This event was due to be my A race of the season with a goal of qualifying for the ITU Long Course World Championships, with a sub 4:30 time. However, I have not had the best of seasons unfortunately, partly due to studying for my PGc in Manipulative Therapy as part of my MSc. Training had to come second to the studying, and the amount of work involved was enormous. But, the PGc is now complete so it was worth it. So with a very mixed season with no significant training blocks completed as planned, I went into this race with no real expectations, but hoping I’d still pull off a sub 5hr time and finish with a smile!
The day started at 3:45am eating breakfast by the light of the moon with my friend Martin pointing out various stellar constellations, but by daybreak the mist had firmly made it’s presence known.
Having done the race several times before I had a reasonable idea of where we should be swimming, but there was a definite drift wide to the right by everyone- including the canoeists leading us out (which has been mentioned by several others as well) which could explain the slower swim times than usual. I felt I had a strong swim, staying in clear water for the majority of the swim and maintaining a good rhythm (something I’ve often struggled with in open water, particularly when it’s densely packed with feet and fists), so despite passing loads of people from the two earlier waves and feeling very good, I was somewhat disappointed to come out in 35:45.
T1 went without a hitch – 1:40. However, as I got on the bike, the elastic band holding my right shoe in alignment snapped and get tangled in my rear mech- something I didn’t realise until after the race! But certainly added some resistance 😦 although at that stage I was more concerned about being able to see as the visor to my aero helmet had completely fogged up and I struggled to clean it. This continued for the majority of the ride, making descending somewhat interesting! The first section on the bike I struggled to get my heart rate back down and the first few mouthfuls of drink and gels came straight back up. Not a good sign. I backed off the pace a touch until after the ripple, despite Vince’s mocking of me being in the small ring as I went past him where he was at that stage the lone spectator at the top of the ripple. But once I was past the hills I then put the hammer down and went flying past everyone who’d dropped me on the ripple- always a good feeling! And the gels/drink was staying down, another bonus. Finished lap 1 in 1hr16 (a sub 2.30 was the goal, so provided I could negative split the ride I was happy with that). Due to not drinking as much in the first half of lap 1 I still had a fair bit of SIS in my bottle, however I thankfully made the decision still to ditch the bottle and pick up a fresh one as I ended up drinking the lot. The second lap again went well, few minor hold ups with traffic in the villages, and me having a go at people deliberately throwing their gel and bar wrappers into the hedgerows – one guy did then come up to me later and apologise- not that it was me he should have been apologising to! Finished the bike in 2:29:50, so despite less training than last year- the effects of the Alps trip resulted in a faster bike split than last year, and more importantly, beat Tony Poole’s time from last year also 😉
T2- 1:09 would have been quicker if I’d remembered which row I was racked on! doh!
Run- This is my strength, and following the issues at Alpe D’Huez I just wanted to do it justice. But my lack of run training quickly showed, and I struggled to find my form. My feet were still numb from the swim/cold bike and it took 4km until I could actually feel the ground properly. By the first turn I was starting to get into a reasonable rhythm and was picking people off, but I never felt I was fully able to bury myself and finished a bit too comfortably in 1:37:25.
Total time- 4:45:53 127th out of 790
Sub 5hrs achieved, but a lot slower than I know I’m capable of with decent training. Overall I’m happy, as that is a fair and accurate reflection on my years training, so I did it justice. Thanks to my coach Alice Hector for the last couple of years, and good luck in your new job.
Now, a month of rest and recovery to deal with all my usual injuries (and a few new ones). I’m booked in to see Claire Harrison (Performance Nutritionist and Dietitian) to help me manage the “4th discipline” of fueling as I step up to Ironman next season, Nick Grantham for advice on Strength and Conditioning and Penny Macutkiewicz for a musculoskeletal screening. I’m also going to be doing a series of tests to re-establish my heart rate, power zones, and hopefully lactate threshold and muscle strength on the biodex machine. Then in October I’ll start training seriously again, this time under the guidance of Bill Black as I prepare for Ironman Austria in July, and hopefully qualify for the Worlds in due course.