The weather up to Sunday had been quiet but rainy. I had moved into running a few years back after a series of crashes due problems with rainy roads. So it was with delight that I woke on Sunday morning to see clear skies and, almost unheard of, very little wind. My training had been focused on my Autumn marathon, my second, so the time I had spent swimming and biking were pretty limited. I had swum a total of 2 hours in the previous 3 months in preparation for the race L but had biked for just under 250 miles. Notably my biking miles had almost all been pretty easy efforts with nothing even remotely in the LT/Tempo zone – this would bite me in the bum!
My swim start time was 10.15 and I had anticipated completing the 400m in around 10min. Happily this is exactly what I did, the results show exactly 10 min as my swim time. Transition 1 took a little longer than I might have hoped at 2 min 44 sec. I had made the mistake of not drying myself off before trying to put my compression top on! After wrestling with myself for 90 sec I just managed to pull it down, HR strap on, socks on, shoes on, helmet on, bike off rack, glasses on and OFF!! I ran my bike to the end of transition and jumped on. Then I remembered to set my Garmin to record the bike J The delay with this was not so bad as the first half mile of the route was designated a “non racing” area, due to traffic /safety concerns. My first mile on the bike reflected this coming in just under 19 mph. The next few miles of the race were on lovely flat roads with no wind. My speed reflected this as I averaged just under 22mph for miles 2-5 with avHR of 153 and av Cad of 95. The world was fab!!!! Mile 6 saw a few small hills which dropped my speed down to 20mph for miles 6 and 7. Now came something I wasn’t really expecting, bad prep I’m afraid. The following mile saw my speed drop to just over 12mph! The hill the confronted me was no more than a 500ft climb but when I tried to push as I approached the hill I just didn’t have any strength there. In addition there were 2 other riders who, on the narrow country roads, had decided to weave their way all over the road. The on-coming cars didn’t help much either! After getting to the top of the hill then came the fun J The next mile was at an average speed of 28.2 mph. Unfortunately this didn’t make up for the hill but at least it was a start! The next few miles saw a return to 20-21mph average speeds with cadence never dropping below 90 and avHR was stable around 152. Coming up to the second transition there was a traffic queue and cars coming towards me on the other side. Slowing down considerably for the final half a mile, my average pace came down to just over 20mph, good for 38th out of 160 on the day and 6th in my age group. As I entered T2 I dismounted and proceeded to go down the wrong row of racks for my bike!! After finding where I should have been it was bike racked, glasses off, helmet off, bike shoes off, running shoes on and then run the wrong way!! Get shouted at to “Go over there!” then out of T2 and onto the road. I was a bit surprised when the announcer mentioned, over the annoy, that he knew me from my other running events in the area – who knew J. T2 took 1 min 51 sec – good for the second slowest on the day!! Now for the run. One of the few specific things I had done to practice for this race was a brick session. I had not had any problems running off the bike in training and that seemed to be the case as I ran down the road noticing my sub 7 min pace! This settled down to around 7.30 pace until I hit the first hill. The climb was just over 300ft at a grade of around 13% - I decided a short walk was in order. I actually passed a bike rider who was going up the hill, while I was walking! Trying to keep my HR below 160,beyond which I tend to explode, the top of the climb saw a quick turn and back up a little further. Mile one was completed in just over 9min. The path saw a small undulating section then up a further 200ft to the turn point. I like to encourage people as they race, most of them like it too J, but I also find it has the added benefit of helping me forget the pain I’m in. As the decent started the people I had passed on the bike leg, who I’d already encouraged as I passed, were in for another dose of happiness! Most of them shouted nice things back as well! Mile 2 was completed in 8.07 and then the decent of the main hill came. I had hopped I would have some zip left in my legs for this, and my cadence did average 88 for the final mile but I was starting to feel a bit tired. As I pushed towards the line I felt as though I could have done better. No crazy, sub 6 min sprint to the end – as I normally do – just an easy-ish 7 min pace up to the end. My final time for the run was a disappointing 24.52 good for 45th on the day and 7th in my age group. My Final time of 1.27.57 was OK but not great! I have lots of lessons to learn from this race, which will not be my last J. Firstly, if I want to swim better then I need to practice! Then, T1 – don’t get dressed in T1 – get bike!! The bike leg was OK but I should check the route and do some proper Tempo work if I want to get that pace up to the 22mph region, which shouldn’t be out of the question. T2 – it might be an idea to think about a land mark to aim for and also try to spot the exit when setting up before the race. Finally, a bit of hill work would probably have knocked at least a minute off my run time. I think next year, oh yes there will be a next year J, will see me aiming for sub 80min!!