1st GBR at Ironman Gloria 70.3
The reason for venturing over to race at Ironman Turkey 70.3 was due to not being at a level of fitness, mentally or physically for my initial racing plans of Ironman UK 2017, there will be a follow up blog to cover the 2017 season which will cover fitness, preparation and results.
I was attracted to this race due to the positioning in the year, with this race being in November, it allowed me time to get some fitness together with some specific training towards the end of the UK racing season.
Ironman Turkey looked amazing on pictures and race promo videos, I was looking forward to racing in the sun and was hopeful of a non wetsuit swim which would fall to my advantage.
Gloria Ironman 70.3 Turkey Official Race Courses Video
I arrived in Turkey 2 days prior to race day, I was surprised by the temperature, which was hitting highs of 34 degrees, I had been on holiday in Turkey back in August and I experienced how much the temperature effects performance just by doing a few training runs, I did not consider that the temperature would remain as hot for this race in October.
One thing ironman does well is create a big race feel. Registration was at the sports arena which was also used as the finish and event expo.
Registration was done on the Friday with race day being on Sunday, I had been excited for competing at this race and after registration was complete, I had a lot of adrenaline to hold back over the next day, ready to use the energy in the race.
Leading into the race I unfortunately picked up a chesty cold which I was lucky enough to shift the week before the race, I balanced out my training to limit the stresses and help my body get healthy, I managed to get some key specific sessions ticked off in the 6 week leading into the race and was confident that I was in good enough shape to be competitive.
My finial specific session was done the weekend before race day, the session was plain and simple, I had been building the sessions up with longer intervals, the final session was there to see what kind of shape I was in and help me decide, race day bike power and run pace.
I went into this session having been ill for the previous 3 weeks, the session was 60 minutes at slightly above 70.3 target power, followed by 6 mile at 70.3 race pace, I achieved promising data from the session which gave me confidence leading into race week, the remaining time before leaving for the race was spent doing short and sharp intervals with good recoveries and generally just keeping the legs fresh.
As always, race day is an early wake up, I try to get breakfast 2.5 - 3 hours before race start, my breakfast was a bowl of porridge oats and then a banana around 60 minutes before the start, I also have an Argi+ sachet mixed with water, this is taken roughly 30 minutes before race start and aids the blood flow around the arteries which means a larger amount of oxygen is delivered to the muscles.
I take a caffeine gel 20 minutes before race start and anything after is in race race nutrition.
With my Shark Composites bike already racked the day before, I was able to get a taxi to the race start venue which was in a very nice hotel called the Gloria Serenity.
The period of getting to the race venue is always my most anxious time before a race, once I am there and transition is dealt with, I am in race mode, feeling calm, excited and motivated to get out there and perform to my best.
It got announced on race morning that the swim would be a non-wetsuit, this is what I was wanting and had purchased a Huub swim skin in preparation for this situation.
Swim Skin, I had used the Huub swim skin twice in the pool leading up to the race, I think it is important to not go into a race using equipment that Is new and my findings of using the swim skin was it did live up to the performance stats of it being approximately 4 seconds per 100m faster, there is zero buoyancy advantage to wearing a swim skin and therefore it doesn't give the benefits to a weaker swim like a wetsuit does.
The race start for the swim was a rolling format, this involves self seeding and as you can imagine it can become a battle for the front row, I was warmed up and ready for stage one of the race, which for me I felt it was important to get towards the front row of the swim start and do my best to hold strong at the front end of the swim.
The swim is a strength I have always carried in triathlon, this season has been different and instead of feeling strong, I have been battling shoulder problems for most of the year which has prevented the usual swim training, in this seasons races I have felt the swim has been a matter of getting through the discipline rather than being able to race it.
leading into this race I had picked the training up and was over the persistent niggles, unfortunately I had missed a good few weeks swimming due to illness and this lead me not knowing what condition I was in to attack the swim.
The swim was a beach start, a short run and then into the warm 26 degree water, the first buoy was positioned 400m directly out to sea, this meant it wasn't as congested once rounding the buoy and I was positioned nicely in the top 5. After 400m the pace of the front group started increasing fast, the group got strung out and I was left dropped off after the feet I was following in the choppy water, had let a gap grow.
The swim had an Australian exit at around 1000m, this involved a short run on the beach and then back into the water for the remainder of the swim.
I exited the water in 8th place overall and 2nd in my age group 35-39yr, the run to transition was long, it involved running through the hotel and then the run from the bag station to collect your bike and then to the mount line was just as long, but with the spectators cheering and the adrenaline flowing it was great to get onto the bike and move onto the second phase of this Ironman 70.3.
The bike course is on fully closed roads at Ironman Turkey, the roads are mostly smooth tarmac, I say mostly due to me coming into contact with one of the only potholes on the course.
Out of the water and onto the bike after the extremely long transition, I was positioned nicely towards the front end of the race, in 8th place overall and 2nd in my age group, i was feeling good on the bike and could see a group of 4 riders in the distance, I slowly pulled up towards the group which was riding illegally and drafting, I’m not sure what some athletes think of the drafting rules of a distance of 12m apart but it’s a rule that needs to be policed better by Ironman to stop the cheats out there.