Past Sunday I raced Challenge Vichy. It was supposed to be my first ironman distance race this year but organizers decided to change the race into a half because of the heat wave. If you ask me it was right decision and I think no one has a reason to be unhappy as everyone who paid for full distance this year can apply for half the prize next year or have a discount for Henley or Barcelona.
We had non wetsuit swim which made the gaps a bit larger. I had a good start and found myself in a big group. We exited the water a bit more than 4 min after the leaders. But leading four pushed the pace and there were some regular first pack swimmers who got gaped. Among others my group contained Vabrousek. He was few minutes in front of me in Vitoria, so this was a good sign.
First part of bike course had some hills and I tried to get away. I think I had a small gap at one point but I didn’t have the power to stay away and found myself in a group again. One French guy did most of the pacing in the first half. Me and Vabrousek did a few shifts at the front but he would re-pass us quickly. Pace looked good so I had nothing against someone else doing the hard work. I felt like I got a new pair of legs around half way and from that point I was the one at the front. I couldn’t get rid of the group but at least it got smaller.
I started the run shoulder to shoulder with Vabrousek in about 10th place. It looked like we weren’t going too fast and when Scott DeFilippis flew by our pace appeared even slower. We passed few guys and then after 8km Vabrousek shifted into a higher gear and went away. He was breathing much harder than me but my legs didn’t let me go any faster. Rest of the run was uneventful. I just waited for the finish line and couldn’t force myself to give 100%. Turns out it was a costly mistake as 7th place guy was only 15s in front of me.
So 8th place at the end and first good race after getting sick. I’ve only done 1 + 2/3 ironmans but I think longer distance suits me better and my position would probably be a bit higher if we had full distance. On the other hand it would take a while to recover from an ironman in 40C and it would be hard to prepare for another race later in the season. Things are moving in right direction and I hope to have some good races in September.
The race was great. It’s in a beautiful location, has excellent organisation and I see no reason it wont sell out in years to come.
I’d like to thank all my sponsors for their support and special thanks goes to my coach who endured my impatience and got me in the shape again.