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So, did it work? The Eireman report

So, did it work?  The Eireman report This race was always going to be an experiment, to be honest….many experiments as it was not the A race but at exactly the right time to try a few new things out. So under test was the following: 1) a 750 mile training taper in the Alps. Training on the bike almost up to the event (1 day driving and 2 days recovery), including a TT on the bike on the Friday before. Would this lead to fatigue and over training or would it just be like another day on the Semnoz. 2) Using a Rotor Q ring. I have not raced on it yet, but trying one out and put it on the road bike for the Alps. Certainly made climbing easier, but could I sustain the pace for 112 miles and still be able to run off the bike. 3) Using a Wetronome for the swim. Having increased stroke rate from around 55-75 and training in lake Annecy with the wetronone, would I be able to relax and cope with it in an IM distance swim. 4) Run/Walk strategy. Not a fan yet, but certainly some method to it and although practiced a few times I’m not convinced it was for me. However I had tried a few runs and was going to use it in the race. 5) Imodium…Normally whatever I eat on the bike comes out at 10k on the run, something is not right so no gels this time like Roth, but 2 tablets before the start and 2 before the run may help me out. Courtown is a great venue for a race and whilst the race was not organised as planned, the following is about my race, not the organisation so its just my account. Swim: Waking up to howling gales and heavy rain it was clear that the sea was angry and a cancelled swim led to a 112 mile time trial followed by a 26 mile run. This did not affect anything apart from the need for a bit more food. I can stomach a bit more on the bike, but not being allowed out of transition was a problem. Experiment 3 was therefore off! Bike: Driving wind and rain, only getting worse through the day. Did not fancy doing the while thing in a tri suit so went for the bike jacket. It turned out to be a tad warm and the tinted lenses were in hindsight a mistake. A short spin to warm up to the N11 motorway and then what can only be related to going up a roller coaster and going over the top. Hitting the tailwind on the bike instantly gave 30mph, up to 40 and beyond…even freewheeling gave opportunity to accelerate. However, at the turnaround, you knew what was coming. The return leg felt exactly like riding a 10 mile Col in the Alps, but on flat roads. I was in the same gear as I did most of the climbs and was doing the same speed. The return leg to the southern turn was 13.5 miles, and it took forever. Even on the downhill parts, there was no let up. Luckily it was a straight headwind and nothing the disc and xentis was bothered by. Handling was ok, but making progress tough. With out and back courses, you can keep track on the others in the field and I was steadily pulling away from the field without really smacking it. When the half ironman guys came out. Again taking a few splits I was actually gaining on all of the HIM field apart from Johnny Hotchkiss who was moving pretty well. Most of the guys I passed were almost stationary on the headwind leg and saw some sense to draft in groups, for them it was sod the rules, this was survival. On the last lap, I felt great, and all questions about bike fatigue were answered. There was one guy on a P3 who was riding well and staying within 10 mins of me but I seemed to take another 10 mins out on the last lap. To be honest, I’ve not felt as good on the bike at this stage before. Normally you want to get it over with by this stage but this was not too bad at all. The Run First bit of the run was through woods and meant you had to keep it steady and just managed to get out of the woods before 10 mins and the first of my 30 step walks. 30 quick steps and back into the running, so 10 mins run and about 18 secs walk. By the time I got to the first feed station changed the approach and just walked in and out of the feeds. Now I cant tell if it made any difference as no one was running at my speed. Out to the first 10k turn and started to watch to see what lead I had. 15 mins had passed before I saw the guy in 2nd and another 5 until I saw 3rd. So around 30 mins lead….very healthy and could just relax. I carried on with run walk but the Imodium did not work and finding a quiet bush was quite easy. It’s a well drilled action now, and cost only about 30 secs. Splash and dash is the term. At the 21k turnaround, there was nothing and it upset me a little. No band, mat or cone, just someone saying turn around and run another lap. The 2nd lap became harder. Running did not feature much in my epic training week and now I was beginning to feel it. Heavy legs and shorter steps but seeing the others in the race drop further back was still encouraging. At the 30k turn I started the watch again and only 8 mins passed until I saw the guy in 2nd. Hang on, this bloke had taken 25 mins out of me since I last saw him. Seeing as I did the leg in 45 mins, he has just run 10k in 20 mins…..pretty special or maybe a wrong turn. He certainly did not look in a good way either. Into the woods for a final time and took it very easy. With no time to aim for and no real indication of distance, it was not worth killing myself to finish. If I felt ok I could be back training in 2 days so steady was the name of the game. The finish was welcome and nice to achieve a first IM distance win, even if there was no swim but a very challenging and interesting race for me. Only a 3.20 run, but certainly did not feel that slow. Maybe 3.10 but I have a feeling a ran a bit extra. The results of the experiment: 1- The training taper: Seemed to have a big effect on the bike, but sacrificed some run endurance. Felt strong all the way through and very happy with the form. No fatigue on the bike at all. 2- The Q ring: Certainly helped into the wind and maintained a big gear up the inclined. When dropping to the small chainring to spin the legs to the finish it felt a little weird. Legs did feel a bit heavy trying to run and did feel a little slow 3- Wetronome…no swim so not used 4- Run walk: Not convinced. Did not really feel any different to how I do in any other IM run but then I had no one to catch or pace off. More testing needed but certainly felt like I could take more fluid and gels onboard. Never really felt sick or loss of appetite so maybe something in it. 5- Imodium: Did not work at all. So there we are, a few lessons learned and back to winter training to get some running speed back. Still yet to do an ironman with a sub 5 bike and sub 3 run, this was not the course to do it on but now happy with swimming, cycling and work to do on the run. Onwards to the Vitruvian.

25 August 2009


  • Fiona Ford

    Great effort out there on Sunday, Hywel. Caught a few glimpses of you propelling yourself missile-like into that crazy Atlantic headwind/ rain on the N11 as I headed the other way. Impressively the only person to ride sub 5 hours in that Irish weather which seemed tougher to me than a bad day on the Queen K in Kona.... Go hard or go home. Looks like half the field chose the latter, looking at the results! Happy recovery Fi

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