*** many thanks to Jamie Edmunds for this race report ***
What a day!!!
As this report is supposed to be used for the purpose of aiding others I will start with mentioning my lead up race. I used the ADIT long course as my build up. Due to IMSA being my first full course ADIT definitely helped preparing me mentally for the bike course. I however would not do such a long course 1 month prior to an even longer course. I found that post ADIT the long rides and runs seriously took its toll on me. I was definitely 100% fit for the race but due to extremely tough training days post ADIT it started to make me question whether I had done too much in a tight time frame. I would not have done it differently on this occasion but next time I think a half course prior to a full leaves more fuel and desire in the tank.
Prior to race day my nerves were fine. The first practice swim on the course was a choppy day but did not cause concerns. The second training swim was flat and peaceful. Both the swims gave me a good feel for the chilly water which was what I was looking for.
Prior to race day I was not concerned with the swim. The distance I knew I could handle so it was just a matter of how fast I could do it. Race morning it was a completely different story. Seeing all the athletes getting ready and preparing my heart was racing. I tried to stay in my own quiet space however it was extremely difficult. Probably about 10 minutes prior to start my wife asked if I was going to do the warm up swim. I said “no its fine.” She persisted and finally convinced me to get on with a quick warm up. Which was definitely a good option, the entry waves were slightly tricky and it took some effort to get out but the warm up prepared me for it. All athletes were then filtered into the starting area on the beach. This is where I started to get out of my comfort zone. I usually get off to the side in big starting fields. I however found myself right in the dead center. Behind a sign that said 90 minutes (time to complete the course), not where I wanted to be but I figured I would stick there as I never wanted anyone to go over me. Once the cannon went off and everyone bolted for the water there were a lot of bodies everywhere and extremely difficult. It was difficult to get a rhythm going and finally when I did we hit the first buoy which was extremely congested. I just kept remembering to never stop. It was also at the first buoy that I spotted a dingy with a kid in it while being towed by his father. Pretty awesome!
First lap was over and started on the second lap which went better as there was less congestion on the course and could finally get into rhythm however for some reason my second lap was slower than the first, Very hard to explain.
Total swim 1:14. Very happy with that.
Transition was quick (3:31min) and painful for me. After getting my bags and being assisted by the awesome volunteers it was a good 100 meter jog to my bike. What I never took note of was the ground surface. I had left my cycling shoes on the bike and ran out in barefoot. This is when I found out I have sensitive feet and would imagine me hobbling to the bike looked pretty comical. Anyway lesson learnt to always check the transition area to determine if keeping shoes on or off bike is best.
Like I said post ADIT I had struggled with all of my long rides on Al Qudra. Whether it was fatigue or loss of inspiration I don’t know. I however knew that it would not be as tough as the YAS to Saadiyat loop!!! Nothing could ever be that bad!
The course was 3 loops of 60k. I had on previous days done a quick ride out with some of the SuperTri members and coach and it gave me a feel of the last 10k stretch home. I had also driven the hilly section of the course. I however never realized until race day how fast the bike course was. This was made ever clearer on the first downhill. After reaching the peak of the uphill I started the downhill and was free rolling at 60kph. It was at this point that Hasan Itani came flying past me like he stole something. He was seriously hammering it down this hill and must have hit 80kph at least, would be interesting to see Hasan’s data on that hill.
First lap was uneventful other than my Garmin switching off for about 4k to which I need to switch it back on and off a couple of times, unexplainable again.
End of the first lap I had my family in the middle of the road shouting which always help. Also the second lap I had an idea of when to push and when to hang on. The final 15k stretch was head winds and rough roads and probably about 6k out from the end of lap 2 I felt the road get softer. This was not due to the road surface but rather a slow flat tire. I could have probably made it to the end of the 2nd lap but stopped on a grassy bit and changed the tube. All went smoothly with the tire change and I was back on the road. Took me a longer than I wanted however that was my first on course full tire change and it went smoothly.
Completed the final lap and this lap athletes started to thin out a lot. This is when I started to ease off a bit to prepare for the run.
Once thing I did see was at the top of the hill on the 3rd lap. There was a man standing outside of his house with an ironing board and an iron shouting “This is how it’s done”. Heard and seen the joke before but it was just what I needed to lift the spirits - had to share that!!!
Total Bike time was 6:04. On course I had come to the conclusion that the course was so quick I could manage a sub 6 bike ride. The flat wheel probably cost me 10 – 15 minutes so was a bit disappointed with the time but felt good and ready for the run.
Transition this time was with the cycling shoes. The volunteers took my bike and I was in the tents with my bags. The volunteers seriously help at this stage as they just grabbed the bag from me and past me my visor, socks and pack everything I stripped off and she was gone. Did a quick pit stop in the bathroom and was out (5:10)
My initial run strategy was based on a comment in response to one of the TriDubai blog posts. I would run as far as I could without stopping and then walk through an Aid station and push again. I would also wait until 21k to start drinking coke. With regards to nutrition I would consume 1 Gu gel every 30 minutes.
This changed on route. The night prior to the race Budo Baylosis called me and said whatever you do don’t stop running.
At the start of the run I felt good and was happy to be running. I knew the first lap would be fun. At the start of each lap they would hand out hair bobbles which signified which lap you’re on. First lap I had a blue or Red?? I can’t recall which came first however at the time I was not bothered and just thought that was clever.
Finished the first lap and got my second bobble which was blue or red, again was not bothered. The second lap started to get less fun. I hit 21k and started consuming coke. Also the nutrition strategy I had read in a TriDubai comment really helped but was starting to get tougher to actually want to eat more Gu. I had trained with it but was still tough considering how much Gu was already consumed in the day. Up until 21k I was telling myself to do the same as ADIT just a bit slower but don’t stop running. At the end of the second lap I got handed my final hair bobble a white one. This one felt like a trophy. It signified the final hurdle. One last lap and I was. It was around 30k I started telling myself that I can do this without stopping. From that point on the words “don’t stop” was going through my head at least once every kilometer.
During the last lap I found myself searching for so many things for inspiration.
I had been given a glow stick by close friends which I lit up at 35k and kept my focus on that which helped push me to the end. Also the thought of seeing family at the end really helped.
In the end the last few kilometers started to hurt but I was never going to consider stopping, considering I had gone so far already. Finally got to the Red carpet, total run time 4:14… Better marathon time than my first marathon which had scarred me for some time.
Total time 11:41. Extremely pleased with sub 12 hours. I had imagined a time of 12 and half so the time is still setting in for me.