Yesterday I completed my second half-iron distance race of this season. I had done this race last year as my first. It was very tough and I was hoping that this time it would be easier. Realistically, I wasn’t sure what to expect though. My training has been a bit on and off and has seriously lacked in consistency or planning. On the positive side, when I have trained it’s been mostly good training and I’m not injured or hurting in any way.
This race was the first of a double A-race session, the second of which is another 70.3 in Galway in two weeks. So I had to pace this right. I couldn’t just go out and wreck myself and not be able to race again in two weeks.
As a result of this, I paced the race much more carefully. I took it easier on the swim and held back just a little on the bike. In honesty though I didn’t hold back THAT much.
I started the day by meeting up with Lisa and Greg which was great. It was nice to have some friends to hang out with pre-race. The atmosphere was good and everyone was in good form.
The swim was an uneventful 2 lap affair (yes.. 2 laps Greg) and I came out of the water in 34:42. This was a few minutes slower than last year (last year was 30:10) but I went harder last year and besides, I’ve only swum 5 times in the last 12 months, and 4 of those times were in races.
T1 was fine, a few seconds slower than last year, and I headed out on the bike.
On the bike I felt good. I got some food in and enjoyed it. I kept a stead 19 MPH average for the first lap, got passed by a few people with aero helmets on tri bikes and passed about as many as passed me. On the second lap… pretty much the same probably dropped to about an 18.5mph average (I think) and a few people passed me and I passed a few.
The third lap I clearly started to show that I haven’t been cycling enough. By then the field had spread out and I didn’t see many people for that whole lap. I started to tire and I just started to feel heavy and slow. There was more of a headwind and my speed dropped to around or below 17mph. this is where I really decided I needed to be smart and pace myself. That was the speed that I could do with the same effort level and when a few people passed me in the last 10 mile stretch, rather than push and stay with them I let them go. Last year in the race I was happy with my performance as it was my first, but I fell to pieces on the run having put too much into the swim and bike. This time I wanted to run better.
I got off the bike in 3:12:57 (slower than last years time of 3:09:32) and was also slower in T2. So.. at this stage I’ve already lost nearly 10 minutes off last years time. At the time I didn’t know this level of detail, but I had a fair idea I was a good bit slower. However I also knew that I was going to do the run better.
I set out running and felt ok.. My real target for this whole race was to run the whole run section (walking the aid stations to drink water doesn’t count). In both previous races I was forced into a run/walk strategy due to the pain and exhaustion… I didn’t want to do it in this race, and it worked. I ran the whole thing and only walked the aid stations. I aimed to keep a 9 min mile pace for the whole run. As I progressed I started modifying my goals a little. In addition to not walking, I also wanted to do a sub 2 hour run. Then, after a few miles, I realised that if I kept the 9 min mile pace going I could beat last years time by a few minutes.
The run was tough… but I managed it and hit my targets. I did the run in 1:56:34, an average pace of just under a 9 min mile. My finishing time was 5:50:28. A ten minute improvement over last year.
Last year I had really died on the run… so despite losing time on every other part of the race, I still managed a 10 min PB. Triathlon is a complex thing.. there are so many factors to consider, but it just shows, any weakness you have in any discipline really becomes apparent over longer distances. I am not really any stronger in any of the 3 disciplines than I was last year. I had a prolonged period of inactivity due to injury and since then have been sporadic in my training. All I really did on the day was pace better, have a better mental attitude and had the experience of 2 races of this distance under my belt. It really made a difference.
Today I’m walking easily and have not real aches and pains. I have some stiffness in the legs but overall I feel good and will be able to race in Galway in two weeks.
My friends Lisa and Greg did fantastically. Lisa did her first 70.3 and did it in the fantastic time of 6:35. Hugely impressive.
Greg is a machine and was finishing his tri-season, which included the full IM Lanza course, and he finished in the top 20 with a 5:20 race.
A great day all round.
Oh, and for anyone who has read this far, I am going to keep this blog going, but am posting much more on my Google plus profile. Feel free to add me on there.