Sunday, 16 September 2007

Season finale...

Today H and I did the Bala standard distance tri, officially our last triathlon of the season. It's been a great five months, starting with a pb over the super sprint distance at Eton in May and finishing with a great couple of races in the last eight days. With the small matter of the Great North Run, Dublin Marathon and a few cycling time trials to go before our recovery month (November) I'll leave the season preview for a few weeks but whatever happens in those last few races 2007 has been an amazing year full of pb's and breakthrough sessions.

Following last weekend's efforts at the Vitruvian I've felt fatigued both mentally and physically all week and have therefore taken it pretty easy... until yesterday when Ben G and I rode in our (as a team) and my first ever two-up time trial, over 18k in South Yorkshire. (For those who don't know, a two-up tt is where you ride together and your time is the second person over the line. Due to the reduction in wind resistance it's far easier to ride behind someone and therefore as a pair you can share the workload and go quite a bit faster) It was all looking good until about 90 seconds (literally) before the start when I noticed Ben had a puncture!!! We managed to scrounge a back wheel off a spectator in the few remaining seconds though and got to the start line with about two seconds to spare ;) We had decided on a strategy of one minute at the front / one minute at the back and with Ben leading we set off at a frantic pace hitting 27mph within 30 seconds and holding it pretty consistently for the first few miles. A tough middle section with both hills and headwinds saw us struggling to hold on to the early pace but with the last few miles downhill on the A1 with a decent tailwind, we recovered well to post 24 :42. Before the race we'd pencilled in 25 mins as a target so were well pleased to dip under by nearly 20 seconds. (Especially on my tired Vitruvian legs and Ben's tired IMUK legs)

So, on to today... If you want to perform well in an Olympic tri it's never a good idea to do a flat out half-ironman the week before... and even worse to do a two-up tt the day before. However, with the seven month off-season approaching and Ian, Sam & H all racing today I was never going to hold the coats. Serious winds, and therefore waves on the lake, had led the organisers to shorten the swim to 1,000m and although I hate doing 'short' races I'm sure it was the right decision as the 500m swim out into the lake was really challenging and I witnessed quite a few athletes being plucked from the water during the early races. The 500m swim back to shore however was far easier as each wave pushed you closer to the finish. After stepping out of the water at 20:30 a pedestrian T1 (note to self: must work on transition technique) saw me starting the bike ride with 22:30 on the clock and 19.5k of solid headwind ahead of me. After battling the wind for 32 minutes I turned to race the 19.5k back to T2 with a following wind all the way and about 27 minutes later, a much less pedestrian T2 saw me hit the run with the clock at 1:24 overall and just 10km left of a rather long season of triathlon. As you know one of my main goals over these 50 weeks is to 'learn to hurt', but today I just couldn't muster the mental strength. I probably managed to hold an effort level of around 8.5-9/10 for the whole run but there was certainly no 'ten' in the tank today! 38:50something and it was all over, 2:02:58 for a slightly short, but no less demanding' Olympic distance triathlon and 76th place out of about 750. At around the top 10% of the field in a world championship qualifier with tired legs and fatigued mind I'm pretty pleased, although I'd hope to hit the top 5% of this kind of race on a good day... (here comes my Statto bit) this would have meant 1:59 today and I'm pretty confident last week and yesterday could well have cost me those three minutes.... who knows... as I always say anything other than what you actually achieve is just pub-talk... it's easy to say 1:59 but much harder to do ;) Hopefully I'll get to race an Oly flat-out and in top form next season and see what I can really do over the shorter distance.

It's funny how much you can change in a week... last Saturday I felt pretty good following the Vit
but an easy seven days with too much dodgy food has left me feeling pretty far removed from the athlete I aspire to be. Tomorrow morning H and I start the final five week build up to the Dublin marathon and with the students also back in town I'm really looking forward to a little more structure in my life and some consistent run training. Dublin is in no way an 'A' race but I'd like to dip under three hours with the aim of using it as a foundation from which to go for sub 2:55 in the London Marathon in April.

Before I go I just thought I'd point you toward a couple of sad news items which have given me a serious reality check... earlier this week the duathlon legend Benny Vansteelant passed away, a few days after being hit by a car whilst out training. Then as I'm sure you are all aware the British World Rally Champion Colin McRae died, along with his 5 year old son and two friends, in a helicopter crash this weekend. These two tragedies have encouraged me to think about what is truly important in life... will I give it everything to qualify for Hawaii... yes... does it matter if I don't get there... not in the slightest! Too often we get bogged down in our own personal goals and challenges and lose our perspective on what actually matters in life. I'm not saying I'm going to work toward my various personal goals with any less enthusiasm and vigour... I just won't beat myself up if never achieve them... they're not important.

That's about it for now, thanks to Ozzer for posing with me for today's photo.

I'll leave the inspirational stuff to H this week,

T ;)


Jevon said...

well done on a fantastic season. You've shamed me into starting up again!!!
Blog now active.
cheers mate love to H.

Anonymous said...

If it helps your quest to "learn to hurt" i'll tell you a tale about a friend of mine and his broken nose. Might spur you on a bit.

Tom said...

Jevon... nice one, I look forward to following your progress all the way to the start line in Klagenfurt ;)

Ady... not sure we're talking the same kind of hurt!!

Cheers guys,


Jevon said...

don't have your email so am leaving this on the blog ! Am looking for a widget for the blog that will allow me to feed in the previous week's distances in swim bike run (surprise) and also keep a running total. Almost like a mini spreadsheet...
Wondered if you'd any ideas.

Anonymous said...

Its not about different kinds of pain Tom, its about how you deal with it.
See you soon mate

Brian said...

The two up sounds like fun but tough if you are not fairly well balanced in your ability! At least you made the start but it must have been about the quickest wheel change in history. Perhaps you can get a job in the formula one pits! So far all I can manage is 20 minutes in the gym after which I am totally knackered. Still you have to start somewhere! Stay strong.