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Cologne226 Race Report (First Iron Distance Race)
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Richard Allbert




Joined: 10 Apr 2007
Posts: 185
Location: Milan, Italy

PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 1:21 pm    Post subject: Cologne226 Race Report (First Iron Distance Race) Reply with quote

Hi,

Last weekend I completed my first iron distance race, and seeing as I like reading other people's race reports so much, I thought I'd share my experience...

Background

In October / November 2006 I was pretty unfit 28 year old - flabby, and annoyed with letting what was a good fitness level during my early 20's disappear. So, for a challenge, I decided to enter the Frankfurt marathon, October 2007. I figured that one year was enough time to start training, and be in reasonable condition for the race. I didn't have a running background (or cycling for that matter, played water polo in my teens) so I bought I couple of books, and a HRM (cheapest I could get) and started running 3-4 times per week, an hour or so each time. In January 2007, I started making the training a bit more varied - intervals, LSD etc, and in April 2007 entered a half marathon. It was a really hilly course in the woods, the winner finished in 1h18min, so I was pleased with 1h36min. On the basis of this result, I entered the Kassel marathon on the 10th June, deciding that 2 months was enough time to prepare. At the same time (now in May 2007) a friend suggested I try triathlons because I can swim (not fast, but good enough). So at the end of May I bought a bike (Trek 1500, 10kg with aerobars Embarassed ) and entered the Roth Olympic Triathlon (July 2007), Heilbronn Sprint Triathlon (July 2007) and the Ironman Germany 70.3 (August 2007). It seemed a bit much, but I'm a little obsessive at times. I didn't really start keeping training records until April 2007, but when I look back, I was averaging about 7-8 hrs per week. Peak was 14 hours (a bike marathon in this week).

I didn't have a proper training structure either - the thinking was this... each sport twice per week, one session LSD, one session intervals (max one hour). I'll do it correctly next year Smile.

So, the Kassel Marathon was ok (3h28min), Roth went well, 2h24min (bike was short - averaged 34kmh), I came in the top 20% in the sprint tri, and came in the top 25% in the Germany 70.3 (also had the pleasure of meeting Alice Hector). Because the first result in Roth was Ok, I decided to go the whole way and enter the iron distance Cologne226. It took place only two weeks after the Germany 70.3, but the aim was just to finish... Smile

So, this is what happens when you do an iron distance race 3 months after buying a bike, and don't have strutured training plan.... the problem also being that I'd never cycled alone for more than 4 hours (and would pay for this), and never swum 3.8km either.

The weather was perfect - 20 degrees, cloudy. Just windy on the bike Mad

Swim

The swim took place in a rowing lake that was 2km long, so the course was out and back. There were about 500 people at the start, but the lake was wide and there wasn't much fighting. I was shocked at the speed of the start - after 5 minutes my shoulders were killing me! One real advantage of a rowing lake is you have lanes, so I swam alongside a rope, never needing to look forwards for direction. After 10 mins or so, the shoulder ache subsided, I was swimming alone, and started to daydream. I reached the turnaround in 35 minutes, was happy with it, and daydreamed back to the start, time 1h10 min. I didn't feel too bad getting out of the water, in fact I felt too good..... and would pay for it Smile

T1

Too fast and cocky after the swim. Forgot my sunglasses! Time about 2min.

Bike

The bike course was four 45km laps - very flat, but very windy (for the second two laps). We were also mixed with the half distance racers (they started 25min after us) so there was a lot of drafting for the first two laps.

For nutrition, i didn't really have a proper plan - I read Towel's tips on this forum, and bought some snickers bars Smile. I also had a few power bars and some self mixed concentrated energy drink. Total of everything was about 4000 calories. The 'plan' was to chew something every 15 mins with some water. This worked for two laps.... however...

I made what Joe Friel's book calls the "#1 ironman mistake" - I went too hard on the first 90min of the bike. I finished the first 45km in 1h15 min, the second in 1h18min. And then hit a brick wall. I lost my appetite - so much so, I threw the remaining bars away, and after 4 hours I felt like I couldn't pedal at all. I have three front chain rings - I cycled the first two laps on the big ring at the front and the 5th easiest cog at the back. By half of lap three I was on the middle ring at the front and the 3rd easiest gear that the back. The aerobars lost their appeal here, as well. I was being overtaken by a lot of people, and to be honest, it was miserable. I kept wondering about the marathon. The distance is twice the Half Ironman distance, but I think you give a lot more - mentally it seems to really hit you. 6 hours is a long time alone! I dropped to 25kmh average, and spent most of the fourth lap talking to myself outloud just saying "pedal, pedal, pedal". I can't exaggerate the feelings - I guess I'm not the only one who has had this experience, but you really feel awful. No energy, stupid wind in your face, and always the thought of the marathon.

In the end, I finished the bike in 5h52min and could hardly stand when I got off.

T2

Feeling depressed after the bike, I took a lot of time here - well over 5 mins I think. Drank some water, let my breathing get to normal, put blister plasters on - all slowly.

Run

The run was four flattish laps of the lake (7km per lap) and the 14km run down the river into Cologne center. I didn't have a plan apart from remembering to drink at each aid station. I was surprised at how it felt - I expected to limp after the bike, but it was ok - first lap 40 min, second lap 41 min, 3rd lap 41 min (according to my parents and girlfriend, whose support got me through this). By the end of the third lap, though, my legs were starting to feel heavy - my girlfriend ran with me for a little while which really helped. At the beginning of the fourth lap, I stopped for a pee, and it was really dark yellow / orange - so I decided to walk the aid stations (every 2.5km) - at each drinking coke, iso, water and eating a bit of water melon. This seemed to really help, and when I look at the time for the second half marathon, I wasn't much slower than the first half (about 10mins slower). If I could repeat the race, I would have started the walk/run strategy much earlier - you slow a lot for the aid stations, but run a lot faster in between.

The worst part was starting out on the last 14km - knees, hips, leg muscles all very painful. Your body (well, mine) begs to stop and lie down. I wanted to go to sleep. It was bizarre. However, after 5km I was lucky enough to catch and start chatting to a guy called Lars, who was about my age, and he was also suffering. So, we agreed to run the last 9km together - and this really helped. We could talk - heart rates were low as we were too sore to run fast enough for a high HR, and the time actually passed quite quickly. We stopped at each of the remaining three aid stations, and to be honset, crossing the line, I felt ok - much better than when I came off the bike!

Run time 4h07min.

Total Race Time 11h18min00s

Afterthought

I'm entered in the Ironman Germany next year, and there are a lot of things that I need to change after the experience last weekend. The list of mistakes is long.... the main ones being

1. No nutrition strategy
2. Err... no real race strategy
2. Poor bike pacing
3. Lack of bike training (End of May was a bit late for buying a bike)
4. Lack of a structured training program
5. Ran a marathon in June - this took more than a week to recover from.
6. HIM two weeks before was probably a bit too much.

I will correct these next year - I have already set out the basics of a proper program starting in November.

Problem is, I'm really tempted by Lanza 2008....... Very Happy

I would like to thank the people who contribute on this forum with so much good and varied advice. It has really helped!

Ciao

Richard
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The Ronster




Joined: 12 Aug 2005
Posts: 290
Location: Glasgow

PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow Richard, Great race/Report

You are being very modest. I would suggest one of the reasons that you felt quite so bad, was because you were going so fast! Sub six hours for the bike is not shabby. Just think how fast you could be once you have corrected all your "mistakes" and show up fresh Smile Smile

You certainly showed a lot of guts to hang on and put in a great performance, when it all could have gone horribly wrong.

Well done, and great race


Last edited by The Ronster on Wed Sep 05, 2007 1:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Paul L




Joined: 20 Apr 2005
Posts: 4351
Location: London

PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 1:52 pm    Post subject: Re: Cologne226 Race Report (First Iron Distance Race) Reply with quote

Nice report and great effort. Cool

Richard Allbert wrote:
...Total Race Time 11h 18min... The list of mistakes is long...

How fast will you go when you fix these? Shocked

Take care, Paul. Very Happy
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TimB




Joined: 07 Mar 2007
Posts: 1450
Location: Wrexham, North Wales

PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great report from what sounds like a cracking race, Richard!

Paul L wrote:
How fast will you go when you fix these? Shocked

Absolutely! Wink
11:18 is a great time... you've clearly gained a lot of experience from this race and will be putting up an even better time next year!

Good on you! Very Happy Very Happy
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rebbo




Joined: 24 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

amazing performance Richard - esp. without a nutrition/race plan! My wife & I also broke our Ironman ducks at the w/e - not as fast as you, but feeling pretty smug still. off to the boozer in a minute...


Tom
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Toyota_Crown




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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

great report. bl**dy well done for your 1st one and so soon with zero cycling background too, and in a good time for all 3 disciplines, even if it was flat.

respect.

also gives us Englanders some idea of what cologne 226 is like if we ever fancied it.
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markalderman




Joined: 05 Mar 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

good time for 1st long distance and plenty to work on for next 1.

70.3 and full distance are 2 different races. 1 you can almost still almost sprint the other the lid has to be kept tightly on for some time.

the second(for me anyway) was more comfortable for longer than the 1st so as you've already booked your next long day out it couldn't have been that bad Very Happy and should be better next time
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Richard Allbert




Joined: 10 Apr 2007
Posts: 185
Location: Milan, Italy

PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ronster, Paul, Tim, Rebbo, Toyota Crown, markalderman... Thanks very much for the replies... Very Happy

Regarding the race itself, it is very well organised, in a nice place, and quite a lot of people turned up to support (the media said 100,000, but I think about half that).

It was also very relaxed - the attitute of the organisers was really friendly - quite different to the officious atmosphere of the "MDot" Germany 70.3. So I really would recommend it. Although travelling there from England doesn't make much sense when there are good races in the UK Wink .

The only cut off time is 2h20min for the swim. Otherwise they say they stay up until the last finisher crosses the line.

Regarding the mistakes, the biggest two to fix are

1. The bike training - time to do long easy rides (over four hours). I was wondering today whether going too fast initially really was the reason for hitting the wall, or whether it was lack of +four hour rides. I'll have to work on this. I live near a great hilly area, and so have done lots of hill training. This proved ok in the Germany 70.3 - 90km and 1500m climbing in 3hrs, the pros were 2.5hrs. But for IM's, clearly less hill training and more long long flat rides are needed, I think.

2. Nutrition - maybe gels are the answer. I can't see any other way to get the calories in and not be towing a trailer of food behind me! But this should be practiced in training, I guess Wink.

But the training can start in November.... first the Frankfurt Marathon to prepare for, although after Sunday it doesn't seem like a bad prospect Smile

Thanks again for the replies. Oh, and I meant to write Trek 1400 not Trek 1500. There's not much difference, anyway. Maybe next year a Cervelo P3 Shocked (I wish!)

Regards

Richard
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wiganer




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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Richard,

I remember when you posted either a reply to a thread or on my blog ages ago now and you were looking at the HIM as the max. To read you have nailed the IM distance and in such a FANTASTIC time is brilliant........

You should be absolutely the proudest man on the planet with that time.......given the place you started from.....bloomin brilliant !!!!

(now try one with hills Wink Very Happy )
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Richard Allbert




Joined: 10 Apr 2007
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Location: Milan, Italy

PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2007 5:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wiganer wrote:
Richard,

I remember when you posted either a reply to a thread or on my blog ages ago now and you were looking at the HIM as the max. To read you have nailed the IM distance and in such a FANTASTIC time is brilliant........

You should be absolutely the proudest man on the planet with that time.......given the place you started from.....bloomin brilliant !!!!

(now try one with hills Wink Very Happy )


Hi Wiganer,

Yes, I've been following your blog - you have quite a story Smile

Thanks for the message, and congratulations to you too. I can't imagine a hilly course... bike yes, but a hilly run... that must be torture!

Richard
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coastal controller




Joined: 25 Jun 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2007 5:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great story. What an experience. Nice one. See you Lanza 08!
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TimB




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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Richard Allbert wrote:
2. Nutrition - maybe gels are the answer. I can't see any other way to get the calories in and not be towing a trailer of food behind me! But this should be practiced in training, I guess Wink

For TBW, I had a Bento Box with gels and a couple of energy bars plus an aeropocket full of energy bars & cereal bars, but then I don't use an aero-bottle on the bike. To be honest, I can't see much point in the aero bottle on the longer distance, unless you're doing clever drinks mixing as suggested by Conan in the past, but that's my opinion and I'm sure there are many that will beg to differ (you can see the bottle, you stay aero, etc., etc.). I preferred to have the "real estate" for food storage and normal bottle cages for energy drinks & water. I also stuffed a packet of Mini Cheddars and a banana in my pocket at T1.
Richard Allbert wrote:
I can't imagine a hilly course... bike yes, but a hilly run... that must be torture!

After TBW, I'd have to agree with you!! Shocked Wink
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Richard Allbert




Joined: 10 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2007 5:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

coastal controller wrote:
Great story. What an experience. Nice one. See you Lanza 08!


Thank you very much ... In my mind, Lanza is 90% certain, now - combination of holiday and IM seems like a good option Very Happy
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Richard Allbert




Joined: 10 Apr 2007
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Location: Milan, Italy

PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2007 5:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="TimB]For TBW, I had a Bento Box with gels and a couple of energy bars plus an aeropocket full of energy bars & cereal bars, but then I don't use an aero-bottle on the bike. To be honest, I can't see much point in the aero bottle on the longer distance, unless you're doing clever drinks mixing as suggested by Conan in the past, but that's my opinion and I'm sure there are many that will beg to differ (you can see the bottle, you stay aero, etc., etc.). I preferred to have the "real estate" for food storage and normal bottle cages for energy drinks & water. I also stuffed a packet of Mini Cheddars and a banana in my pocket at T1.[/quote]

Yes, maybe i'll try that - and use my aero bottle as an extra storage place. And practice with space saving gels... Smile
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Richard Allbert




Joined: 10 Apr 2007
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Location: Milan, Italy

PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2007 5:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="TimB]For TBW, I had a Bento Box with gels and a couple of energy bars plus an aeropocket full of energy bars & cereal bars, but then I don't use an aero-bottle on the bike. To be honest, I can't see much point in the aero bottle on the longer distance, unless you're doing clever drinks mixing as suggested by Conan in the past, but that's my opinion and I'm sure there are many that will beg to differ (you can see the bottle, you stay aero, etc., etc.). I preferred to have the "real estate" for food storage and normal bottle cages for energy drinks & water. I also stuffed a packet of Mini Cheddars and a banana in my pocket at T1.[/quote]

Yes, maybe i'll try that - and use my aero bottle as an extra storage place. And practice with space saving gels... Smile
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