Sunday, 19 August 2007

How not to race a tri... and some homework...

As usual I've spent the week thinking of what to post and having settled on one thing have changed my mind at the last minute!
Our next race was originally scheduled to be the national middle distance championships in Rutland Water on September the 8th but when our club was offered free places in today's Stockton Olympic Triathlon we jumped at the chance to get stuck in to some decent competition. I'm not sure why but I had a feeling that having not raced properly since Ironman Switzerland my next race would be a bit rusty and was pleased to get it out of the way before my second 'A' race of the season in three weeks time. With a relative small field of around 60 male athletes I fancied my chances of getting on the podium so although this was very much a 'C' race and I'd trained hard all week I planned to give it everything (see last week's post).

The swim went well and although it's still my weakest discipline and the water was way colder than the claimed 17 degrees I stepped foot on dry land in 23:29 and about tenth place... with the bike currently my strongest discipline I felt like I was out of the water in striking distance of the top three. So far so good...

I'm normally pretty rapid in transition and manage to at least hold, if not gain, places during this crucial period. For some reason though (see paragraph 2) I'd left my brain in the cold dark water of the Tees Barrage and arrived at my bike with my wetsuit still fully zipped up and swim hat firmly in place! Twenty seconds of guffing around later and I grabbed my bike helmet only to realise my race number (normally already attached under my wetsuit) was nowhere to be seen... as fellow competitors raced out of T1 I was still messing around in my transition box looking for my number belt... all I could think was how glad I was to be learning these lessons now and not at the Vitruvian.

Finally I headed out on to the 40k bike and got my head down to try and claw my way back up the field. By this stage the weather was horrendous with strong sidewinds blowing me all over the road and heavy rain reducing grip on this extremely technical course to a minimum. Still, I felt pretty strong and managed to work my way up to third place about 60 seconds off P2 and another 60 off P1 before entering T2... where the fun began all over again!

In an otherwise well organised race the signposting was pretty poor and entering the final roundabout on the final lap of the bike it wasn't overly clear where to go. On a marshalls intructions I turned right and headed back towards transition the same way I'd left just under an hour ago... unfortunately he'd sent me the wrong way and I found myself on the wrong side of T2, much to the bemusement of the crowd. A quick hop over a fence and finally 'my transition hell' (nice tabloid headline for you Steve D) was over and all I had to do was run.

Setting out on the run I knew there was I strong possibility that I'd be disqualified for going the wrong way on the bike (and rightly so even though it wasn't my fault) so just thought I'd get my head down and learn to hurt. Every now and then I could see the guys in first (Tim Ashelford from LBT) and second place but knowing they were both stronger runners than me was more interested in consolidating the final podium place and keeping ahead of the two athletes who were about a minute down on me. Thirty-eight minutes of running later and I'd achieved my goal by running hard, finishing strong and holding position to finish in a total time of 2 hours and 3 minutes.

As soon as I crossed the line I found the race referee and confessed to my diversion, which she deamed worthy of a three minute penalty (pretty reasonable I thought even though it probably cost me time rather than saved time). It wasn't just me though and the guy who came second had (mistakenly) deviated from the run course for which he too was docked three minutes.

They say the sign of a good football team is that even when they play badly they still win and considering I had the worst two transitions I've ever had as well as a three minute penalty I'm pretty pleased with my revised time of 2 hours 6 minutes and 6th overall. This brings me to this week's picture which is Tim Ashelford with his first place trophy, me with me '3rd in category' award and H with her 2nd overall lady and holding fellow LBTer Deborah Stockley's third lady award... all in all a great day for Leeds Bradford Tri.

Before I go I was going to talk about food this week but fancied some race reflection instead so would recommend you have a good read through THIS article which will lead nicely on to next week's post (unless I change my mind). It's quite long and took me a couple of goes to really understand it but it's definitely worth the read... as long as you think about how it applies to you.

Finally I'd just like to say well done to everyone we know who did (or is still doing!) Ironman UK today. It's one of the toughest courses around and by all accounts the weather wasn't very friendly... today you have truly earned the title Ironman ;)

speak soon,


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