July 4th, 2016 by Will
Oh here he is…Finally popping back up to speak a few days after a result to be proud of in Ironman Frankfurt. Truth is I actually wrote TWO race reports after my rubbish race in Ironman Brazil but never posted them because they just sounded bitter and morbid and that’s not what I want.
To update you briefly on those, I want to get to Kona. It’s the pinnacle of the sport, so I had to race big points races and for that we chose Brazil about 5 weeks back. Everything was great leading into those, I was super positive. I felt very fit and prepared but the race was an utter mess with the drafting, I got shafted on the bike, ended up all on my own, pulling out on the run exhausted.
To pick myself back up I quickly got myself into Challenge Denmark for the 1/2 distance race. If I didn’t do something I’d keep on moping about. I did a decent job there. I definitely had a bit of fatigue in my legs from what I did in Brazil but I finished up 3rd with a pretty fast run and confidence back where it needed to be.
Challenge Denmark was mainly used to tune the engine, and keep me occupied and in the game for European Champs, Ironman Frankfurt another chance to grab up 4000 qualification points.
I felt pretty good leading into Ironman Frankfurt regardless of the preparation being pretty bit disturbed and sporadic. However I definitely was still riding the wave of fitness I managed to get from the training for Ironman Brazil, it doesn’t go anywhere really.
The field was really stacked. Many of the best guys in the World racing, Sebastian Kienle, Andi Bocherer, Tim O’donnel, Eneko Llanos to name a few. I’ll put my neck out and say I’m sure it will be the best field outside of Kona.
After a non-wetsuit swim was randomly announced last minute to everyones shock, it was a quick kit change and down to the swim start. Everything happens so fast on race morning when the gun goes off at 6:30am. I hit the water and felt crap straight away. I think a combination of a lack of swim form, getting mauled in the first few hundred meters, bad technique and the cold water threw me completely. I even contemplated pulling over once, I felt like I was hyperventilating a bit and dizzy. However eventually I got round the swim and came out just under 4mins down in 52mins. (had no idea how far down actually I was at the time). That’s my career worst swim right there!
Onto the bike I knew we had a heap of work to do but I also knew that Ironman is a very long day and many people will come back to us in the latter stages. It’s all too easy to follow the big guns and over cook it when you come out the swim with them. I was however with some top boys in Bertrand Billard and Jeremy Jurkiewicz so we just did our race plan and rode at a sensible pace. Never too quick, never too slow. Fortunately the pace that Billard and co. set going out was about perfect for me. We rounded the first lap in a casual 282w and on the 2nd lap I decided to start pushing at the front and around 140k we were still sitting steady at 282w and feeling in perfect control. We began passing many top guys who had obviously over cooked it and we also started to drop the athletes we had ridden with the last 3hrs. We began to realise, “hey, we’re still in the game here!” I got onto the run around 11th with Billard, also Denis Chervot and Tim O’Donnel who we caught towards the end of the ride.
Running out my plan was to start at a steady 4:05 pace, manage my nutrition as well as possible and at 6k push on if you feel ‘it’. In Lucs words. So of course we all ran out at around 3:20 pace to impress the crowds which is obviously way too hard! Even once I told myself to slow the hell down we were sitting on 3:40. At 4k I went for a toilet stop and got re-passed by a few guys but once all done and feeling way lighter, I caught back up with Denis Chervot and we decided we’d buddy up and run together and aim at 2:45 marathon pace which I’d be more then happy with. We had a bit of a chat and we discussed a fair bit that it feels quite like a Sunday long run at the moment but sure anyone with a bit of experience will never read into the first half of the marathon, you’ll be a fool to think that you’re the only one that feels good in the early stages and it’s the last 20k where the real difference is made if you’re the one still moving fast.
I actually felt so good that eventually I went back on my word with Denis and pushed on back up to 3:40 pace for the 3rd lap of 4. That really was a magic lap for me, even more of the top guys came back to me and now I was now in the hunt for 5th place!
I couldn’t believe that 7.5hrs of racing had passed and I still holding the same paces as the beginning the time in an Ironman really does go pretty fast if you’re sensible with your pacing and nutrition but I was starting to get pretty tired, the quads were going and if I put a foot wrong I started to buckle at the legs. I’d been moving for so long that I felt like if I had stopped my legs would probably carry on going and I’d stack it! So I started with the coke stops just in case and bought it back to a more manageable pace.
5th place was hard to get but eventually I got him and couldn’t stop smiling the whole last lap at my best Ironman BY FAR! I knew from my watch that I was going to come in somewhere around 2:40ish so I pushed hard the last 5k just incase I could walk away with one of the fastest marathons of the year and for sure a run course record which is certainly worth having for the sake of 15mins of pain!
I’m so stoked to have achieved this, when I came into Ironman to be honest I thought I’d have a much easier time then I did in ITU but this is a different sport. You have to be a real student of the sport to get it and the level of the best athletes is incredibly high. Sebastian Kienle and Andi Bocherer we’re crazy strong out there and killed everyone, Congratulations to them.
I had many doubts over the past few years about wether I could translate my ITU ability into an Ironman performance but this is just a little confirmation to me that I CAN be good at this and I’m on the right path. I have to say my team BMC Etixx Powered by Uplace and the whole structure they put in place for their members, my coach Luc Van Lierde, Psychologist Rudy, Physio, Doc and of course we’re using some of the best equipment available. I’ve really been a benefactor of this set up. It was up to me to stay motivated, work hard and finally with this little confirmation I’ve found the love and I’m motivated more then ever to keep striving in this game.
Thanks to all for your support everyone, social media has been off the hook and I love it! Big thanks especially my long suffering wife Clare and Fredmeister general.