IM Austria was my first main race of the year and also my first racing under a Professional Licence for GB as a Pro. I know i’m not on the level of the other Pro athletes but at the start of the year Austria was a race I really wanted to do and as it was sold out the only way I could get an entry was to go Pro of which the opportunity came after my IM Wales 2012 performance where I hit the criteria to race as a pro.
My aim going into Austria was not to come last out of the Professionals, do Lincsquad proud, to set a new PB and if I had a good day to beat other long distance quality athletes I respect and admire and who have all raced Kona in the past, Joe Mercer 09:18 , Mat Stephenson 09:19 , Robbie Whitaker 09:34 best times on the Austria course (Targets).
Friday Pro race briefing
What am I doing here!? Queuing up to register I’m stood behind Ivan Rana (past Olympian and World title holder for Olympic distance racing), Faris Al Sultan (former Ironman World Champ), Dan Halksworth (2 time winner Ironman UK) and such likes all top top Pro Athletes I felt well out my league and the nerves really did start to kick in.
On Saturday I felt much better after a chat with Em, this race was about me and what I could do not about who I was racing against. We agreed that tommorrow I would do something special for us and post a respectable time. Em wrote down my planned splits – Swim sub 1 hour, Bike Sub 5 hours, Run and transitions enough to get me under the above target times set by others I wanted to beat.
Sunday Race Day
Alarm goes off @ 4am.
Usual Breakfast and cups of coffee then off to race start.
I arrived at the swim start with 20 minutes to go to practice my dive in starts as it was an ITU style start off a pontoon with a few meter drop into the blue watered Lake Worthsee. 1st Practice dive goggles came straight off!!! 2nd Dive they flipped up onto my forehead!! hmm this is going to be embarrissing then I noticed what the other pro athletes technique was and that seemed to work so I copied another 2 practice dives and goggles stayed on which was good as ORF Sports Austria’s version of Sky Sports was showing the race live and had just decided to film me on these dives so luckily I looked as tho I knew what I was doing.
Everyone was then called out the water and 10 min warning given and the main contenders were previewed by the TV crew for some reason they didnt interview me ha. I was now relaxed and ready to go maybe too relaxed as this photo Em took from the WAG’s holding pen on the start pontoon showed.
1 min to go
I dived in last to avoid getting in the top guys way and hung onto the back of the slower swimmers and I’ve gotta say it was the most efficient swim in a race of my life I just hung in there onto the set of feet in front of me kept up a fast cadence working hard and made sure I kept good form which was helped by my Xterra Wetsuit as you hardly notice you are wearing it when swimming. I’ve changed my swimming style slightly this year and it seems to be working as I was out the water in 55:31 which was a massive confidence booster for me coming out into T1.
I thought Race is On!!!
Onto the Bike I felt great as I was on the Claud Butler TT01 and pedalling in under 1 hour!!!!. The 1st lap was pretty un eventfull and I just kept an average pace of 22.5-24 mph which felt pretty comfy as all my training had been done towards holding this pace and I knew this pace would get me off the bike in Sub 4 hours 50 which would be well under target. Austria’s bike course is fast but certanly isn’t as easy as people think as it has 1300m of climbing in it but you are rewarded with fast long decents so can get your Head Down Arse Up and push the Pedals on the decents!!. 2nd lap was totally different the bad weather that had been forecast for the start decided to come and the wind picked up big time and it started to rain making the nice smooth tarmac become a little slippy. My pace did slow as I rode to the new conditions as I had to take the corners etc much steadier and had a big speed wobble on one of the decents after the famous Rupertiberg climb. In the end I was off the bike in 4 Hours 54 averaging 22.75mph for the 112 miles.
Out onto the run race clock showed 5:56:47 straight away I wont lie although I had 26.2 miles to run I thought could I run a 3:03 Mara? to bring me in under 9 hours (as I’d done it before with a 2:58 Mara @ IM Wales but that was off a much easier effort on the bike). So I went for it running well under my target plan of running 7 min 15 sec miles to bring me in well under the above guys mentioned times.
Mile 1 6:20 , Mile 2 6:37, Mile 3 6:49, Mile 4 6:52, Mile 5 6:42, Mile 6 6:53, and still feeling good and I thought I could do something special today and set the dream time of a sub 9 Ironman. I went through 1/2 Mara in 1 hour 30 mins. Unfortunalty the 2nd 1/2 Mara didnt go quite as well as after 15 miles my pace dropped massively and was now setting 8 min miles and I was now going to be struggling to go faster than some of the above set times I wanted to beat. Luckily I managed to get it back together and run the last few miles in the high 7’s with the last mile been a 7:11 to get me across the line in a New PB of 9 hours 14 mins 52 seconds and 32nd Male Pro out of 52 starters and taking over 25 minutes of my previous best Ironman time.
As they say in Ironman anything is possible and if you dont try and push for that dream time you will never get it. I gave it a good go but fell just under 15 mins short but dont get me wrong I’m still really happy with my overall finish time as I acheived what I set out to achieve. But it still leaves me with the motivation to still get my arse out of bed in the morning to train
“Chase 2 Race The Dream Time goes on”
Massive thanks to Emily as she says she works as hard as me supporting and time checking while I’m racing (and she probably does to be fair) and to my Sponsors for their continued support and help without you guys none of this would happen so huge thanks to Claud Butler, Xterra Wetsuits, Metres 2 Miles and East Ferry Timbers and all that have helped me in the past.
til next time