Richard’s Race Report – Warsaw Ironman 70.3 – 5th September 2021

The aim was for a no drama race for both of us… well the race was, not sure about the rest!

With cancellation after cancellation of races this past year, Soph and I jumped at the opportunity to race at Warsaw 70.3. When we saw Poland was on the amber list to travel. With only 3 weeks preparation time, we knew we wouldn’t be at our best but we were still very excited to race our first Ironman race since 2019.

Race week fast approach after a few weeks of hard training. The aim was to have a drama free race but the lead up certainly was not. The day before race day started with me fainting as I got up (must have stood up too quick)… not a great start, but no permanent damage. At Ironman races, the day before the race is used to take the majority of your equipment to the transition zones, ready for race day. At most races, this is fairly straight forward but at Warsaw 70.3 we had a split transition situation with 40km between each, which meant we were in for a long day. First job was to drop our running stuff off at transition 2 before taking our bike stuff to transition 1 (over 40km away)… drama again. While I was putting my running stuff in place my bike was blown over my the wind and my rear derailleur hanger bent, meaning my gears would not go into gear correctly… panic… no need to panic too much. Being the overly organised person I am, I had the spare part and tools at the apartment. But this did mean I had to run back to get them, not ideal when I was meant to be resting. 30 minutes later, problem solved, although now slightly sweaty and not relaxed. In this time we missed the bus to take our bike to transition 1. So it was an hour wait until the next one. When the bus finally arrived, I was shocked to find out it was just a regular bus… I was imagining something secure to rack our bikes. No, it was jump in, hold your bikes in the aisle and hope they don’t knock into the other bikes on the 40 minute journey. Anyway, after a stressful bus ride where I asked Soph to stop her pedal banging my disc wheel at least 20 times, we had arrived. Dropped our stuff off and decided a Uber back would be better than the bus. Next was to book our Uber to get to the race start at 6am the next morning… this wasn’t as simple as it sounds. It took maybe 2 hours for the app to allow us to do this. The rest of the day was stretching, sorting nutrition and sleeping before race day!

Race day arrived, we had our usual porridge and had everything pre packed to leave straight away. This was the point that Soph told me our Uber didn’t say what type of car it was and had no reviews… hmmm I wonder why. The “car” arrived… didn’t recognise the brand and could hear the engine and the music from around the corner. Turns out we had a boy racer as our Uber driver. As soon as we hit the main road the music was full blast and we were hitting some serious speed. Relaxing car journey was not on the cards but we were making good time. Long story short, we made it to the race start with our lives in tact and a bad review ready to go post race. We quickly arrived in transition and got into our pre race routines, check our bike, check it again, double check everything, complain about the queue for the toilet, end up weeing in our wetsuit (everyone does it). Then the race start fast approached. It was time. First Ironman 70.3 since 2019. Let’s go!

We managed to get ourselves to the front of the queue for the swim. 8 athletes were set off every 10 seconds. With the first 50m being so shallow it was a run to the first bouy, the lactic in the legs were already there, so soon change to a dive and jump technique. And we were off into actual swimming. The plan was to try and find someone’s feet to swim behind and get a good draft. This did not happen. Still struggling to translate my swim speed in the pool into open water swimming, I found my competitors swimming away from me. Something to work on. So I settled into my own rhythm and swam the whole thing solo. Came out the swim in 33:17, which is very sub par for me. 30 mins or better at a minimum is what would be expected but onto the bike.

I was looking forward to the bike, with it being a flat course, this suited me! The aim was to find a small group to work with (legally within the 12m draft rule), but found myself riding solo for the first 40km. There were a few out and back sections, so I could see where my competition was. There were two groups ahead with the lead group about 5 minutes ahead at this point. This was when a group of 5 caught me up, which I thought great, we can work together to make some time up. I settled in for 5 minutes to get some nutrition in and went to the front. At about 60km we caught the second group of about 15 riders. I knew at this point this was the group I would be with until the end of the ride. The final 30km was very frustrating because of the 20 riders, only a few would work and the rest just wanted to sit in and be towed back to transition. My average speed actually dropped! But unfortunately that’s pack dynamics for you on flat bike courses. The good thing was that there was plenty of motorbike referees on course that managed to keep the majority of people riding within the legal distance! Final bike time 2:16:17 with a normalised power of 230ish watts and average speed 39.7kph. Disappointing as could have been much closer to a 2:10:00 bike split if I had managed to push the power I know I’m capable. 

The run was my kind of course. 4 laps on an out and bike format, fairly flat. The aim was to run hard from the off and see if I could come close to my half marathon PB. I knew after the first couple of laps, this wasn’t going to be my day on the run. I was giving it my all, my cadence was fast but I just couldn’t get my heart rate up as much as I willed it on. My run time was a 1:30:26 in the end, although the course was closer to 22km in length rather than 21km. Still though, around 10 minutes slower than expect. 

Even though I have moaned about my times for the whole of this race report, I actually really enjoyed the day. It was great to be back racing on closed roads with crowd support along the way! The atmosphere was amazing and Warsaw did a great job as a host city. If you know any triathlete, they never come out with the time they want and always want more… I am no different. Final time 4:25:28, which is actually a PB for me other than my virtual race. 9th in category, 32nd overall. 2 more races to come this season and very motivated to see how I can perform!