I walked past a woman in a car. She still had her athletes armband on. “Slow day today” I said, she smiled and knew. Somehow there was a common thread in our lives, certainly over the last few days.
Our day started with strolling the 100 m or so to transition. Bikes were perfect, check bags and suit up. We swam out until suddenly we heard familiar music. It took me a few seconds to recognise Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika over the loudspeakers. The last time I experienced such emotion at music was in Chamonix at “Conquer of Impossible”. The water was warm and the swell did certainly not look as big as it would be a few minutes later.
We watched the pro’s come out the water. I did not recognize anybody beside Jodie Swallow who had a big lead over the other women. I went into my holding area and waited for the gun to go. I noticed somebody getting pulled out the water and carried up the beach but I had no idea about the tragedy that had taken place. The gun (hooter) went off and we waded into the water. It was the calmest start I have ever experienced. The first bouy was ok and then we set off on the long leg. The swell was huge. Most of us sighted on the wrong spot and had to make a massive correction halfway through. Coming back was the toughest though. Anyway I got out the water in 45min which I was happy with.
5min in transition was as quick as I could have made it.
Onto the bike and I felt good. A telling sign is that I never zipped up my race top. It was already that hot. We had to work on the way out to the turn around at Berlin. 1h36 got me there and I knew that I would make up time on the way back. There was a bit of a headwind but I gave it horns. I drank almost 1L of water more than expected just to stay hydrated. (should have been warning sign) I also made the mistake of pouring water into my aero bottle and discarding the Pump bottle as I could have used this to pour water over my head. 2h54 on the bike was very good and I knew I had a little time in the bag.
Run shoes on and down the hill past the Orient Theatre. My first split was well sub 4 min pace. I realised there and then that it would not last. So I slowed to a more manageable 4:20ish pace. I knew it would be hard to hold on but I did my best. Lap one of the two lap course went well and I passed many. I had to cool myself at every water table and my pace had slowed slightly but I still thought I could hold on. I passed some women and I felt I was regaining some ground I had lost in the swim. Heading out the second time towards Bunker’s Hill the wheels slowly came off. All of a sudden there was very little left and I had to fight. Within a km or so it went pair. I am sure that nutrition played a part. I was struggling to get the calories down without feels bloated. I would drink coke and my stomach would feel over full. (ok so what to do now?)Bunker’s arrived and I resigned to a walk for almost the entire way. The will to fight was gone but I knew that I would finish. I regained some composure and started a slow waddle. Strangely enough it turned out to be faster than most others’ as I passed people almost immediately (but at a much slower rate than before). Then the cramps arrived. First my right hamstring, then my left entered the duet, the a quad. I got it all under control at the turnaround (except the stomach bloat) and I ran as best I could to the finish.
A great honour to high five Raynard and Paul on the red carpet.
So what did I learn or still have to figure out?
Race nutrition is way different to training nutrition: I obviously know this but it still catches me out. I somehow need to take on more when in a race.
Despite feeling a bit nauseous on the swim I settled almost immediately when on the bike. I rinsed my mouth out a few times with plain water and then started to eat. I had 2 Allen Lim rice cakes, 4 scoops of Gu Roctane Grape (in 750ml water) , 1 Roctane Gel, 2 non caffeine Gu. I should have had another caffeine Gu. I drank another 1 – 1,5l of water often just rinsing out my mouth. This is quite a lot. Normally I will have 1,5l of liquid total for a 4 – 5h ride. I had planned to run with 1 Gu Roctane Gel but I took another (non caffeine) from the ample supply at aid stations for the second lap. I drank coke 3 times in between. With a little bit of water to wash it down/rinse my mouth. Certainly when I was drinking coke I was treading a fine line between overfull stomach and getting in nutrition that I knew I needed.
Weather on the day was much more humid than I have trained in. Not sure how to improve on this acclimatization but keeping cool is priority. I was throwing sponges on me at every opportunity but it did not help for long.
Practicing in race kit. I could feel that my right sock were not on correctly. There was a fold under the ball of my foot and I now have a blister that will take a couple of days to disappear. It was bugging me from about halfway but I did not want to stop and get it sorted. The run was short enough to not want to lose the time. And I thought I would just suck it up. With throwing all this water on me it ended in my shoes (and socks) and they were socked. This obviously does not help blister issues.
Brain Freeze: I was too dumb to look at my correct finish time on my watch and only a day later did I realise that I was pretty much spot on. 5h36 is what I ended up with in total so pretty good effort! I know if I get my running time a bit down then I will have a very very good result. All things considered I am pretty pleased with the day. 12 weeks to go until the big dance!