Triathlon season is underway. At bloody last. Believe it or not, I’ve actually got quite a bit going on at the moment, so I’m going to keep this one short and sweet (I can see you all rolling your eyes).
For the first time in history we had decent weather for a bank holiday weekend. It was only a sprint triathlon so a taper of any kind was out of the question; eyes on the prize. Saturday was a hard 10 mile run with an effort at Crane Parkrun (18:12) before spending the day spectating at the Thames Path 100. Yes that’s right; these nutters were running 100 miles. Where do I sign up?
I got out for 30 miles on my bike early Sunday morning before heading down for some more spectating with Chasers taking part in the Richmond half marathon. A chilled swim in the afternoon set my up nicely for the race the following morning.
With a ridiculously early alarm set (4:15) for a bank holiday Monday (or any day for that matter) I was up and shovelling down some porridge. I left successfully without waking Katie up and made the short drive over to Bushy Park.
After racking the bike and getting all my gear sorted, I had a long wait (being one of the later starters), so I headed out into the park for a warm up run and some stretching. As I was heading back to the pool, I was passing people already coming towards the end of their run, before I’d even started. How cruel.
I’m not quite sure what the issue was, but I was struggling to get up for this one. I was looking forward to it being done and having a few beers in the sun. The swim is in an outdoor heated pool; perfect temperature and none of this getting cold in a lake. I had some faster swimmers around me so I knew I might have a few people passing me..
I set off at what I thought was a decent pace, before being passed on the first length by a club mate who started 10 seconds after me. Oh dear. I then proceeded to have a bit of a shocker in the water, stopping at various points to politely let other swimmers behind me come through; I’m not sure what had gotten into me!
I tried to find some rhythm but it just wasn’t happening, and I came out of the 426m swim in just over 8 minutes; nowhere near what I’m capable of.
Swim: 8:03. 108th/450
I didn’t have a watch on, so had no idea what time I’d swam. Transition went fairly smoothly, though I still need to practice mounting with my shoes attached to my bike; could’ve saved me a few seconds.
T1: 00:56. 61st/450
Out onto the roads and it was time to find out if all those hours on the turbo trainer had started to pay off. No real target, just get the watts over 300 and keep them there. Unfortunately, the nice weather had bought the public out in their droves and the bike course was pretty congested with traffic. I turned straight out onto the main road directly behind not one but two buses, and had to sit behind them until Hampton Court roundabout.
The next obstacle was the traffic light by the water works. This is green 90% of the time; so naturally it began to change to red as I approached. Frustratingly I had to stop, unclip, put my foot down and wait. I asked the marshal if the time I was stopped before would be deducted from my final time; unfortunately it wouldn’t be.
Once it had gone green, I got back up to speed, tucked into aero position, and gave it some beans. The route is plan flat through Sunbury and Shepperton before turning and heading back the way you came. I was steadily passing other riders, picking them off one by one, and ticking off the miles nicely.
It’s a weird set-up at the Thames Turbo; because of the traffic lights there is a 7 minute ‘dead-zone’ at the end of the bike course, where the clock is stopped and you have time to slowly make your way back to the transition area. You can therefore afford to put your foot down and sprint all the way to the end of the bike, which is exactly what I did.
Bike: 32:31. 7th/450. Average power: 315w. Average speed: 25.2mph.
After milking the dead zone for all that is was worth, I hit the dismount line and ran into transition, feeling slightly better after having a decent ride. As it’s a staggered start, you have no idea how you’re doing in the actual race, and it’s just a case of trying to pretend you’re chasing someone in front of you.
T2: 00:41 11th/450
The first part of the run takes you down the road alongside the park, and I was weaving all over the place to avoid stray dogs and children. Once through the sizeable metal gate, I had a bit more room to open up the legs and settle into the only pace you can run 5km at (suicide pace).
Just before halfway there was a small army of Chasers camped out which gave me a massive lift. By this point I was already deep in the pain cave, so could only acknowledge with a meek thumbs up. Also out on course was my new performance director Paul Burton. For some reason he’s decided to help me out with my riding (which has indirectly led to him helping me out with everything), a set-up that definitely seems to be paying dividends. He’s a good lad. Just don’t tell him I said that.
It’s tough going into the final mile, as you’re not directly racing anyone, but you know there could be someone seconds in front of you. It’s just a case of pushing as hard as you can. The last kilometre seemed to last a lifetime, but finally the finish line was there and I was done.
Run: 18:06. 5th/450
Overall time: 59:77. 12th/450
As you can see above, I just about snuck in under the hour. It was all really close racing; 75 seconds faster would’ve seen me jump from 12th to 3rd. But that didn’t happen, and I got what I deserved on the day.
I had a bit of a sulk afterwards, and it took a talking to from Katie to shake me out of it and remind me that this wasn’t the A race of the season. Looking back a week later, it’s actually been a blessing in disguise as it’s fuelled the motivational fire and I’m starting to feel like things are really coming together now.
The day itself with an awesome one, with over 60 Chasers taking part; many of them doing their first triathlon, which is amazing! I also had some great support from Dave Mantle & family; famous for flying to the Valencia marathon despite forgetting to sign up for it.
Training for Ironman UK is really hotting up now, and I’m really enjoying it. I’m back racing the Deva middle distance in Chester for the 3rd time in a row in a couple of weeks time, so that’ll be a good benchmark to see where I’m at.