Scott Neyedli on Ironman Arizona

Scott Neyedli was 11th at Ironman Arizona on 20 November, and here he talks you through his race...

GB’s Scott Neyedli came 11th in Ironman Arizona on November 20. The former Ironman UK champion and fifth year pro finished in 8:29:03, and told 220 about his race…
How did you feel race morning?
I felt good, relaxed & excited to race. I had placed 9th at the ITU Long Distance World Championships two weeks earlier. I felt well recovered from the race, with more emphasis on physio and recovery. My training miles were banked before the race in Henderson so I knew the fitness was there; my only concern was that I was racing two big races close together.
What was your nutrition plan?
Pretty simple really – about 30mins before the race start I have one non-caffeinated power gel. Onto the bike I carry my own sports nutrition and consume two powerbar non-caffeinated gels per hour with water from the aid stations. I have one energy sports drink at the beginning of the bike and a second if I think I need it at the special needs station. If I think I need any electrolytes I’ll drop a couple of tablets into my bidon – this depends on the heat or conditions of the day.
On the marathon I take one to two gels an hour with coke and water at most aid stations. I tend to go on feel in this part of the race, as my gut tends to be more sensitive. 
How did the swim go?
The start line felt crowded (106 pros!) and I made sure that I placed myself on the right hand side to stay out of trouble from the go. I got clubbed a couple of times but I got a clean start all the same. In the first 500m, the front pack didn’t really take a normal formation and I found myself on the right with five or so lead swimmers side by side. I moved and positioned myself in behind the feet of the front line and all seemed great until a few hundred meters before the halfway turn buoy when the pack changed direction quite erratically and the pace hiked to what felt like 1:10 pace. I tried hanging on but the burn in my biceps got the better of me and I lost the main group, finding myself isolated, which left me on a long lonely return leg. I span round a couple of times to see where the next pack was but it was too risky to sit up and wait. The swim felt terrible. It’s not often I don’t go sub 50mins, but it was a grind to go under 52mins.
And the bike?
The bike course was three laps. For most it was flat with undulations upwards heading toward the turnaround point. First Sebastien Kienle passed early in the first lap and then Michael Weiss. I found myself riding with Viktor Zyemtsev and Torsten Abel until Viktor punctured on the shoulder heading back into town. Checking my Garmin at the end of the first lap the clock read 1hr28 so I was on a sub 4hr30 bike time. I guessed the guys up front must be riding around 4hr20-25 pace, and checking the speedo I was sure that some would burn their matches at some point, whether it be on the bike or run.
On the third lap, as I’d predicted, some of the racers ahead began to dwindle from the early high wattage pushed. I went through bad patches, digging in not to get dropped before the last turn around thinking that a tailwind home should freshen me up before the run. Not so. The wind had changed and instead of holding 56kph home, it was a struggle to hold 40kph.
How was the run?
I got into a rhythm quickly and my first few miles felt good. I was confident of a sub-3hr marathon that would see me back in the top 10, but not much longer into the run I just felt horrible. At the end of the first lap I ditched the fuel belt which has been my saviour in the past, but I felt much freer around my hips and got a second wind so I concentrated on feeling light and got my cadence up again.
I got through lap two smiling more and I began to pass athletes again. My spirits lifted seeing my mum, Lisa, Tabitha and other newly made friends this past week cheering me on.
How did you feel after the finish?
I was so happy and relieved. I really didn’t think I was going to make the finish after 10 miles and when I hit 25 miles I knew I was going to get there. It wasn’t the result I’d hoped for, just missing the top 10 for the first time, but it was still a victory when you’ve been battling those mental demons all day. Whether your first or last when you hit the finishing chute it’s one of the best feelings in the World.
Scott’s Top Tips for Ironman
1 Trial your race kit in training and prepare to pack race kit in your transition bags for both hot and cold race day conditions. You never know what the weather will do.
2 Write a nutrition and fluids plan for hot and cold race day conditions. Nutrition is quite a personal thing and experimenting with different sports manufacturers or foods is best done on long training days. Trial and error is the one way you’ll fine tune and find what agrees with your body.
3 During training, try to mimic the race profile and conditions. Training routes should replicate course profiles as best as possible in the bike and run.
4 Familiarise yourself with the race course before the race, either by completing some training rides or runs prior to the event, or use parts of the course in your training on race week.

5 Be nice to the volunteers and aid station workers – it’s a long day for them too