By Dan Anderton
With Kona cancelled and annual leave already booked I decided to head to Mallorca for a couple of weeks of sun and cycling. As some of you know, I crashed my bike in August leaving me with no bike and having to call off-season a little earlier than I planned. I had a few weeks with zero running and very light cycling, but with my new bike which arrived the Friday before flying out to Mallorca I was looking forward to hitting the mountains.
I must admit, all along IM Mallorca had kinda been on my radar but that idea had taken a back seat post crash however after running the Virtual London Marathon with Neil, and having a lovely new bike I had an itch that needed scratching.
So fast forward to the perfect taper 700km of cycling, 7100m of climbing and 25 hours on the bike I headed into race week praying my legs would come back to life.
Our hotel was about 2km from the race start, we woke up and ate our standard pre race breakfast of rice and honey, (Thanks to our friends that cooked that for us). As we walked up to the start the biggest electrical storm I’ve seen was going on out at sea – i turned to Rebecca and said – No way we’re swimming today!
Fast forward to thunderstruck on the beach the excitement built, 3…2..1.. The hooter goes and we go into the water. 2 Loops. The first loop I felt I was swimming well, no trouble. During the Aussie exit i spot Rebecca just ahead…Damn she’s overtaken me.
The second loop was a little congested with the 70.3 athletes in the water too, but i made it round in a 1:02 – considering the amount of running between loops and T1, the lack of swimming whilst in Mallorca – I was pretty pleased with that! Maybe not swimming is actually better for me? What do you think Nathan?
The bike course is probably one of my favourites. The course was split into 2 sections, the first 56 miles included a 8km climb to the top of Lluc, followed by a mountain decent – Even after riding this 5 times Rebecca still beat me down 😳.
After the mountain climbs the course opened up in to some flat fast sections and Holy Shiv, the new bike is fast! 6 miles at 29mph I was loving life!
4 days before the race the bike course changed, we never found out why but I expect it was due to the narrow technical sections. The second half of the ride was now two smaller loops with out and backs, this was great for gauging where you were in the race and for looking out for Rebecca. Unfortunately this meant I could see the nice big pack of riders where I knew I needed to be for a shot at the podium. However soon after turning I saw Rebecca, the kick up the backside i needed!
Having recce’d the course I was surprised best bike split thought I should do a 4:55 bike split, some 45 minutes faster than I done when I rode the course the week before, so I was pretty pleased to come into T2 with a 4:59!
This was the first Ironman where I come off the bike a bit apprehensive. Normally my strength but I was shocked that so far body was holding up and the crazy week of cycling hadn’t hit me yet. A couple of friends on the course gave me some splits early doors and I as I expected I was further down than I expected. I thought to myself, what do you have to lose right now? Podium and Kona is too far away if you just sit and hope so lets go for it and hope for some explosions ahead of me! I went through 16 miles holding 6:30 minute mile pace actually feeling quite strong. At this point, the lack of aid stations (something rare for an IM), heat of the day and being told i still have 9 minutes off 4th (the KQ slot) my head went a little. I had a few miles where the world seemed to stand still, but kilometre by kilometre the race was nearly up. With 5km to go I found a little bit and managed to get moving again, taking a couple more positions in my age group whilst soaking up a long hard season. Run finish 2:56 – 4th fastest if the day.
🌸 🏝 ✅
I went into this race with a completely different mindset to normal, I knew I was fit but I hadn’t aimed to peak for this race (in fact it was almost the opposite) however I actually put together one of my best races. I swam just as i expected, biked to the correct powers and ran a sub 3 marathon. I was disappointed not to get a podium with that performance, any other year that would have been a KQ but the level of this sport is just getting better and better and thats actually really motivating!
Charlotte once told me, you can’t choose Kona, Kona chooses you! And I’ve believed this with every race I’ve done since. On this occasion Kona has chosen me! I can’t wait to go back to the Big Island in October 2022! 🌸