Sunday, 29 November 2015

Western Sydney IM 70.3 - "coming from behind"

Short report:
Swim      47:52 (850/1050 overall, 131/162 AG) 81st percentile overall and AG
T1.          01:43 (194 & 24) 
Bike.       2:27:50 (188 & 38) 18th / 23rd perc
T2.          01:24 (232 & 42)
Run.        1:30:57 (80 & 14) 8th / 9th perc
Overall.   4:49:48 (198 & 35) 19th / 22nd perc

Long report:
Entered this race as soon as it opened. It was pay back time after recording my first DNF (details in previous report - simply put: gastro from kids) at the inaugural race in 2014.

It was also supposed to act as a second attempt at going sub 5 if I failed at Challenge Forster. Given that I had gone sub 5 I was now wondering why? I knew the non wetsuit swim would make it hard to get a PB and the heat could hurt the run. On the plus side I knew I had the sub 5 I wanted in the bag, so could risk going hard and blowing up etc. But I think one of the main motivations was that this was a big tri with a big field and with places up for grabs in the worlds (Mooloolaba in 2016) the field should be strong. This would provide a good testing ground wrt percentiles as to whether the improvements seen in recent tri's were real or just statistical anomalies based on smaller fields and the competitors turning up.

One thing I do need to look into (if I do 3 tri's in 4 weekends again) how best to recover and train in between - no idea if I managed that well or not. Evidently I managed it well enough but could it have been better?

Race day:
Alarm at 3:30 quick bit of food (bagel with butter and honey, up and go and a banana) and then into the car for 4. Drank my iced coffee in the car on route to Penrith that and electrolyte. Made good time despite not being able to see properly as my contacts weren't working properly. Got all my stuff into transition without a fuss, and dropped my bag in the bag drop. Now had c45 mins before my wave went off at 6:33. Walked around in the drizzle made several trips back to the boat house to have a drink of water. Saw Nick and his mate chatted to them for a bit. Did some stretching, but just wanted to get on with it....

Called down for the start. I took up a position on roughly the 3rd row to the RHS. I had decided to swim down the rope on the inside. This would be the shortest route around the course, but would potentially leave me open to being swum over by the waves behind. I made the assumption that the faster people that over took me would be capable of looking ahead and avoiding me - this proved largely to be the case. I just wanted to get my head down and try and stop my legs dredging the bottom of the lake. Turned around at c21mins - the second half of the swim is slightly longer. So I knew I wasn't going to break any records ;-). Was a tough swim all in all with no wetsuit and struggling with the lack of buoyancy and extra drag which highlighted the significant flaws in my stroke. Felt like the stroke was short and my legs were hanging. Was surprised that my watch read nearly 48mins when I got out. That was slower than i had expected and not that much quicker than last year and I had thrown up three times on that swim, rolled and called for aid before doggy paddling out by myself.....

More importantly 48 was nearly 9 minutes slower than at Challenge Forster 4 weeks ago - when I set my HIM PB. There went my chance of a PB. I was still hoping to set a PB on the bike and run but not expecting to be able to knock that much off...


Set out on the bike hard, wanted to gain time (and places) on the people who are still stuffing around after leaving transition. Felt good on the bike and quickly got down to business. Taking places and ticking along at a good rate. Started switching places with a female rider. This continued for most of the first lap. Not sure who was surging but she often got away and then I would come rolling passed a few minutes later. This came to a finish in some traffic and she got the jump on me and I didn't see her again until the run. Rode solo most of the bike passing a lot and getting passed a fair bit as well. Was happy to overtake some people with disc wheels and full aero helmets. Got passed by the pro's on the second lap - they were motoring. The drag was unbelievable. They all came passed at c40k/hr one by one. Clearly all benefiting from the draft, but them's the rules. Maybe if I could get out of the swim with people higher up I would end up doing the same thing?!?!

Felt my effort start to drift by the end of the first lap. I was concerned I had gone too hard to early and that I was going to pay for my "go hard or go home" attempt. On the second lap I felt I got into a better rhythm. I found a level of pain and cadence I was happy with and cranked it out. Guessing it was me surging on the first lap then. Had a real low spot coming up to 80k could feel the pace slipping. As I got passed by a road bike with clip ons I was getting concerned it was all falling apart! I grabbed some water and had a gel and came firing back. I smashed back passed the roadie and pushed hard until the end. Again I was looking for time benefits vs the people easing off into transition. The last 10k hurt and was relying on being able to hold the run together. I felt I had worked really hard on the bike and was equally as happy that I was going under 2:30 (my aim). Ended up over 2 mins under, which was a 7 min pick up on Challenge Forster. Clearly I wasn't able to do the maths properly. But I knew that was a big gain and by checking my timing on way out of T2 I knew a 1:30 run would get be a PB run and a PB HIM to boot. So through transition quickly and off to see if I could hold a 90min half....
Heart rate high at the begining again and then trending down before pushing hard in final ten 10k. Cadence at avg of low 80s is lower than I would have liked. Found myself reverting to pushing out a lower cadence in higher gear, rather than spinning a smaller gear. 
Lap 1 Avgs: 36.7km/h 155bpm 241 Watts (est'd by Strava)
Lap 2 Avgs: 36.2km/h 147bpm 230 Watts

Out on the run the usual strange running feeling for first few k. Feels like running slowly but then the Garmin starts buzzing at 4:05s and 4:09s so I know I am running well enough. Was happy with the pace so set out to hold it for as long as I could. Had a few people for company early doors - a group from a younger AG (the lead one running in energy link kit). Held them off for a bit until he kicked and came past. I was still holding sub 4:15s which meant sub 1:30 was still on (in theory) but a while still to go. 

Coming round to get my first band and was overtaken by a balmoral person. I had been cheering on (as much as I could) other balmoral athletes, but without my Club kit on, they were probably wondering why I was. I tried to stick with him and managed a couple of k, but then he started to pull ahead. That was at about the 12k mark and also the mark at when the going got tough....

The times just started to slip northwards. First it was over 4:15s then over 4:20s. Then a few over 4:30s and it was all starting to slip away. The aid stations just couldn't come quick enough. I was taking on a couple of mouthfuls of water on the run at each aid station and that helped for a k or so, but then back to holding out for the next aid station. I didn't want to stop and take a proper drink for fear of not being able to start again, so I kept going and hoped I could hold on. The last few ks were painful - the sun was fully out and the temperature was rising. I was checking the watch over and over trying to do the maths. Was I going to make it, what did I need to do. I knew that a sub 90 was off the cards. But was a run PB and was the overall PB??? I knew I had some time in the bank from the first half, but not that much that too many 4:30s wouldn't soon erode. But how much did I have left to give. I upped the effort level after 19k but that didn't impact the timing with that very very minor incline over the bridge.... 20k click passed and I had to go for it. I couldn't let this slip. I really pushed and people I was over taking would have heard me either shouting "come on" at myself or swearing when I saw the time slipping by. I wasn't on the finish shoot with less than a minute to go. How long was the shoot??? F*** its all gone wrong, I can't make it in time.

Pushed all the way down the shoot, no effort spared. Seconds ticking by all the time (as they do) and crossed the line with a new PB....just. 8 seconds to be exact. Looking at the km splits below it shows how my last k was 20 seconds quicker than the one before and that was what got me over the line. So I was pretty pleased crossing the line and taking home a PB after that god awful swim. Quite chuffed all in all.

I have never drunk so much liquid post race, I just stood in front of the water cups refilling or grabbing more. Then occasionally grabbing an ice cream before heading back for more water. But I had the medal and towel, had avenged last year and taken home an unexpected PB to boot.
Heart rate climbing throughout the run (start 151 - end 178). Pacing on the other hand tailed off as the k's ticked by only picking up for the burst at the end.

Last k shows a pick up in pace which was the difference between getting the PB and not. Run was going well until just over the half way point when it started to get tough and increasingly so.

Logistically I couldn't complain, I had my electrolyte in transition. The bike bladder worked well and having no bottle in the rocket launcher meant I didn't lose one over the rough ground like last year and all the bottles over the road pointed to this year. Given the 45mins since leaving transition and race start I could have done with extra liquid then but the trips to the fountain gave me something to do.

Having come out with such a slow swim I was ecstatic to get a PB over all. I pulled back c9 minutes. Which in turn meant I set a big bike PB (7mins) and a run PB (1min). I also had to and subsequently managed to fight for that PB in the last k - so a great sense of satisfaction. As the yellow highlighted kms above show the extra effort in the last k got me my PB. It was by no means guaranteed but I scraped over the line.

However, my swim was a disgrace again and I need to get on top of that - but that is not new news. The comparison to a larger and deeper field also meant that my "improvement" on the bike in recent events was put into perspective. Whilst I am in no doubt I couldn't have pushed that avg speed a few years ago the percentile was c20th (few years ago I was c50th) there is still some improvement to be had. I am not one of the big boys pushing out 40km/h for k after k. So in keeping with the increasing interest in cycling and crits, 2016 will be more focused on the bike with Mt Solitary thrown in to keep me honest on the running side of the equation.

All in all, 3 triathlons in 4 weekends (and 3 PBs) meant a well earned trip to Maccy D's for some nuggets and a quarter pounder. Luckily I remembered the TT bike on the roof and didn't go for the drive through option!

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