Ironman 70.3 Weymouth

Well that was fun!  I'm starting to think half-Ironman is the distance which suits me best.

Completing my first Ironman was my A goal this year.  The B-goal was finishing a half-Ironman in under 6 hours.

As you can see from the photo, I finally ticked that box, finishing Weymouth 70.3 in 5:52:28.

After Ironman Maastricht I had a definite sense of, "well, what now?"

I had entered Weymouth as a back-up plan.  If I had been injured in the run up to Maastricht and couldn't take part, then I'd ask the Weymouth organisers if I could switch from half to full Ironman.

Both events were, unusually and uniquely for the UK, being run on the same day.

Which, incidentally, will not happen in 2017.  On the bike course I saw quite a few angry locals who clearly did not appreciate the road closures.  So in 2017, Weymouth will be 70.3 only, so the roads don't have to be closed for so long.

The Weymouth swim benefited from a calm sea.  The day before the race conditions were very different, with rollers breaking on the pebble beach.  One previous year, when this was run as a Challenge event, the sea swim was cut short for safety.

With both events starting at the same time, it was a slightly daunting experience to be one of 2,800 swimmers thrashing around the course.  The self seeded, rolling start, helped.  We lined up next to signs corresponding to our expected finish time.

Consequently, while there was still plenty of contact around the turn-buoys, no one actually swam over me.

The run from the sea to T1 is quite a distance, crossing the main (closed) sea front road.  The Ironman organisers had the whole route well sorted so there was no danger of getting lost.

Transition was 'interesting'.  Bikes had to be racked the day before, but bike covers were not allowed.  One marshal told me that's because, in previous years, "the wind carried them off like kites".  It was a windy Saturday, and a wet one too, so folk were scribbling around for bags to keep Di2 batteries and connectors dry, and to prevent lube washing off chain-sets.

Ironman runs a 'clean' transition.  You don't stack your bike and run kit next to your bike.  You hang the items in separate bags and hang them on numbered racks, collecting them as you come into transition.  I was used to this from IM70.3 Lanzarote and IM Maastricht.

I double-bagged the transition kit so it wouldn't get wet overnight, only to find the racks were built inside the changing tent.  (Did I mention you have to change inside a tent?  No bare flesh allowed on Ironman).  You ran in, grabbed your bag, sat down and changed putting the used kit back in the bag, which you then re-hung on the hook and ran out.  All rather neat really.

I'd ridden the bike course earlier in the week and had two punctures, so I was carrying 2 tubes and gas cartridges.  I felt the windy weather of the previous day might have downed branches causing repeat puncture performances, but no.  It was a fine day out.

Coming from Scotland you'd think I'd be used to hills, but Dorset's seem exceptionally brutal.  None are very long, but they keep coming at you like waves in the sea.

At home I'm either struggling up, coasting down or riding flat.  Here I always needed to have power on the pedals.

Weymouth is a sea-side resort, with a long promenade, beach cabins and bracing sea air.  It's quite classy too, with very few amusement arcades or donkeys (unless you count me).  Into this confection of candy-floss, ice cream and strolling holidaymakers thundered almost three thousand runners.

Ironman organisers segregated the runners from the strollers with barriers, tape and excellent marshals.  We half-distance runners were on the course long before the full-distance types, so people were still quite interested in watching us go by.

Plus were were actually running as opposed to the Ironman survival-plod.  I half expected the aid stations to offer sticks of rock instead of gels.

So what have I learnt?

I enjoy swimming, but I'm not fast.  There's clearly room for improvement here, especially around my kick.

I could go faster on the bike.  That said, I paced myself well and left enough for a decent run.  My coach gave me the right power numbers to stick to.

It was a hot day, particularly on the run, and I subsequently learnt several athletes struggled.  I was fine.  Coupled with my other experiences I've concluded I do pretty well in warm conditions.

Oh - and I need a new Tri suit.  While the Heart Sports one functions well, I'm not sure the design is flattering.  Or perhaps the problem is just me?

No comments: