Coach’s remarks: Everyone loves the race reports!! Another from Hunty, thanks for sharing this Dave and enjoy the splendid read yet again team.
Roth Rave Report July 2012
I just realised that I have titled this document “Roth Rave Report” but decided that it should remain just like its written because I haven’t stopped raving about the race ever since about 7 pm on Sunday 8 July. This was only my second ironman event but I am sure that Ed, Coach and Marshall are right: after Kona it’s got to be the best. Even my 13 year old daughter, Romy, had a ball and wanted to hang out with the “weird but cute” T2A crowd. Now that has to be a positive endorsement coming from what is normally a moody teenager who thinks we are all nerds.
Having got one ironman under my belt I was pretty relaxed in the weeks and days leading up to the event. I would have to be honest and say that I hadn’t done quite the training that I had for South Africa, when I was in a semi- retired state, and I had picked up a niggly ITB and a sore hamstring post the London marathon. Personal circumstances and work meant I had spent more time on aeroplanes than I would have liked which is not great for my back so, in my own critical eyes, I was a bit undercooked. Or as Coach says “don’t worry Hunty you will be fresh”. Still I am no doubt a better all-round athlete than 14 months ago.
Fam Hunt, as we say, decided to stay at the Holiday Inn in Nuremburg and break ranks with the team staying at the Creative Corner hotel in the suburbs. It is a great location-if you turn left out the hotel takes you to the beautiful old town with its beer “Kellers”, wide variety of restaurants, hot dog stands and shops. If you turn right you are 50 meters from a row of brothels which resemble the Walletjes in Amsterdam which, for those who are not familiar with the trade, are houses full of prostitutes pouting out of windows. It’s called Haus 79 if anybody wants to make a note. I thoroughly recommend the hotel as it does exactly what it says on the tin; clean, good breakfast and it was only EUR79 per night, with breakfast, and gives you more options in terms of entertainment.
We had arrived on the Thursday lunchtime at Munich along with Fam Higgs. The economy seats (I do like a new experience from time to time) in Luftchansa are awful and I landed with a severely sore neck and back. Picked up a National special VW Taureg and we were in Nuremberg by mid-afternoon. Bike speedily assembled and we went off to meet the rest of the team for dinner. Chinese in Germany- not quite what I had in mind.
Friday was swim practice, bike practice, register, try and spend as much money as you can in the expo on stuff that you don’t need and drive the bike course with Stevie and Clare Morgan. The bike course looked beautiful, rolling hills, some sharp turns here and there and one difficult climb. Friday night saw us have quite literally a massive pig out at a Beer Keller in the centre of Nuremburg, shovelling down Schwein Haxe (pork knuckles). Coach and Susie Q had turned up by now. All were in good spirits- great to see Ahmed indulging himself pre Ramadan!
Saturday was a lie in to prepare myself for what was to come. My manager had convinced me that nine hours of sleep and a good rest was better than getting up at 0530 for another swim practice which would not have made a lot of difference and also would have ruined her own slumbers. Lazed around and then headed off to Roth to a leisurely lunch and then go and rack the bike and drop off the blue run bag. It was at this point that the Head of Support Crew had a mini meltdown when confronted with the logistics of trying to watch her athlete compete in the race. Roth is a hard event for spectators too as the swim start/ finish and T1, are 5 kms from T2 which is 2kms from the race finish. Add in closed roads on the bike loop and it was “all getting too much”! I also hadn’t quite realised how “big” an event Roth was until racking the bikes on Saturday afternoon. Whereas in South Africa I walked across the road with my bike, in Roth you park your car in a field and walk the last kilometre as 5,000 other athletes try and do the same. So all done, spectator plan sorted and back to the hotel for a quiet pasta and as early to bed as possible.
It’s a 30 minute drive on race morning from the hotel to the swim start. The only drawback to the Holiday Inn was that there was no breakfast laid on at 0330am and therefore no toast and honey ☹. I hadn’t brought my toaster either. The event is superbly organised and there is a quiet German efficiency about the whole thing. The moon was bright as we walked the last kilometre to the swim start. Its only when you see that start that you realise how privileged you are to do what we do and take part in events such as this. Its Emotional. As the sun comes up spectators are already lining the bridge, three hot air balloons slowly rising, a preacher saying a blessing and then U2 blasting out “A beautiful Day’….. and it was. There’s that familiar expectant buzz as we all waited together to get into our wet suits. Idle chit chat, laughs, smiles and photographs. People crying- and that’s just the spectators! Coach telling us to “get off my feet”, quiet moments of contemplation, a jog down the canal to loosen up and kill a few more minutes; hugs of good luck to Boom, Lisa and Simona as they headed of for their wave start. Everybody knows what’s coming and the suffering that inevitably follows.
Race plan: Swim 1 20 // T1 4mins // Bike 5 hrs. 45 // T2 4mins // Run 3 45
Goal Sub 11 but this could be anywhere between 1045 and 11 30 depending on……………… Drop dead goal was a PB of < 11 45.
Coach and I had a pre- race coffee on the Wednesday after swimming and we talked about 11 15 as the most likely given recent events. I was quietly accepting this as reality but still being determined to go sub 11.
Last “good lucks” said, headed to the wave start with Higgsy. In Roth you get put in a holding pen just ahead of the wave in front of you. This year, each wave went off to the sound of a cannon. The water was flat and didn’t feel as warm as on Friday’s swim practice. I was nervous about the swim as Friday’s practice had gone badly; the water felt too warm, I felt claustrophobic in my wet suit, I couldn’t find a rhythm and I feared a mare on race day. Fortunately, when I got in the water I felt calm and cooler. A few shoulder taps loosed me up and Higgsy had suggested to let some water into the top of my wet suit to aid buoyancy and cool me down. I was really pleased with my swim I had planned to stay in the middle of the pack on the right and keep a steady stroke, find feet if possible and stay away from the current which would undoubtedly be stronger in the centre of the canal (good tip thanks Ed). It’s a 1.4 km swim out to a turnaround point, a 2 km swim back to another buoy and then 400m to the swim exit. In a canal it should not be possible to get your navigation wrong but I was hugging the right bank so tight in the first 400 meters that when I remembered to look up and sight I found myself almost ploughing into to a concrete pillar as the canal narrows just slightly. I was pleased to exit in 1 hour 17 min, which was 13 mins faster than SA and represented a tangible return on all the extra swim sessions. Still more to go but the benefit was that I felt strong on the last 400m going into T1. On the negative side I had forgotten to have a pre- race Gu which meant I was hungry for the last 15 minutes.
Raced through T1 which is all fairly compact and out onto the bike course . Great send off from coach and Head of Support as I cycled over the bridge. Bike course is two loops. The first loop went well and I thought I had raced smart, picking up speed on the second half of the course and averaging over 31. People can tell you about “Solarberg” and you can see it on U Tube, but its way better than that and more. A “goose-bump” moment as you start the climb, real TDF stuff as the crowd is within touching distance and the noise is just deafening. The race is worth every second of those two minutes it takes to climb the hill. Out onto the second loop I had a quick chat with Simonski and Suzie Q who had various tales of woe. I just couldn’t get going on the second lap, my quads felt tired and the wind was in your face for the long stretch back from Gredding. There are some very fast downhill descents, and the hay bales are there for a reason, but I kept getting picked off by locals on road bikes as they pulled up the hills and I would then make it back on the down hills and flats. I was stuck on 30 kmh and thankfully entered T2 a little disappointed. It is an honest bike course and the wind made it tougher than I had anticipated and hoped. My bike wasn’t running smoothly either.
Bike handed off and into T 2. I had planned to change into fresh kit for the run. The female helpers didn’t quite look like the Austrian beauties described by Matt. So I whip off my bike jersey and put on my new black 2xu tri top. I asked the helper if there was a curtain behind which I could change my bike shorts. I looked around and couldn’t see one and the lady, who was kneeling down just looked at me and indicated to get on with it. So I dropped my bike shorts and then tried to step out of them. It was then that I got the most excruciating cramp in my right thigh muscle and I just couldn’t move. So I am stood there reeling in pain, with my bike shorts around my ankles and my twig and berries hanging out and this German woman on her knees trying to help. I thought I was going to get DQD for being semi naked in the changing tent! It was funny but painful all at once. Eventually I managed to get the cramp to subside and pull on my new running shorts. I think we will run in the same kit next time!!
Off out onto the course feeling quite good and settled into a 5 km- 5 15 pace and after about 4 km thinking 330 or 345 would be possible. Saw Rachael Joyce smiling as she came down the hill. The start of the run has a gradual incline for about 3-4 km which I clocked and meant that the run back into town would be kind. Having wolfed down about 11 Gus, 4 muesli bars, and bunches of bananas on the bike I could not face another GU sachet and quite quickly switched to coke and water. I was running fine at 138 bpm and Aerofit had indicated that I could run all day at that HR without burning too many carbs so I decided not to make myself sick by forcing another Gu gel but would stick to Capt. Carl’s advice and switch to Gu chomps. That was the race plan and it kind of worked. Run course is two out and back loops along-side the canal where you can see everybody. It’s depressing though because you know the turn- around points should come, but then another bend comes and then a hill, an aid station and then another bend and it feels like torture looking for the point in the road. Picked up coach around the HM point and we had a chat. I was still running 5 15s/ 520s at this stage and felt I could hold that. However at 26 km the average started to drop and then quicker and quicker. I had to dig real deep over the last 10. I had a couple of targets in Gazza and Higgsy who I had seen at various points. Picked off Gazza with six km to go and then nixed Higgsy in the last km. I thought for a nanosecond about running the last 800 meters with him but decided he would ruin my finisher pics so I pressed on. The run in is amazing through the town, slightly up hill and on the cobbles but the end is soon. As you hit the Triathlon village all you see is a mass of people and the famous red carpet. It’s a superb finish as you run around the stadium, all noise all a blurr. Romy joined me and we crossed the line together. Collapsed; cramp in my right quad, but luckily I had my trousers on this time!! Finished 11 hours 21 and change. A PB, with which I am delighted, but slightly disappointed not to get under 11 hours.
With all these events there are many who need to be thanked. This is always a hazardous exercise as inevitably once misses somebody off. I must thank my physio, Jac Elay @ Up and Running, who is quite simply the best physio in the world, for getting me to the start line in great shape after helping me overcome some niggling injuries over the last month. Coach for all of his advice and guidance, especially around race day, and for being there on the course when it mattered. ALL the team of Tri 2 Aspire with whom I have trained over the last six months especially the Friday morning Blue team, Captained by Suzie Q, who got me through some long bike rides, and the Saturday night beach road runners of Q, Simonski and Amer who literally sweated buckets (and tears) in the humidity of May and June. The whole group of T2A athletes and their partners who competed in Roth for creating such a great sense of togetherness. Finally my number one fan and manager, Rianca, for all of her patience, tolerance and support over the past four months and my daughter Romy for all of the great photos on Race day and for endorsing my weird but cute friends. I think they both deserve my medal as they must have walked the equivalent of a half marathon on race day.