Each year since I started triathlon I have seeing huge progress. 2022 was the year in which I wanted to test myself against the age group field.
Training wise the year has been very consistent, completing 384 hours of cycling, 210 of running and 139 of swimming. That is just above 2 hours per day on average! Average per week and sport were: 230km bike, 51km run and 10km swim. This was a little less than I wanted at the start of the year but with travelling, life events, tapering for races... it was good enough!
First race of the year was Ironman 70.3 Marbella. This is my vacation place since I was a kid so it was a very special one. Hot conditions, hard bike course and mistakes on hydration made me suffer quite a lot on the run. Didn't make my goal of Sub 5 hours (by 4 min) and also didn't run a sub 1:30 half Marathon. I learnt how important hydration is and how a simple mistake of not getting an extra bottle from the aid station can make your performance suffer. Finished 22nd on my age group which was not the goal.
Second race was another Half distance, Tri Amsterdam. Local race with very little expectations as I was travelling the days before and had very little training and sleep. The swim and the bike felt really hard with no energy at all but once on the run my legs were good and I immediately started running at sub 1:30 Half Marathon pace, even finished with negative splits. I was 4th on my age group with a time of 4:29.
Next race was the goal of the year, Ironman Maastricht. A very tricky bike course made me a bit nervous before race day, there were sharp and dangerous turns with points of flat tire risk. Once on race day I had so much fun on the bike. Learning from the mistake on 70.3 Marbella I took good care of my nutrition and hydration plan and executed a perfect but conservative race. I finished really happy with my overall feeling during the race, the run was hard but never felt like fading and the pace was mostly consistent during the whole marathon. Finished 8th on my age group with a time of 9:45 hours which was good. Due to the roll-down this was enough to qualify for the Ironman World Championship in Kona but if I go to a world championship I want to be top age grouper and not just close to the top 10.
3 weeks after the Ironman I was ready for another 70.3, this time in Duisburg, Germany. It was the first time racing so close to a long distance and I was not sure how my body was going to respond. On the swim I hit one goal of mine, doing sub 30 min. Once on the bike the power and speed was very good for the first loop but started feeling fatigued on the second one. I was worried about my running legs if I was already suffering on the bike. Started running feeling amazing and again at below 1:30 half marathon pace. I had 2-3 kms of break-down but managed to recover and finish with a 70.3 personal record of 4:22. This time was only good enough for 28th place on my age group. This showed me how far I really am from the top age group people but motivated me to keep working to get there.
Conclusion from this races is that I made huge progress but that I am still very far from the top age groupers. My best swim on half distance was just below 30 min while top people swim close to 25min. My best bike speed was 39km/h and fast people did that course at 43km/h average. The run I managed to stay consistent at around 4:10-4:15 min/km compared to 3:45/km of the fast people. A lot of work to do but motivated to get close to those numbers and fight for the top spots in 2023!