The dust has settled and we have had some time to reflect on both the race and the build up to it. Here are some of both mine and Aisling’s thoughts about the result and where we go from here.
The 1:05 is if I’m being honest realistically what I trained for but I was still fairly disappointed with it. For some reason I rather optimistically thought I would go faster with very little swim training, go figure why that didn’t work out. The sub 1 hour would only have happened if the swim was as short as I believe it has been in the last two years. Turns out this year it wasn’t, at least I hope it wasn’t. A 1:05 on a short course would be a bit of a disaster . The upside is that there’s lots of room for improvement but it will take me actually getting into the water more than once a week on average to do that. Anyway it was always a cost v’s return decision with the swim. Doubling my swimming would likely save me 3-5 minutes. The same time spent on the run or bike this year could gain me 10-20 minutes. The swimming is something I will try to build over the next year but I still think there are much bigger gains on both other sports to be had first.
I think I executed the bike pretty well pacing wise. I rode the first 30 minutes very controlled and built up to a moderate effort for the next couple of hours and rode hard for the last 50k. I was glad I was able to pick up the effort for the last portion and that I felt strong and passed people almost to the end. I think that the time is a good indication of my fitness but I don’t think that I’m near my potential on the bike. I reckon there’s 10 and maybe 15 minutes more given the same course and conditions with another decent block of training.
I believe the run is the only number that doesn’t accurately show my fitness on race day. I gambled and ran hard chasing a time in the knowledge that I was getting off the bike way outside of the slots and that the only chance of getting one was if I got very lucky and had an exceptional run out of proportion with my fitness. The big problem was I hadn’t trained for an exceptional run so it was a gamble that was always very unlikely to come off but I had to try nonetheless. I hadn’t come here for a solid well executed race. It was all or nothing. A well paced 9:30-40 and no qualification was no better than blowing up and doing 10 hours. So I started the run easy knowing whatever chance I had of running 25-30k hard I had none what so ever of running hard for the full 42k. At 6k into the marathon I picked up the effort and at that stage started running much harder than I had trained for. It would either get me close enough to be within grasp of a roll down if there was one or I’d blow up spectacularly. Unsurprisingly it was the latter. I managed to not fall apart completely and did run the whole marathon but annoyingly in the end missed a sub 10 by 21 seconds.
On the day the last Kona slot was sub 9:20 so on paper I was over 40 minutes away. In reality I reckon with a properly executed run I could have been around 9:40. That’s still 20 minutes away from the slots but at 20 minutes I can easily see how that gap could be bridged.
The idea of this blog isn’t to make excuses for what I did or to tell you I would have been faster on the day if some outside force hadn’t slowed me down. I feel I raced well on the day and got the time and result I deserved. Instead it’s my thoughts on whether I can go faster and whether I can go fast enough to qualify and how that could be achieved.
There’s a 3-4 minute gain on the swim just by swimming more than once a week. I’ve gotten close to an hour before but never broken it. I was however swimming 3-4 times a week back then so with better training a 61-62 minute swim is well within the realms of possibility.
I’m not at 100% on the bike. I feel like I’ve never quite gotten there this year and there is a couple of things that I didn’t get done in training that always give me big gains so I could easily see 10 minutes on that course being comfortably achievable if I am better prepared.
An area I used to be quite good at but I was sloppy and slow this time. Going on the guy who came 4th in the age group his were 6 minutes combined while mine were over 8 minutes. This is something we preach to all of our athletes. A 2-3 minute saving on the swim might take a year of training, the same saving can be made in transition with a couple of practice sessions. I deserve a kick in the arse for this one.
Like I said the run is the one area that I feel wasn’t an accurate reflection of my fitness. I think a 3:25 was realistic on the day. That however is still 15 minutes off where I would need to be and this is going to probably be the hardest gain.
Taking 3 minutes off the swim, 2 off transitions and 10 off the bike means I would be starting the run just inside the top 10 and (only) needing a 3:10 marathon to run through to a slot. All of which I’ve done before and I feel are targets that are well within my reach with training.
Of course it’s very easy to sit here and talk about what I could have done. The reality is I didn’t do it. But I think my logic is that I feel there’s more improvement still to come and even so I wasn’t too far off where I had hoped to be with my current fitness. If I thought I was 40 minutes off qualifying fitness wise I’d be pretty gutted after the 8 months of preparation. The fact that I feel like I’m closer to 15-20 minutes away is a little easier to stomach.
I don’t think for one minute that my training this year was as good as I can do. With hindsight I do however think it’s as much as I could handle in my first year back. As athletes we often believe there is scope for improvement, it’s one of the things that keeps us coming back again and again. Sometimes we are right and sometimes we are dreaming but the fact that Ais believes the same makes me think I’ve more to give.
Myself and Aisling talked about the race and the result over the following days and she is of the same opinion. Fitness wise she thinks I’m probably more like 15-20 minutes away than the 40 minutes I was at the end and she thinks that the lack of training consistency and quality running are the two main reasons. Which is a good thing as that’s something we can address and try to fix.
Making it hard.
In choosing Mallorca we were picking a race that didn’t really suit my strengths and weaknesses in the way that Ironman UK does. I think I wanted to prove (both to myself and others) that I can qualify on what for me is a harder course. By harder I actually mean less difficult than Ironman UK. I think the hard, slow road surfaces, relentless hills and super technical bike course of the U.K. all play to my strengths whereas the fast smooth roads of Mallorca are more like what the continental European athletes are used to. I think that the much harder hillier run course in the UK plays to my strengths much more too (but only when I’m fit enough to make the most of it) A flat run forgives the bigger more powerful athletes who would suffer on the hills in the UK.
If I’m honest I’ve been a little afraid of those fast Europeans with their tans and fancy six packs and fast bike splits. They have always seemed to me like a step to far to reach. I wanted to come and test myself against them and get myself out of my comfort zone. I’ve seen that they’re no different to me (they just have better tans and 6 packs and are faster for now) but I think I can race against them with enough training.
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