Sunday, 3 July 2011

Cowman - British Middle Distance Race Report‏

Short Report
Swim: 00:39:05
T1: 00:02:31
Cycle: 02:52:11
T2: 00:01:00
Run: 01:31:44
Total: 05:06:29

Long Report
Having done the TriGrandPrix HalfIM at the very same venue 6 weeks ago (Emberton Country Park) I was quite relaxed going into the event. Well actually it was more that I was not as nervous as doing a half IM for the first time (as last time was). I knew the routine, I knew the course (more on that later . . . ) and it was just training for the full IM in August. The only two issues causing pressure were 1) I had a PB to beat now and 2) this would be the first time I donned my TriLondon colours so wanted to do it proud.

It was an early 3 am start to drive up from London with only a few hrs sleep returning from an engagement do the night before - it was at a great place near Parsons Green (, food was great but probably not ideal pre-race food - more on this to follow as I may have secured a TriLondon discount. Arrived with much more time to spare from last time as I remembered the average speed section of the M1 and used the A5 option to skirt round this. Registered and got my 'free' HIGH5 energy box and full length zip cycle top. Awesome that had been on my list to buy, just need to ensure I keep the recent weight loss off because a medium cycle top is not a medium to normal people . . .


There were loads more entrants than previously which meant lots more bodies to fend off for someone who doesn't strike out on their own at the front. Having "quite enjoyed" my previous swim here I tried to increase the intensity this time and pushed a wee bit harder. Nervous of striking the right balance, not being a strong swimmer I have seen my stroke disintegrate if pushed too hard! Therefore I was happy to exit the water with the commentator talking about 38mins. My actual time was just over 39 but still c4 minutes quicker than last time. Fumbled around in transition struggling to get the wetsuit off one foot and then put on cycle gloves with wet hands. MN ('Mental Note'): Work out way to carry and apply gloves on the bike.


Out on to the bike and went off aggressively, my watch was screaming at me too fast, too fast as I launched through a HR of 165. I knew I would settle so wasn't too concerned. This was emphasised by the fact I went screaming past a TriLondoner cheering them on, only to be over taken 1-2 mins later and never seeing them again. . . . . There was next to no wind this time which made it so much nicer than last time and with my aero bars and brand new aero water bottle I was excited to try out the new gadgets for an extended period. The cycle is two laps of c35km and one of c20km through the rolling countryside. 3/4 of the way round the first lap I started encountering my normal problem on a bike, not being able to maintain my HR. My watch was now calling me a lazy b*stard as it beeped as it dropped below 145. after 5-10mins of this I got fed-up and turned it on to silent and tried to keep pushing myself. My HR is fine on the hills but struggle to maintain the effort (HR wise) on the flatter sections. Round the second lap and was feeling better probably because I had taken it a bit easier without my watch shouting at me. Onto the third lap and I was working out my timing. Probably started this on my second lap but given my capacity for maths during exercise it takes a while. What I realised was that I was going much better than last time. And, AND if I could get into Transition at c3:35 replicating my run time from before I could be on for a sub 5 hr - something I hadn't even considered before. So back on went the watch and then spent the last 20km hammering it to stop the damn watch beeping at me. MN: loved the aero bottle, but carry less liquid and be willing to grab water from aid stations. I was over self sufficient, jettisoning at least 1L on the 2/3rd lap to reduce weight.

For the drafting comments. At one point I saw a massive group drafting along, I was shocked it was MASSIVE, but it didn't make sense as I was gaining on them - I'm just not that good - turned out to be a local cycle club out on an easy Sunday ride, which made be chuckle. Having said that apparently c10 people were DQ'd and c10 were given 2min penalties for drafting.


I came screaming in to T2 at c3.35 it was on! Grabbed my hat with all my stuff and dressed on the run, throwing my gloves and excess gels at my better half as I went passed - sorry Em, as apparently not all the gels were sealed properly - oops. After last time I had decided to stop for the loo, so as soon as we hit the fields I stopped. I knew I needed a good time but felt with a lighter and less painful bladder it would be better to stop. Most of the people I had overtaken in the first 1-2km came back and I had to go back passed them. I was running well and at what felt like a fast pace, given all the overtaking. Then disaster struck, having run the laps 4 times 6 weeks ago I knew them or I thought I did! So suddenly my plans fell apart in a few seconds of realisation half way through the lap . . . . why are we turning left and not going straight on? Damn we are including an extra section of field . . . . Damn it even more! Victor's garmin based claims of a short course were right! the course had been short last time! So in one small left turn I had my Half Marathon PB taken away from me (back to 1:35 from the fake 1:24) and no longer any chance of getting in under 5hrs. Damn it what to do now . . . . well carry on, obviously, but start the mental maths again to sort a new aim. For the first two laps I was half harbouring the 5hrs still, would need a ridiculous effort on the last lap etc but if I felt fresh enough would give it a nudge. Sadly I didn't and started to slow up on the 3rd lap HR consistently at c160 and starting to trip over 165 and start the beeping again. Carried on with a mouthful of water at each aid station and had half a gel on the 3rd lap. Gave a push on the 4th and was given the boost of the lead female coming up, so kept her a bay for as long as I could and then tracked her to the finishing coming in just behind. I was beat . . . . and nearly walked/staggered straight into the announcer.

Faster swim (c4mins), faster bike (19+mins), and a REAL PB on the half marathon of 1:31:44 (which it turns out was actually a quicker pace than 6 weeks previously on the short course). So at an overall 17mins better than 6 weeks ago, with the longer run I was well chuffed and loved the wearing of the team kit bringing on course banter even if I hadn't previously met the other TriLondoners.

Chatted to and saw a few other TriLondoners afterwards and some really good times being posted, but I will let them tell you about that.

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