Ironman Barcelona Preparation

Long Distance Training Diary 2011 – Mark Harman

I guess it began as I crossed the line of Ironman France 2009, a fantastic race, superb course, certainly living up to its reputation as one of the toughest Ironman races in the world.  It was settled; I was done, no more long course racing for me until I retired from the Police service in 2014.

My return to Ironman racing was less than 12 months later, but this time as a spectator and volunteer at Ironman Lanzarote.  Until the race day it was nice to anticipate the event, watching the nervous competitors, remembering fondly my own race there in 2006, but come race day it was like sitting an alcoholic in a distillery.  Watching the race unfold and the finish line celebrations was too much to bear and my resolve cracked, I would have to race long again in 2011.

Race selection was easy, where do I want to go on holiday, where will it be hot, not too expensive to travel and offer a nice race course.  It took just moments to reject all the UK races, Bolton! Wales in September! Nottingham, Henley all offered the prospect of a years training for a very long day in the cold and rain.  I soon settled on Challenge Barcelona, the combination of sun, a good holiday destination and a fast course sealed it.  Out with the credit card and it was done.

A bonus with this race is its early October date, allowing me to train through the summer months rather than the winter as for Lanzarote and Nice.  I could also use our domestic races to help my preparation so the credit card soon added the July ‘Cowman’ middle distance and August ‘Monster’ middle distance.  These would be fun races but also offer an indication of how my long distance preparation was progressing.

I hope this article gives you some idea what it takes for an normal racer to take on a long distance event, balancing training with a full time job and busy life.


10 Months to race day

Where do I start, 2010 was a good season with some satisfactory race results but my training was focussed on shorter races and my diet a bit generous.  I never reached my race weight in 2010 but soon returned and far exceeded my winter weight, so by Christmas I was nearer 13 ½ stone than I would like.  I have a busy life, a full time job, club chairman, coach, race organiser and the usual home life but time can always be found.  In short I was not ill or injured, a bit heavy and my endurance was not where it should be, but all in all a good place to start.

I have raced three Ironman distance races including two of the toughest, so the race distance holds no real fear for me.  I have never raced Ironman distance for a time, just for a finish, this race would be different a personal best was my aim and if possible to finish around 13hrs, an hour faster than Nice 2009.  I have a real advantage being married to the 2010 Eastern Region Performance Development Coach of the year so I negotiated my seasons coaching.  Teresa would push me harder than I would myself and have an objective view on my performance and progression, I was all set for a tough race preparation.  I know I can finish this race but it is an odd feeling going to a long distance race not thinking can I finish but how fast can I finish.

The winter of 2010/11 was spectacularly cold and icy but the training started and I will recount the ups and downs of my preparation.

January 2011 – Weight 13st 5lbs – resting HR 49.

The first few weeks work started training my body to cope with the distances and volume required to prepare.  I was suffering a little with a sore back, probably caused by my lack of fitness and the excess weight.  I noted my resting heart rate was a little above its normal low 40’s, another indication I needed to sort out my aerobic condition.  I would continue my normal weekly Pilates class to help my flexibility and core strength.


My training strategy was to be based on developing endurance, improving the engine and letting the speed worry about itself.  This would involve long periods of restricted heart rate training, miles and miles of aerobic work to burn fat and develop heart and lungs.  With the dark evenings and cold wet weather my evening biking is limited to the turbo trainer which is boring normally, but heart rate limited is even worse so some focus is required!  I continued to swim concentrating on technique and used the club Sunday run session for a little faster work.  Week one was 7 ½ hours of training, somewhere to start.  Week two continued the theme, 9 ½ hours including a cold and uncomfortable four hour bike, again keeping that heart rate down.  Week three started to ramp up the hours, swim bike and run sessions totalling 12 hours.  The sessions were all done at a steady pace, keeping in the fully ‘aerobic’ zone.  The early weeks required discipline in eating and drinking, the only way to reduce my weight was to up the output and limit the input.  Week four was more of the same, 9 ½ hours but I included a long run starting with five miles at the limited heart rate.  It seemed incredibly slow, on some inclines I was doing little more than a jog to maintain the desired 130bpm.  It was a difficult feeling to go so slow when I could easily have run or rode much faster, I needed to keep the faith and develop that endurance base.  The month ended well, I had lost four pounds in weight yet had increased my training hours and had not seen any dip in performance.


Swim 17km   Bike 185 miles          Run 55 miles


February 2011 – In February I was joining a triathlon training camp in Lanzarote.  The camp was actually aimed at Sprint/Olympic distance racers but would hopefully provide some fun workouts in the sunshine and plenty of recovery time.  The first two weeks included a very tiring 32 hours training but made up of short sessions.  I learned a useful technique to gauge the aerobic pace at the camp.  It involves restricting your breathing to ‘nose breathing’ only, this pace is fully aerobic.  On the first attempt its very hard and very slow, almost a walking pace but it sets the pace to be trained at in the fully aerobic zone.  I was pleased when my weight dipped below thirteen stone for the first time, but having got back to England the weather closed in reducing enthusiasm and ability to train.  I trained when I could but it was still short sessions focussed on the aerobic zone.  This would have to change as time progressed as you cannot simulate the demands of a thirteen hour race in sessions of one or two hours.  I had begun to suffer with some back pain during my swim and bike sessions so I consulted Marcel Morelli who worked on some tightness and my usual Piriformis Syndrome problems.  In order to increase my bike mileage I rode regularly to work and back, a forty mile round trip usually cold, dark and wet.  The final week of the month included my first longer run session an eight mile aerobic level run on the Flitch Way, not exactly a marathon but it’s a start.  That final week was 11 hrs training and my weight continued in the right direction at 12st 12lbs.


Swim 20km   Bike 325 miles          Run 71 miles


March 2011 – Weight 12st 12lbs – resting HR 42

It was nice to see both my weight and resting heart rate responding to the aerobic work and I started to increase the duration of sessions by adding on to my routine workouts.  Rather than driving to the club track session I would run there, a head torch and some lights kept me safe and a six mile one hour session suddenly became a two hour twelve mile session.  I would also adapt the track session so I worked fully in the aerobic zone.  I did a similar adaptation to our club ride, adding some mileage before the ride and a short run afterwards.  The first week totalled thirteen hours training and the signs were good.  When I started my aerobic heart rate could only be maintained at a very slow pace, almost walking on hills but now I could maintain a stronger pace at the same heart rate.  As the weather started to improve the volume increased, still focusing on aerobic activity and club sessions enhanced with additional workouts.  By the middle of the month my weight had dropped to 12st 8lbs after a fourteen hour training week.  Every month a recovery week was built into the plan, an easier week to allow physiological adaption to take place.  This is not necessarily an easy week, just easier than the recent training activity, it was ten hours this time.  The recovery week timed perfectly before the Born2tri training camp in Mallorca.  This camp would be much higher volume than Lanzarote, a perfect progression for my training although some of the tougher sessions had to be moderated to keep in with my aerobic training plans.  The week included up to 60 mile rides and a 13 mile heart rate limited run, it totalled 24hrs training, all in the warm and dry weather.  On returning home I found my weight was 12st 7lbs, a significant reduction in three months and it was much easier to maintain my aerobic heart rate when training.


Swim 12km   Bike 517 miles          Run 80 miles


April 2011 – Weight 12st 8lbs

As we entered April the days were getting longer and the weather warmer.  This is the benefit of a late season long distance race, the long tough sessions to come would be much easier in the spring and summer months.  My previous long races have been in May and June meaning long cold winter sessions.  The first week of the month was another tough one, still relatively short sessions but came to 13 ½ hours including a 70 mile bike and 3 mile run session.  These longer bikes were getting easier, particularly when combined with the club group ride.  These longer brick sessions are also good preparation for the middle distance triathlons chosen as my preparation races.  The second week continued the pattern with another 13 ½ hour week.  The key session was a bike run brick session, but this time the run was the longer part.  I first biked 30 miles at a good pace then a quick transition on to a twelve mile run.  The run was carried out at an aerobic pace but the weather warmed as the session progressed.  The session lasted four hours, I had drunk 500ml on bike and another 500ml on the run yet I had lost six pounds in weight.  This weight loss is not fat burnt its water lost by the body regulating heat, six pounds is too much and showed my hydration was insufficient.  I would have to develop my feeding and hydration strategy as part of my training.  The following week was 14 hours including a long bike and run, eighty miles on the bike immediately followed by a three mile run.  These long rides followed by a run prepare the body to cope with the transition while fatigued, this will make a real difference to the run performance.  The week ended with a thirteen mile aerobic pace run, this showed I could complete the run in under two hours maintaining the same heart rate which at the start of the year would have been just above walking pace.  This was a major breakthrough and showed how much my aerobic condition had improved.  I was now able to bike and run at a strong pace remaining in the aerobic zone.  This means I would burn mainly fat preserving that valuable glycogen, once the glycogen is gone your energy levels plummet and you ‘Hit the Wall’.  By the months end my weight was 12 stone 5 lbs and as this was below my target weight I would need to rebalance my nutrition.  The month ended with a recovery week, just 11 hours.


Swim 10km   Bike 411 miles          Run 130 miles


May 2011 – Weight 12st 4lbs

May still seemed a long way from race day but the days were warm and long, ideal for increasing the training volume.  I was also very aware May and June would be busy with race organising and I would have to go to work from time to time too.  The Saturday brought a heavy bike and run session.  I built the session around the club bike ride, a 6am start for a two hour easy ride, at 8am I joined a couple of club members for an hours effort session in the pouring rain then at 9am joined the two and a half hour group ride.  On returning home after eighty miles I immediately ran two miles.  This was a long session but made easier by mixing it up with club sessions, this strategy would feature regularly through the year.  Sunday brought the first open water swim of the season, an hour and a half in the rather chilly Gosfield lake gave some valuable open water practice.  I would become quite fond of Gosfield lake by the end of the summer.  This week totalled 14 1/2hrs, the volume was increasing.  The following week was similarly high volume but with open water swim coaching for Born2tri scheduled for the weekend more needed to be packed into the week.  The club track session became a long run by adding an hours run to the track, a long bike and run wrapped around the club ride, biking to work, all totalling 17 hours.  A final run on the Sunday afternoon showed how the fatigue accumulated.  As I ran, albeit slowly, I could not persuade my heart rate above 130 however hard I tried, a tough week.  Week three started easily to try to recover from the previous week.  I had arranged a group training session with some other club members who were also preparing for long races.  It involved a sixty mile bike straight into a thirteen mile run.  The downside of involving your mates in an endurance session is the tendency for speeds to increase beyond what is required.  An average of 19 mph on the bike for 60 miles made the run a bit interesting but a very good 5 ½ hour session.  The week finished with another lake swim to make up 14 hours.  The final week was a recovery week, it was still almost twelve hours training ending with my first Ironman distance swim of the year.  Four kilometres is a long way to swim, in a pool its 160 lengths which is soul destroying, two and a half laps in Gosfield lake is still a long way but much easier mentally and more like the race day conditions, well not salty, not so hot, much flatter and very brown, but better training than the pool.


Swim 20km   Bike 424 miles          Run 116 miles


June 2011 – Weight 12st 5lbs

June brings the longest days and fine weather allowing more training time.  The first weeks training was hampered by organising the clubs triathlon, I only managed eight hours and much of it was short easy pace sessions.  Every plan must have scope to lose weeks through injury, illness or other pressures so I was not too worried.  It’s not a rest week as I was working too hard, just a poor weeks training and by Sunday I was very tired.  The next week did not get much better, all the sessions were hampered by fatigue and the week ended with a sprint triathlon at Fritton Lake.  It was just a fun event and even in my fatigued state the race went well finishing 4th in my age group.  The third week saw a return to decent training volumes, another 4km swim at Gosfield, a 70 mile bike followed by an hour run and a two hour restricted heart rate run to finish off a 15 hour week.  I was still very tired but this comes with the territory wrapping Ironman training around a busy life.  The next week was again compromised by fatigue but by the weekend I was able to complete a long bike/run and a long open water swim.  Things started to improve as the month ended. a strong weeks training but included two rest days before my first test event.  The ‘Cowman’ middle distance race in Milton Keynes was the National Championships which ensured a good turn out of athletes.  With no taper it was not a key race but would give me a good indication of how my training was going.  My fastest ever middle distance was just over six hours, it would be nice to get under six.  The swim went well, a steady swim in a lake very similar to Gosfield and I was soon on the bike.  The weather was warming steadily through the race, perfect conditions for me.  The bike was raced to plan with a steady ride well within my normal race speed.  By the end of the ride I was suffering some back pain which was reducing the power in my legs but I made T2 in just over 3 hours.  On starting the run I realised just how hot it had got.  My race nutrition was going to plan using energy gels and bars and I hit the run feeling strong.  I maintained my plan of doing the first half easy then pushing harder for the second.  I was soon passing runners, particularly on the hills.  The aid stations were getting more crowded as athletes stopped to get water in the heat, I would pass ten or more athletes each aid station just by keeping running and taking a cup on the move.  I soon completed the laps and was running into the finish chute just 5 ½ hours after the start, 30 minutes under my target time.  My race strategy had worked, I was interested to see my run split was faster than one of the clubs great runners who laps me regularly at the track sessions, it’s a triathlon not a run race.  With the first test race successfully completed it was clear the training regime was working, I was uninjured, just a bit stiff and tired but moving on towards the big event just three months away.


Swim 18km   Bike 366 miles          Run 72 miles


July 2011 – Weight 12st 6lbs – resting HR 38

The first week of July had just six hours trained as I recovered from the race and did more race organising, but I started to build towards full training again.  Long swims were better for fatigued legs and always keeping the sessions fully aerobic.  By the third week I was back in full training with big sessions including rides to work, open water swims, long aerobic runs and a five hour bike.  Fifteen and a half hours training completed and I at last felt strong again.  I was now able to regularly complete the swim race distance so I started to add some intensity within the sessions.  My time for 4km had dropped to 1hr 14min, a good sign.  The last week of the month was light due to my work commitments with the Olympic test event but it gave some valuable recovery time.  My resting heart rate was down under 40 bpm, a level I had never seen before, another indication I was developing my aerobic condition.


Swim 22km   Bike 319 miles          Run 55 miles


August 2011 – Weight 12st 6lbs

The first week of August allowed some long sessions as I took time off work.  A long open water swim covering the race distance.  A midweek long bike ride covered almost 100 miles in six hours, testing my hydration and nutrition plans in some warm weather.  The week ended with a nineteen mile run, maintaining that fully aerobic heart rate.  In fifteen hours training I had completed three long sessions to really test my endurance preparation.  This was followed by another big week, a 101 mile bike followed with a two mile run to simulate the fatigue I will feel on race day.  This was a confidence boost as I felt good and not excessively fatigued.  Some shorter sessions followed by a long 16 mile run completed a 17 hour week.  The following week saw my second preparation race the Monster Middle Distance.  Some easy sessions during the week prepared me for the race.  The race was again on a nice day and there were a number of Born2tri racers present.  My plan was to complete the swim economically and then have a steady ride so I was fit to run the half marathon at a good pace.  I came out of the swim in a reasonable time, had a good transition overtaking two of the Born2tri racers.  Once on to the bike I settled into a steady pace.  I was soon passed by the boys I overtook in transition and they cruised off into the distance while I continued with my plan.  The bike was flat and relatively easy and soon we were on the final loop to transition 2.  I had suffered again with the back pain which had plagued my season, so much I had to get off and stretch three times, it was just after the last stop I was passed by fellow coach Pete putting me last Born2tri racer.  Off the bike after a three hour split I was right on target and soon into my running, if the race went to plan this is where it would come good.  The course was a long out and back so I should see the other racers I was chasing at the turn if not before.  I soon caught and passed Pete but it took four miles to catch Martin, as I approached the turn Paul was about five minutes ahead.  I still felt good, my hydration and nutrition working well and I was passing plenty of athletes who were walking, in the final two miles I passed Paul to finish in 5hrs 26m, another personal best and a huge confidence boost.  I would use the same race strategy for my big race.  I recovered better from this race than Milton Keynes and was soon back in full training, the following week of 14 hours ended with another hundred mile ride and transition run.  Although I had regularly swum in open water it did not replicate the sea swim I would face in Spain.  I used a bank holiday for a visit to Clacton and a thirty minute swim in the sea practicing my sighting, breathing and generally building my confidence in the environment.  I ended the month with another long run, sixteen miles in less than three hours showing my aerobic pace was strong.


Swim 22km   Bike 515 miles          Run 96 miles


September 2011 – Weight 12st 7lbs – resting HR 38

With just four weeks to the race the bulk of the training was done, nothing I could do would make me faster I just needed to prepare properly and get to race day as strong as I could be.  Week one had just one long run session then finished with a sprint triathlon, not strictly in line with my training a bit of fun with the club.  I swum and biked strong but ran at an easy pace.  Week two was 13 hours including a long swim and long bike/run brick session.  The final two weeks before race day were just short easy sessions ending with my travel to Spain.


I had prepared the ‘engine’ for my race, I had done very limited speed work yet my performance had increased dramatically through consistent application of my training plan.  Training requires hard work but it’s not all about beasting yourself and racing through every session, some sessions seem slow and easy but they are just as vital as the really hard ones.  I cannot stress enough how important a good coach is, you cannot properly judge your own training loads and priorities.  The coach will tell you if you are training too hard, too little or in the wrong zones, a few hundred pounds to a coach gives much more speed than the latest aero helmet or fancy carbon components.


Then came the true test of the years work, Challenge Barcelona.


Swim 16km   Bike 218 miles          Run 43 miles


Total 2011 training before race day:

Swim 155 km                        Bike 3280 miles        Run 717 miles


Race Day

Challenge Barcelona is an Ironman distance race, 2.4km swim, 180km bike finishing with a 42km run, set in Calella on the coast of Spain just north of Barcelona.  Four Born2tri racers travelled out to the race, the same team of Matt Shingleton, Pete Bryan, Paul Stevens and Mark Harman who successfully raced Ironman France in 2009.  Here is a story of the race.


An Ironman, sitting on the plane my back hurts, my legs are tired and aching, I am fatigued and unmotivated, unfortunately this is the flight out to the race and not home.  I know this feeling well as each time I taper for a long distance race I feel progressively worse until on race morning walking to the race start is an effort.  I have to keep reminding myself as soon as the gun goes the strength and stamina built through months of training will flood back.  I know I am not alone in this feeling and in the days leading to the race athletes are swimming the swim course, riding the bike course and even running parts of the run course.  Its all to make them feel fit when actually they should be resting and preparing their bodies for the incredible demands of a day long triathlon race.  Swim if you need to check your goggles, ride a few miles to check your bike after its rebuilt from the bike box but please never feel the need to run.


Our journey was easy and the hours drive to Calella took us along part of the bike course giving a good view of the terrain, apart from the first few miles of gentle hills the route was flat, the bike course would be fast.  Our hotel was just a ten minute walk from the race village, registration was easy collecting the kit bags and numbers for the race.  In normal Ironman style the racers kit is stored in numbered bags within a changing tent rather than being spread around your bike.  The race expo was as usual full of tempting goodies just crying out to the athletes to buy something new for the race.  I was prepared and the last thing I needed was some untried kit to take into such a long race.  A wander around the site soon located the swim start and exit, the changing area and bike park, all in a nice compact area.


The remainder of the Born2tri team arrived the following day going through the routine of registration, unpacking and building bikes, filling race bags with everything for the race.  The weather was fine and dry with a strong sun, the forecast was for high 20’s on race day, hydration and sun protection would be very important.  The Saturday before the race was taken up with kit and bike checking, attending the race briefing then delivering the bikes and kit to the race village.  With everything set we were ready to race the following day.


Calella is a small holiday town, a bit like Clacton but with a much better beach and sunshine.  For race weekend the hotels and restaurants were filled with athletes, the few remaining tourists looking suspiciously at the shaved legs, lycra clothing and strange tattoos.  They must have wondered what had happened when at 9pm everyone disappeared to bed.


Race morning breakfast was a quiet and nervous affair, we ate slowly all knowing what lay ahead.  The 8.30 race start, due to the late sunrise, and proximity of the hotel gave us a lay in to 5am, race nerves ensured the toilets were busy.  It was still dark as we walked to the race start, groups of athletes emerging from hotels to converge on the race start.  Our support team slept soundly, their long day at the roadside would begin just that little later.  As we completed the formalities of fitting bottles and pumping tyres the sun rise at sea was providing a beautiful backdrop.


Once ready we went to the beach and met up with our supporters, it was getting warm already but with the pro racers starting we zipped up our suits and prepared for the start.  Paul, Pete and Mark would start at 8.36, Matt the youngster would be away about 20 mins later.  A round of good luck calls and we entered the mass of wet suits and green swim hats, the gun went and we were in the water.  Separating 1000 athletes into waves cuts down the crowding but it was the usual physical battle to the first turn 100m off shore, a right turn took us a mile or so parallel to the beach, further out to sea then back to the finish just past the start.  The water was warm and calm and I set a steady but even pace, the pace I had trained for over so many hours in Gosfield Lake.  The swim was uneventful, the weak tide making the return faster, I saw some swimmers from my wave, overtook some from the wave ahead then eventually faster swimmers from the wave behind came past.  Soon I was swimming for the shore, kicking hard to wake my legs then on to the sandy beach.  In the excitement I forgot to start my watch but I heard someone say 1hr 17m which was ok, I should be on my bike in the target 90 minutes.  As I entered the tent I saw Pete on his way to his bike.  I dressed and ripped open my bag of sun cream spending a minute or so covering my face, arm, legs and neck then headed to my bike.  At the bike racks I saw Paul had also gone, I was down on their excellent performances but had met my target time.


The bike course was on closed roads, out through the town past our hotel and on to the coast road.  There we had two long laps of about 70km each and a final loop of 40km.  The wind was light and with the day warming it would be a great ride.  The first few miles were up and down hills, some slower swimmers and the fast riders from the waves behind roared past but I resisted the temptation to race them, I knew the effort to set.  ‘If you think its too fast its definitely too fast, if you think its about right its still too fast!’  The lapped out and back course gave a chance to see the other racers, first the pro’s then the fast age groupers where I was pleased to see Matt, he must have passed me in transition and was going well.  I saw Pete and a while later Paul, I timed the gap to the turn round, I was about fifteen minutes and eight minutes down respectively.  I was pleased to see they were going so well but resisted the temptation to try to close the gap.  Every 30 mins I drank half a bottle of water, on the hour a gel or energy bar.  I carefully made my drinks with bottled water but could only carry two, I would have to collect more from the aid stations which would impact my race later.  At the second turn I saw Matt was storming on through the field, we were all riding carefully to avoid drafting as many penalties were being given out, even so there were many small packs forming.  Pete and Paul had pulled further ahead at 20mins and 10mins and I began to doubt my strategy.  I don’t use a hrm, gps, power or even a computer to race, but felt my pace was on target.  My watch showed the first 56miles passed in three hours, I had not trained to go this fast but it felt easy and I kept going thinking about the marathon ahead.  At the third turn the gap between Pete, Paul and me had stabilised which gave me a confidence boost, particularly as the wind had picked up.  I was starting to pass racers who had gone out too fast in the early stages, there is little more satisfying than cruising up to and past a Cervelo P3 complete with disc and aero helmet, its not about the bike it’s the engine.  The final ride out to the turn was harder due to the wind, having to drop down a gear but at the turn I pushed for home.  Within a few miles I was with Paul almost a repeat of our ride at Nice in 2009 and we entered T2 together.  In transition I realised I had matched my pace of the first half with a six hour bike split, about an hour up on target but I felt good and ready to run.  I racked the bike and collected my run bag when it all started to go a little wrong.


As I changed I felt my gut begin to cramp and an extended visit to the portaloo was required before I could get into my run.  I had not felt bad on the bike, my performance was good, I was hydrated and well fed and had never suffered like this on a long race before.  I lost about ten minutes before I could begin my run.  I soon realised how hot it was, I had applied plenty of sun cream, a desert hat and was drinking bottled water as I ran.  My heart rate was elevated and I knew another visit to the portaloo was required as my gut was still cramping.  I continued to hydrate and kept my pace down to an easy run to lower my heart rate.  With the first 10k requiring four long portaloo stops I started to worry about dehydration as diarrhoea accelerates dehydration but fortunately I was not being sick so could still ingest fluids.  As the second lap progressed my gut stabilised and I could begin to run properly.  The run was the usual out and back ‘Ironman’ run, I saw Matt, Paul and Pete each lap.  I passed Paul first who shouted encouragement but looked to be heading for a good finish.  On lap three I came up behind Pete and ran with him for a while, then pushed on.  I also saw Matt who after a bit of a bad patch on the run was now flying towards the finish line while I still had a lap to do.  As I started the last 10km I felt good, it was getting dark and I was still running a steady pace, passing dozens of athletes who had reduced to walking.  It was clear a good personal best was there to be had if I could continue my pace.  On the last lap Paul, Pete and I were running well with Matt already celebrating his second and fastest Ironman finish.  The knowledge we could all post personal bests gave a boost to the last miles producing strong finishes.  I had run the whole run course apart from the enforced loo stops and entering the finish shoot I ran with my wife and coach Teresa across the finish line recording 12hrs 28m a whole hour and 15m personal best.  Pete was next home in 12hr 37m beating his personal best set in South Africa earlier this year and Paul at 13hrs 12min more than an hour faster than his previous best.


The organisers offered great support for athletes post race, food, drink, massage and medical if required.  Paul took advantage of a drip to help hydrate.  The team performance was so good we were able to celebrate with a late meal and a beer at a bar near the hotel while athletes continued to finish until midnight.  A fantastic performance from all the Born2tri team and an excellent race to be part of.


My years training had brought me to this point, all built on a strong aerobic base.  I was able to maintain my pace through twelve and a half hours, executed the race plan and achieved a massive reduction in my personal best.  The gut issues are still not explained and cost me some time, others seemed to have suffered in the same way and there may have been a problem with water at a bike aid station, its not advised to drink the tap water in Spain.


I would certainly recommend this race to those wanting ‘long distance’ events, it’s well organised, a nice scenic traffic free course and plenty of reasonably priced accommodation near the start.  The flights can be picked up cheaply so I suspect the overall cost is not much more than a UK based event.  Oh and of course you are not going to spend all day in the wind and rain………………


I must finish with a huge thank you to my coach Teresa for her guidance and support.  Its vital to ensure your friends and family know what you are taking on as they will have to put up with your extended absence, grumpy moods, fatigue and obsessive behaviour, not to mention the long day at the race course cheering you on to the finish.