My taper for Ironman Nice started with the completion of Bala Middle Distance Triathlon, however I had goal of beating my previous 70.3 PB of 5:19 which I had got at Bala in 2011, so I wanted to go all out for my last race before Nice.
When I raced Bala in 2011 the weather was horrific, so much so that only around half of the competitors crossed the finish line due to the winter conditions, however this year the weather gods shone on us as the rain held off all day and we only had slight cloud cover, reducing the impact of a very hot sun.
I left my house at 6am feeling strong and ready to race, we reached Bala lake and I entered transition to set up, unfortunately I quickly noticed that I had forgotten to charge my Garmin! I decided to leave the watch for the run so I could at least finish the race knowing my running pace.
With transition all prepped and having sighted my entry/exit points and bike location references, I left the family to head for my warm up in the lake, the water temperate being a brisk 14.1 degrees! I completed my warm up before being called out of the water to head to the starting pen.
My wave of around 200 competitors lined up for the deep water start and at 9:30 the starting horn blew, I quickly established a spot in a leading pack of around 7 athletes however as the water was so cold and choppy I found it hard to get into a good breathing pattern so I swam out of the pack into a patch of water on my own to compose myself without the agitation of other competitors around me, after 5 minutes I was ready to re-enter the pack and swim on strong picking a few people off, the course was out and back, on the way out the water had small waves that disrupted my breathing pattern but I soon got used to it. On the way back these waves pushed us back into the finish.
I exited the water with a time of 32 minutes in 6th position, ran into transition and onto the bike with a T1 time of 1:39. Within 500 meters the bike course showed what it had in store, HILLS! The bike leg consisted of an out and back course around Bala lake, the course was undulating and for the first 20k we had a strong tail wind which then turned into a head wind as we came around to the other side of the lake, I battled on through the head wind with the mindset that I would have this wind behind me on my return, 2 guys past me on the bike putting me in 8th position and at around 40k the lead female cycled past me on an hill climb, climbing not being my strongest point she gained a slight lead on me, however I am strong on decents and flats so I closed the gap, we went back and forth like this until the final 10k, which was pretty much downhill the whole way, so I went all out and established a large lead, entering transition in 8th place with a bike leg time of 2:28.
I entered and exited T2 in just over 1 minute and started on the run, unfortunately my watch battery died completely within 2 minutes so I had to gauge the run on what my body was saying, it was again an out and back course and was majority up hill on the way out, I took the first 5k at a steady pace to allow my legs to acclimatise, in that time 2 guys came past me putting me in 10th position, I was determined not lose this place and stepped it up, it was tough going and I was on my own for 7k, there were no supporters on this part of the course due to it being on the back roads around the lake far from transition, however once I had reached the turnaround point and started to head back I had other competitors spurring me on, I was then able to push hard on the decents and use the momentum to power up the hills that I encountered on the way back and dumped everything I had in the tank in the final 2k, finishing in a time of 4:32, in 10th position and cutting 52 minutes off my previous 70.3 PB.