Ironman 70.3 Phuket

Phuket 70.3 -> only in its 2nd edition, and already a World-class race…
Check out the start-list: Lieto, M Raelert, Al-Sultan, Reed, Matthews, Cunningham, Cigana, Ambrose, Dellow (and only Cam Brown was missing)…really looked like a World Champs start-list. Most of these guys are on holidays already…but don’t worry, they’ll be fast anyway on Sunday!
And they were…ouch!
(Same on the Women side with M Robinson, Badmann, Radka, Wu, Granger, Steven…you name it!)
Arrived on Thu night. Damaged the disc wheel on the flight…grrr
Felt more on holidays than racing, which is always good to be so relaxed. Did not do anything on Friday. Checked whether the disc would hold on Saturday morning…seemed ok. No run, no swim, did not feel like it…enjoyed doing absolutely nothing apart playing with my little girl in the pool and watching TV, emails…
Rain rain rain all night long…just realized rain could go inside the disc wheel through the hole that i did not cover yet -> checked on morning, it was ok ;-)
rain rain rain -> checked the transition bags -> my shoes were still dry, all good to go.
No warm-up, same, did not really feel like it…always jellyfish, and it’s dark anyway…
Went to check the beach run… always fun but tricky, easy to twist an ankle/knee…better be cautious.
With top swimmers, no point going at front anyway…

Here we go, 1min head start over the rest of the field. I am somwehere at the back…in black ;-)
big pro field to be honest….1500pts race / 75,000 USD race, you can tell!
Felt ok, more or less drafting until the 1st buoy, probably with slow women…then fast age-groupers started passing me already
Forgot to mention, 30 kona slots brought many strong (slot hunters) AGers (from Europe, Australia…)
<< I know I know, Kona slots at 70.3 races…does not seem right to me. But hey, not many IM in Asia…so I can understand, although I dont approve…
I still believe the qualifying race is much more important than the Kona race itself…especially the 1st time. Oh well…I dont have this dilemma racing pro ;-) and good for all the Kona qualified, it was quite competitive out there…>>
Lost feet, swam on my own….got passed again…..i thought i was ok but i was really slow….not good not good.
Reached T1 in 29′    (which is 5min slower than the lead group….ouch!)
I was quite confused as my friend AJ was in transition with me (which meant 1 min faster than me…although we used to swim similar splits before in training/racing, more or less. I suppose he’s just made some progress living/training full time in Phuket ;-) because i was not that slow…and i even saw Cigana leaving transition when i arrived. Must not be that slow…)
Anyway, quick transition, and off we go on the infamous Phuket 70.3 bike course!
No recognition (did not feel like it, told you!), it will be fun! And it was….probably lost some time breaking too often in some corners but overall i felt ok.
Hard to find a rhythm, clearly not my taste…I caught most of the AG that had passed me on the swim, most of the women pros. Hit the funny dismount/mount bridge!
Finally a few straight lines. I found myself behind Melissa Robinson (70.3 World Champ) when I hit the 22% steep climb at 40k mark. Man that is really steep, and slippery with the wet road! I’m so glad I took the 11-28!

The bike course is really nice. 90k went passed very quick. Always busy with turns, climbs, crazy descents (21%… but yellow flag zones are very well done. I felt very safe all through the race and i’m glad they put these zones!).
Finished the bike in 2h24, ‘only’ 9min behind the fast guys. Not too bad on this course that does not suit me at all. 
Forgot to mention it was pouring rain at around 50k on the course…could not see anything, was trying to remove the fog on the goggles, was trying without goggles…needed to break 300m before to turn safely! Insane, but fun ;-) I enjoyed it. Kept me busy. No time to get bored on this course (many dogs on the course…cracks on the road and 30cm water holes! Also my front brake does not come back to initial position after i brake, so i need to do it manually by touching the cable or it keeps touching the rim…also kept me busy!)

Quick transition, no need gels, no need sunglasses, no need visor…just shoes and GO!
And here we go again…i’m running like s***. Same story, achille tendonitis, almost no running, still can’t run ‘normally’…pain from 1st KM, strange stride….grrr, very frustrating. However since Taiwan, I’ve forced myself to run at least twice a week (say 20km total per week) which is much more than the 2 previous months. Plus I had a surprising good running race 2 weeks ago (not smart move to race…but i had some commitment blablabla and wanted to test my achilles anyway) with good feelings/sensations and a comfortable stride! Probably too tired after the bike to hold form then…probably lack of run training too.
Anyway i’m glad some age groupers are running quite fast, so i try to stay with some (see photo!). Holding until 12km mark (around 3’50 pace), then it’s complete explosion…(4’15…4’30)
Even from the beginning, Melissa passed me at a blistering pace but more importantly with superb form, awesome stride. While i was limping like a grand-pa without its stick!…grrrr
Then I realized that I never saw the leaders the entire race…at least they did not pass me (i hope so). Few places on the run where you can see others ahead/behind you. My friend Fredrik is pushing hard on the run. Faris behind (not the same Faris I raced in Frankfort this year where he demolished everyone! but still far ahead of me on a very bad day for him…champion!). Romain (Guillaume) not looking good (he crashed on the bike and dropped out on the run…shame, he’s really fast and talented. I look forward to seeing him again soon in 2012! Watch out for him too!). Basically I dont any chance to catch up anyone with my slow run….especially now that i’ve blown up…the best i can do is to avoid to walk until the finish line.
I saw AJ looking good on the run. Damn… I hope I won’t have to push myself to hold him off…And he got a puncture too, bad luck for him, but without that i’d be in serious trouble ;-) Ok i still have a few minutes lead, i should be able to keep him off if i run the last 4-5km just below 5min pace. OK that will keep me busy until the finish ;-) you gotta find some objective, right!
The run course is nice, with trails, hard surfaces, twisty roads, straight lanes…i’m still amazed how M Raelert did 1h11 on this course as it’s clearly not a fast run course! Amazing!
29′ swim (23rd)
2h24 bike (17th)
1h26 run (17th)
4h22 (17th pro /chicked by Melissa ‘only’ ;-) / passed by a few AGers too ;-( but they were fast so let’s say it was a fun holiday race anyway!

 30min behind Winner Raelert 
20min behind 2nd
12min behind 10th 
nothing exceptional, nothing too bad either
with a decent run i’d be 14th or 15th, still far behind
these guys are really fast…prize money goes 8 deep, nothing for me…expensive trip overall
50 ranking points for finishing 17th (ie nothing…i think you need approx 1000pts to qualify to Vegas…)
race too competitive for me, i’d rather stick to smaller races in 2012…but it’s always great to start next to World Champs caliber (as i did in Port Elizabeth or Frankfort this year)
oh well…we’ll see in 2012!
Well done to Melissa Robinson and Micheal Raelert. Awesome champions!
Now time to enjoy Phuket…

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