By far the most impressive in terms of organisation and atmosphere I've done. And the competition sure matched and delivered upon that too!
I had notions of competing for a podium slot, man did I over estimate my abilities and underestimate the competition. Serious progress since last years times and a lot more competitive field. I flew out with Jennifer Duffy of B2R on the Thursday and we met up with Matt Molloy that afternoon for a pizza and partial bike course recce.
We all had dinner that night also and it was great to hear from Matt on his experiences and knowledge on racing and Kona. Hopefully join you on the big island in a few years Matt.
Jen and I rented a car on the Friday and set off to drive most of the bike course with Jen taking notes of anything hairy.
The course was all marked out with clear signs hanging up for directions which was fantastic.
Worth a recce for any of those planning it in the future - a couple fast descents into s bends or sharp turns but nothing too mad.
There was one section where I was going too had and locked up my back wheel turning into a sharp left off a descent, there was a crowd there gasping as I managed to regain control...
A mile down the road I looked behind and a guy was there smiling shouting something in German... he must have seen me almost lose it and we had a laugh about it.
Jen and I ran a lap of the run course early Sat, then set about race briefing before driving to T1 dropping off bikes and bags and had a nice swim in the lake and proper transition recce.
Everything was relatively straight forward, but always good to have fresh in mind.
Course looked a beaut, I was looking forward to this.
We were late dropping our Astra Estate back to hire company but Jen managed to flirt her way to a very minimal late fee so happy days for us... :)
Not a lot of sleep the night before unfortunately and up v early and actually first waiting for bus to T1 and first waiting for Transition to open.
Nice to be early and allow for any issues, Jen was off in an early wave so wish her good luck and back to watch the pro start for me.
Swim - 28:19 - 43/308 in AG
Big AG wave for us though 50 odd non starters. Started at front, course was swim an upside down V shape then Australian exit and a larger upside down V shape in reverse direction.
Decent swim out to first turn section, on turning noticed most of feet all headed right towards yellow buoys which were not a direct line for the australian exit.
Course was to keep buoys to right, but aim for australian exit so I said feck that I'm gone. Had a look back and no one followed me, and no one ahead but I was committed and determined it was the fastest line.
Sure enough I defo made up ground and got to exit in a good time - looked at watch and it hadn't started so wasn't certain of pace but felt I was swimming well. Around the exit, and off keeping buoys to left this time.
No feet here but swam well nonetheless. Out of water in 28:19 and clocked the last 1180m at 1:25/100 pace so pretty happy with that and a PB. Nice lake, can't see a thing as some mineral salts in it but think it was quite buoyant as a result which helped the pace also. Couple guys clocked it at 1.98km so pretty sure it was 1.9km anyway.
Bike - 2:42:44 - 28/308 in AG
Started too conservatively here unfortunately, I knew the elevation and had driven the course so was perhaps too cautious on my power on the climbs - normally my strength.
I capped any climb over circa 2mins at around the 90% FTP mark, and in hindsight don't feel I quite got the most out of my legs. In saying that, I did pass a lot of faders in the last 20km and made up ground, but holding back for the first 40km or so felt weird and I believe was too cautious and didn't gain me the time I perhaps could have relative to competition over the early part of the course.
Flat-ish start, couple rolling climbs, there were some mad strategies out there. for about 15km I'd get passed by these guys sprinting up the hills as I was capping my output, and then as soon as at the top they'd back right off - I'm talking about 350w+ up the climbs, then down to 150w straight away! I'd pass them everytime on the flats and downhills then despite them being bigger than me, couldn't work it out to be honest other than they just loved to climb hard!
Road conditions - A1, perfect, completely closed, well marshalled, superb support, excellent aid stations, epic basically. at the main climb - 300m elevation over 5km at the 38km mark, I started to make good progress but was keeping to wattage. It was here I got passed by 2 x 35-39yr olds. Wow. Those guys are now 10mins ahead of me and it's not even half way through bike. Sh1t.
I'm talking the tanned, uber lean, uber strong, Kona slot hunters basically. Kept with them for a bit but backed off as had fear of blowing at the end and/or struggling on run again as is my trade mark to some degree! Different class they are.
Anyway, over the climb and onto descents. Strangely a lot of folk were stopping pedalling on many and just recovering. There I was pedalling like fook and passing them at speed. What are they thinking I wasn't sure. Anyway, hit the 55km mark and some rolling sections around very scenaric villages and hills. Getting nutrition right, re-fill the Shiv's bladder and ensure I've taken enough gels/water from my saddle mounted bottle (tried a new strategy for this race, 4 x gels mixed with water in rear bottle. Backup gel on frame but wanted to try this. Worked very well. Now my main strategy).
Start to up the effort around 70km knowing just another 2nd climb at 75km before descent the last 8km or so. Pass a load here. Passed by no one other than another couple uber beasts. Hit the descent then and see speeds of 82.7kph. Yep over 50mph on a descent in TT position with winds flirting with the front 808. Thought I did well till I saw Matt Molloy's file... he hit over 90kph on that section!!! Damn weight advantage on the descents! then I hear the Pro's were clocked at over 100/110kph on that section!
Savage. One to target for next year!
Into t2 seeing 2:42 on file and I knew that was too slow to be near the top. A note on drafting - very little of it seen despite the large numbers. A number of bikes passed me, they were operating a whistle blowing and warnings issued to situations where so many on road and being fair, then once opened up a bit I didn't really see any drafting at all in fairness which was a pleasant surprise. The hills defo helped to break it up also I'm sure. My file says over 1,600m of climbing but 1500 officially on course map.
Watts down lower than both Tri an Mhi and Humbert but downhills as well as capped climbs explain this.
Normalised Watts down a bit also though.
I was at 249w normalised up to the 80km mark before the last main descent. Comparing this to Tri an Mhi where I normalised 261w was a bit disappointing and suggests perhaps a combination of slightly easier pacing and possible loss of fitness also. A power test next week should clarify one of those hopefully.
At Humbert I biked closer to 250w normalised so similar but much different course.
Gut says I was too cautious on the climbs, capped it perhaps too low for the shorter climbs when I could have got over faster and recovered on flat/descent following.
Realistically, not talking much of a difference and I have no complaints as learned more - and ran a pb off the bike so a bit more experience gained.
Run - 1:24:30 - 18/308 in AG
Out on to run and holding for first lap, strong 2nd and 3rd then give it what's left on last lap. Had the pleasure of starting run course behind female leader at the time Annabel Luxford. She was in good shape ;) with the camera on her and me in background.
Some older gent decided to run past before fading the next lap which was funny. I managed to run half a lap behind her then move ahead and onwards. Not sure when she got passed by Ryf who was behind me as I started the run and matching my pace so maybe on the same lap to take the win.
Felt good the whole run, crowded last couple laps but not the worst. Really enjoyed it, didn't feel like I was passed much and was making good progress through the field.
I held back on first lap, tried to increase for 2nd and 3rd and finish strong on 4th lap. It felt well paced but obviously pace dropped off each lap naturally enough. Looking at others, most experienced the same but certainly another learning point.
Very hard to negative split a half marathon in a half ironman is that lesson learned!!
Total - 4:39:46 - 23/308 in Age Group Male
So there we have it, my run was my best ranked performance on the day. Ha.
Matches how I felt really, a good swim for me (pb), cautious but paced bike feeling slightly down on power but unsure of committing more knowing the profile, then a run feeling good and running a pb.
End result, happy with my race, slightly unsure of bike but realistically only really talking 2-4 mins I'd say and prob cost that and some on the run so more learnings achieved. Also power naturally down considering the descents compared to previous mainly flatter profiles so hard to compare exactly.
This race is epic. Competition is serious. Guy who came 2nd in my AG in Vegas last year by only a couple seconds was 5th in Wiesbaden last year. This year, he went faster and only got 4th (moved up an AG), would have been 6th in my AG so a position worse!
Another guy who was 5th here last year came 17th this year..!
Not sure how long this race has been Euro champs, perhaps now it's established and bringing out more competitive racing etc. German organisation,efficiency and effort levels were class.
Course is a beauty, very honest and distances accurate if slightly long (1.95km, 90.5km, 21.2km per my checks).
Highly recommend this one. Cheap to fly into, cheap accommodation, big event and atmosphere on a great course with guaranteed high standards and very competitive.
Jen and I also met up with fellow Irish athletes Rory Maguire, Martin Muldoon, Declan Doyle, Matt and his Team Freespeed crew of Charles Pennington, Jenny Gowans etc and it was good to meet them all.
Good luck in future races all and hopefully see ye at more next year - poss UK 70.3 and Wiesbaden again!
Wiesbaden would now be 2nd on my list of priorities behind Irish Champs next year.
Only downside - up over the main climb around the 45km mark, seeing a load of cops coming against me, then the Male Pro's... a group of 15 of them all very very close together.
Must have been a whole 5-6 metres apart. Maybe it was circumstantial but talking to Ritchie Nicholls afterwards he said there was a large bunch of them at the front the whole bike.
Always gonna be a foot race between him and Frodeno in that situ and shame Kienle couldn't pull the trigger to try for a gap. Shame Frodeno's bag was temporarily misplaced in T2 and cost a possible win or at least sprint finish between him and Nicholl's at the end. 1:08 run splits! Faak...
There was a King of the Hill and fastest run lap award as well.
Tempted by the king of the hill but didn't want to ruin myself as it was early days - won by an Age grouper too.
Yep.. Ritchie Nicholls.... Time? 15:45.... holy cow. The man can run.
Next up is Lost Sheep. Current frame of mind is try put my bike split on the line and see what my legs have left to hold on for the run.
There's just something about racing as hard as possible for as long as possible that floats my boat mainly on the bike section.
Finish the race knowing nothing left, wondering about pacing perhaps but that will come naturally I hope.
Lost Sheep will probably run a risk of me blowing up on either bike or run section. Sounds like an exciting way to finish the season eh! :-)