Sunday, June 10, 2012

2012 Ironman 70.3 Switzerland Rapperswil-Jona Race Report


First up I’ll make an apology, this report is going to be pretty downbeat. Four weeks leading into this event I had one of the best training sessions of the year and things were going well, three days later I started to come down with what I thought at the time was just a cold, over the next three weeks it turned into a sinus infection, and a virus that is still lingering up until today.
The week leading up to the event I was a misery to be around, in a pretty pissy mood, and not looking forward to it at all, if I was a pro, or someone with money to burn, I would have definitely dropped out, missing four important weeks of training and still suffering from the tale end of a virus meant taking part was pretty stupid in all honesty.
The plan at the beginning of the year had been to go go under 5 hours 30 minutes, if, and it’s a big if, I had been well leading right up to the race I strongly believe I would have hit the goal, and that is why I was so pissed about the whole thing. I don’t have much free time to fit training in, like most of us amateur Triathletes, I have a job which involves a lot of anti-social hours, I have a kid I love to spend time with, if it’s spending time with my son or training then my son wins every time, I’m not a selfish, self obsessed parent, time is at a premium, to spend that small about of free time I have training and then get ill has been hard to take, then again, on the other hand if that’s the only thing I have to complain about then things must be good ;-)

Rapperswil transition
the old "picture of bikes racked"
Conditions on Saturday looked perfect, the sun was out, I took a quick swim in the lake along the swim course buoys and the water was a perfect temperature for wetsuit swimming, chances were that come race day it would be a mixed bag of sun and rain, and unfortunately that is how it ended up.
Lake Zuerich, along the swim start, the day before the event

What can be said about a triathlon swim leg that hasn’t been said before, normally every blog write up involves the words “washing machine”, but really, is a triathlon swim really like being in a washing machine?? How the hell would I know! when was the last time you were in a washing machine? ;-)
Lets keep it simple

Times kicked full in the stomach = 1
Times pushed head first into the lake = 1
Times full mouth of water gulped due to being dunked =1
Another view of the Lake on Saturday, just because it's amazing!!

For anyone who hasn’t taken part in an open water swim before and fears it, let’s be clear that the list above is only really going to happen to you if you decide to start at the front of the swim start. I think, and I hope, that in Ironman racing, amongst the age group athletes at least, most participants aren’t out purposely trying to kick, punch or flatten other swimmers, there is a lot of bravado about how in the swim “I kick this person, or punch the other” if you’re thinking this way have a word with yourself, you’re an idiot.

Point is, if you want to go quick, you may have to give a polite reminder to a fellow competitor that you are in a certain space in the water and if they want to get past they will need to find another path, this may involved a few extra kicks of the feet (as an example) but that’s as far as it needs to go */steps off soapbox/*
While I'm on the subject, here's how not to treat your fellow competitors....

During my swim I did spend a lot of time next to Mr Orca (for he was wearing an Orca wetsuit) we were for a lot of the distance going at the same pace, bouncing off each other and generally all over the top of each other, it’s just one of those things, never take it personally ;-)
If I ever do another race report my swim part will from now on be one sentence, I really can’t make a 1.9KM swim sound any more exciting than it is to actually take part in. Hopefully all further swim reports will read something like this…

Felt decent, kept swimming, got out of the water at the end, and that was that.The swim this year was one of the more positive sides of this race, turning in a time of 38:35 minutes (2010’s time: 40.10) a nice little 1 minute 35 second best time.


I really took my time in transition 1, between swim and bike, I wasn’t in a rush at all, I knew I had to try my best to treat it as a training session, to avoid making myself any more ill than I had been.
The climbs on the Rapperswil course didn’t seem so daunting to me as they had in previous years, hopefully that’s a big pay off from the mountain bike training I put in this year. I suffered a little on the second loop, and my sciatic nerve flared up in my right leg which meant I had to block out a fair bit of pain for 90 minutes, but considering my fitness I was fairly happy with breaking 3 hours with 2:59:52 (2011’s time: 3:03:24)

Here's a few highlights captured on my GoPro..

1. As you head out of T1 and onto the course you turn and are faced with a beautiful view of the lake and the mountains behind...


2. The climb up the Witches Hill passes this nice little church, quaint...isn't it ;-)


3. Here is just one of the causalities I saw walking up the Witches Hill, second loop in..I don't blame them!!


4. This made me laugh at the time, half way up the Witches Hill someone had written LANGSAM (SLOWLY) :-D


5. The start of The Beast, how nice of them to label it just in case you hadn't noticed...


6. The view as you reach the top of "The Beast" at Goldigen, it really is bliss to make it up to here..


Finally, here's my customary video highlights from the bike split...

One thing which I only realised this year, after losing my garmin and having no GPS data last year, is that the Bike course at Rapperswil is around 5KM short, which is fairly shocking in my view.
Here’s my data from 2012, 85.1KM in total:
and in 2010, 84.9KM....
Obviously GPS isn’t going to be 100% accurate, but 5KM difference, twice, there’s has to be some truth in that, and if so it’s really shoddy of the organisers to be palming off a 85KM bike course (no matter how great it is to
ride) as a 90.1KM one.
This seems to be a real problem with official Ironman events, short bike course, short run course, and who knows about the swims!! (Just of note, my swim data, using the Garmin in the swimcap method, came up with a swim distance of 2KM). It matters to me, with the cost involved, you’d hope the distances would be near enough spot on and verified. It’s a big point for debate, I won’t discuss it further here, but if the course is short it really takes the piss, for want of better words.
The final decent before heading back into T2, an amazing view across the lake.

I really took my time in transition before heading out on the run, I knew from one test run I’d done during the week that something was still not right, with my heart rate all over the place. I sat there cleaning some sand off my feet and pondered if I should speed up and decided I really wasn’t that bothered.
Check out the dude still with his areo helmet on using the urinal...speedy...
I can’t actually remember the last time I despised a run as much as this one, I felt crappy, the first 3KM where ok, pace wasn't amazing but I was at least moving, but then the bonking started, I felt unstable on my feet, had to start walking and couldn't stop wrenching, all good stuff.
The strange thing is this happened in the exact same place on the two laps of the course, just after a loop of a graveled path, ringed as the twilight zone in the image below, just after the twilight zone was an aid station and on both occasions I had to grab some water and whatever I could get my hands on and then the next few KM’s where spent running/walking. The gels I took around this point must have helped as I was able to start running again, getting around the course without issue.
Rapperswil run

I never thought I would finishing an Ironman event feeling deflated, disappointed and fairly pissed off, but that’s exactly how I felt when I finally finished the line in 5:48:20, funnily enough a 14 second best, enough to say to me that had I been able to train and not be suffering a virus then the 5:30 would have been within my grasp, all ifs and maybes of course, it’s just a shame it’s the last event here.

*****UPDATE: Rapperswil-Jona WILL return in 2013***

The finishing chute, Saturday afternoon.
When picking up by bike to leave one of the volunteers looked at my bib and said ""Matthew, you don't seem so happy" must have been that obvious ;)


So, this week I've still been blowing out thick yellow gunk out of my nose, obviously not a good sign, the last few days have been better, but a run midweek showed a real high heart rate for the pace I was running at. It's four weeks till the full Ironman in Zuerich and I'm starting to wonder if I should think about taking up a cheaper and more sedate hobby like knitting. Let's see how it goes....