Sunday, 25 May 2008


It's been another tough week with some painful training sessions, but today reminded me in several different ways why every single training heartbeat is worth it.

Today was always going to be a big day... for H and I it was our first triathlon of the season, for out mate Pauly P it was his first ever Olympic distance triathlon on his journey to Ironman (in Klagenfurt later this year) and my personal tutee and friend Alistair Brownlee was
competing in the Madrid round of the triathlon World Cup where the top three Brits would earn selection for the Beijing Olympic team.

So, how did my race go? H and I had done a seriously tough brick (bike & run) session on Friday where we did (separately) a 42 mile bike followed by an 18 mile run and with UK 70.3 and Ironman Germany looming large it was time to get specific. UK 70.3 boasts one of the toughest half ironman courses in the world and although the bike is pretty hardcore the run is just crazy, in fact I've never seen such a hilly half marathon. Although this isn't our 'A' race we would like to do well and with Germany only three weeks later it's vital that our legs can handle the hills so where possible we're including hills in our long runs and runs off the bike. One of my favourite and most intense run sessions is a four mile route with 17 hills in it that starts by Kirkstall leisure centre and finishes by the gym so we decided to stick it in our 18 miler... twice! I realised that this would compromise today's race somewhat but, training for an Ironman, that's the game ;) Yesterday became a total rest day, but even so my legs felt pretty tired this morning and I wasn't expecting too much on the bike and run... I was hopeful however of a good swim as I've worked super hard over the winter, am swimming well in the pool...

Frustratingly however I never really got hold of the swim today, it was pretty hard to navigate with loads of tight turns and some seriously shallow sections and I struggled a little to find my rhythm. Despite a great race with H at one point (unfortunately for her she decided to take the scenic route with about 300m to go which probably cost her the win) I exited the water in 24:25 and 23rd out of about 140 (official results aren't up yet) which at about 90 seconds slower and 10 places lower than my target had me pretty concerned in T1, especially with H and a load of my club mates breathing down my neck. From the start of the bike it was super windy and as an 'out and back' I knew I had about 35 minutes of headwind ahead of me... fortunately though my legs surprised me, were feeling great and although I still struggled to get my heart rate up to race pace (probably due to fatigue from Friday) I was up to 13th by the turn point and 10th in to T2 and the start of the run. I was convinced that I'd emptied my already tired legs but once the first mile or so was out of the way I began to feel good and was gradually catching the 9th placed athlete, who'd started the run about 400 metres ahead of me. Like the bike, the run was an out and back and pushing to the turn I managed to get to 8th place with a little under 5k to go (reckon the run was a bit short, maybe 9.3k?). Picking the pace up over the final couple of miles and running a strong negative split I overtook two more athletes and crossed the finish line in 6th... I think. Overall, a great race that I really enjoyed and feeling strong all the way through was a fantastic confidence booster with only six weeks to go!!!

I'll let H tell you all about her day, but she also had a great race and had she been able to use sat-nav for the swim would have undoubtedly beaten me in to T1 for the first time! Above all she's really starting to get hold of the bike and once she can bring that up to the standard of her already solid swim and run ability then she'll really be flying!

As for Paul... he's currently experiencing the amazing journey that takes you from first time triathlete to Ironman in less than two months! In fact he's following almost the same path as I did in 2006 with Eton as his first ever sprint, Bala will be his first half ironman in two weeks time and then on the 13th of July he'll be standing on the same Ironman start line as I did in '06 and H did in '07. It's a ridiculously steep learning curve and after every training session or race you can't help but be daunted by how much further 140.6 miles is but he's done brilliantly so far and is well on course to earn the ultimate in endurance sport 'bling' ;) Today he had a great race, overcame some serious pre-race nerves and confidently stepped up to the Olympic distance plate...

And finally, talking of the Olympics... the title of today's entry is 'timing' and the subject of today's photo is Alistair on his way to bronze in Madrid as the top Brit and almost certain selection for the British Olympic team for Beijing. At the end of last year he was flying and with a silver medal in only his second senior world cup race was looking great and feeling confident. Unfortunately, early season races this year in Australia and New Zealand had not gone so well and sneaking in to today's event as the 6th and final British athlete he was going to need a serious performance. It's all about timing though and with everything geared towards today he delivered big time, leaving everyone in his wake to stake his place on the plane.

Hopefully I can step up to the mark in a similar (but not quite so talented) way in Germany on July the 6th... surrounded by all these inspirational people it will be hard not to ;)

"citius, altius, fortius"


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