Ironman Frankfurt 2018

6 weeks previously I raced Ironman Lanzarote. I had a great day, loved (nearly) every moment and learnt a lot. I was excited to press on, but early in the period between the two races, realised I’d probably made a mistake entering my second IM just 6 weeks after the first.

Still, after a weeks rest, it was time to get back on the horse. In summary, here’s how the time between Lanzarote and Frankfurt went:

Week 1: Total recovery, no training
Week 2: Mixed week of easy sessions / feeling tired
Week 3: Knocked off my bike on Tuesday – bike written off. On Thursday, get more ill than I’ve ever been. The world proceeds to fall out of my backside. Lost 4kg though.
Week 4: Recovered from illness by Wednesday, did some ok sessions at the end of the week. Ran an 18 miler (longest training run in years) on Sunday.
Week 5: Solid low volume week. Got my hands on a bike and rode it for the first time on Sunday.
Week 6: Taper week before race day on Sunday.

So it wasn’t flash to say the least. Training Peaks is a great tool, but it also has it’s flaws. Being told you’re significantly less fit than you were 6 weeks ago isn’t a good for the mojo, and indeed I felt like I’d lost an awful lot since Lanza.

Still, nothing to do but head out to Frankfurt, readjust expectations and see what happens.

In the week leading up to the race, I needed to adjust my biking expectations. I on a new lush steed, a Giant Trinity, but wasn’t hugely confident on it yet, and my had shown they weren’t in anything like the shape they were for Lanzarote.

I settled on aiming for 30w below what I held in Lanzarote and tried to get into my head that riding this much lower power didn’t mean I was (totally) shit.

Swim – 58:22. 1:30-1:32/100m.
The day before the race, I swam in the lake in my trunks and felt surprisingly good, cruising around at 1:31/100 for 20′ with little effort. This gave me a bit of confidence that on the day I’d not be too far off the pace.

Top gent and fellow #TeamSponge member, Paul Lunn

After a short warm up, we were penned in and the Pros set off at 6:40am. 5 minutes later, the age group staggered start began – 5 athletes every 5 seconds. It was positively civilized.

It was an uneventful swim. After the first buoy, we swam directly into the sun, rendering sighting useless. I didn’t look up for 800m, just followed the crowds.

I came out feeling good, fast through T1 and nailed a flying mount. Bosh!

Just a little hectic

Bike – 4:53.22 23.5 mph.
Onto the bike and felt decent in the early stages. The first hour was around 260w NP, but it quickly reduced to 250w and continued to head south. I kept a lid on things massively.

The course heads through the centre of Frankfurt – kudos to the organisers for closing such trunk roads – before turning north and venturing into the German countryside. It was consistently rolling with a few lumpy bits and a total of 1,600m climbing over the 114 miles (a tad long due to roadworks).

I’d recce’d some of the course with Team Sponge teammate Paul Lunn a couple of days earlier. Glad I did, because I’d expected it to be flatter than it was! There’s one section of cobbles which absolutely killed the speed (and bike). The second time up this climb there were Garmins, water bottles and repair tools littered all over from those who hadn’t secured them tight enough. I don’t want to do Paris Roubaix.

At the northern end of the route, you make a U-turn before heading south and back to the city. Seeing some very average power numbers displayed on the Garmin, I kept working on “speed over power” – I repeated this in my head over and over as I worked to hold the most aero position possible in an attempt to balance out the feebleness of my legs.

It was working ok – at the end of 1st lap (61 miles – included flat from the lake), I’d averaged 24mph. The power reduced even more in the second lap but I tried to keep strong and just focus on the next man up the road.

Hit a mental dip around Mile 90, feeling crap and sorry for myself and my useless legs. I was riding alone and was despondent with the numbers but had to keep remembering it’s not about power. Mental dips usually mean I’m low on sugar. In go a few more carbs and I perk up to push back to T2.

Coming towards the end of the bike, my average speed had dropped to 23.5mph to give me a time of 4:53 for the 114 miles.

Overall the bike was ok. I did what I could on the day, I just wish I’d had better legs.

Now to put to bed the Lanza run demons!

Run – 3:23.39 07:48mm
I blew to bits in Lanzarote and was determined to not make the same mistake. Like the bike, I found it difficult to know what pace to go out at. I had lost fitness, but the bonk was so big 6 weeks ago that I believed I could run a faster time even on less fitness if I could just pace it sensibly.

No-one told me I hadn’t rubbed the suncream into my face.

Plucking numbers out of thin air, I decided I could run 10 minutes faster, so I set out at 3:25 pace.

Off I trotted, feeling good.

Temperatures rocketed early afternoon so I popped salt tabs every hour and used sponges to drench myself at every CP.  The cups of ice were a blessing – I’d hold them in my hands long enough that they melted to a small enough size that I could put them down my trisuit without looking too odd. Large ice cubes and tight lycra looks dodge.

Through 1 hour, my average pace was 7:36. Through 2 hours 07:39mm. Barely any drop off, happy days. After half way, it got mentally easier. 3 hours down and the average pace was 07:45mm.

Still smiling. Still unaware I have a tub of suncream on my face.

Towards the end of the 3rd lap, I was aware of a fanfare approaching from behind. It was the motorcade of Live TV cameras following Daniela Ryf as she approached the finish. She pulled alongside and I momentarily ditched the pacing strategy so I could run side-by-side with the World Champ.

Scroll to 4:20:13 for my moment of fame!

At the start of the last lap, I hadn’t walked once and knew I’d be able to hang on to the end. I ended up averaging 07:48mm for a 3:23.30 marathon.

A solid, consistent run which is probably quite reflective of where my fitness is at. Still, to be competitive in my AG I need to be running a good 15 – 20 minutes quicker.

I need to learn to run.

Summary – 9:22.16. 9th AG and 38th Overall.
IM Frankfurt result

I had no idea where I’d placed when I crossed the finish line, but I was satisfied with a 9:22 finish. After much searching I found my support crew – Mum and Brother – who told me I’d crept into the Top 10 in my AG (9th). Amazing! But, even better, I’d finished 38th overall…at the European Championships. Without knowing it, I’d come off the bike first in my AG and 17th Overall.

I’ll take that.

But I REALLY need to learn to run.

Huge shout out to the running machine that is Paul Lunn who went on to run a 3:14, place 2nd in his AG and punch his Kona ticket. Money’s on this man for a world title.

Not sure really. I can’t afford to race another full Ironman this year so it’ll be a 70.3 somewhere. Possibly Weymouth or Challenge Majorca.

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