Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Race Report: Ironman Kalmar 2014

This was my priority-A-race for 2014 where I had one goal:
  • to qualify for Ironman World Championship at Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

The expectations

The training leading up to the race had gone well - no big injuries or setbacks. I was ready to make my first serious attempt to qualify. I raced in the age group M30-34 which typically is quite competitive.  Based on training results I had confidence in the following race plan:
  Swim: 1:00
  T1: 0:03
  Bike: 230 Watts, or about 4:50, under good conditions.
  T2: 0:04
  Run: 3:10
  Total: 9:10

The race

The swim start suited me very well - rolling start based on self-seeding. I placed myself in the group for swimmers with expected swim times around an hour which turned out to work out well. I swam at a steady and comfortable pace.

After a quick transition, I got on the bike, where I started pedaling at my planned wattage. For the first two hours on the bike everything went according to plan. Cycling was easy and I felt great. Then, something happened. I started having problems swallowing the gel, it was just coming back up. I knew this could be synonymous with a gastric shutdown, and that I soon could run into trouble. Despite my efforts at recovering my stomach operation - including holding back on nutrition and taking salt - my energy level quickly decreased. I struggled to keep at 200 Watts. At this point I realized that the Kona qualification was at jeopardy. Even so, I managed to get through the bike leg, with an average wattage of 215 Watts.

Running out of energy makes you question your motivation to continue the race. I have to admit I had some hard moments on the bike. However, I was able to tackle it, and kept moving.

Eventually, after another quick transition, I headed out for the marathon. I wasn't really sure how this was gonna play out, but it turned out to be OK. I sticked to the nutrition plan, which was to drink two cups of energy drink at every aid station and take in 1-1,5 grams of salt per hour. This worked quite alright, and I posted the marathon in an, not impressive, but acceptable 3:26, crossing the finish line at a total time of 9:41.

  Swim: 1:01
  T1: 0:02
  Bike: 215 Watts for 5:09, under windy conditions.
  T2: 0:03
  Run: 3:26
  Total: 9:41

The evaluation

All-in-all, I am very pleased with this performance. If I crossed the finish line at 9:26, I would have qualified for the World Championship at Hawaii. To me, this is great news, especially since I wasn't able to take out my full potential during this race. I realize that I need to further refine my nutrition plan to avoid gastric problems in my next race.

This race represented one big step toward my ultimate goal of racing at Ironman Hawaii.