2013 IM 70.3 Mallorca

3094 Anders Strandburg, SWE
Place in AG M45-49: 58 // Overall Time: 05:08:18
Swim: 0:31:49 // T1: 0:03:51 // Bike: 2:52:57 // T2: 0:02:40 // Run: 1:37:01

Coach’s remarks: Below is a great report by Anders with his recent Mallorca 70.3 he did. This seems like a race we should target for 2014 team as an early season event. Ticks all the boxes!! A great read Anders and again, what a performance on debut!!!

Mallorca 70.3
About 60000 cyclists come to Mallorca every year. Riding around the island it’s easy to see why. Old stone walls separating the narrow winding country roads from the orange plantations and the occasional donkey. Beautiful mountains with just as challenging climbs as descents, leading to villages where only Madonna can afford to live.
Riding and running around here makes me realize how ugly Dubai is.
Alcúdia on the north side of the island is the opposite of charming. A place where they all assume you are from Germany. The same convenient stores and other places selling “I love Mallorca” t-shirts and inflatable toys (the kids’ type) on each block. Most restaurants with menus in six languages, where a lot has been lost in translation.
But the hotel where we were staying was located a convenient four minute walk from the beach. With a big storage room for bicycles and a 25 meter lap pool it’s the ideal location for a triathlon training camp.
Two weeks of living like a pro; training, eating, sleeping and racing. With 100 other people that also like the same thing it makes for a very active, fun and relaxing vacation. And in hindsight a great lead up to the IronMan race.
A week before the 70.3 I did an olympic race on the other side of the island. A good warm-up for the big race. The only issue was that I forgot my bike shoes on the bus that took us to the race. So I had to ride the bike in my running shoes. Not ideal but it made for a 43 second T2:-) It will go under “things I will try not to do again”.
The second week on the island I took it a bit easier and focused on swimming. Well, until I got someone’s cold three days before the big race. Frustration set in. But it may not have been a bad thing since I spent the last three days sleeping and watching some silly auction show on Discovery. Boring as hell, but a good rest and recovery. Race day morning I was fine again. I guess rest shouldn’t be underestimated.
I was excited to pick up the race number and my bright green swim cap a couple of days before the race. My first 70.3! My first IronMan event! I started feeling the butterflies taking off.
Mallorca is offering a nice race course, which starts off on the beach in Alcúdia for a one loop swim.
The bike course is great and starts off flat for the first 15km, following the coast line. It then turns inland with an 850 meter climb over the next 20km.
The descent is quite technical with 16 hairpin turns with some more open ones in between. Most of these turns have a 50cm stone wall as a boundary and a drop-off behind, which can be quite intimidating.
Once you’re back on the flats it stays flat for the rest, riding through a couple of sleepy villages.
The run was a quite boring three loop course finishing up back on the beach next to the swim start. The best part was all the people cheering.
With the bike course over the mountain, and it being my first 70.3, making any time predictions for the race was very hard.
I thought 5:30 might be realistic. I wanted to go below 40 minutes on the swim. 37-38 maybe.
I thought three hours could be realistic for the bike. And finally I was hoping to run a 1:45.
But more than anything I wanted the race to flow. No mishaps, no burnouts, no technical issues and no stomach issues. The time was secondary.
Coach and I had made a plan for the race:
1. Swim hard but relaxed.
2. Bike on a specific heart rate, and do the climbs on 80% feel.
3. Run on 4:45-5:00 pace and feel.

I stuck to the plan and, as it turned out, got all I hoped for. And then some. Being the old fart that I am I was in the last group to start, which made for a long wait. And I was nervous. A part of me wanted to go back to bed and skip the whole thing. It would be so much easier than what I was about to do but when I am in situations like this I think of what the American runner Michael Johnson said in a BBC special during last years Olympics; “Pressure is a privilege”. Not that I am carrying a whole nation’s expectations on my shoulders. Only my own. But still. I did feel privileged standing there, accompanied by weird looking guys in rubber suits and bright green caps, and my butterflies running amok. And off I went.

The most memorable part of the swim was seeing all the lost swim caps in different colors on the bottom of the sea. I tried to find feet and hips and found some. I still find swimming on someone’s feet difficult. With hips at least I can keep my head where I want it. A big difference in the swimming for me has been that I can breathe more relaxed now compared to what I used to do. That drops the heart rate and I can focus on letting the muscles work and on technique, as supposed to trying to survive. I am still not a swimmer, and take the wetsuit off I still sink. But together with tips and tricks from Coach it has made a difference.

Having said that a couple of the swim markers must have drifted out to sea before I started, shortening the course. They did say in the race brief that the swim course had been measured with “German precision”. But I had to look twice at my watch when I got up on the beach and it read 31 minutes and change. Initially I thought it said 37, and thought ‘great!’. I honestly still don’t believe I can swim 1900 meters in under 32 minutes. Maybe there was a really strong current that ran in a loop that morning. That was by the way the first and last time in the whole race that I looked at a watch or a timer.

I much prefer a bike course like this compared to a flat one. It’s more fun. And I really told myself to stick to the plan. The only thing that the Garmin showed was my heart rate. Nothing else. And it felt kind of good. No chance to be stressed out by riding ‘too slowly’ staring at the speed. I followed my heart rate and the feel on the climb.
A couple of guys said “nice bike”. I said “thanks” while ignoring the fact that they said it while passing me. Did I mention I love my bike?
Coming into transition I felt good, but had no idea if I had any legs to run on. I set off looking at the Garmin to find a realistic pace. But after about three kilometers I gave that up and just ran by feel. I divided the course into smaller pieces in my head to make it easier mentally.
And I felt good. It was also good to see some people from the camp cheering.

I knew it was going to be tough in the end. I focused on running technique; knees up, elbows back, head straight. The last lap hurt as expected. But before I knew it I had collected my three arm bands and was heading for the finish line. I still had no idea how fast or slowly I was running. I just ran. And was enjoying it.
Crossing the finish line I felt euphoric. I wanted to hug everyone. At the other races I have done the finish has been anti-climatic. Like ‘ yeah, ok, whatever’. For some reason this was different. And I am not sure why. I still didn’t know that I had done a decent time. I only looked at my watch after suppressing the urge to hug a sweaty guy next to me. Instead I joined some people sitting in the water to cool off. And I smiled.

Racing is fun! The atmosphere. The people. The nerves.
I like the IronMan. The blaring music and the speakers. And as expected a well organized event and I like the 70.3 distance. The idea of doing twice the distance seems insane!

It will be hard to repeat this in Rapperswil. But I will use the same approach as Mallorca; stick to the plan, work hard but have fun with it. Regardless, I am looking forward to doing another race in a different environment. And I am happy that I have some stair running experience at least:-)

T2A Suisse Tour. Bring it on!