Friday, 12 June 2009

Weymouth Middle Distance - 4th Place

It's been a while since I've updated the blog, but then it's been a while since I raced!

This weekend was the first 'tri' of the season, one of only two before I head out to Ironman Switzerland next month.

I wanted to find a middle distance tri early June and in the end Weymouth was the best fit with various family commitments.

After the last few weeks of great weather arriving Saturday afternoon was a bit of a crash back to UK summer reality. 25mph winds, torrential showers and 3 foot of wind swell in the bay were not exactly what I was hoping for. But it would be the same for everybody. I got myself registered into the 7am wave with the quick boys, got my numbers and headed over to Devon for an afternoon 60th birthday party!

Coming back to Weymouth early evening the weather seemed to have deteriorated, my mate Ed and I got some food and an early night.

Incredibly the wake up call at 4:30 brought sun coming through the thread-bare curtains. The sea was gently lapping at the cobbled beach, roads were dry and things looked a lot more favourable.

As I'd moved wave I didn't have a slot in transition, so the Ref placed me against the fence of the tennis court. I set the bike up right next to Bike Out in prime location, pulled on my suit and went for a quick warm up swim.
Apart from feeling like I still had a couple of kg's of carbs sat in my guts I was feeling great.

I lined up with mate and rival Justin Webb (Optima RT) and only 10mins later we were off.

It was a simple swim, out to a buoy, turn right, swim 900m's parallel to the beach, turn-around, swim back, left around another buoy and into the beach. Rather than my usual fight to get clear water and breathing under control I didn't worry. I took a breathe every 2nd stroke and went for it. 5mins in I was top 20 (or so), then got into a rhythm, trying to keep my arm t/o as quick as possible and started to move through the packs. By the furthest turn-around buoy I was inside the top ten. I took some feet for a few mins, then pushed on again. I took one or two more in the last half of the swim and exited the water in 33 mins.

With only one person going under 30mins, I'm pretty sure it was long, so I was very happy with the swim.

A quick fall in transition (slippery steps!) some irritation fumbling with my number belt and I hit the road in 34:54 (my target was sub 35!). My tactic on the bike was to really go for it - complex plan! Not quite the level of my 50m TT last weekend, but certainly pushing it more than I historically do in Middle distance.

The only real climb of the course was the first 5miles out of Weymouth, were I took a couple of the fast women from our waver (Yvette Grice, etc). Onto the dual carriageway and I took a couple of guys and got taken by eventual winner Edward Charlton-Weedy. I stuck within 50 yards of Edward for 15mins but then he started to drift away, finally just before the first turnaround at around 50mins, I overtook Toby Radcliffe and he confirmed I was in second place - I must have taken a few more in transition.

I saw the back of Edward as I came back onto the dual carriageway from the flyover and that was the last I saw of him. From 55 mins I was on my own, I gave a shout to Ed and team mate Adam at various turnarounds and timed to see Justin was 5mins back.

Maybe it was the sea water I drank, maybe it was the extra effort, but I struggled to get any water or food down in until 75mins. I had a bad patch then and forced a gel and some cake bar down.

The rest of the bike was uneventful, rolling dual carriageway in and out of the wind and a shower and then a fun decent back to Weymouth and T2.

Target was 2:14 for the bike and I got through with T2 in 2:15:24, so still pretty much on schedule. As I rode the final 500m's into transition I saw Edward running out the other way (I later heard he was 7mins up) - impressive riding.

Onto the run, the legs felt like lead. It wasn't a hilly run, but was rolling. I'd targeted 6:15/miles but try as I might couldn't get much under 6:40's. My excessive carbo loading was maybe taking the brunt! At 2 miles I got taken for 2nd, and again try as I might I couldn't get back onto the guy. I manged to hold a 30 sec gap for the rest of the first lap, but there was no impression to be made.

The next 10miles I ran on fear, knowing I wasn't running quickly and that Justin and Co. would be chasing me down. Justin was in form to run 6:15's and at 25secs a mile I wasn't sure if he'd quote get me. Toby Radcliffe has run 3hrs off the bike in an IM so he's no slouch.

I pushed on at the same pace to the last mile and rolled through the line in 4:15.11, I'd wanted to go under 4:12, so please enough. It was great to have some supporters at the end and better still to see Justin had worked his way all the way through the field to come in 66 secs behind for 4th (3rd in wave) and Toby another 80 secs behind that.

In the end Matt Hammerton, who went off in a later wave, had a great race to finish in 2nd, leaving me in 4th and Justin in 5th.

Still good preparation for Switzerland. Several lessons learnt.

1. Force yourself to eat
2. Don't kill the bike if you want to run fast! (I had a 154 Av HR on the bike, compared to 155 on the run)
3. You can overdo Carbo loading / race prep eating!
4. High arm turnover makes me fast open water

Harwich Olympic distance on the 21st, then a taper for Switzerland on the 12th July!

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