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A great day for Planet X

A great day for Planet X IMUK, 3rd attempt and first time as PRO. Training this year has been hampered by repeated running injuries from tight hamstring picked up last year and with numerous trips to the physio and several DNSs in running events the Ironman Marathon was always going to be my biggest concern. Anyway the race...Pre race targets were 55, 4.55 and 3.05 to give sub 9 hours. Woke up at 4.45 and left hotel at 5 and arrived at a queue of traffic going into Sherbourne. We were stationary so i got out and walked to the start and managed to get wetsuit on by 5.55. The announcement of a 15 minute delay was perfect and gave me time to check the bike, reset ergomo and slowly swim to the start. The Swim: Normally my first 10 mins involves a few panic attacks but this time, stayed well to the right and had no issues. Started quite steady and began overtaking people and then started looking for feet to follow. Everyone i got close to was swimming slower than me so i just stayed relaxed and swam at my own pace, following the bouys. At the end of the first lap i could see one swimmer on the other side signifcantly ahead and assumed it was Rhodes, then saw a small bunch and timed myself to the turn off them. It was about 2 mins meaning after 1 lap i was only 4 mins off the leaders. RESULT!!! On the 2nd lap, i followed more of a racing line and carried on the easy pace to eventually exit the water in 55.17, so my first target had been achieved. A touble free transition and then out on the bike.....My partner shouted that i was 13 mins down on Bryan Rhodes The Bike: Looking at the ergomo, i was shocked at how easy the power target of 260w was feeling, yes it feels easy at the start but this was super easy and on the first climb i felt that i had to almost stop pedalling in order to stay under 300w. All i kept saying was "ease off" and tried to keep a ceiling of 310w and then just maintain the speed on the descents. BUT i was absolutely flying, and went past a few male pros like they were stationary. Turning a few corners, i saw loads of people with punctures and just smiled knowing that i had some thick tubs on that got me through IMUK last year, Austria, Hawaii, New Forest without any issues and that all my seasons punctures were behind me. I motored on to Lyons Gate. At the top of the climb, someone shouted 13 mins behind..so in the first 10 miles of going really easy i had not lost any ground and all i could think about was how hard i was going to smash up the last lap, like my early season 50 mile TTs, a negative split and a real attack when others are blowing up. Descending towards Dorchester i was holding the middle of the road to avoid any trouble but then about 4 miles from Dorchester, i seemed to have some handling trouble. I just put it down to the wind picking up but then noticed my front wheel looking a little flat. I freewheeled to a safe place to stop and looked at the front tub....it was going down. OK its just a puncture and i can fix it...so i tried to take it off half inflated and instead of coming off like normal, it was stuck very well...note to self....dont use so much glue next time. But in trying to get it off, the tape was coming with it. Ok i needed to deflate it and tried to take the valve extender off. Hands were pretty cold and grip was not great but after a minute of faffing, it came off and then turned it round to deflate the tyre. It worked and the tyre came off, with most of the tub tape displaced. BUT i had dropped the valve extender...BUGGER!! It had fallen into long grass and nettles and then on hands and knees trying to find it i gave up and tried to remove the rear one instead. But instead of coming ff like the front, it was pulling the valve core out and heard it deflating so plan D was no good. I searched again for the extender and for what felt like 100 people coming past in the next 10 mins or so i wsa thinking of packing in, but then saw it, put a new tub on and got going. Through another village, i was thinking, dont panic, just keep the power down and pick up on the last lap but then no more than 2-3 miles later, the front wheel was down again...this time completely flat. Off it came and my 2nd spare went on and inflated in about 1 min, whether it was punctured or not i'm not sure as it may have been the valve core moving but i got going and it was now DNF if it went again. I was actually quite scared that the tub was not on securely and it would roll off on any tight turns so for the next 10 miles up to Cerne Abbas i was taking any turns very steady which affected the average power so i switched to real time power and speed for the rest of the ride. Anyway, the next 100 miles were great, on the bike i had an 80% mix of gatorade, 5 nuun tablets in my gel bottle, and 4 snickers bars to devour. Only ever taking water at the feeds and the odd gel i had no cramp, no sickness and felt great. On the final lap, i really wnet for it and from Dorchester back i stayed in the big ring and attacked all of the climbs forgetting the wattage ceiling and riding like a 10 mile TT. It was encouraging to catch a few more male pros and was able to drop them with ease as i was feeling so strong in the last 20 mile. Freewheeling down the hill to the finish cost me about 2 seconds more than pedalling down and gave me chance to stretch and finish my drinks. Into transition and out onto the run. Overall NP average 240w, time 5.14 but lost at least 15 mins from the punctures but was back in the race and ready to attack the run. Out to the run with a tub of vaseline on the important bits, a bottle of gatorade and 2 nuun tablets and a bag of dried pineapple which i dropped on the muddy path but picked up anyway. The first 2 miles were ok, in previous years i would run at around 6.15 pace to get the legs going, even in hawaii i did the first 2 in 12.20. But this time i took it much more steady and went through the first 2 miles in 14.15. Up to the first turn at Crackmore and i found my running legs and even though it felt easy, i was controlled and steady. Scott Neyedli and Steven Bayliss were just behind on their second lap so i waited a little for Scott, gave some words of encouragement and then run just behind them for a few miles. As they left the castle, i was just behind and went out onto the 2nd lap where i saw Wim about 2 mins ahead. Through Sherborne i caught and passed Wim and then saw nothing for miles in front. Then in the distance i saw Scott in the lead being chased by Bayliss but Scott was pulling away. Up to the Babylon Hill turn i started on the coke and immediately felt great. With the pineapple, coke and nuun and then the tailwind, i motored back to Sherborne and was feeling great unlike last year where i went bang at this stage and knew with 8 miles to go that i could go sub 3 hours. OK sub 9 overall was off the cards but this was a great run and never felt so good. I powered on and caught a few more people and then coming over the Flyover felt a few twinges in the hamstring but nothing to make me worry but then i remembered last year and pulling up with cramp. I looked behind....no one and no one to chase ahead so i stopped and stretched for a few seconds. A quick watch check at 24 miles and saw that i still had 15 mins to make it. Running through town was great, seeing clubmates and friends. Running into the finish was great, another ironman finish and now 8 without DNF and 9.13 is not hanging about but without the 2 punctures i would have been sub 9 for the first time. I would not have made the top 5 but it would have been great to put a bit more pressure on the other pros. I learned a lot from the race and now have a much better idea of what is needed to do well at Austria in 2008 A big Well done to Scott though, Good luck for Hawaii

21 August 2007

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