IM 70.3 St Polten

Last weekend I travelled to the beautiful town of St Polten to take part in the IM 70.3. This was my early season A race, where I was trying to qualify for a World Championship place in Nice… and I missed the last slot by 53 seconds :face_vomiting:

To say I am disappointed is a massive understatement, however, as I reflect on it this morning, I probably had the race of my life, with just one massive exception, the swim.

Let’s start with what went well. The bike is simply awesome; it starts with a 16km stretch of Autobahn, my average speed, according to strava segment, was 47.0 kph @ 268W. This is followed by a technical section of hills before hitting the flat next to the Danube, with an average speed of 38.5kph and AP of 250W I was doing well, but slightly pissed off by the bunch of riders drafting me… they got a warning but no penalty. I put in a solid effort up Gansbach climb, maintaining 264w avg, 300m over 5km, with a grade of 14% in the middle. I lost a little time on the descent from Gansbach, a combination of cross winds, disc rear wheel and deep front made it a hair raining experience (My HR was probably the highest at this point through terror) - above 70kph I was simply not comfortable, but people were passing me at close to 90kph. A 2h30 bike split, with 985m climbing, was good, and AP of 238w with and NP 0of 263w and an IF of 85%

Despite a really big IF on the bike, I was feeling good for the run. The run is pretty non-descript, run along canal, wiggle through town, back along canal X 2. My plan was to run at 4:30/km pace, but started comfortably around 4:20, at each aid station I took a sip of Red Bull and a sip of water, which was plenty to keep me going. First lap was really quiet, I was in a group of 3 runners, all hitting the same pace, which was really nice. Second Lap got really busy, which was difficult through the narrower sections of the course. Overall I maintained a really consistent pace, with just over a 1 minute positive split and a 1h31m time, (4:20/km pace)

Now for the bit that didn’t go so well… the dreaded swim, It started off really badly, when I dived in with my goggles still on my forehead :anguished: so lost a few seconds faffing around to get them sorted. I felt that I couldn’t get into a rhythm at any point, I was fighting the water, rather than going with it. My overall swim time was 36:34, this includes a 238m run between lakes, which took me 2m5s, so my actual swim was 34:29, and the distance was 1953m, with an average pace of 1:46/100m. Looking at my Garmin track, I sighted pretty well… in fact I don’t think that I have swum this straight before. But I really should be swimming sub 1:40/100m and I think that a lack of open water practice this year is the issue.

Transitions went OK, 3:58 in T1, 2:56 in T2 - but I could have shaved a few seconds here an there.

My overall time was 4h45:20

I felt that my run was pretty much as good as it could be, I don’t think that I could have taken 53s off. By bike @ 85% IF was also pretty much at the limit - I could have taken 53s off, but aiming any faster would have been reckless (maybe 30s with better descending). The swim is the obvious area for improvement, a 1:40/100m swim would have saved me 2m15s, this has to be my goal

What is clear is how tight the competition is, 8 places were separated by less than 2 minutes. I am now in the group of athletes who can all get a slot, but I am not yet in the group of Uber athletes who are pretty much guaranteed to get one. In order to be successful, every single second counts, there is no time to get my goggles wrong, there is no time to grab a drink in T2 - As a result, my mindset has changed, and I will now be focused on seconds, not minutes.


Some great numbers there Matt. Sorry that you didn’t quite make qualification, but you’ve made some awesome improvements this year and you’re in the mix so I’m sure it’ll come. How on earth did you leave your goggles on your forehead though?

That’s a nice write up!
Great run off an 85% ride, too.

What AG are you in?
Median is about 2:00/100m and Top 10% is about 1:40/100m.

The link above says only to get as good as you need to be. I’d agree, but I’d also aim for a 100 PB of 1:20 ish. Then swim your 100s off 1:45 in 1:30ish.
Only then is swimming 1:35-1:40 easy (which sets you up for a great bike)
If swimming 1:40 is hard, then there’s no point.
I got my 400m down from 8:13 to 5:44 over two years.
By the fourth year, my pool 3.8km was 57:44.
I was doing less than 10km a week in the pool over 3-4 sessions.
Consistency is key.

That’s my Two Cents

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That is a really good question, and I have no idea, but it won’t happen again

That is great info, I am 45-49, and my swim was just about top 25% for my AG, I guess that 1:40 would probably put me top 10%

In comparison, my bike was top 2% and run top 5%, I could live with being top 10% swimmer

I swim 100’s in 1:35 of 2 mins, and 400m in 6:45. I don’t think I can do 100 in 1:20 other than a one off sprint

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Yes. I was enjoying that article two/three days ago.
For CSS, your 1:35/100m should be off 1:50.
I occasionally do mine off 10s rest, but that hurts and I always feel light headed and need a wee!

I got down to 15*100s on 1:25 off 1:40, but that was pretty much wasted time.
Once you’re at 1:30/100m for 1.9km, you don’t lose much/any over 3.8km, which is what he’s saying in that article.

Your bike and run times are great.
Read that swimming article again, specifically about transitions.
Dropping one minute in T1 and another in T2 is FAR FAR easier than dropping two minutes off your swim.

“The first rule of transition is: DO NOT BE IN TRANSITION”

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Looking at your AG official results, your transition times are decent in comparison.

First and second did 6:15 ish.
Third place was an outlier with 5:15 ish
Most other people above you have 7mins…which is nuts!!!

Awesome bike course you say? :joy: well done on your result, what a shame to get do close :pensive:

We keep telling you how big Ironman transitions are! It’s why people have 3-4 min transitions.

You need to do one…

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Matt appeared sad with his transitions, but in comparison to his peers, they were good to very good.

So you don’t keep asking about why people take 7 mins in transitions etc :upside_down_face:

And tbh, in my opinion, I think by not doing at least one big WTC event or Roth, you are missing out.

I have not really analysed the results too much until this evening.

Transitions: really interesting when you look at transition times for top 60 in my age group
Positions 1 - 10, 6:38
Postions 11-20, 7:01
Positions 21-30, 7:24
Positions 31 - 40, 7:25
Positions 41-50, 8:05
Positions 51-60, 8:14

Basically the transitions get uniformly slower as you go down the ranks. I would say that I was at most 20s long on transition (which is the time it took to grab a quick drink in T2 - as the first feed was only just down the road, this was unneccessary). I agree with Poet, if I spent a couple of hours practicing transition, I bet I could take 2 minutes off, 2 hours in the pool would make almost no difference to my swim time

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Well done Matt, but sorry to hear you missed out by 53 seconds. Have you got another 70.3 lined up?

The swim wasn’t terrible but not in the same league as the bike\run, so definitely scope for a minute or two there.

It sounds like a nice event, what was the water temp etc.?


Oh! Don’t do that, I’m just requoting that article

Water was 16 degrees and absolutely fine, no complaints about water temp.

Have I got another lined up? I didn’t have, and I wasn’t going to, but I suspect I may end up in Denmark. Trouble is I will be totally gutted if I do it and don’t qualify. Alternative is to just throw the kitchen sink at Hamburg, and go for a Kona slot… the irony is that I am really going off the idea of Kona.

WEll done Matt, close but overall you need to look at the positives of that race. When i raced there i also had a dreadful swim. I think one issue may be that the HR gets high in the run in the middle, blood starts flowing back to the legs from the upper body and you lose that fluidity from a straight swim. Shame you arent in london as I’d sort that swim out :wink:

Swim what is your stroke rate , not garmin time as thats next to useless, but you should look to get this up around 70SPM. training do very hard sprinting and nice endurance work, Forget Swimsmooth and CSS , very few successful swimmers will train at an arbitrary “threshold”. Think of race pace, think of sprinting, think of steady. Consider doing lots of 25’s off a 5sec turnaround at target race pace, when its easy do 50’s or 100’s etc. When swimming feel what you are doing, adjust and try, don’t think right or wrong just feel and count strokes and check times same strokes and fast, its better, same time less strokes, more efficient, its better. A reasonable swimmer could do 20 seconds off 30 with 17-19 strokes per length. that’s the target to get to before moving on. add 16x25s into every build phase. I have my top 4 junior boys after an 800 SKiPS WU do a build of 16x25 off 30 every session at TRP (15/15s - 17/17s we do with them but they are holding 1:10-1:12’s race day over 400/750 and sprinting 58.5 - 62 seconds / 100 off the blocks). Google USRPT which is one the the studies into short race pace work. Its a catchy title put on something done for years but you know how everything needs a title now :wink:

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Thanks for that. My swim was certainly slower in the second lake, so you may well be correct. My average stroke count was 74 SPM and was consistent throughout

Now lake is warmer, I will be doing more swimming, mixing lake and pool

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I’m <50SPM in the pool or open water :open_mouth:

Don’t you have to double the Garmin SPM number? That would make my average 76 for last OW swim.

That is doubled.
I’m 28SPM in Garmin. That was in the pool for my 1:30s last week.
More strokes just knackered me