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IM Switzerland Race Report
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mattsurf




Joined: 28 Sep 2016
Posts: 556
Location: Zug, Switzerland

PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2018 9:55 am    Post subject: IM Switzerland Race Report Reply with quote

My second Ironman now done, I was aiming for a stellar performance to get a Kona slot, however, ultimately I fell some way short, with a 10h54m time. However, I took away lots of positives so I know I am going in the right direction, it may just take a little longer

Ironman Zurich takes place at the hottest time of year, and this year most of Europe is going through one of the hottest heatwaves in history. Needless to say it was hot.

The briefing took place on Friday due to other events taking place on Saturday, this caught out a number of people who were flying in later on Friday. The briefing was pretty good, and luckily short, as it was really hot in the tent. Only criticism was confusion about having shoulders covered in a non-wetsuit swim, in the briefing it wasn’t clear that only swim skins cannot cover the shoulders, however, tri suits are fine to cover shoulders. As a result a load of people tried to return their new tri-suits to the retailers in the IM expo.

The swiss team organising Ironman are super-efficient, it seems that everything just works.

Zürichsee (the lake) had been gradually getting warmer and warmer and was above 26 degrees on Friday afternoon but a cool day and rain on Saturday dangled the possibility of a wetsuit swim…. But it was not to be, just 0.1 degrees above the maximum temperature, so non wetsuit swim.

I arrived on Sunday morning just after 0600, for an 0645 start, loaded fluid onto my bike, pumped up tyres, got changed and had 10 mins for a warmup swim, no stress, but no hanging around getting bored and cold.

I self seeded into the 60-70 minute wave, even though my planned swim time was 75 minutes, I guess others did this too as I wasn’t past by many people, and was happy hanging onto the feet of people in front (and given the number of times my feet were tapped, had people drafting me).

Some people found the water too cold, however, I have been swimming without a wetsuit in the lake for the past 6 weeks, and knew exactly what to expect. Take note, a swimming pool is typically 28-29 degrees, a non wetsuit swim at 24.5 degrees could feel cold.

The swim in Zürichsee is one of the best lake swims, really clean water, very little slime or algae. The course is a straight forward one lap swim, and well marked. Only issue I had was swimming directly into low sun made sighting near impossible on one leg, I only knew I was swimming straight when I almost bumped into a marker buoy. I measured the swim as 3990m and my swim track was straighter than I have ever managed before, no one I spoke with measured it any shorter than me, and a friend measured as over 4400m (but his track looked awful). I finished in 1h17m, in the top 35%

T1 was very simple and easy to navigate, and onto the bike: My nutrition strategy was simple, I had 15 gels, each containing 80 Cals in a water bottle, and I would take approx one gel every 15 mins, for hydration, I had 2 750ml bottles, which I would try to consume completely between feed stations, roughly 30km appart. I made a slight error and forgot to bring my bottle of still water, so started the ride with both bottles containing concentrated isotonic liquid

The first 30km has 24m of elevation gain. My strategy was to maintain 210w for first 15mins and then increase to 235w, I averaged 39kph @ 225w. The next 25km is rolling ups and downs with around 250m elevation gain, where I averaged 34kph @ 240w NP, there were 2 sharp corners on downhill sections, and at both a rider was lying on the floor being treated. The next 20km incorporates the beast, a 4km climb with 200m gain, followed by a short descent (and another sharp left hand junction) and then another 3km climb with 100m gain before descending back to the lake, my speed was 30kph @ 235w.

At this point my stomach started to revolt. I have never had bloating on the bike before and I was feeling distinctly uncomfortable. Was it due the heat, which was now at 30 degrees? did I take in a lot of air and lake water in the swim? Was it due to a nutrition strategy taking in a lot of carbs, although this is something I have been practicing and working on? I made a mistake of forgetting my bottle of fresh water, so all of my hydration contained isotonic liquids, did this contribute to bloating (I was desperate for fresh water earlier on before I topped up my bottles)?

The next section 15km up to Heart Brake Hill is another flat one, and I was distinctly uncomfortable in the Aero position, but still managed a reasonable 37kph average @ 200 W NP.

HBH was a relief to get off Aerobars, it is not a bad climb, around 80m gain over 1km, and the support was tremendous. Just watch out on the descent, supporters had sprayed me with water on the ascent, as I hit the brakes for a hard left hand bend, at 60 kph on the descent, nothing happened, wet brakes and carbon wheels do not work well together. A slightly hairy moment sliding round the corner, luckily I did enough to get round safely.

After HBH there is a long 35km flat, finishing the first lap and going onto the second lap. The best part of an hour in the Aero position, still averaging over 35kph, but power now down to 190W NP. The temp was into the mid 30’s and my stomach was complaining more than ever, especially when in aero position. But I was still following my nutrition and hydration strategy pretty much spot on (which is really hard with an uncomfortable stomach)

At this point, in order to save my legs, I made the decision to maintain no more than 200w, spin up hills and coast downhill, this had a big positive psychological impact as I no longer felt that I had to hit my targets (which were now completely unrealistic). My stomach began to feel much better, and I knew I was getting back on top of this race.

My second lap was 15 minutes slower than my first. My bike leg was completed in 5h27m at an average speed of 33 kph @ 209w NP, not too bad for a course with 1400m of climbing, but a long way off my target time of 5 hours.

Into T2 and a stop a the toilet to see if I could settle my stomach – after a massive fart and really long pee I felt like a new person

Given the high temperature, my plan was to run the Marathon at 5:30/km and to walk the feed stations. I stuck to this plan to the letter, and ended up with just a 2 minute positive split, and a 3h55m Marathon (5:37/km). During training, I am consistently 30s/km slower in high temperatures, and this was probably the highest temperature run I have ever done, so pace was bang on with my expectation – given a cooler IM, I am confident about running a 3:40 Marathon.

The run was not as special a Vichy, but it was quite nice. The first section is along a board walk in the blazing sun, luckily the first feed stop comes up in about 1km

While mentioning feed stops, they were awesome, lots of people giving out wet sponges and cooling showers, the first stall has soup, the warm Bouillon (salty soup) was ideal for keeping salt levels up, and strangely refreshing despite being warm. Next up was water, then Isotonic drink, then Ice, then Red Bull / Coke, then Crisps / peanuts / salt sticks then ice, then Isotonic fluid, then fruit and gels, then water then wet sponges. The feed stations are around 2km intervals, so there is no need to worry about hydration or nutrition

Following the first feed station the route doubles back and heads into Zurich along a very, very hot road. The centre of Zurich has a lot of shade, and on top of the feed zones, lots of drinking fountains, which are great to throw your cap into. Back to the lake and a 1km run along a tree lined Boulevard, and then double back along the same route, the final section is partly in the shade run round the lake to the IM village. And there are 4 laps like this

My bike didn’t feel very good, however, my run felt great. I think because I backed off the bike and had followed a robust nutrition plan, I was in good shape. Keeping an even pace was a challenge, at the start the temptation was to go off too fast, however, running within my limits, it was too easy to let my pace drift slower, so a couple of time I had to increase my pace to catch back up to my target. In the last 2km I found that I had a reasonable amount left in the tank, so did them at sub 5m/km pace.

It is a very spectator friendly route, spectators can catch see you at multiple points on the run


Last edited by mattsurf on Wed Aug 01, 2018 10:00 am; edited 1 time in total
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mattsurf




Joined: 28 Sep 2016
Posts: 556
Location: Zug, Switzerland

PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2018 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote



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Jorgan




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PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2018 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice report. I often find that reduced appetite and bloating on the bike is due to going too hard, and high temperatures exacerbate this i.e. lower the intensity at which you can comfortably work. Plus all those gels would reek havoc on my stomach!
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stenard




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PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2018 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, 15 gels seems loads, but then I guess it depends on what type they are. I use GU and they only recommend 1 every 45mins, whereas High5 and SIS recommend 3 per hour. So they are all different.

That said, I just looked up the exact content of each, and both GU and SIS are 22g of carbs per gel. So it does seem the GU one's are at the low end (the SIS recommendation would be 66g /hr, whilst GU is only c30g /hr).

My plan has me predominantly on solids for the first 2-3hrs of the bike (so chopped up bars, chunks of flapjack, chews), moving to gels in the last 2-2.5hrs.

As for the Kona plan, most people I know who have made it have taken 3-4 years before they piece everything together.

Finally, your pre-race setup must be super efficient. Only 45mins?! I probably get there 90mins before and still feel rushed! If it wasn't for toilet queues, then it maybe wouldn't be so bad*, but I'm often struggling to make my targeted swim wave. And no, I can't go before heading to transition. My body doesn't seem to work that way!

*that said, I was appreciative of the extra time in Mallorca due to a tube blow out overnight
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Wheezy




Joined: 10 Oct 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2018 1:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice one MattSurf Smile

I've found that the heat plays havoc with my stomach and I need to back off a lot, when trying to digest food.

I think maybe you need to resurrect the Sub10 IM thread.
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JeffB




Joined: 04 May 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2018 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well done Matt, sounds a bit horrendous that heat, I did the 70.3 down the road at RJ in 35c heat and it was hard work on the run, and I usually quite like the heat.

Probably agree with the others about the gels, I put a bladder down my front for the last 2 IM's with energy drink, but tried solids for the first 2.5 hours, a flapjack and jelly sweets.

I also got told off a friend who does 24hr enduro events etc. that putting a bit of salt in your energy drink\gel bottle reduces it's osmality a bit and can help improve the amount of carbs you can absorb.

But if your body is working hard to keep itself cool processing food probably takes lower priority.

Have you got another race planned for this year or next?

Sub10 IM thread, haven't seen that one for a while Smile Hamburg next year anyone?

Jeff
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mattsurf




Joined: 28 Sep 2016
Posts: 556
Location: Zug, Switzerland

PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2018 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have just entered Weymouth - want a shot a qualifying for Nice. I think I will still come up a little short, but learning so much by doing events with a real performance goal, rather than just completing
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Jorgan




Joined: 12 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2018 7:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use solids on the bike, normally 3 chopped-up bars in the top-tube pocket, supplemented with bananas at aid stations (plus iso drink). I used to use an aero bottle on the frame with about 12 isogels in it, but never really got through them - too sweet I think, in the heat of most IMs I've done.

The trouble with Ironman for most of us, is whilst it's a learning exercise, we generally only get one crack a year, and they are consequently never the same (weather, course etc).
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tuckandgo




Joined: 03 Sep 2012
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2018 8:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good job, nice report.

IM Zurich is where I fractured my elbow in a bike crash. Made the rest of the race rather challenging.

Quick thought on your tummy problems. Could it have been the 'concentration' of the gels, without enough water (I think you said you only had bottles with gels to start with) - taking on large amounts of carbs is one thing, doing it without enough water is another.....
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SloggingScotsman




Joined: 18 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2018 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mattsurf

I found your report to be inspirational, excellent swim.

While I can only dream at what you can do, very well done. Don’t stress about Kona, if it’s going to happen it’s going to happen, and in conditions that work for you you will get there.

Cracking report, it touched me.
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Whisk




Joined: 09 Jun 2005
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2018 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

tuckandgo wrote:
Quick thought on your tummy problems. Could it have been the 'concentration' of the gels, without enough water (I think you said you only had bottles with gels to start with) - taking on large amounts of carbs is one thing, doing it without enough water is another.....


I would have thought that this is quite likely. Most gels require a lot of water to be taken with them (>250ml) or you'll have gastric problems.

SiS claim that there gels are isotonic, so don't need to be taken with extra water. I switched to SiS from Torq after similar stomach issues in an IM. If you're combining concentrated gels with energy drink of varying concentration you can easily find that you're not getting enough water to dilute the carbs.
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mattsurf




Joined: 28 Sep 2016
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Location: Zug, Switzerland

PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2018 11:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whisk wrote:
tuckandgo wrote:
Quick thought on your tummy problems. Could it have been the 'concentration' of the gels, without enough water (I think you said you only had bottles with gels to start with) - taking on large amounts of carbs is one thing, doing it without enough water is another.....


I would have thought that this is quite likely. Most gels require a lot of water to be taken with them (>250ml) or you'll have gastric problems.

SiS claim that there gels are isotonic, so don't need to be taken with extra water. I switched to SiS from Torq after similar stomach issues in an IM. If you're combining concentrated gels with energy drink of varying concentration you can easily find that you're not getting enough water to dilute the carbs.


I agree, I am pretty certain that forgetting fresh water on the bike was a big factor (in conjunction with heat). It is the only thing I changed, and it is the only time I have had stomach issues.

I was using High5 Gels, which I used extensively in the past, and during training, however, this year all of my races were done using natural fruit gels from Decathlon except for this race. I may try the SIS gels from Torq to see if they are better
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Wheezy




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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2018 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BTW Mattsurf, was wondering whether you’ve come across Russell Cox’s website? He used to post on here quite a bit and as far as I know, he’s the only person that breaks down all the IM splits for all events and looks at what you may need to qualify for Kona. Google Coach Cox and you should find it easy enough.
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TRO Saracen




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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2018 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great report and well done on the performance.

Re getting to the big dance I think the big ticket Euro races are perhaps the toughest to KQ at - and that's without contending with the fact that many actively get away with blatant drafting in some of these.

Bolton is a good one for a slightly softer KQ - late season, not as popular with travelling KQ chasers.
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explorerJC




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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2018 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

great report...well done..

...but that's a lot of gels...
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