All go for Ironman Wales

After failing to complete Ironman Frankfurt my disappointment was to focus on another race. I decided on Monday after the race after discussion with my Wife to head to Wales and use Nirvana to secure a entry using the cheapest possible accommodation. This was based on the fact I needed a year off IM and drop down to half distance for a year and spend some time with the family.

 

Top of Moel Famau

Top of Moel Famau

 

My fitness levels had improved since UK Ironman in 2014 and after my swim and Bike in Frankfurt my thought is too go quicker that 11hrs in Wales. My training has simply to top up on what had previously been done and with the summer holidays in North Wales I can get some hill training around family time.

Ironman Frankfurt – European Championships

I won the race to enter the race and next was to put the planning on place. I booked a room in the Adina Hotel (hotels.com) and got flights from London (BA). The planning was now in place to focus on Ironman Frankfurt as my A race for 2015.
 
Swim started at front and once out of the crashing legs got I got a very clear swim in open water. Grabbed some feet on 2nd lap but also slowed down by red hats that were in front. I ended up in second wave and the red wave was just random. Once I got out of water I raced to the tent but struggled to get my Huub top on as my upper body was still wet after the swim, I took longed than I wanted in t1 and washed my feet to remove any sand.  The last thing to do was to put on the HR monitor and I was good to go.
 
Me feeling at ease on the bike.

Me feeling at ease on the bike.

The bike was a surprise as the power was not reading so then I focussed on keeping my HR under 80% again this is a zone I should have been aware of when power fails. I also went on feel on the bike and pulled back where I felt tired. On the cobbles and hills many passed me and I simply eased back and then focused on the flat.
 
My race nutrition was 14 gels mixed with water and I took this equally over the race time with nothing left. I had a water drink and used the hydration tablet (powerbar). I figured out I was drinking a 1.5 bottles of 750ml water an hour. I also took salt tablets during the race (3 in total) and 2 more hydration tablets. I remember feeling sick on the bike a few times and passed urine twice on the bike.   Just before the last hill I ran out of water and was a little dehydrated until I reached the water station this was probably around 5 mins.  
 
The run was funny and mentally I had decided to walk each station taking on 2 cups of water / any salt and ice / sponge. The pace didn’t change and I took 2 gels during the first 20k, I also picked up pretzels. When I got to the station after the 2nd counter I started to switch to Coke but started to feel very sick. My head started to feel funny and I realised that I was gone. I stopped took on coke and carried on walking. I tried to run (ha ha 9min/mile) but only felt sick. When I finally arrived Del (my wife) my hands were shaking and my friend who is a diabetic suggested 2 gels and some rest but I was cooked and couldn’t see an end in sight. 
Ironman Run - Feeling the pain in 40 degrees

Ironman Run – Feeling the pain in 40 degrees

 
I suppose some would say I should have carried on but I feel I did the right thing for my body and although I did not finish I have experienced one of the greatest races of my life. I had a touch of sadness as I realised that with a 4hr marathon I would have easily done sub 10:30 and with a 3:30 marathon I could have done sub 10 that I never thought I had the ability. I will return one day.  

Time for a new start..

After 5 years of racing for Team Trisports it was a time for a new challenge. I made many friends at the club and was sad once I made my decision to leave.

So why leave ? My choice was made as I wanted to run the herts midweek 10k series over the summer and wanted to train with a group of runners that would push my limits. 

Why 10k Series ? This was a great opportunity to get some regular high intensity runs in the week. I wanted to achieve this but running for a second claim team, however, due to the consutitipn I was unable to compete for multiple clubs.

Where now ? I decided to join Fairlands Valley Spartans as this was my local running club in Stevenage. I’ve been made very welcome at the club and had the benefit of some friends and past team mates who were already at the club.

What about Swimming ? Open water is still on my mind but I have joined a swim club and train with a masters group (Monday, Thus (50m), Fri, Sun) at Stevenage Swimming Club as secretary of the club I get to see the development of the club at close quarters.

So now to the future ? My aims this season are my A races. These are Brighton Marathon and Ironman Germany (Frankfurt).

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Ironman UK – Bolton

My A race for 2014 was Ironman UK, Bolton. I decided on the following race gear

  • Huub Wetsuit
  • Planet X Time Trial Bike with Bontrager Wheels
  • 2 Piece trisuit (2XU)

Hotel Location

After doing a reccie of the course in June I decided on the venue of Holiday Inn Haydock. The venue was fantastic and the hotel staff were very friendly to the guest and setup breakfast for the morning of the race. I personally would like to thank for the staff for the warm welcome we had. The venue was very close to the race start and this helped with initial race setup. On raceday the drive to the parking is only 15 mins and we left the car in the supermarket.

Pre Race Learnings

  1. The bag drops are in t1 and t2. (I thought they’d transport everything for T1 – doh).
  2. Not many toilets…

The Start

I got racked and bike ready and headed for the toilet at 5:00am. Now I  didn’t realise I’d be queuing for 40 mins. Once in the transition I was at the back and realised I’d be at the back of the race. I finally got into the water when the anthems started to play and I tried to make my way as quickly as possible to the start.
The Swim

The hooter went and I had to force my way past the bodies. I finally got into clear water on the return leg of the first lap and got into a nice groove as I exited the first lap I glanced at my watch and noticed 31mins. I just thought another easy lap and maybe not too much time lost. So finally got the lap done and past my training partner (this confirmed my bad start). I finally got out in around 64mins and thought that’s a little slow but let’s get on with it.

T1

T1 was easy and I simply grabbed my stuff put on my socks and cycle shoes and my nutrition for my back pockets. I was amazed on how slow some atheletes are in a long distance race. This is an area to pickup a lot of time.

Bike

The bike course was very busy and I simply had a number in my head (180). I locked into the number and rolled around the course. A mistake I made was my gearing and the 52-25 left me with no gears on a few climbs and climbed unseated. I eat throughout and used my salt tablets as after Lanza training camp I realised how much salt I would lose. Something I didn’t consider was the need to stop for a water break on the bike twice and I was surprised on my first an hour into the race. I also twigged that based on my power I would be over my calculation of 6hrs – you kept that quiet (Coach Cox). So based on this I thought about the 11hr target. Throughout the bike I felt quite easy and noticed my power averaging around 185 and falling down to 180.

T2
I came into t2 and grabbed my bag and sat down. I changed my socks as wanted a clean pair and felt a little pain in my left foot. Think it might have been caused by my dismount.

Run
I left t2 and walked the first 30 seconds and then started into my run. My first mile was around 8min/m and was happy I had no calf pain but still a sharp pain in the left foot on the side. I simply tuned into forgetting the pain and followed a runner. I then realised I was running at 7:30 m/m for a few miles and quickly eased back again. Then I was on the main course and the roads were perfect for running. The course proved a little tricky and I experienced pains on the inside of both legs (both groin) and something I’ve never experienced. I remember an athelete on lanza had walked the hills and I followed this advice on the 2/3rd passes on the hill out of Bolton. I then got back into my running speed and thought I was on for Sub 11. Then the body started to fail around mile 17 when I started to cramp in my usual left hamstring (must be a weakness under stress as same leg as Outlaw Half). I then walked a while and carried on a trot to get 2 quick gels. The last 8 miles was walk / run and the last mile was bliss.

The result

Overall I am pleased to have finished the race although my body is not best pleased with me(today)with aching back pain / quads. I think as suggested that maybe I should have had a little more focus on my long runs. My swim is probably never going to improve much more. On my bike considering where I was on the camp I’m very happy with the improvements.

Was very relived to see my week off and I’m off to Majorca in August for 2 weeks so will get in some bikes and runs.

Steffan Ford Ironman UK 2014

Steffan Ford Ironman UK 2014