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Ironman World Age Group Championships, Hawaii, 2015 – 17th 45-49 years

That was some trip. After 4 years absence from the Big Island I found myself back on the start line on IM World Age Group championships, ageing up to 45-49yrs. Some way to spend your Birthday week. I clicked over to 45 yrs on the Tuesday before the race and celebrated with Heroes past of Ironman Hawaii – breakfast with Mark Allen, Dave Scott and the legend that is Paula Newby Fraser, thanks to the All World Gold Ironman Athlete scheme.swim start compressed

I enjoyed the build up with Mike, Rachel Hallam a former colleague of Oxford Tri and her husband Ben. It was full on prep doing repeated bricks on the Queen K in the baking sun & wind and all was looking pretty good. In the build up Mike was close to scalping Jurgen Zack, former IM pro podium back in the day on a test swim and both Mike and Ben participated in anything they could get into – that included the underpants run no less.

bike with rach

underpants runmike swim

The event was up several notches in terms of hype compared to last time, the competition more ferocious and the heat dialled up 4-5 degrees on the average summer. My garmin averaged 95 degrees in hours 4-5.5 on the bike, never in my life have I baked so much. There was the usual racking and pre race festivities and tensions mounting up.

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morning setting

I am delighted to say I had a great day out. Since my last time here in Kona where I ranked 9th in 40-44yrs, 10 hrs 27 mins  I had to take 2.5 years out of competition with really horrible “Under- performance syndrome”. This “breakdown” meant I had to build back v carefully. Since returning to competition I have had great outings in 4 x Ironmans in 16 months, 2 of which I won my category [ IM Switzerland and IM Lanzarote] and then got into the top 20 here at Kona.

In January 2013 I was in significant pain in my entire body and I couldn’t push more than 40 watts for even 3 mins, or swim 200m without agony. I had muscular pain everywhere head to toe & the tears I shed in that time break all records. Much of it is still reasonably unexplained to me, but lack of rest over many years, poor core / glute strength appears to have been at the heart of the problem. It was without question remarkable to be back on this stage. Looking back to Jan 2013 after a year of searching for someone to help me I was introduced to Laurence Plant, Chiropractor at  Athleteservice, Henley on Thames. I have him absolutely to thank for this return  – he has helped me rebuild from the bottom up and understand what went wrong with my body [and mind!].  It was a gradual return, a sprint distance last year after 18 months of rehabilitation, treatment and retraining of the body. My first race was May 2014, a sprint & even that terrified me, and progressively through last year I came back.By July 2014 I had won at IM Switzerland still managing various body issues, & my best outing of my career I think was IM Lanzarote in May 2015 – the most amazing race on this planet –  so that was 2 years in the making.

On my Kona day I was back to a v good swim 1.06.47, 5th in AG and then a solid bike 5 hrs : 56,tracking at 8th overall.  I felt pretty contained and easy and really felt my run legs were intact…however such were the hot conditions I think I misgauged it a bit on the bike,  [bike files suggests a bit of that but not too much error] and so next unexpected trouble set in from 20km on the run. Whilst my head was positive,  the body didn’t want to know ! I dropped progressively from 10th to 17th in the last 20km experiencing sickness at 19 miles. However I am so proud though of coming full circle from 9th in 2011 back to 17th in 2015 & I hope I am still on a build trajectory. I was beaten by alot of Americans and although my position was a bit off  my expectation I beat a lot of europeans who had beat me convincingly at IM Mallorca last year, this has given me no end of a boost.finisherpix_1162_016972finisherpix_1162_042207finisherpix_1162_051272 run 2

 

 

 

My thanks go of course to Mike for his continued support to get me to every start line, his passion to follow painstakingly every last second of the race and run with me up Palani hill in the darkness at the end [ nearly got a glow stick to maximise my entry fee]  & for enduring all the training effort back at home that has to take place to make this happen. Thanks to Rob Griffths – Athleteservice for all your support in keeping my bikes going all year round and advising on the best setups for everything. For 10 years I have biked trouble free at all my races, never a mechanical to blame an underperformance and this is amazing confidence as you hit a race. As mentioned before the support I have had from Laurence Plant – Chiropractor at Athleteservice has been is the main reason I have managed this result today – I have learnt so much & trained with more purpose & correct form I hope – although not in the run picture here! …Guys forever in your debt.

To all my friends in Henley on Thames I have trained with in the past 2 years, thanks for all you enthusiasm and help along the way is has been my most enjoyable time in this sport. My experiences of recent years have enabled me to devise training plans for others and advise on race strategies which I have loved  – another aspect that has filled me with pride this year to have seen others through some life changing racing something I will be focusing on increasingly in future years.

Thanks to Boynton and Whitworth inc.  for following and for giving me every opportunity to perform – you are the best !!!

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So Aloha till the next time – but it is not next year for sure ! Time for a year of different things but IM it is not over yet 😉

 

Ironwar on my Birthday - The legends of the lava fields

Ironwar on my Birthday – The legends of the lava fields





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