Patience, hard work, dedication, commitment, focus, the will to succeed. These are all the things that I would advise new comers to the sport if I had my coaches hat on. Putting my athletes hat on I have found it hard to take that advice onboard.
I mention this because Sunday I raced Antwerp 70.3. A half Ironman in the middle of the city that I also did 2 years ago. Rewind two years ago I was in good shape. Swimming well, biking strong and running fast. My times were there but putting it all together wasn’t that easy. I wanted a performance, I wanted the reward of my hard work. I nearly got it, I even qualified for the world champs that year but I didn’t race how I had planned. I swam faster, I biked too fast early on and ran willing myself to the finish line. It was said to me ” you can swim faster than him, bike faster than him, run faster than him but he’s a better triathlete”.. That’s the best advice I ever got(indirectly)The point i took from that was that there’s no point being fast in all disciplines if i couldn’t put them all together on race day.
Fast forward to Sunday, something was different. I was confident I could compete and put it together. I got the performance yesterday that I wanted 2 years ago. And I got it because I have kept at it and just built a stronger body through the days, weeks, months, years training and racing.
I wanted a top 5, eyebrows were raised by people i said it to when i was asked. I didnt want to hide my ambition. I finished 11th overall with the field stronger than I thought. I am happy knowing small improvements can be made. My swim wasn’t quite that good but I’m not crying. I will address it and try to bring myself up another level with a better swim next season.
I exited the water well down but once I hit the bike I slowly brought myself up to speed and power. 2 years ago I went out as if the Gardai were after me. I knew that would be the wrong approach. I could see the time I was putting into the field and held the same split as the top three. I was running a new set of rims, Lightweights. Enough said. These wheels are tough and fast…very fast. I also had new race gear, an Endurance junkie trisuit. This suit was top class, comfortable, excellent material and it looks good!. Fitting that the company is belgium and I raced Antwerp.
There were bad cross over sections on tram tracks and half way around the course one of them took my bike computer out. From there I had no data because it wasn’t an option to go back!!. I didn’t panic because I have a good sense of what power feels like. Up until 1hr I was averaging 361 watts. My best to date. I knew I could run 3:40’s from training and I’ve been knocking on the door for a while at this distance but I never can seem to crack it.
With no pace clock for guidance I took the old fashioned approach the NER lads take. Run the first lap easy, the 2nd a little harder, and the 3rd harder than the last two. Who needs expensive gps watches. That’s what I did. I had 2 bad spots but experience brought me out of them. I remember walking 2 years ago at the last aid station. That stuck in my mind and I finished strong and fast. I ran 78 minutes. In summary I felt like a competitor rather than a completer. In an official 70.3 I don’t think anyone has gone under 4 hours. Is it a national record?? I don’t know but I will enquire.
Estonia 111 next.. hoping for a win. no guts no glory.