Outlaw Ironman - 27th July 2014
This was my ‘A’ race for the year and my training plan which involved the 'Marshman half ironman, was all targeted towards this race. With the Ironman European Champs in Frankfurt booked for June 2015, the Outlaw would give a good indication of the fitness I have reached since Ironman Sweden (following a stricter regime (Training Peaks - Performance Management Plan). With the Outlaw course being similar to Frankfurt and as it turned out the weather being similar too (hot), my Outlaw time should give me an indication of whether Ironman World Championship (Kona - Hawaii), was achievable.
9 hrs 31mins 24 secs
Position overall 5th out of 1150 starters
Age group 3rd (40-44)
Swim 59:01 (29th)*
Bike 4:59:42 (14th)*
Run 3:26:17 (28th)*
T's 6:23 (approx. 100th)
* position includes teams (one swimmer, one cyclist & one runner).
It was fairly hot and breezy.
We camped at the National Water Sports campsite in another pod (shed), this time even smaller than the one at Lydd. This meant we needed to suppliment with a pop-up tent annex. Faye drawing the short straw on this one. I took advantage of the half hour practice swim in the course lake, assembled and test rode the bike for 10 miles, attended the race briefing had a mile run to check the legs (all good) and racked the bike/fitted the transition bags etc...
The rest of the day was spent chilling out and eating before laying out the race gear and having an early night in the pod - aka sauna.
With a 6:00am race start, I was up at 3:00am and endured the never easy task of an early breakfast; 2 x porridge pots with apple sauce, chocolate carb/protein shake and a banana. I had a stretch, got dressed downed a coffee and visited the sweet smelling porta-loo.
Tyres were pumped, drinks bottles and bars added to the bike and route to bike from T1 memorised.
I met Faye and the kids, zipped up and got in the lake for a 6:00am race start.
Swim 59:01 - IM PB
The water temperature was 21 degrees (wetsuits allowed) and the lake was incredibly weedy, especially at the start. The water wasn't particularly clear but smelt/tasted ok. Swimmers were corralled into 3 pens, I opted for the sub 1:00hr pen. The course was a 1850m out, 100m across and a 1850m back.
When the gun went off I elected to stay wide for a clean swim (apart from the sea weed) for the first half and drafted for the entire 2nd half, the return half being into the wind and bit choppier. All was going... well swimmingly, until I sprinted the last 50m to gain a few places and cramp bit my left calf. I had to float and stretch for 20s whilst the swimmers I had just overtaken frustratingly passed me before I could continue (better that than running on a cramped calf I thought). I was happy with my time which was on par with my training swims.
Quite a long tarmac run to the tent, wetsuit off, helmet and shades on, wetsuit in bag and bag dropped off on run to bike. As I ran out of transition, Faye shouted to me that I was in 30th which I was really pleased to know as I like to play the add/subtract game on the bike.
Bike 5:59:43 - IM PB
The bike course is pretty flat with only one short hill, and that wasn't particularly steep (infact this was the only time I changed down to the small chainring). I was keen to race to power and to keep that power output as consistent as possible. I knew from previous TT rides what power I could achieve but I had never TT'd to power for 112 miles so this ride would provide valuable data for Frankfurt.
I was able to overtake several riders (fast swimmers or team swimmers) in the first 20 miles and from there the ride was pretty lonely. There were good crowds on the course but these were isolated to only a few areas. The course took a south loop, a north loop and then repeated the south loop before heading back to the lake on some sketchy roads.
There were aid stations about every 25 miles and I had factored these into my bike nutrition plan. I was trying a slimmed down approach this year and had just one 750ml high 5 bottle of carb drink between the arms, one 500ml high 5 concentrate behind the saddle (divided into 3rds to add carbs to suppliment the remaining weaker 3 x 750ml bottles of high 5 that I planned to pick up on the route.
Total of 4 x 750ml plus 1x 500ml, 4 x high 5 zero tablets and 2 x energy bars (taped to the base bar).
The nutrition worked really well for the effort and temperature. I'm not sure I would necessarily make any changes next time.
I was able to kept an average Normalised Power of 230W for the first half of the ride but by the end this had dropped to 227w (which relates to an intensity factor of 0.77 - with current of FTP of 296). This was higher than I had planned but didn't feel overly hard.
I was only overtaken by 2 riders on the bike course, one was Kevin Dawson (former UK timetrial champion and course bike record holder of 4:30) at about mile 75. I would be keen to see if I could catch him on the run later.
The dismount line being around a steep downhill bend caught me off guard and I hadn't got my feet out of the cycle shoes, cue a bit of fumbling and a few wasted seconds before I handed the bike (and shoes) off to the helper and stumbled off to the change tent. Helmet and shades off, run visor, socks and trainers on, 4 gels in my pocket and off on the run - sans toilet this time!
Run 3:26:17 - Marathon PB
The run course takes in a loop of the lake before heading out to the tow path out and back via Nottingham Forrest stadium and a river Trent crossing. Then back for another lake lap, a second tow path out and back and finishing with two more lake laps.
Things started off fine, albeit a bit too fast but the average pace for the first half marathon was 7:30 min/miles and this was as per my plan. Then things inevitably slowed. I didn't feel I was slowing but the pace was dropping mile by mile and by mile 20 I was way over 8:00 pace.
I was pleased to pass Kevin Dawson on the second out and back and was starting to try to work out my position as it was looking like I could make the top 10.
I was pretty confident I could still run under my Sweden 7:59 ave pace so cracked on with ticking off the miles drinking and drenching at each aid station and only adding high 5 drinks from mile 20 onwards.
My calves were tightening (a problem that has been bugging me all season) and at mile 25 'pop' the right calf tore. Running was actually less pain than walking so I ran at 'engine recovery' speed to close out the race.
Just before I entered the finishing chute, I took a glance over my shoulder and saw Kevin Dawson approaching so I had to pick up the pace for the last 100m.
The good and the bad
Nutrition pre and during race seemed to work, although my 2nd half marathon pace may have suffered due to lack of run carbs
Got away with no toilet breaks
Swim tactics (clean first half, draft second half) seemed ok but room for improvement as I can leapfrog draft some more
Solid ride, need to up FTP so that 230w is closer to 0.75 IF (increase FTP from 296 to 310) - or get a faster bike, or both!
Heart rate on the run was 142bpm which was totally acceptable in the heat
Need to tidy up transitions
Draft more on the swim
Find a solution to swim cramp
Tri top when wet flapped around in wind and legs ride up making bum pad uncomfortable - May look at a longer sleeve skinsuit top
Got to sort out the run pacing. Perhaps dialing down the bike by 5 mins may save 10 mins on the run, better still, by getting stronger on the bike I can keep the 5 hour split but still be fresher on the run
Sore feet, still need to find a better shoe
I'm obviously really happy with a 16 min PB and this being made up by PB's in all three disciplines is really encouraging - it's a great reward for the last years hard training. I'm a bit disappointed with the Marathon as I feel I am capable of 7:45 pace and potentially 7:30, which would be a 5-10 min saving.
Assuming the Outlaw course was similar to Frankfurt's (more internet research required), a 9:31 finish should secure a Kona World Championship slot, according to the Frankfurt M40-44 finish times of previous years. 5-10 mins faster would be a good safety buffer.
I really pushed my limits in this race and certainly suffered some damage as a result. I'm going to take great care in the recovery phase and make sure that I transition into the next build phase fit and fresh. I may even look for a late season 'Olympic' race to chase a PB.
Faye has also given the green light for a bike upgrade but still answer 'NO' when it comes to shaved legs.