over cooked it trying to follow me and he was reaching for a bottle at the aid station at the top of the hill. Oh big mistake and that's the moment right there that he lost the race.
I hit the gas as hard as i could again onto the downhill this time and i was gone. 10km later at the next U turn i already had 2 minutes and i being out of sight so quickly i knew i could get a bigger lead than i first envisaged. So i had half of the 2nd lap and all of the 3rd to extend my advantage and i tried not to waste a single mm of road in doing that. At times i considered backing off the power in the hope of running faster but that honestly has never worked for me. In Sweden last year when i went full gas on the bike i had the best run I've ever had. I'm kona and South Africa i tried to be smart and ride easy and my run fell to pieces. I decided I'm just going to go all out on the bike which for me meant staying between 350-370 watts and get as far in front as possible and then think about the run. When i hit transition I couldn't believe my average speed of almost 46kmph specially considering the 9 U turns and all the traffic on the course i had to negotiate on laps 2 and 3. It had by far been my best bike leg ever and now i had to do my best run leg ever, i was committed, i really wanted to win my first Pro Half IM. I racked my bike, once again taking a brief moment to admire its beauty and set off in pursuit of my running transition bag! I was smooth as silk in transition in Salou, I've learnt if you relax and stay calm you do all your bits and pieces much faster. Finally on my run off truth!
Thanks to my last minute instructions from Mr google before bed the night before i started my run nice and calm. My plan was just to get into an uncomfortably comfortable rythm as Kerro would say and not look at my pace clock, what would be would be. Fallon was positioned not long after the run exit with Olive and informed me i had a 5 minute lead. I knew Dapena was capable of running a 1:09, he's one of the fastest over the Half I'm distance and recently run that fast en route to beating and out running Patrick Lang in Gran Canaria so i knew right away I'd need to run a hell of a lot faster than i ever had before to hold him off. The first time I did glance at my clock was at the first U Turn 2.5 km into the run. I decided to measure my margin on distance and as we had 4 laps a shade over 5.3km long to negotiate with two U Turns each lap, they sure love there U Turns in Salou! I'd get regular update on how much real estate was between me and Dapena during the run. At the first turn i had 1.2km, by the start of the 2nd lap is was 900m. I figured if i could maintain this margin of roughly 300m lost for the last 3 laps I'd still have 100m up my sleeve.
With this logic i decided to stay at whatever pace i was running at which 5km in i still hadn't taken any notice off. Once on a rare straight section i took a glance and say 3:40/km pace on my watch. Crikey!! I thought, i felt great and knew if i could hold this I'd break 1hr 20min, the target Tim had set for me prior to the race. The logic in that was how can i expect to run sub 2:40 in kona and break the run course record if i cant even run half the distance that fast!! Baby steps!! So knowing i was moving so well by my standards i just kept chugging along at my uncomfortably comfortable rhythm waiting for the next time distance check at the next turn around. Fallon and olive had switched locations and when i saw her next she said i lost 1 minute to Pablo on lap one. That seemed less than i thought and on that evidence I'd still have 1 minute in hand at the finish if our relative pacing stayed the same. Sure enough at the next turn around I'd only last 100m in the last 2.5km by my calculation which meant only 200m per lap. At the end of lap 2 and halfway point this was confirmed as i still had 700m up my sleeve. Knowing that he wasn't closing anywhere near as quick as i expected i kept at my uncomfortably comfortable pace which whenever i glanced at the clock floated between 3:40-3:50/km. Fallon reaffirmed another minute lost on lap 2 and now it was just keep the ball rolling, i could really smell the big win i so desperately wanted.
When i started the 3rd and final lap and saw that i was still 500m ahead i knew if i held it together he wasn't catching me. Around 3km to go when i past fallon and olive i started to feel that pain and fatigue in my running legs that had scared into backing off for the past 18months. I briefly contemplated doing just that but them remember my instructions from Mr Google the night before reminding me "pain is good, its the only way you'll ever improve". I quickly dismissed the slow down demons and lifted the arms and raised my cadence, i was going to finish this thing off running!! At the last U turn with 2.5km to go 400m still separated Pablo and i and his head stared to bow, i knew i had him. That last half a lap really reminded me what I'd just put my body through as i started getting the dizzy spells and could've happily stopped at any moment. I didn't off course, my first Professional Half Ironman victory awaited me and it had taken my career best performance to pull it off, I wasn't letting it slip away.
Finally into the finish shoot and there was fallon and Olive. People often forget whose behind the scenes and Fallon has been by my side this whole journey. She's studying her masters in wholistic nutrition so really we make the perfect team in my biased opinion, i think she feels the same way! This year we've even brought Olive the dog over with us to really make Europe home and fully commit to this sport. it was our first international race that we where all together for so was important to me to show them (well what olive understands anyways of a race!!!) that the sacrifice was somewhat justified. When i broke that tape I couldn't hide my excitement, it was far and away the best performance I'd ever had in this sport. The first thing i did was stop my watch to check my run split. Sure enough for 20.97km I'd run 1hr 18min 46seconds!!!!!!! I couldn't believe it. I'd run a full minute under our target time and on a very slow course thanks to all the turn around that ruin your rythm as Pablo informed me off at the presentations. With that he said you really ran a hell of a lot quicker than you realise so i was double happy about that. Guess you do the maths and he consistently runs 1:10+- on a flat fast course then with more time i only gave away 4 minutes as i still had 1 minute in hand at the end, i really was wrapped. Far and away my best race to date and really the first time i truly realised that there is potential for me to learn how to run with these guys.
The coolest part about a local race is it doesn't take long to pack up and drive home. A quick stop at McDonald's to celebrate took me back to my junior soccer days when mum would take me along after i scored a goal and we won the game. 2 hrs later we where home at Anyos Park and this place is sporting heaven. An hour after that i was in the world class training centre across the road in the ice bath recovering from an effort my body I'm sure was wondering what on earth i just put it through! Anyways was necessary to enjoy the moment but look forward and recover as quickly as possible as this weekend ill be back on the start line. We decided that as I'd missed Lanzarote we'd through in Challenge Venice as a good long training day. I love doing ironman's for training as I don't have to stop at petrol stations and corner stores for food and drinks, its all supplied for you. The race will begin the next big block of training leading into my big objective of the summer in Ironman Nice. It was a race I DNF'd in last year so I'm determined to not only go back but put together another complete performance as i did in Salou. So step by step we continue to march toward Kona, yeeeehaaaaaa
Oh and p.s. if you want to see my data from the race its all on stava, I don't hide anything, power heart rate ect its all there. You'll find it all under my very own name Cameron Wurf.
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