Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Cotswolds 113 - Race Report

Its arrived the main race of my season, Cotswolds113 Half Ironman distance race, it takes me a step closer to my ultimate goal of a full Ironman distance race, which fingers crossed will be in 2013.

Race day started with a 4 am wake up call for breakfast, this consisted off a massive bowl of porridge and 2 pieces of wholemeal toast. As the nerves kicked in from the moment I woke up I had to force the food down as I felt sick with nerves!.

As I was in Wave 1 for the swim I wanted to get to transition early, so I could get everything setup just the way I wanted and I knew that I had everything sorted before the race. As we arrived at the venue, the traffic was a nightmare, there was a massive queue just to park the car so I decided to leave the support crew (my wife & son) take the bike off the roof and grab my transition box and walk to rack my bike and this left my wife to go and park up. After 10 minutes of setting up, and faffing I noticed that I had left all my gels and hydration in the back of the car, I started to panic and as soon as I decided to make a run for the car (about half a mile away) the race organises announced on the PA system that the race start was being delayed y 30 minutes. This eased my panic but I still had to run to the car, grab my bottles and gels, run back  to transition and finish setup. I decided not to wear a watch for this race, I wanted to race it how I felt, my gut feeling.

As transition was about to close I had finished putting my wetsuit on, and was ready to leave, I had forgot to get the wetsuit lube on my neck so I used the emergency supply my wife keeps in her handbag as I couldn't go back to transition. I got in the water to acclimatise and and it wasn't to cold, considering the amount of rain we had, I got under the water and as normal it takes your breathe away, but after that its fine, after paddling about for 10 minutes, we were under starters orders, off when the air horn and the first wave was off.

The water was crystal clear and didn't taste to bad, i try not to drink the lake water, but its going to happen, it was a far better taste than swimming in the sea. I managed to find my rhythm on the swim and got comfortable quickly, until the first boy where the cool, calm lake decided to get a little cross wind which made breathing in the water quite tough, as I only breath to the left, perhaps this is something I need to look into as I have by laterally taken breaths while swimming and the more I sea swim the more I think it will come into play. One thing I did notice was that there was a nutter in front of me swaying back and fore with his strokes, he directional compass was all over the place so it made it hard for me to get a decent line of swimming without sighting on the shore line and changing my position in the water. After completing the Pacmac shape loop of the lake I noticed that some of the wave 2 swimming were joining me on the way out, up the exit ramp, they had gained a whole 10 minutes on me, not that I minded, my aim for the race was just to finish.

Into transition and out my wetsuit, rather quickly but the slow point was putting my socks on, the next sprint race I'm doing it without sock, just to see ho quick my T1 time speeds up. Also I hope it doesn't give my feet to much of a battering, but for a sprint it should be over relatively quick. As it was still drizzling I wore my new Gore wind bike vest/jacket, I also had arm warmers on to keep some of the heat in, as I could see it being cold especially into the little cheeky head wind. Down the muddy transition mats and off I went into the cycle stage of my first half Ironman race.

My arms felt nice and loose and my legs felt fresh, I was ready to smash the bike course, I didn't want to go out to fast on the bike so I made sure I paced myself. I wanted to make sure I could get a get around both laps at the same speed, if possible a negative split. It was a a nice flat course with to minor climbs, it was a great day for me on the bike, everything seem to click into the right place. I was finding it a little tough on the saddle area, and I was getting a lot of road chatter through the bars, I suppose I'll have to deal with that until I upgrade the bike, but I definitely notice some pain from the bars after 56 miles. I only needed to change 1 bottle for the bike stage, I used all the water in my aero bottle, so it was nice to get a fill up on the first lap. There was plenty of water and High 5 for all athletes, which was great. I was happy with my USN energy product so no High5 for me. The stations were well marshalled and the roads were managed excellently, it made my experience of the day so much easier. This was the only easy thing for me that day. After 1 lap of the bike, I was greeted with a smile and cheers from my wife and 5 month son, they have been my backbone for this race and I couldn't have done it without there support.. Thank You Vicki & Iestyn and thank you for your lovely sign, it made me finish strong.

I felt the urge to wee in the last 5 miles on the bike, I was hydrated for the run, a bit to much I think, but I knew I could use the toilet when I got to transition, I came in after the 2nd lap to a great crowd and I was on such a high I forgot to go to the toilet, as it was a 3 lap run I knew I'd get a chance again. I got into transition, hooked up my bike, stripped off the jacket and helmet, new shoes and off I went. I made a big error, I left my gels in my transition box. This hard run, was only going o get harder without my supplies. I knew they had gels out on the course so it didn't faze me to much. After 1 tough lap on the run, the sun decided to come out and I was starting to feel the heat, also the need to use the loo had returned. It was a tough lap, I mean a really tough lap, and I got slower. I saw my window to use the loo, it was at the camp site, a new shower and toilet block, I went off route, and used the loo, It was 3 minutes and it was the best spent 3 minutes on a race. It helped me so much and it gave me the spring back in my step. Lap 2 was hotter again, but I had a good feeling in my legs to kick on and it gave me the quickest lap of all 3. I saw my family and mates at the end of lap 2 this gave me the drive to get out there and finish what I started 5 and a quarter hours ago. I can do it!

The final lap on the run, hurt, at the last feed station, I took a bit of everything, from jelly beans, coke, pretzels, and cake. I think it helped me finish.. I dont remember tasting it, I poured 2 cups of water over my head and off I went. The end was near, about 3 miles to go. I dug deep and thought of the finish line where everyone was waiting for me, 16 weeks of dedicated training for this race was about to be over, I turned into the final straight, the finish line was there waiting for me, I went over the finish line to be greeted by a marshal, who put my medal around my neck and I turned to see my wife and son who were smiling at me, what a pleasant site to see when you have just given your all in a race. I took my medal off and put it on my son, I had a cuddle and cried a little tear of joy. I dont get emotional very often, I blame triathlons.

What a brilliant days racing, I thoroughly enjoyed my Ironman experience, I will definitely take what I haven't learned today to my next race and I will definitely race Cotswolds 113 next year on my way to a full Ironman  in 2013 (family permitting). After the race was over, I had a soak in the lake for my legs to cool, but I was made to have an ice bath for further recovery which I must say worked a treat. Thanks to CompressSportUK to helping me get over that finish line, I couldn't have done it without you to!

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