UK 70.3, Wimbleball 2011

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Time: 5:09:08
Swim: 27:02
T1: 3:54
Bike: 2:57:47
T2: 2:21
Run: 1:38:05

Race Analysis here

Being our local race makes for a relaxed build up. I’d certainly not been focussing on this race as my eye was fully on Ironman Austria two weeks later. Instead this was a chance to go hard at the end of my last big weeks training. I’d had two light days and had every intention of racing it as hard as  I could.

We had a lovely relaxed meal the night before with Gabriel and Jon. It’s great to have friends staying ahead of a race and this race means we have lots of friends in our local area which is great. I didn’t feel any nerves till I went to sleep and had my usual fitful nights sleep.

Being at home has the other advantage of being able to just have your normal breakfast. Mine was my usual tweaked abit to add carbs. This meant – bacon, 2 eggs, black pudding, toasted bagel with butter and fried up new potatoes. Washed down with a couple of cups of coffee and a further toasted bagel with butter and honey. I felt fuelled.

Once at the race venue my nerves disappeared. It was so nice to be truly excited about racing and looking forward to it without any nerves. Perhaps it was the fact it was local, perhaps because I was confident the swim would be straight forward. My bike was OK, I lightened my load, got my Helix wetsuit on (it takes longer than my old suit) then got right to the front for the walk down to make sure I was at the front on the start.

It was cold treading water for 10 minutes on the start line. We had a little reunion there with Jon, Paul, Ian and Stu shooting the breeze ahead of the start. No disrespect guys if you’re reading but it was an eye opener seeing you guys right there on the front line. When I’m on the front line and don’t know anyone I have a reaction to assume they’re as quick or quicker than me in the swim. This will help my mental attitude in future.

It was a civilised start with them more or less saying “get set” before the horn. My plan was to swim the maximum of my planned pace and the pace of the lead guys. This meant initially I swam just hard enough to keep with the fastest swimmers. After about 100m I was stunned by how many people were still with me. After 200m still loads. I thought to myself “no way can there be this many people who can sustain this speed” … about 100m further I was proved right and very quickly I pulled away with one other guy. We then swam round the whole course together for a pretty easy swim other than one incident at the far turn buoy. He’d ended up on the inside of my but on my hip. Swimming towards this buoy was straight in to the sun and it took a while to spot it (I just followed the splash from the lead pros). When I finally saw it I wondered what he was planning to do being on my inside but slightly behind. There was no way I was giving an inch so I cut the buoy as close as I could forcing him behind and round me. I remember thinking at the time how my attitude to these swims has changed a lot since the early days when I felt intimidated.

I came out of the swim 2nd age grouper and headed up the pretty long uphill run to transition. There was  a massive gap behind us. Running up I had to keep further checking my pace as I could tell my heart rate was rising. A purposeful T1 and on to the bike. All good until the combination of numb feet and numb hands resulted in me pulling the velcro strap completely out of my left shoe. I had to stop and sort it out. I tried not to rush and panic but with such numb hands it seemed to take an in-ordinate amount of time.

As planned I rode pretty hard on the bike. Possibly too hard with 6 minutes over 330 watts. I felt pretty OK but was a little disconcerted by all the guys coming by. Thats what happens, I guess, when there’s not many ahead to pass.  I had to slam on the anchors when I came up behind a very nervous Sam Warriner on the very fast descent. Knowing the course is almost a disadvantage here when I know you don’t need your brakes till  a certain point but no one else knows. At the bottom we exchanged a few words – she apologised for slowing me up, I apologised for shouting “Go go go”.

Up the next hill Stu Anderson came by me. I was impressed, he was clearly going well and went on to finish 8th overall and fastest age grouper. My plan had been to ride really hard and I gave it my all but each time another age grouper went by I wasn’t able to go with them. It wasn’t till the final third of the final lap that I ended up riding with others.

Coming in off the bike I felt pretty good. Legs had worked but as I jumped off and ran through transition I felt OK running. The racking of bags here was a little random and I’d made a point of making mental notes when I racked as to where they were. My mental notes got confused though and I went the wrong way in T2 … finally I got it and sat and got my vibrams on.

I felt nice and comfortable on the run. The plan for this was to get faster each lap. I headed off nice and comfortably on the run. I soon saw Tim behind and closing me down, I gave him a big shout. On the first out and back I could see Brett behind me and gave him a shout. I needed a pee so stopped at the next portoloo. I’m pleased I did as I felt so much better. Whilst in there Brett went by so I now saw him at the next out and back slightly ahead. I gave him another shout. The young volunteer at the turnaround was really funny telling me that I looked too comfortable and “if you stopped chatting and saved your breath you’d go a lot quicker !”. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face as I was running well, comfortable and enjoying it. I felt a great pleasure in just running again. As I ran back towards the finish I saw Stephen, Paul and Roger and gave them all a shout. Since my injury Stephen and Roger have run me down every time we’ve raced together. I started to visualise the surprise they were going to get as I slowly sped up.

Lap two I upped the pace a little but still saw Brett pulling away and Roger and Stephen closing in. I kept calm and stayed comfortable. Approaching the last lap Andy and Lotte said I was 2:18 behind Brett and could catch him. Once through the dead turn near the finish I uppped my pace. I wanted to do it after the out and back so the guys wouldn’t spot it. I really really pushed and thought to myself how it’s very unlikely the guys would be doing the same. As Scott would say … this was my “sneak attack”.

At the Dam I felt Brett looked a little surprised at how much I’d caught up and Stephen looked stunned and shouted “you’re running strong”. With a couple of KMs to go Andy told me I was 45 seconds behind Brett. I upped my pace to 4:05 /km and tried to get through the traffic. I was far enough ahead that Roger didn’t get to see me. I could see Brett ahead but couldn’t close it finishing 19 seconds behind. I was laughing as I crossed the line, we shook hands then had a ‘man hug’. It was such good fun.

This is a race I think I can really crack and hope to return next year and have a go at sub 5 hours.

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