Sunday, 6 September 2009

The season is done...

The Vitruvian... 4hrs 51mins 28secs

Pre-race I honestly had no idea what to expect of my body. I've had some great results in our time trials so I knew I was getting stronger on the bike but because they were over such a short distance I wasn't sure how my legs would fare over 51 slightly undulating miles. In fact through the latter part of training for The Vit I struggled to motivate myself to get out on the road and get some decent mileage in. I also had to be strong when Tom 'pulled the pin' on his season early because it meant that I had to motivate myself to not only do the session but to get out of bed early in the morning's and leave Tom snuggled up and sleeping, and that, I can tell you wasn't easy!

Race morning...

Racking the night before meant that race prep was easy. Up at 4am, breakfast at 4.30am, arrived at Rutland water at 5am, perfect. The moon was still out as we drove to the course and when we got there we were greeted with the most beautiful sunrise over Rutland water. Once transition was sorted I met up with Tom and his mum & step-dad Ray, (my ever presents.) Ady and Sarah had come to watch with their kids and our two lovely friends from run club Jaz & Janice had come all of the way from Leeds that morning to watch the day.

7am - The swim 1.9km - 30mins 41 secs

I'm usually a bit of a biff magnet in my open water swims. I just seem to love putting myself in the middle of the melee' so today I took Tom's advice and went as far right on the front as possible. No biff!!! Amazing to actually be able to start swimming instantly and it made a huge difference. We were the last wave to go off so we joined the throng of thrashing arms and legs from the previous waves but somehow I managed to avoid all hassle and swam like I was out there on my own. I managed to find a pair of feet that were swimming just above my pace and as we exited from the first lap and onto the second Tom shouted that I was 10th out of the water. Back out for lap 2 which went without any incident and I had managed to move up a couple of places to 8th.

T1 went remarkable well, I'm usually terrible at getting my socks on over my wet feet but I was calm and before I knew it I was out on the road just behind Jo Carritt who flew off into the distance before I could blink.

The bike - 85km - 2:35:16

Windy but a good course, nice undulations to stop the boredom setting in and great road surfaces, wonderful when I hit the road with the wind behind me. Unfortunately though, it was incredibly busy with traffic which held me & lots of others up. I worked really hard but comfortably on the bike. It took me about 45mins before I started feeling good. Cold legs from the swim, high heart rate from the adrenalin and huge head winds made it all seem a little hard early on. I really got into the swing of it once the sun came out to warm me up and I really enjoyed feeling strong. It's a two lap bike course and just before the end of the first lap I spotted Jo Carritt ahead and pushed passed her. Going back into the race area for the turn around Tom, Yve, Ray, Jaz, Janice, Ady, Sarah and the kids were all going nuts. Spectators are wonderful aren't they! Managing somehow to ride my way into 3rd place I couldn't believe it, and back out I went for the last lap. Armed with a Snickers bar (great race fuel) and a sick enjoyment for the head wind I still felt strong and kept plugging my way through the field knowing that my run was my weakness and that the girls around me were all great runners. Caught again by traffic (a horse box this time) just before the end of the bike section I had a chat with Jo Carritt who had caught me back up. And as we came into T2 together I knew my 4th position (we'd both been overtaken by a faster girl toward the end of lap two) was numbered by only a matter of seconds... she's an awesome runner.

T2 went well and Jo shouted to me to have a good one as she ran out, I followed seconds behind her but certainly not at the same pace!!

The run - 21km - 1:42:05

Oddly when I first came into triathlon the run was always my strength. I'd do okay in the swim, go backwards on the bike and then make up the time on the run. Now however, I'm able to hurt my legs on the bike and Ironman has stolen my running speed so I can plod forever but with no real pace. With Jo Carritt ahead and really no way of catching her... she was gone, gone, gone I was in 5th. The course is an out and back x 2 so you get to see who's ahead of you and by how much and then also who's behind you and by how much. I knew I'd probably manage to run the half marathon in under 8min miles (7:45's) but that some of the girls out there are like whippets. I spent the first half of the lap wondering who and how many were going to pass me. Ten minutes in and I was passed by a girl from Army tri. I had a smile to myself, here we go I thought. I'm amazed though, I held my pace, ran the whole thing incredibly evenly and managed to hold 5th place. Bloody brilliant!

Post race... flapjack, friends and smiles.

What a great way to end the season. It's so nice to finish it off on a high. I actually had a great swim, a great bike and a great run. I'd love to get my run speed up, hopefully over the Winter months that's what I'll do. The Vitruvian is a well run event and I came home with a huge smile. I think that's probably the first time where all three disciplines have come together and shown my ability. I swam no differently yesterday but avoiding all fists and feet meant I could actually swim instead of ducking and diving and so it's great to have a time that matches my expectation off the back of my training. The bike went really well and like I say I felt really strong, I was a minute slower this year than last but the wind was a lot stronger so I've certainly improved my bike strength. My run, well, no surprises with my time, that's exactly what I expected but that's not a negative, I just know where I am and what I'm capable of on the run section.

So, there you have it one perfect race with perfect timing being that it could very well be my last triathlon for a while. I can't wait to become chief Ironman coat holder and supporter for Tom next year :)

I won't go into a deluge of thank youss, you're all amazing and very special for the parts you play in my life and I'd be here forever so here's one HUGE thank you to you all for everything, I know for once the words... "it's been emotional" couldn't sum it up any better!

I've got a two week rest planned and then I'm going to get back into my running, concentrating on finding that pace in my legs, aiming for the London Marathon 2010. Swim and bike I'll maintain on minimal training and see what happens next year before I enter any races.

It's a great feeling to be able to rest without guilt and I can't wait to watch Al & Jonny Brownlee race in the final of the World Champs on Saturday and not long after that the big one in Kona, bring it on. We know so many people racing I can't wait to cheer them on from t'interweb!!

Thanks again for the love,

H. x

P.s I'm way into my 365 pic a day project... and I'm in talks with a charity to hold an exhibition with the aim of selling the images - the profit going to the charity. Exciting and in the pipeline, have you seen one you'd like? They're here or I post them here daily.


ADC said...

Great race Helen and nice end of the season.

Debra said...

Superb racing H, sorry we missed you, we so very nearly came but had got behind in decorating due to not beeing well over the bank holiday weekend and wanted to finish before we go to Bala on Saturday so could get house straight again

Enjoy your well earned rest, gets easier to cope with mentally after a while :)

Sams Photo Blog said...

I want the malmaison coffee cup!!!

H said...

Thanks guys it was a great way to end the season :) Time for a bit of hibernation before the next step.