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IRONMAN WESTERN AUSTRALIA - Race Report

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IRONMAN WESTERN AUSTRALIA – RACE REPORT – Scott Connolly (M25-29 AG)

This was my 5th iron distance race now, 2nd in 2014 and a race I was quite confident going into. I went into the race with the same mentality as I did at IMOZ where I just wanted to aim to tick the sessions off without too much thought. As always, the goal was just to be consistent throughout the year and I think I hit a pretty good percentage of sessions my coach, Benny, had prescribed. I did a little hit out 6 weeks before at Huskisson sprint just to get a bit of confidence – I came 11th OA and 2nd the AG so I was happy with the race. The other reason I was really looking forward to this race was because I was doing it with two good mates from high school. One was doing his first IM.

 

I put a training overview in my last race report but not much had changed in this lead up to the race with the exception of instead of doing my race simulation days as a 30min run: 3 hour bike: 2 hour run, I was doing 4.25 hour bike and 2 hour runs so I had a little more cycling in the legs this time around.

 

A very vague outline of my training would look like:

 

Monday – Squad swim (AM), easy run (PM)

Tuesday – 90min bike + resistance training (PM)

Wednesday – Squad swim (AM), easy to moderate run (PM)

Thursday – 90min bike + resistance training (PM)

Friday – short swim (AM), easy run (PM)

Saturday – long ride or race simulation closer to race day

Sunday – long run or rest if SIM completed the day before

 

After a 3am wake up on the Thursday before the race it was time to drive up to Sydney (from Bowral) and get to the airport for a 6.30am flight. There were 4 of us, 3 racing and my mate’s girlfriend. Last time I did WA in 2010 we arrived on the Wednesday and I felt that was a lot of time fluffing about before race day so opted to arrive a day later this time around.

We did a few sessions in the lead up to race day including a couple of swims and a bike ride close to town where it was probably the most exposed part of the course. When we did a ride, even though the wind was really low, it still impacted speed and power on the bike so we knew if the wind got up on race day it was going to have a strong influence. Fuelled up on the Saturday with quite a lot of carbs (I follow a low-carb, high-fat diet but start loading up 24 hours before the race). Got a really good night’s sleep before race day which was another positive so felt good come race morning.

 

Race day: Even though we were only about 2km for transition we were lucky enough to jag a lift down to the start area. After a very brief (solid 1min) warm-up swim it was nearly time for the race to get underway. My coach has raced WA the last couple of years and advised to start to the right of the group which I did. Conditions for the day were pretty much perfect, water looked flat, wind was down and it was actually quite cool in the morning.

 

SWIM: I’d be working pretty hard on my swim since Port. I had been swimming in a very small squad since June and could feel myself getting stronger through the water and effort becoming much easier. After the gun went off (or siren I can’t actually remember) the first 400m was typical craziness – nothing insane just standard IM swim brawl. This race I made a conscious effort to push off the line hard for the first 30 strokes and try to get on to some of the faster swimmers. Unfortunately, given the congestion I was swimming pretty crappy for the first ½ km having to breathe every 2 strokes just trying to get some air without being elbowed. After this, until the end of the jetty, it was quite calm. I just continued to shift from person to person trying to find some feet. Once at the turn around it got really congested again and I had a glance at my Garmin and it was 31:xx which I was pretty happy with. For the first few hundred metres following the turn around there was a fair current rolling into us. From here onward I followed a single person, who had a nice strong kick, all the way back into shore. Swim time was 1:03:18 (310 OA and 32 AG – by far my best result in an IM swim).

 

T1: Uneventful – in, had help with getting the wettie off and just kept moving. Time: 3:23 (171 OA and 14 AG).

 

BIKE: We had driven the bike course the day before the race so we had a fair idea of the road surface changes and the turn arounds. One thing which was a positive on the new 2-lap course was the fact you never really had the wind in your face for an extended time as there were a lot of small out-and-back sections.

 

My plan for this race was to ride between 200-215 watts for the race and just stay diligent with remaining aero. Even though being 300th of the water isn’t anything to write home about there was noticeably less congestion on the road compared to coming out where I normally do 1:06-1:10. As in most IMs I’ve done the first 20km is pretty tight and not marshalled. The course at Busso is dead flat, the only thing that slows you (well me) down is the road surface at times and if the wind picks up. Once I got through 40km odd I legally sat myself at the back of a pack for the next 20km but the continual changes in power and some in the group were so blatantly drafting it was pissing me off so I got myself ahead and put in some slight surges (230-250 watts) to bridge up to other groups. Got around the first lap in 2:29:xx (216 NP) when a big group of about 15 riders swarmed past me heading out of town. I again just thought ‘sit on the back and save some energy if they’re moving at a good speed’ – this probably lasted 20km before the group started slowing down and I went ahead.

 

After about 120-130km I got ahead of another group and then that was pretty much it in all honesty. It was just me for the rest of the ride. There were times in the last 40-60km where I couldn’t see anyone in front of me or anyone behind me. I actually thought I went off course for a while there. Coming back into Busso the wind was definitely stronger than lap one and had almost swung around a little so the last ~20km had a mild to moderate head wind and I really could have used someone to ride with at this point. I started to dial back the power a touch as my HR was starting to get higher than what I normally ride at – it was 140-142bpm where I normally try to ride 132-136bpm. Riding by myself I started becoming aware of some right knee pain which was bothering me and I didn’t know how it would affect my run. The pain felt ‘deep’ and was getting worse as the ride went on. 2nd lap 2:32 (204 NP)

 

Total bike time 5:01:24 – NP 210 (average 206), weight 76-77kg, HR average: 136bpm. (124 OA and 10 AG)

 

T2 – Uneventful. Great vollies. In and out with some sunscreen on. Time 1:39 (26 OA and 2 AG)

 

RUN: Plan was to run to HR as first half @ 145bpm, 2nd half 150bpm and whatever is left in the tank. My goal before the race was to hopefully run around the 3:15 mark. I ran 3:17 at Port but knew I had probably cycled more this plan and ran a little less but was still quite confident. I knew I was going to walk through aid stations to take on 2 cups of coke, water and ice so this mentally breaks up the run for me.

 

The first lap (of 4) came and went pretty fast just ticking by at 4:38/km or so but I wasn’t feeling good at all. 2nd lap went around at 4:40-4:45 and I knew I was going backwards pretty fast. HR was fine, this was never my issue during the race it was the fatigue I had built up in my legs. 3rd lap was sliding to 4:50-5:00/km pace and things were getting bloody tough. The run at WA is very exposed so even in not-so-hot days the heat gradually wears you down nonetheless. On to the 4th lap and after about 36km and instead of walking at only aid stations it turned in to walking every km and walking every 500m – basically I wasn’t in control anymore, I was reacting to the body being so uncomfortable. The last lap my times varied between 5:10-6:00/km pace and this was a big struggle to hold but I just kept saying ‘any running is faster than walking’.

 

Then with about 300m to go I saw an individual with a surname (on the back of his tri suit) who beat me by <1min in Port – he didn’t have his AG on his leg so I couldn’t be sure but after he started holding on to me as I went past (and people were cheering his first name) I knew we were in for a painful finish to the race! He chipped ahead of me and then we had a little argy bargy coming down the chute and I was able to sprint past him and return the favour by beating him by a few seconds (he may on this forum somewhere actually).

 

In the end, the knee pain on the bike didn’t have any influence on my run but still not sure what brought it on.

Run time: 3:28:24 (71 OA, 7 AG).

 

End result: 9:38:10 – 82nd overall and 6th in 25-29 AG (my last race in this age group before moving to 30-34). There were 2 slots in our AG and the winner of the AG was 8th OA and the first Aussie over the line in 8:45 and 2nd was 8:51. It rolled to 3rd – who rode a 4:30! And went 9:10. There was daylight between 5th (9:24) and myself so I wasn’t expecting anything but you have to be there to get the spot so we tagged along anyway. I just can’t compete with those guys going that fast! – it’s another couple of levels up.

 

Positives of the race performance:

 

· Relatively stress-free lead up but started thinking too outcome-based closer to the day.

· Pre-race and during-race nutrition – 3rd IM in a row without GI issues.

· Really happy with my swim, especially comparing my placing and against guys that have beaten me for many years in the swim. I still think I need it 6-8min faster though!

· Getting the better of the sprint at the end of the race. I’ve previously crumbled in similar situations in shorter distance races.

 

Negatives of the race performance:

 

· In hindsight I should have gone with my instinct and when my HR drifted considerably I should have relaxed on the power and almost waited for a group to catch me. I think ego got the better of me and I wanted to ride as close to 5 hours as possible. Why? For no reason at all! Bad decision at an important time!

· Due to the above this made the last 8-10km of the marathon a very unpleasant and unenjoyable experience. I also had to ‘reactively’ walk in the latter stages of the run. I’m confident if I biked 5min slower I would have been 10-13min faster on the run.

I have to make sure I learn from this race. It’s IM 101 but if you over-bike, your run is slower and is much harder! (This is a note for me to read in future preps).

 

At this point in time my mind is saying yes to signing up for IMOZ 2015 but I just want to make sure the body wants to follow.

 

 

 

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Great report.

Thanks for the positives and negatives. Helps the newbies like me to know what mistakes to try and avoid.

Awesome effort!

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Good work.

What do you use for nutrition on the bike?

I'd be interested to know.

 

Cheers for the race report

Hey mate, sorry about the very delayed reply. I haven't been on the forum too much this year. For the bike I exclusively use Infinit - very simple plan of getting in 80g CHO each hour. I mix it one bottle with water so it's more like a gel than a drink per se but it works perfectly for me and has done for quite a few IMs now. Highly recommended.

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