Ironman Texas – Corinne Abraham

Ironman Texas – Corinne Abraham

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Part 1 of what is looking like a good part works, worthy of serialisation by the Sunday Times ūüôā from Corinne on her adventures in Texas, which culminated in a 4th place and PB at Ironman Texas:

Taken from Corinne’s Blog at www.corinneabraham.com, why not visit her site for more.

“Well incase you haven’t already read it on my twitter or facebook page, communications media from tri247 and beyondgoinglong websites, the Sigma Sport, Drummond Clinic, St. Mary’s University, Sailfish or Physfarm (see what I did there?); I’ve placed 4th¬†female at Ironman Texas. Which I might add, I am chuffed to bits with.

I’ve written a more lengthy review of my last eight weeks and I’ll ‘chapter’ that out over the next week or so – but first to say a massive thank you to Jennifer and Jason who hosted me in Austin for six weeks, as well as Stuart and Debbie who I stayed with in the Woodlands. Both have played a massive part in helping me get to the start line in race shape and undoubtedly their support, kindness and generosity were a platform for my performance.

The blog will follow the format of a brief overview and facts if you only have time for a short read; followed by some reflections if you have time for a coffee!

Overview:
* Race: Ironman, 1st full distance race of 2012
* Location: Woodlands, Texas
* Conditions: ~11mph tail / head wind for most of the course, Temp. building to ~33C, Humid. 93 – windier and hotter than when I raced here 2011

Course:
* Swim: 3.8km; non-wetsuit, lake, visibility about as far as your elbow
* Bike:180km; rolling 1 loop course
* Run: 42km; 3 loops and pretty flat

Results / Times:
* 4th Pro Female
* Total time: 9.18.39 (pb)
* Swim 3.8km: 01.04.04 (non-wetsuit pb)
* Bike 180km: 05.08.21 (pb)
* Run 42km: 03.01.50 (pb)

Reflections:
* Good fueling, hydration and cooling strategies throughout the day – never once was I uncomfortable in relation to these
* Continue focus on swim training and performance; Replace last year’s swim-skin
* Strength and conditioning work and flexibility exercises continuing to benefit my training and performance
* Taking confidence from my training – it’s working!

Before I get into my thoughts from the day, I really want to say a massive thank you for the support that everyone has shown me. From boyfriend, friends and family, homestay hosts, training buddies, coaches David Tilbury-Davis and Tim Armstrong, and not least, sponsors and partners. Not just this season but through last year as well. I know that my performance last weekend has been an accumulation of experience and training and I would not be the same athlete on the start line on Saturday without the longer term help and support of those around me. I see this very much as a shared success and hope everyone is celebrating a good weekend of racing!

Pre-Race:
I arrived in T1 to check my bike at 4.35am to find a flat on my front wheel. Not a drama since I had with me a set of levers, spare tube, tyre, and nearly two hours to sort the issue out. Pre-race nerves meant that there was some fumbling involved but essentially I got the job done!

Swim:
A new non-wetsuit personal best so happy with that. Being constructive, it is easy to see that there are more improvements that can be made here to bring me into line with the rest of the field. Might have helped (a little) if the zip to my swim skin had stayed done up…

Bike:
I had an early flat before the race start in transition so a new tube set me up well for the ride – no mechanicals, no flats, just steady riding and conscientious fueling. Heading out through T1 towards my bike I could see that I was fairly well down the field (not many other pro bikes left on the racks) and so I concentrated on settling into my riding rhythm and assessing how the body felt. After the first hour or so, I’d determined that I was feeling like a different athlete to the one that was racing the same bike in Galveston (thank goodness) and that my body was rockin’ (a good thing!) Mindful that I still had a long day ahead of me, I tried to keep my composure, keeping my cadence up and picking up a few extra Watts. I knew that there were 15 girls registered to start the race and so thought that I was probably in about 12th¬†position. I’d passed a couple of girls in the first 2 hrs but had hoped to pass a few more as the ride went on and had a few disappointed thoughts creeping in. These I banished and replaced with ones along the lines of “I’m reeling them in, I just can’t see them yet – there is still more bike and a marathon to go yet and some of them will have gone out too fast and will suffer on the run, where I’ll catch them

Run:
I razzed it through T2, helped by a sighting of another female pro just in front of me. But more so, I was looking forward to my favorite discipline and seeing what I could produce in the marathon. I was under fairly strong advice from my coaches to run at pace for the first 30km and then if I still had it in my legs, to run strong and hard for the last 10k. Of course it is still up to the individual whether they heed that advice and only they can tell how they are feeling out there on the course. This was my 5th¬†Ironman start, and with two previous DNF’s on the run course due to back issues, my experience in these things is fairly limited. Having said that, I knew that my legs felt good and found myself pushing the numbers, a couple of seconds on this km, a couple of seconds on that km, using the easier straight sections of course to run tall and fluid, and allowing myself no slacking on the twisty sections. A number of times I checked myself and had thoughts along the lines of “well if you are going to disregard their (my coaches) advice or deviate from the plan, then I’d better blimin’ deliver in the last 10km!

On the second lap, I moved into 4th¬†place and now I had a bike escort rider who was brilliant, getting the spectators cheering as I came towards them and weaving a path through the other runners. I still felt like I had good legs and continued to be religious with my fueling and at every water station tried to pour water over my head, ice down my top or soak myself with sponges to keep my temperature down as it was +32 degrees by now.¬† With 6 miles to go I was thinking “this is it – you now have to deliver on the last 10k!” and continued to push the pace just a couple of seconds per km. Not knowing how the girl in 3rd¬†place was faring (but mindful that she could be having a shocker – always remembering that the finish line is the finish) I was not only pushing for my own time but thinking that I might still be able to make up another place. Unfortunately this was not to be as she was too far ahead. I finished the marathon in 3.01.50, running strong and I’d absolutely SMASHED my expectations and race goal.

What a day! WHAT a day!

So the training and racing is starting to come together, it is early days yet and there are plenty of improvements to be made. I’m happy with the race as it stands but I’m confident that there is far more to follow. No resting on my laurels yet that’s for sure.”

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