My 10th place at the world championship IRONMAN is the result of a very hard fought day. I had my peak form at the right time of the season. I knew, I was feeling strong and ready! In the end, it was my perseverance and mental toughness that got me to the top 10 out of a lost position.
The swim was very fast this year, the pace never dropped and after a good first transition I could start the bike section in 15th position. Coming out of transition the field was stretched out but after 10 km on the bike the leading group was about 30 athletes.
15 km into the bike I had to endure a heavy setback, a blue card, which means 5 minutes penalty to serve at a penalty box at km mark 55. Receiving a drafting penalty (first time in my pro career) while sitting up right and pulling my brakes felt so unfair and frustrating to me. I was simply dealing with the fact that the group was slowing down in front of me. I was not looking for an unfair advantage! 30 man within 38sec at that point going from a 60km/h to 20km/h speed hitting the next little hill, you'll understand what I mean.
For the next 40km my thoughts were not with the race. Only when I was approaching the penalty box I decided to move to the very front of the leading pack. I knew hat would save me some extra time. At that moment I adjusted my game plan and set a new goal. After 5 long minutes of waiting the only option I had, was riding my own pace. From 1st to 45th position when I came out of 'prison' ... I was able to catch up group after group, athlete after athlete, and entered the 2nd transition in 16th position, almost 8min behind the leaders. So my solo ride over the last 125km, averaging 302 Watts, was really good and I still felt really strong.
I was able to extend the strong feeling while riding, into my marathon and after 30km I found myself into 8th place. However, over the last half hour I payed for my enthusiastic way of making my way through the field and eventually I ended up 10th.
Mixed feelings of frustration and pride dominate right now.
Time to let things sink in now and make new plans for the future. I'll keep you posted!
See you soon,
Frederik Van Lierde