For the second year in a row, I finished Ironman 70.3 Egypt, which took place on Friday the 18th of November 2022 in Sahl Hasheesh, near Hurghada in Egypt. The weather was nicer this time than last year. It was windy, but not as much as last year where some participants were forced to quit within the first half of the bike leg. The temperature was 1 or 2 degrees lower. The water temperature was 26 degC, which meant no wetsuits were allowed, same as last year. This suits me well as I hate getting into and out of the very tight wetsuit.
As soon as I ran into the Red Sea at the start of the swim leg, I stepped on something that felt like a sting in my left foot and hurt a lot for the first 5 minutes or so. Then I got used to it while still feeling it though. The water was smooth. Somehow, I swam more than 2000 meters, a bit longer than the official 1900m length, although I neither felt off-course nor zigzagging. The only annoyance was swimming behind an actually fast swimmer who was frequently switching to breaststroke or stopping for sighting. I noticed for the first time during the swim that the number of participants was less than last year. It wasn't crowded at all. Still, there are always those in front of you who overestimate their ability and do not place themselves in the right zone of a rolling start according to their expected time. I had to overtake many swimmers. For the first time, I used my Form goggles in a race. I couldn't read the distance on them because they don't synch with the Garmin wristwatch model that I wear, however, I was seeing the time, so I was aware of how much was left. I loved it. A question that I'm still not able to answer is: Goggles underneath or on top of the swim cap. I always choose underneath, but I noticed I'm in the minority.
Transitioning to the bike was relatively smooth and fast. I left my bike shoes clipped in and for the first time I was able to hop on the bike and insert my feet into the shoes a minute or 2 later without any issues. I had made my riding position a bit more aggressive than last year, but not practiced the position on long rides at all. In fact, I didn't do many long rides, certainly nothing longer than 70 km or so for a long while. I paced myself well and the only discomfort was the aggressive position, although it wasn't too bad.
Transitioning was smooth again. I changed out of the trisuit into shorts and a t-shirt as I feel more comfortable in those and the time I lose in changing is worth it. I even did that in my last Olympic distance race, and it was worth it. The only professional triathlete I know of who does this is Lionel Sanders, and he does it in full ironman distance races. Again, I paced myself well. I did the first kilometers slower than last year. Because of that, I didn't have to walk at the end like last year when I completed the last 1.5 km walking. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I ran the last 7k at a faster pace than the first 14k.
I finished in a total time of 6 hours and 5 minutes, 23 minutes faster than last year. I attribute this to 1. less windy bike leg, 2. more aggressive riding position and 3. smart pacing on the bike and run.
Not feeling very well in the evening after the race, I decided not to go to the award ceremony, especially since I came in 5th in my age group. Relaxing on the balcony of the hotel room, I received a phone call from Ra'id who shouted: "Tarek, where are you? They called your name. You qualified for the World Championship in Lahti, Finland!". I asked if he was joking. He wasn't. The thing is, you have to be present at the ceremony and accept on the spot or else they proceed to the next person. That's what happened. It had crossed my mind for a millisecond before the ceremony, but I thought it was extremely unlikely. Moreover, I am not interested anymore in stressful traveling far with a bike and the cost associated with it. I'm more than satisfied with local races.
Talking about local races, the number of participants was less than half of that of last year. I wonder if there will be a third edition next year.
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