Tremendous Two Weeks Part 2
With round about way of tapering and IM Nice behind me it was time for part 2 of my double header and Challenge Roth. I'd heard so much about this event being a "bucket list" race and figured there are no guarantees on how long ill even keep doing this sport so i best do it while i have the chance. As it turned out this year it fitted in nicely with our little experiment of doing back to back races for training loading. The positive was that with the last minute schedule change a week earlier it had turned out to be the 2nd race so I'd be a little fresher and be able to give it a few more herbs with a rest week awaiting me after I crossed the finish line. We spent Monday in Nice and enjoyed a lazy day with olive at the Dog Beach frolicking on the Mediterranean before attending the presentation that evening which did include another bouquet of flowers for Fallon. Had a good sleep and woke up Tuesday morning ready to crack into another race week. We loaded the Car and set sail for Isola 2000 for a few days with the boys.
One thing that I learnt in this whole experience is the importance of keeping the engine ticking over if your going to back up with two Ironman's 7 days apart. Wednesday morning rolled around and i was back in the saddle for a "cruisy" 6hrs with Luke Rowe, Wout Poels, Micheal Kwiatkowski, and off course my usual sparing partner Chris Froome. Cruisy!!! Yeah right, 6 minutes for me with these guys is never comfortable let alone 6hrs but i did my best to hide my suffering and pretend i felt sensational just rolling around with these Tour de France stars, after all i was preparing for another Ironman in 4 days, off course i felt great!! I managed to survive there "general ride" which means easy for them until the final km of the final climb back to the chalet where I completely ran out of juice. I dropped back to the car grabbed onto the roof racks and told Tim i was empty, a strange empty as my legs felt ok I'd just simply ran out of fuel despite eating all day like a horse. Tim wasn't at all concerned and said the good thing was i had a few days to refuel ahead of Roth and everything would be fine. There are so many reasons why Tim s regarded as the best endurance sports coach on the planet a she could tell me anything and I'd believe and sure enough this explanation took me from down and out to confident as a cockatoo for the weekend ahead!
The next day we headed out again this time minus Luke as he headed off to recon the feared cobbled stage in this years tour, well feared for most but certainly not Luke, he eats them for breakfast. The remaining 4 of us headed down to the valley for some intervals. The first was a 15km 4 man Time trial for a bit off a warm up. I was certain I'd be dropped after my first turn if i even made it to the front but was pleasantly surprised as i noticed the power was already back in legs and I survived the entire interval. From there the boys did some more hard work in the mountains while i climbed casually back to the chalet to cap off my preparations for Roth, i now had 2 full days to freshen up, seemed like 2 months! Fallon and i loaded the car and jetted off to germany. Wa sober 1000km so we split up the drive with a night in Austria on the way and arrived in Roth bright eyed and bushy tailed Friday morning. The organisation of the race is absolutely 2nd to none and they had organised us a wonderful home stay for the event, even our dog was welcome. Surface to say we settled in nice and quickly and once again i had an entire day t rest up and recharge the batteries ahead of Sundays big race.
Now Roth i have now learnt is like no other race. The entire city and surrounding cities shut down for the day as an estimated 250,000+ people come out to cheer which honestly i think is being very German and a conservative estimate! Ive been very excited about doing this race for another reason being it had the potential to have a very similar dynamic to that that ill have to deal with in Kona on October 14. There was one key reason for this and that was the presence of the great Sebastian Kienle. On the drive to the start i said to fallon how cool this was going to start a race where i was literally going to have the opportunity to race shoulder to shoulder with my hero of the current generation of Ironman. I'd enjoyed watching Sebi the most when pouring over recent NBC kona highlights packages be when he won or was beaten, there is just something i really admire about the way this guy races and carries himself. Before the start he did even more to endure himself to me when he helped me pump up my tyres. I didn't have a crack pipe for my disc wheel and fumbling around with Co2 canisters when he jumped to my aid. He even suggested the pressure i run, the ultimate gentleman. Despite being star struck i was extremely relaxed for the race as I felt I had nothing to lose. Sebi once again had a chat to me before diving into the canal for our warmup which again made me pinch myself about the fact i was actually about to race him. I watched him swim off for a few strokes before snapping put of my day dream and said right its time to make his day as challenging as possible!
My goals for Roth where pretty straight forward. Firstly avoid losing 3 minutes to Lucy Charles ensuring i get on my bike before she reaches transition! Secondly try and do a good consistent bike that's put me in a position to again fight for a podium spot, training day or not it was a race and was going to race! And finally stay controlled and conservative on the run again until the final 5km then fight for whatever position is up for grabs at that point. The atmosphere was absolutely bonkers before the start and following my horrible swim in Nice in was so incredibly determined to put that behind me with a great swim here in Roth.
When the gun finally sounded i was outa there!! Quickly into the lead and i put my head down and swam as hard as i could. Lucy Charles was starting 3 minutes behind me and was determined to my as much of the course between her and I in that first 3 minutes. It wasn't long however before i got bulldozed the stronger swimmers but instead of blasting past my more eased past allowing me to jump into a nice slip stream, already this was worlds apart from just 7 days before in Nice! Around halfway in the swim i spotted Sebi and his bright yellow cap as race favourite and settled in beside him behind the front runners. At first I thought oh shit I'm actually having a terrible swim but the lead kayaker was just ahead of us so Sebi was also having a great swim. As we swum stroke for stroke i had visions of the Dave Scott and Mark Allen Ironman and thought wouldn't it be amazing to have Roth War with Sebi! Reality quickly set in when I remembered i cant run but still was nice to pass some time day dreaming about races in future years perhaps. As we exited the water we couldn't be separated on time and i was buzzing like a kid in a candy store as we again bumped shoulders grabbing our transition bags. Again side by side as we headed for our bikes but here i quickly got the upper hand with my superior helmet clipping on ability and i was in motion on two wheels ahead of him, the race was on.
With Sebi behind me all be it 10m's or so i hit the gas hard once out on the open rd. While everyone else including the man i saw as another big threat Andrei Dreitz fiddled around putting there shoes on i decided to get to the lead asap and worry about sliding them on later on. With Sebi behind and out of my vision i really went hell for leather if nothing else to make him panick and have to use some extra matches to come and find me. It was at this point however i was wracked with the reality stick of how fatigued i was as i simply didn't have the power spikes i do when I'm fresh. I decided after around 5km when sebi was not planted 15m directly behind me I wouldn't have the legs to drop him today so the best i could do was make it as uncomfortable for him as possible. Once I'd accepted the fact I didn't have the fresh legs I'd convinced myself i had i decided to just ride as fast as possible the the energy i had and not focus at all on power. I'd forgotten to wear my heart rate strap so i only had power as a reference but to be honest all i really looked at was average speed. I figured a decent ride would be around 44kmph average so just worked on keeping the speed around there as best i could.
At the end of lap 1 i looked and could see not only sebi but also Jesse Thomas. I felt i was probably being a little cautious on the pacing so started to pick things up as we began the final 90km. Soon after Jessie was dropped and it was just Sebi and i and i was very happy with this situation. I knew I couldn't beat him on the run today so figured if i keep it smooth and fast for him perhaps i can set him up for a potential course/world world record held by Jan Frodeno. Around 120km into the ride i looked back at Sebi to ensure he was fine with pacing and he thought i signalled him to come past. He said I don't know if can help you out at all but ill try. Cool I thought I'll just sit back here for a bit for a change of scenery. After about 5 minutes of that i got sick of sitting behind and rode back sebi and told him to save his legs for the run and that I'd keep it nice and smooth which got a laugh out of him. Unfortunately with about 30km to ride i heard the motorbike behind me which knew meant sebi was no longer right behind me and a quick glance back confirmed this. Just like in kona last year i thought well i may aswell hit the gas now and see how big a lead i can get as you never know what can happen on the run. I hit T2 feeling great which is always welcome when you've got a marathon ahead of you and couldn't wait to get stuck into it, quicker you get started the quicker you finish right! Anyways as we exited T2 i had 2minutes on sebi, 6 on drietz, and 12-15 on the running pack, i was right where i wished to, in the race for the podium.
My plan on the run was to take it as easy as possible for the first 37km then race for whatever spot is available to me at that point. I quickly got into a very cruisy rhythm and sebi blasted past me after 4km to relieve me of the lead I'd enjoyed for the previous 4hrs or so. Around 15km into the drietz dropped me back to 3rd and now i knew the final spot on the podium was touch and go. I could see Jesse Thomas, Joe Skipper and James Cunnama all charging along and making light work of there 15minute deficits so i just had to stay calm. Sure enough Jesse galloped passed me with around 10km to go so i knew if he stayed strong the podium was gone for me today. By the time i hit 5km to go Jesse was way to far ahead to mount a challenge and now Joe and James where running shoulder to shoulder and had me in there sights. If I didn't pull my finger out I'd need up coming 6th and again in this quality opposition I'd have been wrapped with that at the start of the day with 5km to go was going to fight to fend them off. Joe was simply too strong and dropped my like a hot potato with 2km to go but not before delivering some good news that james was now struggling and to hang tuff. I found another gear and managed top keep him out of sight to enter the famous Roth Grandstand finish arena in 5th place.
I was extremely satisfied with this but when i looked at the timing board and saw 7:58 I couldn't believe my eyes, my first sub 8 finish to come after the previous few weeks I'd endured i was absolutely wrapped. I quickly checked my watch to find out I'd run a 3:01 marathon which is my equal best ever which was an even bigger surprise as I hadn't looked at my pacing clock once all day. This was far and away the most balanced and perhaps best race I'd ever done. For the record I thumped lucy in the swim!! Well sort off, she only swam 1 minute faster so had 2minutes up my sleeve. I broke 48minutes for the first time and took 3 minutes off Jan Frodeno's bike course record which is particularly motivating to take as many more records of him as i can. And then an equal best ever run on those very tired legs was definitely the best part of the entire racing for training experiment. Yep, i guess i did exactly what Tim though it would do by giving me huge motivation to work even harder as we keep heading to Kona on October 14.....
P.s. I accidentally deleted my power file on my Garmin do to be too over excited to upload it!! But i basically hovered around 300 watts all day and didn't ever go much above 400 watts simply because I couldn't. Every time i tried to on the climbs my legs screamed in agony so i had to back it off, just didn't have the mumbo jumbo on this occasion. Run splits are all on my strava account Cameron Wurf
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