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Thread: Ironman France 2010 My Report

  1. #1
    Master (notsomuchofa)Fellrunner's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Tenby bound.

    Ironman France 2010 My Report

    It's long & I'm not sure it's of interest to many but..............

    Why Triathlon?

    18 months ago I was a fellrunner who was at his happiest on the hills & despite having been a member of Wrecsam Tri for a couple of years I had no interest in triathlon. I was content to run the odd road & cross country race while maintaining Welsh Athletic accreditation, running on the fells for Mercia & hopefully picking up some more North Wales & Wales vests.
    As I was approaching 40 however my legs were going from one injury/niggle to another & I was in the frustrating position of being beaten by runners whom I felt I should be beating. This came to a head when I turned my ankle badly as part of the Mercia team that picked up silver at the Brit Relay Fell Champs in 2008. Something had to change. I could swallow my ego & get used to being beaten or I could try something different.
    I bought myself a Scott road bike of indeterminate age for £237 off eBay & entered the Chirk Sprint Triathlon.
    It was the start of a steep learning curve. I took to the bike pretty well & only fell off a few times. Unfortunately these falls were witnessed on club runs & I developed a bit of a reputation.
    The swimming was difficult. I could only comfortably swim a couple of lengths & my 11 year old daughter could easily scalp me. My first club session was a real eye opener. I was being terrorised by the Normanator & Gill & was dumbfounded to find my whole body glowing bright red when Iíd finished. More work was required. I got the SwimSmooth pack & started to work on my technique. It wasnít long before I was asked to leave my local pool as it wasnít deemed acceptable to swim over scrot-bag kids with fins & paddles. I had to find another pool & dump the SwimSmooth, but things were slowly progressing.

    Why IM?

    During 2009 I got through Harlech Sprint, Chirk Sprint, Bala Middle & Llandudno Standard. During this time I found I wasnít getting injured, & I was enjoying the crack with club members many of whom Iíd come to see in a new light & some of whom I was even beginning to respect. I felt that to gain their respect in return & to satisfy my mid-life crisis I would make an attempt at becoming an Ironman. I decided on IM France.


    Entry:- £411
    Transport:- EasyJet Liverpool to Nice, 2 people & bike box £197, taxi from airport to hotel (bus strike on) £35 & bus from hotel to airport £4.
    Accommodation:- Nice Fleurs Hotel Apartments was £500 for 5 nights. The accommodation was a bit dated, but clean, quiet & seemed to have plenty of French participants staying at it. Our only problem was that Nicola turned her ankle 2 days before we flew out & the 20 min walk to the Expo/Start/Finish area was a bit far to be comfortable. On the plus side it was only about 5 mins from the Promenade des Anglais which was the run route. Apart from having one meal out, a few ice creams & coffees we shopped at the nearby supermarkets & cooked for ourselves.

    Race Morning

    The alarm went off at 03:30 but Iíd been calmly lying awake since about 02:00. I had my breakfast of Soreen Malt Loaf, rice pudding washed down with red bush tea & energy drink before putting on my second coat of P20 & making my way down to the start with Nicola. On our way we met loads of French youngsters who didnít seem to realise that continental drinking was supposed to be a relaxed peaceful affair. We also saw a huge prostitute.

    Swim Training

    I donít like swimming, Iím not a natural swimmer & I found motivation really hard. I really missed the club sessions at Gwyn Evans & canít wait for the refurbishment to be completed. In place of this I went along to Mold Masters on a Monday evening. These sessions are really too short for IM training but are fast & take me out of my comfort zone. I also swam on a Wed & Thurs evening. These sessions were hard due to the monotony of swimming on your own & the difficulties of swimming in a public pool during general sessions. I admit to binning more than one or two of these sessions & just walking out.

    Swim Plan

    I love OW swimming, but have found myself panicking in both my mass swim starts with only about 200 people. With around 2500 people starting at Nice I was expecting a somewhat heightened degree of anxiety.
    I wore my tri shorts, calf guards & arm coolers underneath my wetsuit. I shouldíve worn my number belt, but this was disallowed.
    The swim course is in 2 parts, the first is a clockwise loop of 2.4km followed by an anti-clockwise loop of 1.4km. Due to my swim worries about panic & biff I planned to position myself at the front of the far left pen as this was the slowest starter pen. I hoped to be able to swim on my own on the outside of all the biff.
    I also planned to get a pre-race swim in before the start to flush my wetsuit between 06:00& 06:15 as per the race briefing.

    Estimated Time 1:10 to 1:20

    Swim Execution

    I got myself to the start at 05:50 in good time. While waiting for the beach to be opened I sipped on my energy drink & had a gel. Unfortunately once on the beach we werenít allowed a quick swim so with 40 minutes to wait on the pebbly beach I Ė along with a couple of thousand other competitors Ė had to make do with flushing my own wetsuit, several times. This along with copious quantities of lube inside my suit would have to suffice.
    The hooter must have sounded because the next thing I knew I was being pushed into the Med. Iíve got to admit that the start wasnít as violent as I was expecting. Yes, I received & dished out a few kicks, tugs & punches, but after a couple of minutes I was breathing bi-laterally & even on every 4th stroke. I made my first mistake of the day at the start of the 2nd loop when I positioned myself at the far left side again, forgetting that this loop was anti-clockwise. This meant that I was on the inside of the course & among many more people. Despite this I finished the swim intact & without losing my mind.

    Actual Swim Time 1:15:08

    T1 Plan

    Suit, hat & goggles off
    HR belt on
    HRM on
    Wrecsam Tri bike top on
    Socks on
    Shoes Ė with Vaseline in toebox- on
    Big dollop of Assos cream on
    Number belt on
    Mitts on
    Helmet on
    Shades on

    Estimated T1 Time 07:30

    T1 Execution

    As per plan

    Actual T1 Time 07:04

    Bike Training

    IM France is considered to have a pretty tough bike course, with 2000mtrs of climb & some fast alpine descents over the last 50km. Training was difficult at the beginning of the year. I remember hiding in hedges on Halkyn Mountain during hail storms & struggling through 2 or 3cm of snow as I got caught out on the Llandegla Moors. Despite this I tried to keep my training consistent with a quality turbo session on a Wednesday & building my long rides up to 5 or 6 centuries - the last 3 with about 2000mtrs of climb Ė on a Friday. I had no idea how fit I was as I got to Nice as all of my training ride in the preceding 6 months, apart from 2 rides, were on my own. In retrospect I should probably have binned one of my swim sessions for a good hill climbing session as the nights got lighter.

    Bike Plan

    I felt happy that I had nailed down my nutrition plan. I had 8 gels in a bottle topped off with water, this was marked out in 10 graduations. I also had 3 PowerBars & 2 Snicker bars cut in half. With my watch reminding me to take one or the other every 20 mins, a bottle of energy drink & salt tablet every hour & sipping on my water continuously this should give me 100g of carbs an hour with plenty of fluids, surely enough for a 140lb weakling.

    There was a lot of chat about whether to use a road or TT bike. For me this was a simple decision as my only half decent bike is a Quintana Roo Seduza TT bike. I pimped it out with a HED Jet 6 C2 on the front & HED Tri-Spoke on the rear which I picked up 2nd hand in the classifieds over the winter. It carried 4 bottle cages & an aero bottle at the front for water. In one of the rear cages I carried my tools which consisted of:-

    Chain breaker
    Chain links
    2 inner-tubes
    2 CO2
    CO2 pump
    2 levers
    Mini pump
    Spare folding tyre

    I realise that this is a huge amount, but Iíd carried it in training & I wanted to get around. In my other bottle cages I would carry energy drink & my gels bottle with a spare cage to help me juggle bottles at the feed stations.

    On advice from Shauno I stuck with my standard 53/39 chainring & had a 12/25 cassette although he took a 27!

    I planned to keep my HR at 135bpm to 140bpm. I realised that there would be the odd sharp hill where I might see 150bpm occasionally, but I expected this to be balanced out by sticking my knees to my top-tube whenever I hit 30mph on the descents.

    Estimated Bike Time 6:15 to 6:30

    Bike Execution

    For the first 20km I concentrated on getting my HR down & into my cycling rhythm, this went well until I hit the first hill. The Cote de la Condamine was a vicious 500mtr stretch at an alleged 10%. I think 10% was a bit of a modest guess as my HR rocketed to 173bpm. It took me back to that first gentle outing when after doing a total of 15 miles on my bike Evsy, Campbell, Bupa, Willy & Alan C took me up the Garth & then up the Old HorseshoeÖ.cheers boys & cheers Shaun for recommending a 25. I spent the next 20km lowering my HR again on the gentler incline leading to the star attraction of the day, the 21km & 1000mtrs of The Col de LíEcre. Things were starting to warm up nicely now & looking around me I could see sweat dropping off chins & eyeballs starting to pop out. Me, despite my HR creeping up & problems with digesting my food I loved it. This climb set me up for the day. I was passing people for fun & it showed me a level of effort I felt could happily be sustained throughout the day. I enjoyed the rest of the bike course hugely. The descents through Alpine valleys, the long fast flats & when the descending got a bit too tasty for me Iíd follow the lines of Carlos, Gustav & Jean Pierre. My average HR was 132bpm, in retrospect I could have put a bit more effort in for the first 40km, but I got into T2 with a smile on my face.

    Actual Bike Time 5:53:07

    T2 Plan

    Drop off bike
    Clip-clop with shoes on to T2 tent
    Cycle top off
    Helmet off
    Shades off
    Number belt off
    Shoes off
    Socks off
    Fresh top with number on
    Fresh socks with Vaseline in toe box on
    Trainers on
    Pick up separate bag with 2 gels, hat, shades, gels, nurofen & salt tabs.
    Bin £2.99 Aldi mitts on way out.

    Estimated T2 Time 7:30

    T2 Execution

    Drop off bike
    Clip-clop with shoes to T2 tent
    Thank 1st volunteer for offer of help, but Iím fine thanks.
    Take helmet off
    Take shades off
    Take cycle top off
    Find that a 2nd volunteer has emptied my separate bag all over the floor. Politely refuse any more help as she re-packs bag.
    Shoes off
    Socks off
    Fresh top with number on
    Fresh socks with Vaseline in toe box on
    Trainers on
    Pick up separate bag with 2 gels, hat, gels, nurofen & salt tabs.
    Bin £2.99 Aldi mitts on way out.
    Realise number belt is still on. Take number off fresh shirt & turn number belt around.

    Actual T2 Time 4:07

    Run Training

    Iím a runner, itís what I do & in events up to an hour Iím pretty happy. Anything after an hour & things fall apart. Iíve got a marathon pb of 3:16 set in í97 & in September Ď09 I did the Anglesey marathon in 3:25 after walking the last couple of miles. I knew that there was some work to do with my stamina. With this in mind I said goodbye to any speed & built up my Sunday runs to 20/22 miles over the last 6 weeks of my peak training.

    Run Plan

    IM France marathon is 4 loops up & down the pancake flat Promenade des Anglais with aid stations every mile or so. For my nutrition I planned to carry a gel at all times, when my watch alarm went I would take the gel as I approached the next drinks station & wash it down with water. At all the other stations I planned to take on energy drinks, possibly switching to coke & bananas later on. I wanted to start with my HR at 135bpm & increase this by 5bpm every lap.

    Estimated Run Time 4:00hrs

    Run Execution

    As soon as I started running my HR was 146bpm & I couldnít get it to drop unless I started walking. The last words in a text from Shauno had been ďDONíT WALKĒ, so with 26 miles to go this would clearly be unacceptable & I decided to keep running. Another problem I was having at the start of the run was painful GI issues. This eased slightly during the 2nd loop, but was present throughout the whole of the run. On the return leg of the 1st loop I spotted Nicola & surprised myself by getting a lump in my throat as she cheered me on. This wasnít doing me any good, but despite shutting everything out & concentrating on the job in hand my bottom lip got a bit wobbly every time I passed her. I didnít realize it at the time, but the heat was so intense (32 degC) that after Nicola saw me she had to sit on the pavement in the shade of a palm tree. Laps 2 & 3 were pretty uneventful. I stuck to the plan & poured water over my arm coolers & body at every aid station, I tried the coke once, but it was too fizzy. Lap 4 was a different story, despite realizing that a sub-11 was possible this coincided with my body starting to shut down as my quads & guts were in pieces. I had to shorten my stride, increase my cadence, ignore the aid stations & dig much deeper than I had really wanted to. As Nicola passed me the Saltire with about 2km to go I was practically shuffling, but finally made it to the finish.

    Run Time 3:35:36

    Finish Time 10:55:02, 341 overall & 63rd in category.

    Immediately After

    I was given my medal, made my way to the finish area, picked up my T-shirt. I declined the offer of a massage, it didnít seem fair as I hadnít stopped Ė 4 times Ė on the bike & was still unsure as to what sort of carnage may have happened on the run. I managed a bit of melon & coke before a cleaning volunteer helped me stand up & I went to find Nicola.
    When I did find Nicola I predictably started blubbing. After composing myself I went to pick up my bike. As I passed through the transition area I noticed the T2 bags that hadnít been picked up & felt very lucky to be able to call myself an Ironman. I sat down & cried again. It had been an emotional day.

    Future Plans

    I have no intention of doing another Ironman. I hugely enjoyed the day & Iím very satisfied with my time on one of the harder courses, but the training was boring, relentless & the sacrifices were just too much.
    Iím going to try to recapture some speed before I get too old, compete more often & spend more time with my family without being constantly tired.

    If youíre still awake, thanks for reading my report for IM France 2010
    I've just decided I don't trust you anymore.

  2. #2

    Re: Ironman France 2010 My Rep

    Well done you!!!

    Took me right back - thanks

    The bike course is stunning isn't it?

    Did you not get to sit in a chair of wee in T2? awww, you missed all the fun!!!!

    FANTASTIC time you got there, Kona's not tempting you then?!!

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Derby Tup's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    The Worth

    Re: Ironman France 2010 My Rep

    Well done on a great time and a very readable report
    Poacher turned game-keeper

  4. #4
    undercover moderator
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    behind you

    Re: Ironman France 2010 My Rep

    That was fab.

    I really liked the big prostitute.

  5. #5

    Re: Ironman France 2010 My Rep

    Great report Ian. Not bad for someone who once told me "anything more than an hour and about 2000' just hurts and stops being enjoyable" or words to that effect !! Stunning effort. Well done.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2007

    Re: Ironman France 2010 My Rep

    Excellent writeup - thanks. Well done.
    "Pulling the ice axe from my leg I staggered on, spindrift stinging my remaining eye..." HMHB

  7. #7
    Grandmaster dominion's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Back home for now...

    Re: Ironman France 2010 My Rep

    The worrying thing is that I seem to remember Ian pm'ing me a longtime back for some bike buying advice??? I hope I'm not going to get the blame for this?? Seriously though Ian, that's a cracking time you've posted there.

  8. #8
    Master (notsomuchofa)Fellrunner's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Tenby bound.

    Re: Ironman France 2010 My Rep

    Emmi; I was already probably sitting in my own puddle of wee.

    Mud; No! Even you really wouldn't.

    Rodder; I was right.

    Dom; You are still my Number 1 bike guru.

    Everyone else; Thanks for reading.

    Some photos;

    I've just decided I don't trust you anymore.

  9. #9
    Master (notsomuchofa)Fellrunner's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Tenby bound.

    Re: Ironman France 2010 My Rep

    More photos;

    I've just decided I don't trust you anymore.

  10. #10
    Master (notsomuchofa)Fellrunner's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Tenby bound.

    Re: Ironman France 2010 My Rep

    & finally;

    I've just decided I don't trust you anymore.

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