I decided to enter Ironman Maastricht as the reports where that it was a challenging course but could be quick. The fact i could turn this into a summer holiday with a visit to Holland / Germany and Belgium worked for the family.
The two-loop bike course consists of two 89 kilometre laps through Maastricht and the surrounding Limburg landscape. You will compete in a cycling paradise that has hosted such notable classics as the cycling world championships, the Amstel Gold Race, the Tour de France, and La Vuelta. This beautifully scenic and slightly technical trail runs through the iconic hills and mountains of Bemelerberg (Eijsden-Margraten), Geulhemmerberg (Valkenburg), and Hallembaye (Bassenge).
So what was facing me. Looking at the elevation it appeared to be 460m of climbing.
My initial plan was below :
- Nutrition : Will drink at least a bottle and hour and will take a tube of tablets to use the oncourse water. I have got a load of SIS bars and will eat these on the bike for first 4 hrs and then go into my gels. Learning from UK last year my focus wll be on drinking often and ensuring that I eat enough / take gels. The run have a bottle with salts and 6 gels.
- Swim : Get some feet and float down the river. Expect to be out within the hr.
- Bike : On rides I do find it hard to get in zones and find the average a good number to go by. Looking at your race data I would hope that I could do the bike in around 5:30/5:45.
- Run : Give me a number to race with… Do I head out and target a sub 3:30 marathon ?
Getting to Maastricht !
We headed to Maastricht by Car. The parking is limited but we found a car park outside of the City and within walking distance of our Hotel. We had booked 2 rooms and the hotel was perfect location to the race start (Hotel Trash). It gave ample opportunity to explore the area, a pre race cycle of some of the course and close the the expo. Top places to explore whilst at Maastricht
- Amstel Gold Xperience – What a find, a bar and museum of the famous Amstel Gold race. Lots of cycle shops to add some nice gear for training days.
- Valkenburg (Rodelbaan) -Tobbagan Run, maybe not the best thing to do before Ironman as fell out of the car !!!!
Swim: Straight forward up and down in the river with a quick Australian exit at the turn point. Upstream for first half, although flow not really noticeable against, but definitely does give a faster second half though on the downhill leg. However, this was not the case on the day as they closed the river due to the heat and opened for race day. It was at risk of being a bike/run but luckily went ahead. I can’t describe why I swam so bad as just felt very lethargic throughout the swim and very sick at the end.
Bike: Bit mixed really, Probably best described as gently rolling with a couple of ‘hills’ but nothing spectacular (although FOFF hill did nearly kill me on second lap). The course was on a cycle paths and road and some surfaces were poor. It was a very technical course and a lot of right turns and exists from the paths.
Run: Best bit of the race. 4 laps through the city (with a nice detour through a park for a bit of ‘reflection time’). The support on the run course is phenomenal, the people of Maastricht really turn out and every half mile or so there was another raucous street party going on to keep you going.
Overall setup: Organisation was top notch with Swim, T1 and T2 all in the same place, and only a short walk from the finish line. Finish itself was in the town square which again provide for excellent atmosphere.
You’ll see the most clear picture from this is that you went too hard for the first 60-90 minutes of the race. the trend line in figure 3 runs through the green and up into the yellow and while that may not look too high, there’s a lot of variability with lots of spikes over FTP throughout. You spend almost 20% of your time over FTP in that period up to 90 minutes. So this is high energy and high fatigue riding. by 3 hours the power trend line has dropped out of the green zone and trends below targets.
You knew you’d gone hard in the first lap. In the second lap the power drops a lot. Overall I’d say that was too much for the first lap and left you with too little on the second.
On the run pace started OK, but drops off as the race goes on. I know it warmed up and that will be a factor, but I’d also suspect you were paying for that hard first lap on the bike a little too.
So, there’s definitely something to learn from this, I think bike could be more evenly paced and certainly more controlled early on and that might help you maintain more consistent pacing later in the day. For all the slowing on the run, you don’t come to a grinding halt and kept yourself moving well.
Steffan Ford – 2018 IRONMAN Maastricht
Bib Number: 839
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