Challenge Roth 2010,

Result ; 8:08, 4th. Fastest swim. # The fastest bike. # run.

It’s funny how you can talk to a few of the other pros, those racing and those just there to spectate, and how close we can get to knowing how the race will go.

Myself, Rasmus Henning, and Eneko Llanos got a big break in the swim. Rasmus and I shared the lead throughout; I wasn’t feeling as good in the water as I would have liked, but none the less I was back on the front with about 1km to go and led out of the water.

I actually didn’t know the third guy on our feet was Eneko, I was never beside him in the swim, and never saw him in transition. I talked to him after the race and it turns out he got a bad cramp and lost over a minute.

I was feeling really good on the bike, and for the first time I was able to see my watts/power (I only got an SRM on the bike on Friday). I was surprised how easy and relatively high the watts were, but thought it might slightly out due to the cold that morning when it was calibrated. So I was going along at a good pace, but still comfortable, and Rasmus was hanging back., not coming through to help set the pace..

He then came past me when I slowed down, and said we should take it a bit easier, especially uphill, we have plenty of time over the others. Well I didn’t think I was going that hard. After all, it is a race. And that is the way I race. When I feel good I go, when I feel tired I rest. So when Rasmus went to the front it was much easier, and Eneko made some time up, as close as 30 seconds. But I thought it better to leave him chasing and got the pace back up a bit.

Proof of our pace it that last year Norman Stadler caught me after 60km. This year he had Sebastian Kienle working hard with him and they didn’t catch us until 90km. Then there were 4 of us. Surprisingly Eneko had not been dragged up to us with them. The pace was off and on for the next 10km, but relatively easy, I sat at the back behind Norman, who didn’t appear very strong.

As we hit the very steep long climb at Greding Sebastian took off from the front. Rasmus got a small lift with him, but Norman didn’t accelerate at all, and slowly dropped back as I passed him up the hill. He dropped out the race a few km’s later. I needed a rest, and took it easier for a while, needing a downhill to empty my bursting bladder which was making riding uncomfortable. I was on my own for a while until Eneko caught me, but I was still feeling flat so dropped off his pace. I really relaxed and tried to stretch out my hips which were tight and felt weak (I had only done 200km on my TT bike since I got it a couple of weeks earlier), and told myself this was a good rest, it will save some energy for the run).

With 15km to ride a strong cyclist rode past me and I had recovered and was able to match his pace into transition. Over the last 50km, most of which was pathetic wattage, I only lost  1min 30secs to Eneko, and was in  4th place. Rasmus was about 4mins ahead and Sebastian was about 6 minutes in front of me. But they weren’t my concern. I came to this race without having been able to do the run training that is required for a good marathon. I only wanted to run relaxed to the finish and not be reduced to  running 50mins for the last 10kms and to be overtaken. I forgot about those in front of me and behind me, which was easy since I could see neither, and pretended I was out for my  weekly long run, and to not let my pace creep up, even when I felt good.

At the last turnaround (30km’s) I was still feeling good and had 4minutes over Micheal Gohner, who ran 2:42 last year here. But despite feeling good and having 4 minutes I panicked and ran a little bit harder. I lost my relaxed pace and mindset and starting to get scared. 5km’s later I paid for this  (and lack of run training!) when my legs started to hurt and slow down.

With 5km’s to go I thought I could be caught, I was slowing down more, hurting more, doing sums of my pace versus his imagined pace. With 1.5km to go there was one last out and back section I saw Micheal on and knew he wasn’t catching me. The relief was enormous, but so was the pain in my legs that got worse with  each stride (shuffle).

I was so happy with what happened on race day. I surprised myself with strength on the bike, and patience in the second half of the bike and on the run. I raced with new mix of nutrition thanks to Powerbar, a new bike (thanks Stork), new shoes (thanks Adidas) and it was also the first full distance in my Aquasphere wetsuit (and I just noticed as I write this on the plane heading home 3 days since the race, I didn’t get any rash/chaffing on my neck).

Well sorry for the plain boring race report.

I’ll give a more personal blog with other issues and experiences next week.

I won’t say when I’ll be training again, because best intentions are usually just that. But Hawaii is not far away and I will try to get the body moving asap. I am still walking with a weird limp and posture thanks to my leg muscles being incredibly sore and useless.

Well done to everyone who raced in Challenge Roth. It is a tough day every time, but worth it.



p.s. some photos on my facebook from the race – nothing special