The Tri Gods must have been smiling down on Tenby on Sunday 15th September 2019, the weather was perfect, the sea was calm, barely a breeze and a hoard of fanatical supporters to cheer on the 2000+ competitors. I stood on the beach full of optimism with some great training in months leading up and a couple of good race performances over shorter distances, showing I had good form and fitness. I had an idea of what performance I was capable of, but until you swim, bike and run you never quite sure what the day will bring.
After the National Anthem, it was show time. My whole day was fairly uneventful, which in long distance racing is a good thing. Once the congestion at the start of the swim eased, I got in to a relaxed rhythm, a smooth aussie exit in to lap 2 and more of the same.
On to the bike and the fast descent out of town on to the road to Pembroke and then Angle. The keys to the bike are pacing well, staying fuelled and hydrated. Pacing is crucial and the first couple of hours should feel really easy, as your fresh and fit. This goes against the racing brain that wants to go, go go!!! Being disciplined and sticking to your own plan is usually the best option, ignoring those that fly by like there in a 10mile time trial, or the urge to push a little harder on a climb, which there are just a few of on this course. Then there’s making sure to keep on top of your fueling and hydration. From past races and training I know that I can tolerate 300-320 calories every hour. I try to do this mostly with liquid nutrition, this year using OTE Super Carbs, two SIS double espresso gels for a caffeine boost, which I took at about 2hr30 and 4hr in to the ride and a couple of Rice Krispie bars ( I ate 1.5 of them) to keep hunger at bay. I aimed to take on fuel and fluid every 15mins. I took all my calories I needed with me, taking water from a couple of aid stations. In total I took on ~2000cal and 2.25ltr of fluid (3x7500ml bottles).
I was looking forward to getting off the bike and starting the marathon. It took 3-4kms for the legs to adjust, but halfway through the first lap I sort of felt like I was running. My aim for the run was for the legs to not blow up like they did last year at mile 18. This meant holding back and making sure to walk through the aid stations at New Hedges and at start of each lap, taking a gel and water at each of these and then at the aid stations in between either coke, sports drink or red bull with water, giving me roughly 250cal per lap. For the first two laps all was good, knowing that the final 2 laps are the tough ones, where the mental battle really takes hold. In laps 3 and 4 I started to walk for 30s or so at every aid station, rather than every other, pushing through and keeping the running going in between each, with the reward of a short walk break through the aid station. This worked well, although it was a forced effort to get back to running / shuffling at the end of each aid station. My pace slowed, in the closing stages, but no blow up, and as the red carpet came into sight, I found a little extra pace for the finish line.
The support on the course was fantastic. It really helps to motivate, keep the morale high and the legs moving. A BIG thank you to all the crazy fans out there on the course and the amazing volunteers, you make the day and the event so special. If Calsberg trained triathlon supporters…
11:33:26 – Swim 1:00:58, Bike 5:58:75, Run 4:22:47 187th overall and 24th in 45-49AG
Overall, I delivered the best day I could on the day, and my 13th IronMan in the bag. Hindsight says I possibly rode a little harder that than I should to deliver the run performance my training indicated. It didn’t feel that way whilst riding, but my run performance says otherwise. What a day and what a race. Thank you Tenby.
Next up it’s off to Scotland for the Original Mountain Marathon and a couple of self supported days with my good friend Dave in the hills.