Monday, 28 May 2012

The Beaver Middle Distance Triathlon, Belvoir Castle, England 26th May 2012

1.9k Swim 77k Bike 21k Run – Temperature 25oC

Swim 00:30:18 - T1 01:14 - Bike 02:07:46 - T2 01:07 - Run 01:23:46 Total Time 04:04:11

1st Age Group 45-49, 11th Overall

My race in Mallorca two weeks ago had marked the start of my Ironman specific block of training, using half distance races to sharpen up my speed coupled with big blocks of race specific aerobic training. I quickly recovered from Mallorca and put in a solid 10 day period of hard training running into the Beaver triathlon. I didn’t feel well rested but the post race soreness was gone and I was ready to race hard.

I started my pre race routine early Saturday morning and arrived at the swim start well prepared and everything running like clockwork. I now have an established routine that works well for me. Final preparation then pull the wetsuit up ready for the gun but to my chagrin, the wetsuit ripped at the seam – panic – resignation – into the water and get on with it.
The gun fired and I swam hard to the open water ahead and quickly settled into a stroke that put me in the lead group. Apart from navigating round stragglers from the previous waves and fighting with the silt and duck weed, it was an uneventful solo effort, exiting the water in just under 28mins, fantastic, probably the fastest split I have had at this distance. There is a 500m run up to transition so I took off my wetsuit before running into T1 and grabbing the bike.

I was hard on the heels of the guy leading the age group as we jumped on the bike but he quickly put the power down and disappeared up the road. I knew I had the edge in the run so I focussed on riding hard but consistently. The ride was great in the sunny weather and the wind was even in a helpful direction. I put in a solid effort on the bike and the nutrition plan delivered me to T2 in good shape for the final segment of the race. By this time the temperature was soaring but having raced Mallorca two weeks previously it seemed very manageable.

Through T2 in a flash and out onto the challenging run course. It consisted of four repeats of an out and back route effectively up and down a hill, the wind rather inconveniently this time, blowing down the hill just to make it a little more interesting. I ran the first lap hard to catch the guy leading the age group and was surprised how quickly I passed him; from then on I just wanted to deliver a fast run time to reflect the training I had been doing. The laps ticked off with only a slight wobble at the start of the fourth – this was quickly fixed with half a gel to pep me up for the run home.

It was a wave start so you never really know how you are racing compared to the rest of the field but I was delighted to win the age group and thrilled discover I had come 11th overall.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Ironman 70.3, Mallorca, Spain 12th May 2012

1.9k Swim 90k Bike 21k Run – Temperature 32oC

Swim 00:32:47 - T1 04:40 - Bike 02:38:39 - T2 03:00 - Run 01:26:10 Total Time 04:45:19

4th Age Group 45-49, 71st Overall

I was excited to start my first scheduled race of the season. Having raced the last two weekends and completed a very solid block of training I was due a few easier days ahead of the race, so, time to relax and freshen up for the start line.

Pre-race I bumped into a couple of people I knew that were definitely there for the win and I wasn’t confident that I had the speed at this distance to beat them to the tape. Doubts started to set in and mentally I (too) quickly accepted that a podium was unlikely and started to think about what my goal for the race would be. I settled on a swim PB, push the bike hard and then run a very fast half marathon to reflect the results I had seen in training and racing recently.
We stood on the beach waiting for our wave to start with over 2000 athletes already thrashing through the water ahead of us. There were nearly 300 in our age group so it was going to be a sprint to the water and a bumpy start to the swim. The gun fired and we were off, shoulder to shoulder diving into the surf. I quickly got away from the mêlée and sat about 20m back from the lead group of swimmers, holding my position until the turn. No sooner had I found some feet at the back of the group than I found myself swimming alone on the return leg, somehow my concentration had lapsed and I had missed the train. I exited the water hoping for around 30mins but was disappointed to see 32 something – OK regroup and focus on the bike.

T2 went smoothly and I quickly found myself pounding up the hill at the 20k mark, the power was coming easily and I was passing plenty as I raced to a 60min power PB. The scenery was sensational and I was feeling good, crack on. The descent was a different matter, with hairpin turns coming thick and fast, quickly exposing my weak handling skills compared to the other strong cyclists. The air filled with the sound of brakes grabbing the carbon rims and the smell of the pads starting to burn. Pleased to finally enter the last 30k of the ride my focus started to drift as I started to feel tired and hot so I started to up my fluid intake and take in more calories. It was at this point that two guys in my age group sped past me and for a while I followed them but they seemed to be a little too close to each other. Through a town I lost contact and knew I should have kept on them, I needed to be in the race and I thought it had just rode away from me. On reflection this was a critical point of the race for me, you need to be in it to win it and I wasn’t.

Prior to the race I thought 4:30 would win and it was now clear, as I entered T2, I would need to work hard on the run to come inside 4:45. I resolved to run hard and aim for a fast run split to give me at least that as a takeaway for the race. I settled into a firm pace for the first lap, making sure I kept hydrated as the temperature continued to rise, it being particularly oppressive on the stretch alongside the beach. Lap one ticked off, lap two ticked off in the same sort of time but by this point there must have been nearly the whole field of 2400 athletes crammed onto the 7k loop. Like some demented banshee I screamed at runners to keep right as I came by and pretty much gave up on the aid stations, they were completed clogged up. I nailed the final lap and sprinted down the finishing chute with pretty much no idea as to my race position having not bothered to clock numbers on the run, preferring to focus on running well.

It was a great early season race course in stunning scenery, suited to strong bikers. I didn’t bag the swim PB and but I put in a very solid bike leg and was really chuffed the run was a top 20 performance on the day. I had learnt a great deal for the season ahead and am looking forward to the next race in two weeks.