Patrick Carroll - Race Report - Ironman Barcelona - One too many..
November 21, 2014
Just after IM Sweden and due to having not achieved a sub 10 hour finish, I had decided to sign up for IM Barcelona.
In the week after Sweden i discussed how the next 7 weeks would follow with my coach. When i asked Alvin if he thought a sub 10 hour finish would be possible at Barcelona, he said "too right", as long as you recover well from Sweden.
As usual in the first week after a race i did no training, chilled out, enjoyed good food and time with my friends and family. Towards the end of the week i started to get a niggle in my left knee. I took no notice as i was not training so it didn't really effect what I was doing.
Coming into the second week I went out on the Tuesday to start my first run. This week being a light week i had an hour run on the plan. When i started running the pain in my knee was excruciating, however i continued. On finishing, i stretched off and the pain in my knee become worse, something alien to me as in the 5 years i have been doing IM i have never picked up a knee injury. I got up the next morning to do my turbo session, started to cycle and the pain was even worse than when running. I could not cycle with this pain so had to end the session. The pain continued throughout the day and even effected me when swimming that evening. After discussion with Alvin i decided to take another week off as we believed it may have been a niggle from my fall at IM Sweden.
The third week came and time to run again on the Tuesday, however i knew that my knee had not got any better. This week was suppose to be the week that my speed work commenced, but i could not run at any speed so i just done an L1, 60 minute session. Again i had to skip the cycling as the pain remained. I continued with the running sessions this week and forced myself out on the bike for a 4 hour session on the weekend, it was not enjoyable at all but i felt that it needed to be done with Barcelona just 4 weeks away.
Week four and i headed to a sports therapist to see if he could help, when i explained the location and characteristics of the pain he told me something that was music to my ears. It didn't sound liked a knee injury, it may actually just be a quad problem. I thought, HAPPY DAYS! Until he commenced in separating my quad muscles, OUCH! 2 days later and the knee issue had started to subside, i was so happy, this was just a quad issue and my sports therapist had saved the day. However i had missed allot of important training.
Now that the knee issue had nearly entirely disappeared, i could start to get some good sessions in again so spent week five and six chipping away at getting my ability back. Towards the end of week 6 i picked up a cold, something i didn't need but i hydrated and slept well to shake it by the beginning of week seven.
Race week! Usually this is the week when I should be feeling on top form, however as much as i tried to ignore it, my mind kept bringing doubts forward that i hadn't done enough to achieve my sub 10. With the support of Race Force taking my Bike out to Barcalona this week really helped, as usual, not having to worry about the bike at all is an unexplainable, massive load off your mind, knowing that your bike will be ready to ride when you arrive.
I travelled out to Barcelona on the Friday evening, welcomed by Kate at the Team Race Force hotel, again a huge worry off my mind (i didnt even have to check in, Kate had my key ready!). I registered as usual on the Saturday and started to get into race mode. After an on course training ride, i was psyched! The roads were perfect for cycling, the terrain was flat and fast. I was now getting excited and was feeling like myself again.
I went to bed early on the Saturday night ready for the morning. However i was woken by something i didn't need, Thunder, lighting and torrential rain....
I walked down to check transition and the roads were literally running with water, like a river had replaced the road.
After hiding in the hotel until the last minute i walked down to the swim start... in the rain.... my usual race routine messed up. The swim start had been postponed due to the lightning. A thought popped into my mind that i did not like "I would be happy if the race was cancelled".
It was not cancelled and i was called to the pen to start, race mode back on. The swim went well, i felt good and came out in 1:01.
The bike section was fast, however after around 30k i started to find that my legs were heavy and were lacking power. NOO!! I pushed on through, taking in my nutrition and hydration as usual. Towards 110k i got a second wind and started to feel right again and starting enjoying the fantastic course that IM Barcelona has laid out for us. The other Mersey Tri guys had passed me by this point.
Coming into the final 10k i got my mojo back i was thriving to get onto that run course and smash it!
I started into the run and was striding well. My heart rate was on point and i was picking athletes off that had passed me on the bike, I was loving it. Usually on the run of an IM, i power through well to around 24-26k. However as i approached 10k a thought came into my mind that i wanted to stop... not happening! I carried on to around 15k and i stopped. I have no clue why, my muscles were fine, i had no cramp and my nutrition was perfect. I walked for a little while, had an internal word with myself and carried on running.
The course was 4 laps, I was coming to the end of the second lap and was stop, starting. At around 20k my body was no longer the factor in me finishing this race, my mind completely took over... doubts were flying around my head and i just could not shake them, i started thinking i couldn't do it, i have done too much, why have i wasted my time, my families and friends time... then the closing thought popped into my head, " i do not want to finish" a thought that i have never had before. A thought i didn't like. I knew that from that point, 22k, my race was over. I got to were my parents were cheering me on, along with Race Force and said i am not continuing. I was embraced by everybody, i was devastated!
IM Barcelona taught me the true ability of the mind, I was physically fit going into Barca. However my mind was not in it. This race taught me to respect my body, i am not superhuman and 3 Ironmans in 90 days was way too much.
I like to live by the Ironman moto "anything is possible", anything is possible but you need to respect what your mind and body tell you. Both were telling me constantly in the 7 weeks after Sweden to slow down, however i didnt listen.
A few weeks of complete relaxation are now on the cards.
This has not in any way diminished my love for Ironman but 2015's main focus is going to be 70.3. I have never focused solely on 70.3 and I am excited to find out my capabilities, I also want to qualify for the 70.3 world championships.
I will return to IM in 2016, with bigger goals and hopefully 70.3 will make me an ever stronger athlete.