Race report Provence 70.3
Before I get lost in a descriptive of the gorgeous Provence countryside, stunning architecture and general French charm, I’ll conclude before I start.
This is a great race set in beautiful surroundings and the organization was pretty spot on from start to finish.
For those of you that follow me on Twitter (@sportiedoc) or Facebook, you’ll know that I’ve had a few mechanical issues of late with my bike.
Reason being, earlier in the year I rode a Cannondale provided to me by a then Sponsor (who later withdrew for financial reasons) it fitted me perfectly and the mechanics were totally smooth. Since that bike was withdrawn I had to ride a p3 which I already had after spending the previous year with Team TBB.
It never fitted me well, & I had to make various adjustments to seat position, stem, cranks etc. to make it work as best I could. The problems began when the Shimano Di2 (electronic cabling) I had on the Cannondale were transferred to the P3. In the process it seems some of the cables were damaged and it was never a smooth ride from then on. In my last race at Challenge Walchsee – I was 25k or so into the bike course when the shifting failed – BAM! No other gears than the one I was stuck in which was one of the biggest gears. Mechanics the day before the race had tried their best to get it working and managed to get me shifting through the big chain ring only… but after half an hour on the bike, a dodgy cable, drained the battery and I couldn’t change my gears. This was less than optimal given I had a 3km climb to get up! Frustrated I didn’t finish a race, and for those that know me this was more than disappointing, it was financially very costly in terms of lost prize money and travel costs.
So by the start of this race I was glad to have had my Di2 cables replaced under warranty thanks to Madison UK and the work of Prologue Bikes (London, UK). I had a bike that worked and all gears available! More on that later.
The swim & T1 at this event was set in a different location than the finish and run course. The glorious Lac Peyrolles (see picture).
The swim started with the Pro’s going off a good 5 minutes earlier than planned which seemed a little strange for the usual French obsessive time keeping.
It was pretty uneventful for me – which is a good thing! Having broken by clavicle (collar-bone) twice within the first year of turning professional, swimming has always been a bit of a struggle. I would feel like I was getting somewhere but then had to have time out of the water after the accidents. For a non-natural swimmer it takes it toll. But I felt here, I was back to swimming t pre-injury pace. I didn’t get smashed over the head and no one attempted to drown me – which seems to be the rule rather than the exception for me ;0
For those that look at the times, the swim was a few minutes short. The leading man came out in 20minutes and me in the second pack in 23.30.
There is a fairly long run out of the swim to T2 (perhaps 800m). I came into T1 with perhaps 3 other girls including Ericka Csomor whom I am used to seeing at this point in races.
A relatively speedy T1 and then out onto the bike course.
At this point I will say that those who would like to do this race in the future. A TT is suboptimal. A road bike with long clip-on extensions is the best options and indeed the winners in each race rode this setup. The bike course is technical, hilly and the road surface is pretty uneven at times, which makes for a bumpy ride. It is a one-lap course and if you have time to look around the scenery will take your breath away.
I was riding with some of the girls (including the race winner) toing and froing, which I have done a few times with Ericka C. We hit the bottom of the first climb after perhaps 25mins and I could feel something wasn’t right. My back wheel was low in pressure. I pulled over and pulled out some Pitstop (tyre sealant) – but the first problem of the day- the valve connector had come off from the bottle. I persevered trying to get some sealant in and perhaps I managed a little, then I grabbed a co2 cannister and inflated to full pressure. It held. I jumped back on and put my head down trying to catch up the minutes I had lost.
Within 15minutes I could feel the pressure in the back tyre had gone down again, but there was nothing I could do – I rode on.
Then down one of the descents, I cornered a bit too fast and my back wheel slipped slightly, probably as a result of being low pressure… I braked as well as I could but ended up in a hedge… one foot still clipped in. This was the most benign crash had ever had – not even a bruise thanks to the hedge! Soon I was on my way again. Next dilemma half an hour down the road – I hit a hole in the road and it jolted by aero bars right down and shifted by seat post low with the impact.
Believe me I was cursing left, right and centre at this point. But I was not going to give up.
By the time I reached T2 I really didn’t know how far I was behind the other girls, but I was told I was in 6th place. I’m guessing I was at least 5minutes behind. I started to run and my thighs were aching from riding with my saddle lower. But I pushed through and found my rhythm. My partner, Declan was at the race supporting and he told me I was catching girls in front. This was all I needed to hear – I could actually do something now. So I ran on and gained strength.. Feeling better all the time – but obviously still hurting (it is a race after all!).
The run course is 3 laps with twists and turns around the town and then through a park over some mounds, with some mud thrown in too. Then there is a long drag (perhaps a Km) back into town.
The support on the course was incredible. Crowds everywhere – and it was special to run through The “Rotonde” with a huge fountain and crowds 3 deep on each lap. By the final lap I was in 5th but had passed two girls so I thought I was in 4th. I knew I had super fast runner Anne Basso running behind me (and in a previous race she had caught me and flew past me). I was determined at this time not to let it happen. So I pushed the last few km as well I could, coming into the finish at La Rotonde and running straight past it (it was well hidden) and as so many were running through on laps, no one pointed me in the right direction. Yelling ‘Finish Line??’ in English fell on deaf ears until a referee saw me whistled and pointed me back the other direction. This was time I didn’t have! Fortunately I had enough of a time buffer ahead of Basso and finished 5th.
At this Ironman race points and prizes only went to 5th so it was a relief I had at least made this cut-off.
As a whole I enjoyed the swim and run, and would have enjoyed the bike if I had opted for my road-bike as I used at Alpe D’Huez triathlon. (But I never know my luck!) I took a lot of confidence from my ability to run well at this race, and despite the course being short, given the terrain of the run, I definitely posted a PB time and finished strong. My run used to be my weakness, but I am happy to say no more The sessions my coach Cliff English has had me do (and his faith in me!) – along with a change in technique after biomechanical assessment are paying off. And I believe I have room for a lot more improvement.
I now have a new bike too which will be built soon, so hope to put some velo-related bad luck behind me.
It was great to meet people at the race who follow me online and here their race stories (good and bad!). I really appreciated all the support out there.
I am thankful too to have Extreme Endurance as a sponsor as my recovery is far quicker now! Off to climb Mount Venous today!
Train smart guys and race hard.
Remember – Whether you think you can or cannot, you’re probably right.
I just wanted to let you know that I have been having a great season this year. Though it had a lull from May-June when my wife and I had our little boy. But as we transitioned in adding child #2, we were able to keep health and fitness a high priority.
All that said, after having a season ending accident in 2010, when I was hit by a car in May, I knew coming back in 2011 was going to be humbling. My 2009 season was epic. Of 15 races I entered, I won 14 of them (was 2nd in the other) and set 8 course records. So to come back, after a season of recovery, to that level, would be a tall order.
Though this season has been a little different with a bit less racing, the results have been more than I could have ever hope for. Ranging from winning, and setting course records, in cycling time trials, to being the USAT regional champion, and setting course records on courses that have been around for a long time…I have been pleased to come back and accomplish all this in the year I turned 40. Sport has been good to me.
But I would be remiss if I thought I did it all on my own. Support from family, training consistency, and sponsors, have all made it possible… notably Extreme Endurance. You guys have been there for me every morning and night. I took a short hiatus when we had our little boy, and when I came back to training, I could tell I just felt flat. After getting a week or so of Extreme Endurance in me again, I could feel the workouts being absorbed, or my body adapting, to them more easily. I stayed true to taking Extreme Endurance and in the last couple weeks I have seen explosive growth…explosive! I can send you the excel data I have collected from all the Oly triathlons I have done since 2009, some cycling races I did in 2010, and then the Oly tris from this season. My last race data was staggering for me. I went from having a normalized power of ~320 watts, to 337 watts in my last race…which translates to 4.43 watts per kg. for a 40k bike leg. Now, it’s one thing to ride well, but a ride is only good when you can run well. I ended up running a 37 min 10k, which for me, is good. I had a 4+ minute lead off the bike, so I was not being pressured. I ended up winning by 6 minutes and setting a new course record.
After riding well in that race, and having some good training in the weeks leading up, I really started to look at my HR vs power on my daily rides and have noticed that my HR is about 10 beats lower, for the same power. I am blown away. When I look down to see my power on my SRM, I expect to see about 250 and I see 270-280. I have been riding with power since 2005, so I am pretty familiar with it and how I feel in relation to the power output.
Having tools like a powermeter and HR is great, and allows me to really hone in on the data on the bike, but what about the run? I have noticed the same thing on the run as well. I looked at data from the same loop I have run numerous times, compared time, avg pace per mile, and avg HR. Today I ran 8 miles, on the hilly course, and avg’d a HR of 143 and a pace of 6:25 min mile. It felt steady and somewhat effortless. And that has been my experience with my last couple weeks of runs.
I am sure you are getting tired of my ranting about watts, HR, run pace, etc. I guess what I am saying is that in the past few weeks I have seen a huge bump in my fitness.
I know I have a decent VO2 max, but this growth is leaving me shaking my head. I know Extreme Endurance has opened the door to this, so thank you.
I have attached a few pics of me racing this season…one, the front page of the Cda Press, and a few other of me in action. Here are a couple links to of some vids that have been posted of some races:
Sorry for the lengthy email…I tried to keep it brief, but I have so much to say and so many positive experiences with Extreme Endurance. I wish I could summarize it better.
TIMEX Multisport Team
President- Tri Fusion (www.tri-fusion.com)
IRONMAN WISCONSIN 2011
I always think its funny with an Ironman, you sign up & its a year away, then its months, suddenly weeks, days, hours, minutes & next your standing in the water waiting for those last 20mins to go by. You look at your watch & swear that time went backwards. Its probably the same for everyone who has an A event during the year regardless of the sport or event, even those attending the Quilt Conference at the exhibition centre in Madison, Wisconsin on Saturday felt the same! To them a Quilt Conference, discussing materials, designs, weaves, patterns is probably as daunting & requiring in preparation as an Ironman. Unfortunately pre-race events meant I missed this conference & will never know the joys of quilts beyond that of Dunnes Stores!
Arrived into Madison on Tuesday after driving the 2 hours from Chicago. Bike had arrived safe & sound & built it up before bedding in. Spent the next few days scoping out the course & the town. Course had no significant climbs but was hilly the whole way, up & down, with an ok surface. Definitely the hardest IM course I had seen as in addition to the hills, there was a lot of 90 degree turns which you had to slow right down to take. The run was downtown & again a lot of turns, 1 massive hill & a lot of rises. The town itself is a big student town & was cool to hang out in. However the students definitely seemed a lot richer than I ever was back in the UCD days. How many student shopping areas have art galleries, organic food shops, antique furniture places??
As Sunday approached I got more & more nervous, but staying about 5 miles from the race venue meant it was pretty relaxed. We went to the zoo & some friends of mine from when I lived in Idaho came to visit. The day before the race I like to drop off the bike & bags as early as possible & forget about them while just sitting back, reading, watching tv.
The race has a unique transition, firstly its massive, you exit the swim run round & round & round going up a helix into the building where you picked up your bags. Got changed & then ran through a massive car park to collect your bike, before spinning down the helix the far side to start your 180km adventure. Seriously spinning down the helix you are dizzy at the bottom.
The swim started at 7am & I was lined up at the very front. The first 100ms were very civil & I was pleasantly surprised. Then the waves from behind came & I got knocked about. The first buoy was mental but then it got calmer as the 2 lap swim wore on. Reasonably happy to exit in 1:11, wet suit off courtesy of the strippers & up the helix. The atmosphere was amazing. Crowds 4/5 deep either side & they are just screaming at you, absolutely electric.
Grabbed Dean (Ridley Dean not some guy who I just grabbed) & set off on bike, First 4/5 miles were a bit all over the place before you settled into the course properly. The climbs on the back end of the course had some real characters, one viking in a g-string has left a mental scar on me! Got myself a stop & go penalty courtesy of overtaking the motorbike ref on the left while he was talking to another rider. By the end of the first lap I realised I was at the pointy end of the field. The second lap was fairly boring as I was only lapping people & passing the odd pro. The highlight was been nearly knocked off by an over enthustastic volunteer trying to give me my special needs bag, but I never handed in a special needs bag! The wind had picked up & the hills were taking their tole on me. The big test would be how I felt cycling up the helix when I got back to transition & when it felt ok I was happy.
A quick T2 & I felt alright heading out on the run. As I left I was told I was 4th age grouper & by mile 3 was up to 2nd. Part of the run course went through the universities football stadium, an actual lap of the playing field. The stadium is a 70,000 seater & running round an empty stadium was kind of surreal. A big part of the course was along the city’s main street & crowds were huge, a lot of people out drinking & screaming encouragement at us.
The whole first lap was very quiet & things were going well. I was comfortably in 2nd age grouper, feeling ok & was close to or in the top 10 overall. Then at mile 16 things started to fall apart & the next 10miles were a run/walk nightmare, pace dropped from sub 7min miles to 9min miles. I was dying & started getting passed. I even walked quite a bit with last year’s second place finisher, he had exploded even more than I had! Eventually I made it home & crossed the line. The backdrop to the finish was the amazing state capital building. Catchers caught me & couldn’t put me down as I was in a bad way. I sat around for a while but really didn’t feel great, I had blood on my gums from a smack during the swim, which I hadn’t even noticed. I was brought to the med tent & they weighed me. At registration I was 161 pounds, now I was 149 pounds. I don’t know how I had gotten so dehydrated as I was drinking all day & remember peeing during the run & a lot on the bike (smell of shoes are proof). They debated whether to give me an IV or not as they are very reluctant to give them out. Eventually I started to come round & was released to the real world.
After the dust had settled I was told I had finished 16th overall, 6th age grouper, won my age group & had the second fastest bike of the day (1 pro was about 60seconds quicker). All in all this was pretty good news to receive & it meant I would be stepping up on the podium the next day. The next big decision was Hawaii & as the slot was for the 2012 race it was hard to say no to.
That brings an end to my 2011 tri season. As always a big thanks to all at Cycle Superstore for their support throughout the year. A superfast SRAM equipped Ridley Dean & Zoot clothing, runners & wetsuit meant I wanted for nothing & my equipment was easily as good as anything else out there. Others who helped me throughout the season were Kinetica Nutrition (available in Cycle Superstore), the healing hands of Robbie Caraher in Louth Physio Clinic. Robbie has a natural gift as a physio, strange as it sounds he has the warmest hands in the world, even back in January when he would treat me at 8am before opening & turning the heat on his hands were warm. On the coaching side David Tunney & Peter Kern ofpb3coaching.com gave me plenty of feedback as I planned my weekly torture routine. As I outlined before I started taking Xendurance this season, did I feel any different, no. Did I do more training & have less feelings of dead legs, yes. Finally to Annette, friends & family who gave me tons of support throughout my training.
Annette like myself would not be carrying a lot of weight (for “a lot” read any). We were eating out every night in Wisconsin & every time as soon as we finished our main course would be given the bill, never offered dessert. We came to the conclusion that the they always thought “nah those skinny pasty white Irish folk mustn’t eat the stuff”. Well I showed them, in fact our waiter at the diner where I had pancakes the morning after the race asked if I had ever considered professional eating. Watch this space
I am an ultra runner usually running 50K or 50 mile events. Was wondering if it would benefit me to maybe take the “extreme endurance” tablets during the event? 10 days ago I ran a 6 hour timed event ( on asphalt ) and did not have ANY muscle discomfort after the race. I finished with just over 30 miles. Normally, I suffer when going up or downstairs for a day or so. I had been taking the supplement for several days leading into the event. Hope this was not an anomaly. BTW, I am 70 years young.
St. Louis, Mo.
Yvonne van Vlerken takes second Challenge-Walchsee-”Kaiser”-crown.
Endurance Team Athlete Mirjam Weerd/NED podiums with 3rd place.
Endurance Team coached youngster Thomas Meusburger (AUT) great 5th in the amateurs.
There were absolutely perfect racing conditions for the 1100 participants at the 2nd edition of the Challenge Walchsee-Kaiserwinkl. 20 degrees water temperature and a wonderful late summer day awarded the team around organizers Andi Klingler and Mario Höller for the excellent race- organisation. Accordingly was the mood already at the start for the second largest highlight over the half distance on Austrian ground. Numerous long distance stars were among the professional starters such as Ronnie Schildknecht/CH, Michael Göhner/GER, Timo Bracht/GER as well as in the the ladies the titleholder Yvonne van Vlerken/NED, local hero Eva Dollinger and the 3-time Dutch Champion on the half distance Mirjam Weerd.
The Austrian resident Yvonne van Vlerken showed up strong in the first discipline and only gave roughly 2 minutes away to her competitor Eva Dolinger, in contrast to the year before where she had lost 4 minutes. The Czech Eva Potuckova had taken over the lead after the swim and could hold this on the bike.
Then in the first of two selective bicycle-loops through the picturesque region all around the „Wilder Kaiser“-massive both Dutchwomen quickly closed in on Eva Dollinger. Weerd had her already in view, van Vlerken was less than one minute down.
Dollinger found connection to a 6-headed group passing her, started to develop a new gap steadily, took over the lead from Potuckova and could bring 3:40min to 2nd transition on van Vlerken and Weerd.
On the selective and idyllic run-course around the Walchsee it first almost looked like a victory for Eva Dollinger. However, Yvonne van Vlerken quickly overtook 2nd Eva Potuckova and seemed not to be impressed by the ride of Dollinger, trusting on her run strength. Van Vlerken ran each loop one minute faster than Eva Dollinger and finally claimed the lead on KM 17.
While van Vlerken ran towards an unthreatened victory, Dollinger who was quickly fading after, had to keep Mirjam Weerd on distance to hold her 2nd rank.
The young athlete from the state of Vorarlberg Thomas Meusburger delivered a taste of his talent in his only third half-distance race and took excellent 5th in one of the strongest amateur categories (M24-29).
In the men’s Ronnie Schildknecht/CH won with a sovereign performance before German Timo Bracht.
Yvonne quote: “I am very pleased with my swim, then when I heard that I was loosing ground after the first loop I was a bit amazed as I was riding quite quickly. But then again the gap after the bike didn’t impress me that much, I didn’t worry. I calculated and knew that I would get Eva Dollinger the latest at the beginning of the 4th loop if I procede with my run-tempo. Exactly that happened and I really enjoyed the warm winner´s welcome by the enthusiastic spectators at the Walchsee.”
Yvonne’s interview prior to Kona
1) How often have you been to Kona before?
First time I went to Kona was in 2007, I didn’t race there but coached my boyfriend and learned a lot about the course, the following up year 2008 I had my best race ever till now on the big Island, I finished 2nd in the Professional Female’s with the fastes Bike time off the day. As I love the Island I had several training camps there and this year will be the 7th time I’m on the island and the 4th time I’m racing there.
2) Could you give us some insight into your training until Kona?
This year is a bit different from the other years, the last 3 years I prepared in Lake Tahoe before I headed to Kona, this year I will do one last race and then travel strait to Kona to do the last preperations. We have some awesome training partners on the island and that’s always good and makes it more fun and easier as well. As I just did a Ironman the end of July I will only do specific training for the big day.
3) Are you planing any races before the World Championships?
Many people ask me if I’m going to Las Vegas for the World Championships Ironman 70.3, I all tell them the same, I don’t want to take the risk to do two of those hard races so close to each other, I choose to focus on the World Championships in Kona. I will only do one more race in the preperation towards Kona and that’s it. As I have done a couple of half distance races this year, I think I have enough Race Kilometers!
4) How is Xendurance helping you during your training, maybe especially during your peak weeks
Heading towards a big race like Kona I always take a little higher dosis then I usually do, especially in the harder weeks I will even take some Xendurance on the longer bike rides and the last long runs. I also take some extra X Vital 40 (Minerals/Vitamins etc.) from Xendurance,, as with Xendurance itselves I take a higher dosis daily! This is just to make shure that I don’t get sick and give my body everything she needs.
Yvonne Van Vlerken