Monday, 14 June 2010
Before I kick this week's blog entry off, I know that I haven't written my promised Lanzarote reflection... as soon as I find a couple of hours to switch everything else off and give it my undivided attention it will be done ;)
As for today... I was racing at the National Middle Distance (half-Ironman) Championships in Bala, Wales, my final competitive half-Ironman race ever! From my experiences last year, when I raced Ironman Lanzarote followed seven weeks later by Switzerland, I knew the danger of training too hard too soon and so found myself treading water this morning having not trained seriously for three weeks... four if you include race week in Lanza. I actually only entered this in the first place because I thought it was one of my triathlon club's championship races, by the time I realised it wasn't, the one that was was full (Cleveland Steelman) and so I figured it could become my first 'proper' training session to kick off six hard weeks of work before a two week taper into The Outlaw Iron distance race.
Swim - 2,000m (32:00 80th/624)
With the water noticeably warmer than previous years in Bala it was actually quite a nice swim. Following 200 hard strokes straight from the gun I focused on technique, bilateral breathing and finding a good pair of feet to hang on to. As usual I managed to avoid anything resembling 'biff' and including the the odd error in sighting and navigation plus a stop to re-adjust my goggles I completed the 2,000m in 32:00. At 80th overall swim split it was probably a couple of minutes down on where I'd like to be, but, and I really really really don't want to tempt fate here, as my third pain free (ish) swim of the week maybe, just maybe, my swim injury is easing off??? If so then with eight weeks to go I just may get to the start line of my last ever competitive triathlon in my best ever swim condition...?
Bike - 50 hilly miles (2:20:11 24th/624)
Despite my legs still feeling a little sluggish from Lanzarote, a solid ride in Wednesday's Pool Triangle 20k hilly TT gave me confidence that I'd ride well today. I'd not done this course before but with a 2:05 on the old course I'd hoped to break 2:20 (guessing it's about 15 minutes slower)... the 'new' course (since 2008) is an out and back and with a fair head wind on the 'out' I was looking good hitting the turn in 1:10. Despite a reasonable tail wind home my legs weren't playing ball though and as they tired my heart rate dropped and I really had to dig deep to come back in the same time for a 2:20.
Run - 20 hilly km (1:25:32 41st/624)
Frustratingly I seemed to pick up where I left off in Lanzarote and almost immediately dropped into survival mode, worrying more about who was behind me than those in front. Perhaps my 19:55 parkrun yesterday morning was a little hard, perhaps dropping two of my bike gels exiting T1 didn't help, maybe there's still a little Lanza in there... or perhaps I just need to work on my running off the bike. Either way the first five or six kilometres were a real struggle... as the turn got closer though I seemed to relax a little, people stopped over-taking me and gradually I found (finally) some run form. Hitting the turn-around in 44:00 I felt I could beat my previous best run in Bala (1:25) as it's mostly downhill on the way back... stopping the run clock on 1:25:32 I was most pleased with the fact that I'd actually felt like a runner for the first time in a while.
Overall - 4:20:24 & 24th out of 624
A mixed day really... super pleased to feel good in the swim and although a little slower than I would have liked, if I have seen the back of my nerve issue then it's happy days and full steam ahead in the pool! I'd have liked to have felt a touch better on the bike and gone a touch quicker but all things considered it was a good day on two wheels. As for the run, the second half has given me back a little confidence that maybe I can still run well off the bike. In my previous two National Middle Distance Champs (at the Vitruvian in 2007 & 2008) I finished overall 17th and 13th respectively so a backward step in some ways... but given the last month or so I'm pretty pleased and it's a great place from which to start six hard weeks of training before my two week taper.
Other than that it was great to hang out with some awesome people for the weekend... the triathlon community is full of them and I can't wait to be chief cheer-leader in 2011 ;) Well done to everyone who took on a super challenging course on a super challenging day... I know it didn't go to plan for all of you but you really should be proud!
See you soon,