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
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 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.