No matter how many IronMan events you participate in, the amounts of nerves that builds up just before the start is something that you could never get used to. There are also so many last minute variables that make life excessively difficult. The challenge on this day was the heat, the wind gusts (hair dryer like wind) and a rough Arabian Sea. My transition bags were setup extremely minimally. Everything was packed in the exact same order that I wanted to wear so that zero time was wasted and I made it a point to learn from my previous transition mistakes during this race.
What I wanted to accomplish:-
My goals for this race were to 1) swim under 40mins, 2) master my transition, 3) well paced and timed nutrition, and finally not to overkill my cycle so I can save some energy for a good half marathon. I know my run won’t be great as I have had suffered from a lot of achilles issues lately. I would also like to get a PB (Personal Best) as my current was in Turkey Antalya 70.3 where I finished in 5:40:02 even though the bike course in Muscat has about 1000m more elevation.
An hour before the start there were many things that had to be done. First of all the organisers mistakenly gave me 376 label stickers instead of 379. So all of a sudden I found my new stickers placed just there on the floor next to my bike and I had to relabel all my equipment all over again. The swim was switched to become wetsuit legal last min as the water temperature was two degrees below 24c. That meant there was no time to give myself a nice warmup before the race.
I was really excited to start the swim. I’ve worked the hardest this time out on my swimming. I knew that my strokes have become more powerful and efficient. For some reason as soon as I headed out towards the Sea, things started to get a little crazy. I got tired very fast as my anxiety levels deepened. The waves kept getting bigger and bigger and the wind was blowing in my face quite hard. The buoys were not clearly visible and there was one main black turn buoy that was knocked down which made it even harder to sight. The first half of the swim was terrible, the waves were really rough and I had to resort to a zero technique 3agabawy style swim (my swim work completely failed). Things were way off and It was time for a comeback. Anger hit me and came into my advantage. I finally managed to catch a breathing rhythm and off I went towards the swim exit.
T1 was efficient and smooth. 4:11 to the mount line and I did a fantastic job on doing things in the correct order that I have planned. I also made it a point to learn from my previous T1 mistakes. This was the first race that I do not drop my water bottle as soon as I get on the bike! I knew that this was my chance to get my shit back together. I concentrated on pushing the pedals hard and started overtaking people one after the other. I felt great! I knew for a fact that my swim was so bad that everyone I know is 100% in-front of me. I concentrated on my power numbers. I cocooned myself into a comfortable aero position, head down, abs tucked in and face 100% concentrated on the bike computer. When uphills came up I tried to push even harder as that was my chance to overtake even more and more.
T2 went great. Also fast and efficient at 3:24. The heat started to kick in and there was still a half marathon to run. I made sure that I was still very well hydrated. The run consisted of 4 and a half loops and at the end of each lap you got to receive a wrist band which added an element of psychology into the race. At that point I knew I was doing relatively well compared to the other people who seemed like they were really struggling. It was amazing to see how you almost always got a significant second wind when you reached an aid station. Not just the hydration but also dumping a ton of water on top of your head and rubbing ice all over your skin really made a huge difference. The last three km’s was the first time I stop running as there were no aid stations when you cross the last loop. So I had to endure the last part without any form of hydration and jeez that was really tough under the heat. I probably went on and stopped about three or four times before I finally got to the finish line. What a great feeling to see that red carpet. Smile and wave to the cameras!
Smashed some goals:-
Somehow I managed to transform my worst swim time into a PB on this course. What an amazing comeback especially on the bike (genuinely not regretting my P5!). This means I crushed all my goals except for the swim time that I was hoping for. The rough seas gave me an excuse to be proud of knowing that it was something that I learnt from for future races. My transitions were perfect. Very fast and efficient OCD style of packing that worked brilliantly. One small mistake was done in T2 were I forgot to get rid of the bike tube and CO2 from my back pocket and had to hand it away to some random person halfway through the run.
These guys were the star of the show. They never stopped their support for five hours straight.
My race nutrition went amazingly well thanks for a great bike setup. I had a drink in my T1 bag so I don’t loose my bike nutrition as soon as I head out of that mount line. The torpedo bottle system on the Cervelo is absolutely fantastic. I had to stop for 42 seconds according to my Wahoo to refill my two water bottles along the way. Power data could have been slightly higher on the bike but I had to pace myself as I knew that I still had a half marathon to endure with a slightly aching achilles. So happy and proud to be standing at a PB in Muscat as I still have about five months to prepare for the biggest challenge in my life. Tremblant here I come!!!
Total 05:37:46 Swim 00:45:56 Bike 02:38:58 Run 02:05:16 (Current PB)
Swim and run times are down in comparison my previous PB for obvious reasons. Great day for me. Loads of improvement seen.
1GU Preswim with sips of gatorade.
6GU plus 2.5 Gatorade and 2.5 water with base salts on the bike.
Iso drink, flat coke, water, orange peels, banana peels with base salt licks on the run.