Sunday, 30 September 2012

The quest for sub 2hrs 30mins

The tale of two triathlons

Virgin London Tri (23 Sept 2012)
I was returning to the site of my first Triathlon experience six years ago and after a summer of longer events I wanted to beat my Olympic PB and try for under 2hrs30mins.

I was in the final wave of the day on the Sunday afternoon. The weather on the Saturday was lovely but the weather on Sunday was a different matter. It felt dark by the time we got to Excel with the rain lashing down.

We massed at 15:00 ready for the briefing and the start. There was a bit of a delay and then the news came......the swim is being cut to 750m...'bugger' all that training and no time...what's the point! It's no longer an Olympic distance...Then further delays and more news - the swim has been cancelled altogether. But that wasn't all, the bike and run had been cut in half too??? I understood the reason for the swim but not the rest of the race? Felt very much like there had never been enough time to complete the final wave. [Have now been offered a full refund.]

Finally we could (if we wanted) start when ever we felt like it. Having fought through the traffic in South and East London I wanted to do something. Fired off on the bike and went hard and felt like I was flying. It was really wet and quickly lost all feeling in my feet. Kept the power on for the whole of the single lap allowed (c18km). And then out on the run for two laps through a car park/industrial estate. The course was windy and crowded. The rage I had on the bike subsided and started to wonder why I was carrying on....

Didn't put my medal on and left pretty quickly. There was no timing to be seen and given I didn't start my watch I didn't even know what my form was like. Was sorely disappointed to not to have had a chance to go sub 2:30 and sacrificed so much just prior to the arrival of my first child.

By Wednesday I had cracked and signed up for another dig at the time in the USN Dorney Lake Tri on following Sunday. In the mean time London Tri had produced times for my wave and pleasingly I had finished 3rd in my wave (of 51). 3rd in both the bike and the run. This was both a surprise and encouraging especially the bike...finally making some headway.

USN Dorney Lake Olympic Tri (30 Sept 2012)

Alarm at 5:30, with Em deciding to come too :-). The due date is 1 Oct (the next day)...

Was all set for the start at 08:30 and this time it looked calm and the swim was on. But it was cold, I was shivering in the water by the start of the race. It was time to see whether the improvements I feel I have made in the pool can translate to a race. Felt better than previous swims this summer, no burning in the arms and shoulders and occasionally got some rhythm together.

However, I was out of the water in 33mins, when what I wanted was to get as close to 30mins as I could. Well appears 33 is as close as I can.....apart from the 32mins 6 years ago....

Was out on the bike and hoping for a good time, even though in the briefing they noted that it was c2km long (Garmin had it at 3) as the stands had still to be removed so couldn't make our way back down the island as usual. I knew by the end of the first lap it wasn't going to happen. The calm conditions had gone and the wind was howling (well it felt like that to me...). But what made it worse was that normally at Dorney if there is wind (which there normally is) then you battle into it one way and then it pushes you all the way back down the other side. However, the back road was more protected on the way back and there was no help from the wind, so it was just 8 laps of battling with the wind. [Having looked at the times back at the ranch it looks like I just didn't have it today, felt like such hard work compared to the week before in what were also bad conditions, which felt easy...]

Spent the laps trying to think of reasons to keep pushing. A PB wasn't going to be one of them. Em cheering every lap was certainly a big one and I kept pushing to make sure her commitment to supporting wasn't completely wasted. [My Dad was also there supporting and thanks again for all the great photos taken]. Then I heard a "Go Tri London" and it felt like a Wed morning in RP as Darren came flying past. Right, now I need to keep pushing, there is face to save. But would my effort on the bike (it felt like I was working hard even if the speed and time didn't suggest the same) hinder my effort on the run - still had the aim of a sub 40min 10km.

Finished the bike in 1hr20mins (which I am still disappointed with) and tried to get my trainers onto completely numb feet. The numbness had got into my ankles too. Struggled with my trainers (will need to consider this for the future the Nike Free V3s are not suited to quick transitions).

Out on the run and felt like running on stumps but was 'off and running'. Too quickly for my liking I was overtaken, but it was Darren. I had at one point on the bike thought about using him to try and pace my run - I had once placed 10th in the City Square Mile Run (5km) by tracking a mate who was far better than me and finished 2nd, but it pushed me to the limit. But it was too early and I wasn't warmed into it enough....oh and he went by far too fast for me ;-)

Km's ticking by at 4min intervals and was feeling good as the warmth seeped back into my feet. Second lap and started to tire but kept pushing, remembered the AxTri and how if you keep going good things can happen. Fought off a stitch on the way back in on the second lap but picked up the pace anyway. A final flourish as someone came past and we sprinted to the line....38:59. So had achieved my final aim of a sub 40min 10km for a new PB.

But still smarting, sacrificed a whole lot to try and get sub 2:30 and failed again. Disappointed that still not seeing improvement in the bike or the swim. Feel I am in the pool but need to keep that going and try and get it into the open water too (2 big weaves today won't have helped...).

Looking at the times a bit more my % rankings from last year here (HSBC) 72th/55th/18th but this morning they were 75th (normal), 30th %'ile (much better), 8th %'ile (again much better). So looking at the result by placing shows a better result than comparing to the time I wanted. Will need to think about why the bike felt so good last week and so hard today...

So that's it for the Tri season, now time for the Rugby season, oh and fatherhood. So will play it by ear but hope to keep working on the swim and bike over the winter. Another enjoyable tri season, some great events, just want some better times for next year.

USN Dorney Lake
Swim 33:10 (238th/320)
T1 02:14
Bike 01:20:04 (97th)
T2 01:42
Run 38:58 (25th)
Total 02:36:09 (86/320)

London Tri
Bike 32:08 (3/51)
T2 02:26
Run 21:12 (3/51)
Total 55:46 (3/51)

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