Last weekend was without a doubt the absolute pinnacle of my Running Career!! Finally my proud pigeon plod carried me through a Marathon in an IRONMAN!!! in under what was proving to be the elusive 3hr barrier, 2hrs 58min 58seconds to be precise. In the running world I've noticed everyone rounds down so lets just call it a 2:58, that sounds good to me. They say most of the fastest marathon times are set on the most picturesque courses in the prettiest cities and I've got to at running around the pristine city of Zurich full of celebratory Swiss spectators was a great way to take your mind off the suffering. Like everything Swiss they where educated and informed and seemed to know the exact right thing to say at the exact right moment to ensure you got the very best out of yourself. It was just splendid but off course it was a marathon so a bit had gone on before i even strapped the red Nike's on for my jaunt around the city.
I love Zurich so was always going to be at the race regardless of where i was at in my preparation. Back in my rowing days i had some of my best races in lucerne just down the road and cherished every off day we had in those days to explore the city of Zurich. Always thought that one day I'd live there and work in a bank, who knows that could still very well happen one day but I'm happy what I'm doing for now. Another reason for racing Zurich was the fact that its Fallon's favourite city in Europe and she desperately wanted to take Olive there so she could swim in the pristine lake Zurich! So why not make a family holiday out of it and through in some Sunday sport for good measure. The Brady bunch actually grew to 4 in Zurich with the arrival of my Mum from Australia so we stayed an extra few days to enjoy some precious family time considering the fact Fallon and i operate across 3 continents during the year.
I had modest goals for this race as has been the case all summer. It's a little tuff to set your expectations to high when your simply training up to and through all these events but i always try and have some small goals to strive for regardless. In Zurich my goal was not to get caught by any of the women in the swim as they started only 3 minutes behind us. Secondly was i wanted to break the womens run course record on 3:00.24 seconds. The bike would be what it would be but when i suggested in the pre race press conference the bike course was quicker than you'd expect Ronnie Schildknecht scoffed and said he'd be very surprised if it could ride under 4:20. That type of comment is like a red rag to a bull for me so then had 2 more goals, to go sub 4:20 and beat Ronnie to the finish line. The stage was set and i was champing at the bit the start gun to go off on Sunday morning.
When the start gun finally did go off i quickly felt very unready for the challenges ahead that day. I don't know if it was the fatigue but I've noticed that as I've raced more and more and trained harder and harder between races I've been more and more sleepy on the start line. This was extremely evident in Zurich when i was dropped like and absolute hot potato in the first m's of the swim. The days eventual winner Jan Van Berkel had muscled his way in beside me on the line and was out off sight and swimming before i even took my first stroke! Made for a very very lonely 3.8km swim where i was now only focused on staying ahead of the girls! Fortunately I exited the water a minute or so head of Aussie Annabel Luxford and only had people in my category to pass on the bike, as there was already a lot of them!!
Once on the bike i settled into my rhythm began to feel a little coming back into my body, I've noticed the fatigue usually subsides and the race goes on and feel better and better so with the experience of that in Nice and Roth i knew if i could keep the pressure on the pedals on the first lap I'd definitely have a stronger 2nd lap. As expected i was further back than fullback on Jan and his band of Swiss merry men in the lead group and took me around 120km to catch them and get into the lead. Once in front i really smacked the throttle as if I'm racing I'm racing and regardless off my condition I'm going to do everything i can to fight for the podium. I was able to hit transition in the lead and was confident i had a big lead on Jan and his pack. I was very wrong about that I had only managed a 30 second lead on David Plese who'd ridden in way nobody knew he could. Even he admitted he couldn't believe it but he saw the opportunity to match me and went for it. I love it when guys get stuck into it and actually put themselves in a position to win. It may not be the smartest but it sure makes the race way more exciting. Anyways i was wrapped with my bike leg regardless and clocked a 4:14 to take 10minutes of Ronnie's bike course record, that felt good!! Now just had to break the women's run course record to make it a perfect day.
Onto the run and i realised i only had a slim lead so i booted it, i wanted to get to Fallon to receive my first turbo bottle in 1st so had to survive 2km! I did and also meant mum got to see me in the lead of an Ironman for her first time, was a big day of milestones. Once they objective was ticked off i settled into my lazy long run pace. Like in nice and Roth i decided to not look at the watch and just go on feel. I find a pace that i feel like I'm running at but not fast enough that i risk blowing up, basically a pace i could run at for 50km if they decided to through in another lap. I've learnt over the summer if your going to race for training you have to take the ego out off it and be sensible and risking a blow up is certainly not acceptable as I could leave me in a hole I can't get out of for kona. David flew past after a few km so was a pretty lonely first half marathon while i waited for the inevitable charge from Jan. Sure enough as i enjoyed a nature break at the Porta John around the 25km mark, he ripped pass me so fast he sucked the hat clean off my head. To say he was on a mission was an understatement and knew that was the winner. The only questions for the final 2 laps was could i catch back up to David and would anyone else catch me in the process. I slowly began to build my pace and with 10km to go i was still trailing David by 3 minutes. With 5km remaining it was down to 2minutes so I upped the anti again with some more purposeful running for the first time that day but fell 45 seconds short at the line and had to settle for 3rd.
I was wrapped to finish on the podium, absolutely wrapped with mum there and all was happy I'd put together the best race i possibly could. I didn't want to ask about my run split as I couldn't handle hearing another 3hrs something! But when i saw fallon and her face i knew she had good news and i was absolutely overjoyed when she informed me I'd run a 2:58(rounding down remember). So with that I'd also broken the women's run course record so ticked all my boxes for the day and on top of that Fallon got some more flowers and sunflowers are her absolute favourite which was a real cherry on top. Oh and I beat Ronnie across the line but like the 9 time champ;ion he is he pushed hard all day, he's just the type of guy you hate racing, he's never beaten till your across the line. I was extremely happy for Jan to win his first ever Ironman in his home race and 7th attempt. Was also so great to witness how he did it. I knew form the second he elbowed me out of the way at the start he was going to win that and in course record time to boot!!! What a way to take your first big win and he's an absolute gem of a bloke, one of the few that's always been there to offer me advice during my journey. All in all a very successful day and record breaking day, what more could you wish for on a smoking hot Sunday summer afternoon than smoking hot racing to match it!
I don't like the word redemption however this year my schedule could suggest I've been chasing such with my choice of events mirroring that of 2017. In South Africa i improved on my 11th to 4th, Nice I went from DNF to 3rd, Zurich a very distant 7th to 3rd on Sunday. Sweden isn't a male race this year so wont be back to improve on that 2nd and i wont be going back to wales because I've already won so cant improve there! Now ill set my sights on the biggest monkey on my back from 2017 being Kona, and nailing that swim and run. I'm happy with where this training and racing preparation phase has put me physically and mentally. Racing tired has taught me to utilise the low energy stores i have in the most efficient way possible to get the best result i can on the day. In the process i think its made me a much smarter racer and in a much better position to go to Kona and see if i can finish the job i started last year. Time will tell....
With zurich my summer of preparation racing phase comes to an end. From here we will focus 100% on being as well prepared and fresh as possible for kona on oct 13. Many have questioned the way I chose to do things both racing and training and that's fine, everyone has there opinions and i obviously have mine. The fact of the matter is i want to beat these guys in kona and ideally be apart of another record breaking day. There is no way I'm going to beat them by doing things the way they do them. We are all such different athletes. They have all been racing triathlons for a decade or more with the exception of Lionel, off course they will have a traditional build up. Ive rowed at the highest level and raced in the world tour on a bicycle so my physiology is completely different and lots of long hard days is a preparation I'm familiar with and we believe will work best for me. The exiting thing is we are all going to find out in 10 short weeks if i can put it together. I'd like to say I'm nervous but I'm not, Ive got nothing to lose. I just cant wait for that start cannon to go off on Kona Pier on Saturday the 13th of October!!
As always my race data is on Strava. I remembered to not only save my ride data but also wear my heart rate strap so a bit more info than usual for IM Zurich.
Sent from my iPad