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xml's IM France 2008
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xml




Joined: 06 Sep 2006
Posts: 1147

PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 10:52 am    Post subject: xml's IM France 2008 Reply with quote

Ironman France 22/06/08 06:30



Training

The less said about this, the better. With a long bout of bronchitis and other miscellaneous setbacks, any idea of following a training plan evaporated. With race day rapidly approaching, I decided the most important thing was to get some long rides in on the bike. So six 80-100 mile rides and a bit of running and swimming and I was as ready as I was going to be.

Pre-Race

Mistake 1: I booked a hotel a couple of weeks before the race and it was about 14k from the start. That really was a bad idea as getting up earlier than I needed to and hoping the taxi would arrive at 4:30am wasn't helping my already sky-high stress levels.

Not being near the start gave me a bit of a celebrity status though as I was more or less unique walking around with the athlete wrist-band. "Ironman! Felicitations!". Maybe a bit premature though. I also gained my own personal supporter. A young guy serving me in the restaurant somehow got through to me that he was a volunteer on the bike course. So he took my name and number and he said he'd see me at km 140 on the bike. I think. His english being non-existent and my french being similar I wasn't too hopeful.

On check-in day I bought my final supplies at the chemist. I picked up a bottle of factor 50 sun cream with a picture of a nice smiling baby on it. The lady serving said "this is for children, yes?", and I said yes, it's for me. After giving me a puzzled look, I completely freaked her out by asking for a jar of vaseline and some plastic gloves. She disappeared upstairs presumably to make a phone call and came back 10 minutes later...

Race morning

Being miles from the start, I set my alarms (dozens of them) for 3:30 and it seemed I actually managed to get some sleep. I got up, showered, ate and drank, sun-creamed, dressed and got the taxi at 4:30 getting to transition just before it opened at 5. Pumped my tyres up, taped a load of gels to the bike, body-glide and baby oil all over (mistake 2) and wet suit on. Although the baby oil was great for getting the wetsuit off I think it ended up nullifying the sun cream.

Swim

My prediction for the swim was 1:05-1:10 and given the long and short loop, I should get out of the first loop after about 41 minutes. The swim pens were numbered pros, sub-55, sub-1:06, etc so thought I'd go in the sub 1:06 pen. However, so did everyone else. Next to it was the sub-55 pen with very few people in it. So I thought, why not go in behind the sub-55 people and I get the sea to myself! Fantastic idea. Not!

Wow! Where did these people come from? I was at the back, nobody was behind me and yet I was being attacked from all sides. Classic pincer movements would have two enemy combatants approach me from left and right, meet up just in front of me and have me flailing in the water while three of their colleagues try and climb over my legs from behind. I had my goggles knocked off twice but worst was having the goggles compressed in sucking my eyeballs out.

Anyway, sighting was pointless as expected, I just aimed to have roughly a similar number of people to the left of me as to the right and went with the flow. After the turn back to the beach I did manage to get a bit of clear water for a few minutes which was a bit of a relief. I came out of the first loop and looked at my watch and it said 47 minutes. No! What happened?! Oh well, back to the second loop which was a bit easier and exited looking at the clock to see 1:06. It turned out that I misread my watch and it was 41 minutes for the first loop.

Mistake 3: So, I come across the mat and drop my goggles. If like me, you have 20 pairs of goggles, and the only pair that doesn't leak is the pair you have on, you might be, like me, a bit reluctant to lose them, so I went back. Sorry guys! After getting to the changing tent with my goggles, in hand, I proceed to take my swim hat and, er, goggles off. Bugger!

T1: predicted 5 (total guess), actual 7:36. Since all I did was take my wetsuit off, put suncream on, shoes (no socks), helmet and race belt, I don't know how I took so long. Probably Mistake 4: No triathlons so far this year to practice at.

Bike

Roll out the bike, jump on, and I'm away! No I'm not! Rear tyre is flat. Double bugger! Mistake 5: Pump tyres up as soon as you get into transition and check them just before you go out. Probably overinflated but I only put 110 in which is what I usually do. Somebody else's track pump though.

Next to me in post-transition tube changing is another almost identical orange Orbea to mine. Cue the conspiracy theories.

Mistake 6: (jesus, I haven't started cycling yet!). I put the gas canister on the bike and it didn't inflate enough. It had been on the bike for a few months and looks like most of it had leaked. So, do I get another one (2 left), or see how it goes? Mistake 7: I left it. Off riding on the flat for 20k then up the first short steep hill. My god! what's up with the bike?! I'm popping blood vessels trying to go up this hill and the bike feels like the brake levers have been welded to the wheels. I released the brakes on both front and back, but still no good. Over the top and try and get my heart rate back down below MHR :), cycle for another couple of k and decide to stop for a pee and blow up my tyre.

Mistake 8: I blew up the tyre. Bang. Put another inner tube in and get the last gas canister. One tube left, no gas, one tiny hand pump that would take me 20 minutes to blow up to 50 psi.

After that, the bike was plain sailing, no mishaps, ascents were long but not hard. Views were magnificent and took your mind off the hills. Descents were fantastic. Not being very risk averse, I threw caution to the wind and hardly anyone passed me on the descents and I even gained back some of the hundreds of places that I inevitably lose on the ascents. Everyone and their grandmother passes me going uphill. If they give an option of doing two loops of the bike instead of the bike and marathon, sign me up! The bike route was absolutely breathtaking. Predicted 7 hours, actual 6:58.

T2: predicted 5 mins (yet another guess), actual 9:04. Not helped by the fact that I rolled my socks up nicely to put on my feet. I did, then remembered the vaseline for my toes so took them off again. Best laid plans...

Mistake 9: No suncream. Without access to bags in the morning, you actually need 3 sets of suncream (pre-swim, t1, t2) and I only had two. I thought that the volunteers would have some but they didn't. But I did manage to beg some from someone else.

Run

Mistake 10: sleeveless tri-top. Without a single cloud in the sky all day, my shoulders were already burnt. I asked a voluteer how they looked and she just laughed. Not good! No spare top in my run bag. So off on the run with the aim of keeping my HR below 145. First lap was ok and I thought I was drinking and fueling ok. Second lap and I'm slowing. Half way through lap 3 and I'm in a bad way. I tried to pee but couldn't, walking made me dizzy and running gave me cramp. A rock and a hard place.

By the airport is the only place with the tiniest amount of shade on the course, so I lay down on the ground and put my feet up on a tree trunk. I took my shoes off and proceeded to cramp from toes to eyeballs. I even had cramp in my hands. Some kind person came by and helped stretch my feet (poor sod, that end of my body would not have been a pleasant place to be).

So, my thoughts turn to DNF. I wasn't thinking about whether to DNF, just how I get somewhere to DNF as I'm at the wrong end of the course. After 20 minutes or so, I crawl to my feet and put my shoes back on and saunter towards the next aid station. However, the rest time gave me food for thought. Can't pee, dizzy when my HR lowers = low blood pressure == dehydrated. Well, that's what my diagnosis was at the time. So I get to the next aid station and down myself with coke and energy drink and eat tuc biscuits. That feels better. Walk a tiny bit faster to the next aid station and repeat. And the next and I'm back at the end of lap 3.

At this point I see my wife and son and explain that I might not finish, but if I do it's going to take me 1:45 or so to walk the last lap. With orders to stay on the course until you come back with a medal! I gather my last wrist band and set off with a light jog. Hmm, feeling better. More fuel at the next aid station and I start to run! Holy cow, my HR is going up and I'm feeling good! Get to the airport again which just amplifies the difference between how I feel now and how I felt last time I was there. 5k to go and I resolve to pass 50 people before I finish. I do! Ok, 100 people! I get to about 85 when I approach the finishing line.

At this point my wife is looking puzzled because she wasn't expecting me and shouts at me to ask if I've got to do another lap. "No! I'm finished!". She tells me our 7-year old wants to go with me, so we lift him over the fence and he runs with me over the line high-fiving everyone on the shute.

Predicted: 4:30-5:00, actual 5:29

Total: 13:51

What a day.

I'm going back to Nice next year!
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Last edited by xml on Mon Jun 30, 2008 9:16 am; edited 1 time in total
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Fully Ferrous




Joined: 07 Sep 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul
great report and great courage. Well done mate.
Rest well.
Jevon
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runtilyoudrop




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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

well done for toughing it out.

Sounds like you could have eaten and drunk more on the bike.

Good point about the sunscreen. At IM lanza they were really good at T2 and had loads of people lathering it on. Last year at IMA there was noone.

So what is next?
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xml




Joined: 06 Sep 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cheers Jevon.

runtilyoudrop wrote:
Sounds like you could have eaten and drunk more on the bike.

Probably, I didn't feel like eating much after only 30k and stuck to gels. It's so hard to keep track though when you're getting given partially filled bottles, and you miss iso, so go for water or whatever. When I go for 100+ mile rides I take everything with me and know exactly what I'm having.

runtilyoudrop wrote:
So what is next?

IM Nice 2009!
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Fully Ferrous




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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am entering Germany 2009 tomorrow Cool
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Bainsy




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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 12:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great report and well stuck at it - last year i did IMF and took all my food on bike (inc a ham and cheese baguette!!) just used the aid station for water and extra bananas..........much safer

Brings back some memories !!!!
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Luke




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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great report.

Could you take more of your own nutrition on the bike next year?
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xml




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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Luke wrote:
Could you take more of your own nutrition on the bike next year?

I took all my nutrition this time. A dozen gels taped to the top tube and 8 energy bars (though could only face eating 2 of them). I figured that plus the drinks from the course would be fine. I didn't take any food from the bike course at all, probably because last year I took half a bar here, a quarter of a banana there and I had even less clue what my energy intake was. I also stuck a nuun tablet in my aerodrink container every time I refilled it. I just got a tiny bit of cramp in my thighs on the bike at 130km, but it was soon gone.

I think my problems started after I started running. But I could be wrong.

Hard game, ain't it?
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Fully Ferrous




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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

xml wrote:
I think my problems started after I started running. But I could be wrong.


Not surprised after 12 gels on the bike. I'd be liquid after that. One an hour on the bike is my limit. I have a Torq bar every hour too. Plus a banana at the beginning of the ride and I also munch on bananas at feed stations. I'm going to take a cheese roll something this year too in the back pocket.

Mind, I am a big lad... (where's the pie emoticon when you want it!)
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die trying




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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love race reports. That was great! Well done for the run and avoiding the DNF.
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mitten.




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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great recovery xml and an awesome last lap... it's amazing what the body can come back from in such a short time. Is Mrs xml looking for work as a motivational coach, or maybe an army recruit trainer ? Laughing

Top day, glad you finished and finished well.
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xml




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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 4:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I bought a Suunto smartbelt a few weeks before the race and could record the whole race including the swim which is quite interesting (to people like me :-) ).

This is is my HR on the run. Spot the aid stations, the collapse and the recovery. It's not difficult!



I'm not usually one who cares much about supporters, as I'm usually in my own world in a race, but I seeing my wife and son waiting for me sure made a difference in this race. Probably the difference between a DNF and a didn't DNF. Which is quite a big difference after a year of training.

Cheers for all the replies.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

xml - top effort there mate. I hope the swim sessions helped! Reading the reports on here and on RW, it sounds that the heat made this a brutal race. So many congrats on battling through all the 'mistakes'. No wonder your family were so proud!
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xml




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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 5:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TH: I loved the swim although it sounded bad. I went swimming outside my hotel for a couple of days before the race and swimming is now such an effortless activity that it's just the most relaxing thing I could do. 2 years ago when I started swimming crawl, I couldn't contemplate how easy it would become and what distances I could do without blinking. Many thanks to team swimsmooth!
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J50




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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Top report, reading that is what it is all about... indeed I feel knackered just reading it! Congrats on getting to the finish line. Just got one of those Suunto HR things (after reading your report on it) so looking forward to seeing where the HR is when swimming soon...
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