Blog: Ironman Texas - Tough day at the office
It is time for a little update from me after my 7th place finish at Ironman Texas. In a greater perspective a 7th place was okay for me. I reached the finish line and got my Ironman finish which I need according to the new Ironman Hawaii qualification rules where every athlete must finish an Ironman other than IM Hawaii. I also got a little over 1,000 points for the Kona Pro Rankings which decide which athletes earn a spot at Ironman Hawaii 2012. I'm currently ranked 28 with 3,440 points.
Before the race I got a staphylococcus infection which lead to antibiotics treatment for me in the week leading up to the race, and I had my last treatment on the Thursday before the race. The doctor said it should not affect the body that much in terms of my competition on race day, and I didn’t feel the need to make a statement about it before the race, giving my competition an edge over me. It’s hard to say if that infection had an effect on my performance because I felt okay but had a few days where I couldn't train what I was supposed to because I didn't feel well. I might have been a few percent off my normal level, and in the swim I didn't feel that I had the power I usually do. I should normally be able to be out in front making the others work hard but instead I let others swim in front and tried to save some energy.
Out on the bike I made the mistake to try and follow Mathias Hecht's pace. He and I were the best on the bike of the group that exited the water together and strategically I didn't feel comfortable letting him go right away as that would have meant that I would be all alone the most of the bike. Normally I would be able to ride with him and I had actually hoped that we would be able to bike together putting pressure on those behind. So I don't feel I lost my head when I went with him but being a couple of percent below my level I might have hung on the pace too long sending me out of my comfort zone way too early in an Ironman. When I let him go after 50 km the damage was done and I had to deal with that for the rest of the competition.
Looking back I might have been able to get 2nd or 3rd on the day if I had raced more conservatively in the beginning. Jordan Rapp had a great race and I would not have been able to beat him in Texas on that day no matter what. A great race by Jordan and he deserved the win.
Problems on the run
Hecht rode amazingly in Texas and entered T2 after a bike split of 4:18. Jordan caught me at 150km and we went through T2 together. Out on the run we were 12 minutes down on Hecht and I felt that I had go out pretty solid in order to eventually catch him. I ran out in 3.45-3.50/km pace which is a bit slower than I would go out on the run in Hawaii. The weather was hot and considering my average condition on the day it was maybe a little bit too fast. I got a gap on Jordan after a few km but he is a smart athlete and stuck to his race plan and believed that he did the right thing.
On a more optimal day I think that I have the potential for a 2.41-2.42 marathon, whereas he might have aimed for a 2.46-2.48 run split. He kept his head cool and Hecht did blow after his bike ride leaving Jordan alone going for the win. Jordan showed how well an athlete can follow a race plan -whereas I didn't - so I will try and learn from that. I got caught up with racing hard too early and forgot that there was 6-7 hours still left. Being out of your comfort zone for that long that early is really dangerous and I paid for that.
Cramps were my own fault
Cramping was once again an issue after two races without. This is frustrating even though these were not that severe and that I might have caused them myself by going out too hard on both the bike and run. This will be punished and to top that off I lost my Saltsticks and gels heading out on the run.
Exiting T2 I put my Saltsticks and gels in my back pocket of the race suit, but they must have fallen out as I ran through an aid station on the way out and had to get my hands free to take a couple of cups. I didn't notice until a few km into the run. Had I noticed right away I would have taken the time to go back and pick it up because it is so important in those hot conditions.
At km 15 I got my special needs bag with new salt and gels but by then it was too late to recover, and that was probably why I had cramping issues on the run. Unfortunately these things can happen even though you have a plan A, B and C.
I was never in any doubt about finishing the race. I wanted my Ironman finish and then I would rather collect points in 70.3's than another full ironman. For a long time we were three out in front with some time down to the other competition so I thought that I could run home a podium finish. But in large parts of the marathon I could not change pace and had to run at a modest pace as well as making sure to get my fluids and energy and then just fight to the finish line.
Mid season break
Before I returned to Fuerteventura from Texas I spent a couple of days in Denmark. I recovered pretty well and I quickly adjusted to the European rhythm again and was able to find a normal sleeping pattern. I had a few meetings and arrangements in Denmark, among them a two day event with my sponsor National Geographic Channel who have invited and challenged some of their partners to compete at the iron distance race in Denmark called KMD Challenge Copenhagen, either as single starter or part of a relay. This was a fun couple of days.
Now I have had a couple of easy training weeks. I deliberately have a mid season break so the body can recover after 4-5 months of hard training and racing. The next 3-4 months will be the same so this first month after Ironman Texas is easy training which is important both mentally and physically. I can rest, spend good time with my family and then build up again for my next race.
Will compete at 70.3 Haugesund, Norway on July 8th
I'm not expecting to be at my top level for 70.3 Haugesund, but I will be in a reasonable shape that will give me a chance of a podium spot.
The family and I will move back to Denmark in the end of June and with a big move, my kids that are starting school again in Denmark and my wife Anita that will start a new job in August - a trip to USA in July as I was supposed to might be too much. And when I won't be in my best shape there is no need for that long trip and a tough field in e.g. 70.3 Vineman. That's why I will race in Norway where the winner takes home 750 KPR points - points I need to secure my Hawaii slot.
My former rival from ITU racing, Filip Ospaly, will also race in Haugesund. A few weeks back he won 70.3 in Austria with Andreas Raelert in second place and Osplay is really strong at this distance when he performs at his top level. I must finish in top-3 to have enough points in the KPR for Hawaii. If not I will have to race another 70.3 later in the season.
Pictures are from Abu Dhabi 2012 - courtesy of Paul Phillips/Competitve Image
All the best,