To say that the lead up to my first triathlon of the season was less than ideal, is a huge understatement. So instead of boring you with the details, my OCD side will laundry list everything when necessary:

1. Got a cold a month before the race.
2. This was followed by a hedonistic weekend (think 8 hours sleep in 6 days, fueled by alcohol and coffee, no food and a lot of adrenalin).
3. Cold turns into flu.
4. Training weekend where I should have rested.
5. Flu, coupled with hayfever, turns into sinus infection.

So, I was undecided as to whether or not I would race. Luckily, coach Fi convinced me to go out and treat it as a training race and experiment. Here’s what I tried:

1. New race goggles for the swim.
2. Repeat swim tactic as I adopted for Placid (as far out as possible then try and sprint to the front pack).
3. Tri shoes on the bike (with no socks).
4. New aero helmet.
5. New saddle.
6. New position on the TT bike (higher saddle height).
7. New race belt.
8. New type of running shoes.
9. Running without socks.
10. Modified nutrition on the run (gel every 25 minutes).

OK, so there were a lot of changes to my normal routine but hey, I hadn’t trained properly for 3/4 weeks and I came off my course of antibiotics a week before the race, so what did I have to lose? Then there was the logistical nightmare of getting there, and the lead-up to the race:

1. 4am wake-up for my flight the day before the race (the night before the night before is when sleep is important, getting home at 10pm and not having packed was not ideal).
2. Landed in Mallorca at noon, had to drive across the island, staying 10km away from the start line. The 24 hours before the race saw me drive a whole 155km.
3. Ran out of gels so had to buy new/untested ones at the expo during registration.
4. Spent the entire Friday walking around town to register, rack and drop transition bags, this started at 4pm and got back at 8:30pm.
5. Had bike brake issues and saw the mechanic at 6pm before race day.
6. Ate the night before the race at 10pm, this included deep friend chillies. Oh, and pasta.
7. Slept at 11:30pm with a 5am wake-up call.
8. Had a new breakfast regime and no coffee (a shock to those that know me).
9. Didn’t scope the course (found out where the swim was about 20 minutes before).

It’s not surprising that a few things went wrong during the race. Most of it wasn’t a result of my idiocy and all the changes, but here you go:

1. Woke up with cramps and the runs (those damn chillies. But they were *SO* good!).
2. Malfunctioning breaks 5km into the ride, had to stop, fiddle and then release.
3. Crash on the first hairpin/descent. My bike handling skills got me out of trouble as another competitor undertook me and clipped my front wheel.
4. Race belt rubbing against torso. I have scabs across my abs now. Very Rambo.
5. Feet on fire during the run. Should have worn socks, I have as many blisters on my feet now as I have years of experience internet shopping.

So how did I do in the end? 5:10. That’s right, I shaved a whole 9 minutes off of my previous PB. So, how did this happen? Well, the mess-ups were a result of me being a bit blasé having done a number of full/half-Ironman races, so I need a big piece of humble pie to better prepare when competing from now on. But what this also means is that I have more experience than the average long-distance triathlete.

With a fair amount of races under my belt, as well as miles in my legs, I was able to take decent time off of the swim and bike, without much detriment to my run. My transition bags were sparse/minimal (no more “just in case” kit), and I ensured I knew where my bags/bike was with decent markers so I did not get lost in the rather long transition area (some say the longest in any Ironman race at almost a kilometer long!).

Having spoken to a number of athletes before and after the race. Most take the approach I have just done in this blog. Providing a laundry list of excuses as to why they didn’t go faster. Well, you know what? That’s pants. Things go wrong in races. We get ill or we are ill-prepared. We could have always trained more, rested a bit more, carbed-up a bit more, sighted better during the swim, pushed further on the bike, ran more consistently towards the finish. Well we didn’t, and are at the finish line with the result we have just clocked.

And now whilst in my third season, and with this laundry list of things I did do and should not have done, I am glad coach Fi convinced me to race. This has taught me that experience (and patience whilst getting experience) is the most important thing. So that is what I owe my PB to, that or the pint of beer I had the night before the race.