Ironman Vitoria - a beautiful yet brutal race. A race of many reasons. 
When I signed up it was to try to break my PB set in Roth 11 years previous (would have been 10 but Covid had other ideas). It was also an opportunity to help my good friend Dave complete his first Ironman Race. There was also a good chance it would be my final Ironman Race for a period of time. 

Ironman racing/completion/participation takes a lot of time and effort and truth is I just don't have the capacity to do the sport and my desires justice. That's just how it is. 

I was excited to race - training had been ok. I was running as well as I have for quite some time - if not better. I had managed a few good races building up and got some good rides in. Dave had managed to get to the start line in 1 piece and despite not running for about 1 month I knew he was in good shape. Mentally we were in a good place. I was there to reassure him (mainly about his saddle height) and we had a good couple of days relaxing and having a laugh in the sun and the beautiful town of Vitoria-Gasteiz in the Basque country. 

We checked out the swim - stunning but chilly. We rode the last half hour of the bike loops - smooth and quick. The air temperature was heating up by now. The race was starting 90 minutes later than usual Ironman Races which would lead to it being a bit hotter as well.

The morning was the usual calm/chaos melange. The organisation was brilliant. Buses put on to get you to the lake, plenty of port-a-loos, friendly marshalls. 

We managed a good warm up and were able to flush the suits before joining the queue to start. We were a few rows back by the time the gun went off for the rolling start - 5 people every 5 seconds. Staring down the lake it was a mile straight before going 90 degrees then going straint for about 800m before going 90 degrees again and heading back to shore for one last mile straight. Simple. Effective. And with buoys every 200m max there was really no excuse for getting lost. People still managed it though! I settled in to a comfortable rhythm and the first lap (389 meters) ticked off quickly. The effort was low and I can only out it down to a vortex of other swimmers pulling me along.

An Ironman is basically a long day spent doing maths. I worked out I was doing roughly (Exactly as it turned out) 90s per 100 m. I got a bit encouraged as I knew this would get me out under the hour. I have never swum much but one of my goals for this race was to get under the hour after the last couple of races coming out the water over the hour. Out of Transition in 2:15 - I doubt that I could have been on the bike any quicker and don't think many people were.

On the bike it was the usual watch everyone go past me for 20 minutes before I settled in and started to ride with a good group. The draft marshalls were everywhere and were penalising people which was encouraging but meant I had to be careful not to stray. I managed to keep my nose clean and the 1st 45 miles flew by in 2 hours 1 minute. Normalised power of 225 watts and average of 211. It was a bit surgey for an Ironman but this was probably due to trying to hold on to the group. Lap 2 was a bit slower and a bit lower on power - 2:07, 211 NP/197 Ave. But the Average HR was exactly the same so I wasn't too worried. The final 22 miles the power dropped but the speed stayed high. I was ready to get off and looking forward to running. I could feel I had been in the aero position for a long time. The bike course is long stretches of straight roads so being comfortable being "head down/bum up" is important