Tuesday, 17 May 2011

IM 70.3 Mallorca

70.3 race report

Well that was pretty hard......

I have been involved in triathlon since 2008 and did not come from a swimming, running or cycling background. I did do some club swimming up until I was 15 and went to about two training sessions while at university but my passion up until I broke my leg/ankle a couple of times was basketball.

Coming into Triathlon pretty late on (as many do) I have always wanted to try and compete in different distances/formats as soon as possible to find out where I would be best placed to make an impact and be competative. This attitude has taken me into timetrials, sprint races, Guiding, Ironman racing, Duathlons, Aquathlons, Agegroup world championships and now the GB Superseries (Elite) and the world of 70.3 racing all within 3 years - oh, and Ive also now got a coaching qualification.

It is this level of involvement that has taught me that I have still a lot to experience and I still have many steep learning curves - my latest race being a prime example of this....

My aims this year were to qualify and compete at Vegas and race hard at the Elite superseries. I originally looked at 70.3 racing because I am not the strongest swimmer in the Olympic scene and I am relatively weaker on the run (although this has been improving week on week thanks to the uptake of barefoot running).

My strength has always been the bike so I picked an event where the bike was tough and the run was flat, which should (and almost did) play out exactly how I had hoped.

I had a few aims for the race, To medal, to get within 20 minutes of Phil Graves (last time we raced at an olympic event in 2009 he beat me by 9 minutes!) to place top brit (bar Pro) and to hold the fastest bike split - oh and qualify for Vegas.

Essentially it ended like this:
Phil: 4:15
Me: 4:27
2nd place AG Brit (4th inc Pro's)
7th in age
37th Overall inc pros
Fastest Bike in Age 20th Overall
40th fastest swim
Vegas Slot - qualified!

The 70.3 itself took more planning than any other race I have done, due to the weather and some advise from High5 and Andy Atthowe (who was also over to race) I had looked in detail at the nutrition and fluid intake for the race in combination with the bike course (so I didnt carry additional weight on the ascents). The nutrition worked perfectly, it was a basic plan but I finished the race with energy to spare (but destroyed legs - ill come to this in a minute).

Pre race
In the days leading to the race I stayed with Tri-Camp Mallorca and Nick Dunn (who was also racing). Nick and I have raced before but this was the first year he was in the 30-34 agegroup (although was still 29 - or so he says!). Nick is very competative and I was expecting a good run for my money with him in my category, especially as he is a very good runner (when not injured). Andy Atthowe was also out racing but in a diferent agegroup to me (starting 10mins earlier) so I also had a target straight off.

I did a couple of bike sessions, looking at the climb and descent and also had a swim to make sure I was prepared for the salt water and temp of the water as well as testing how shallow the water was for the beach start.

To be honest I felt good - probably the best I had felt before a race previously

Race Day
I woke up with some localized back pain which was frustrating considering how good I had been feeling. I was hoping the swim would get rid of this later so didnt worry to much. Dropped off my bag and headed down for the start. This was set up as three pens which you moved down into after the first wave went off.

The start was a beach/running start into pretty shallow water which some athletes obviously had not prepared for and although I started quite a way back I managed to run past a lot of floundering shallow water swimmers and dive over the top near the front pack.

I had planned to stay out of trouble and stay well left for the race to try and avoid trouble. As it turned out I probably could have headed straight down the middle as my swim time was pretty good - and would have probably been quicker as I would have been able to grab the back of the front pack instead of leading the second pack. Out in front of Nick in 26:07 including run to T1 of 500m or so up the beach

T1 was long - really long and set up in a way that was uneven (i.e. some agegroups had really long runs with the bike both in T1 and T2 as it essentially a single 800m strip with 500 bikes in 4 rows!

The T1 helper managed to get in the way of getting my suit off and Nick ran past shouting 'encouragement' once I had ran to my bike I had another 600m (according to the speedo) to run until the mount line where it was pretty conjested from the earlier 8:10 and 8:20 waves.

I hit the bike pretty hard and caught the swim leaders and Nick pretty early, settling into a rhythm and then holding back as I had no idea how a 2:30 bike would effect me. I was turning over nicely at about 45k per hour and sterted on my Nutrition with two High5 Gels on the bike and 1 bottle of 4in1 (High5). I also had a dry aero bottle containing two zero tabs and 4 1/2s of bars.

On the way to the climb I passed Andy who had split his Tub and was having problems with his valve and c02 cannisters - As I was carrying tubes I couldnt have assisted and he told me to keep going.

At the base of the climb I caught the 30-34 leaders Ernesto (1st) and Hendrick (2nd), who appeared to be riding a Tandem and suggested that this wasnt a fair tactic as I passed them up the hill (only to find out that Hendrick had jumped onto my wheel instead!).

The climb was good, I had done it a couple of days before at a steady pace in the big ring so knew what I was capable off and left the summit in 1st place with Hendrick (very) close behind. From there on it was a very technical and rapid descent and then a rolling but fast TT effort all the way to T2.

I managed to catch some of the pro women and most of the earlier starters and managed to smash out a 2:22 bike which was 30th fastest overall (fastest in age) and only 7:47 off Phil graves and 7:25 off Laurent Jalabert a previous Tour De France stage winner.

I headed into T2 and knew at this stage I was leading the 30-34 age and was confident that I could pull out a sub 1:30 half and was expecting to be closer to a 1:25.

I headed onto the run with the plan of running 20 min 5k loops and this started off well. I felt comfortable and lapped the first 5k in 19:37 increasing the lead over Nick and holding my own against the rest of my category. I still felt good at the 7.5k mark and repeated the 5k in 21:12 as my quads started to tighten up. This was where things started to go a little bit wrong.

Due to the heat I was very concious that I had to keep cool - this was my priority and as such I was continually soaking my head with sponges and trying to take on water - unfortunately this caused my feet to become very wet and started to cause serious blisters. Combining this with the work I had put into my quads my pace slowed dramatically and I started to lose places.

If I had maintained my pacing as planned I would have ran a 1:24:00 1/2 and placed 1st in age and been 18th overall.

This was the learning curve - I had allowed for various effects of the heat but had not allowed for the wet feet. I finished driopping 3 places in the last 5k and another in the last 8k.

I know where the work needs to go and I know that this is a good distance for me - I wasnt particually tired at the end of the race, more suffering from my feet and quads and trying to adjust my running style to avoid aggravating them.

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About Me

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As an ex-National League Basketball player I took up triathlon as a development from cross training. I won my first Sprint distance race and placed second in my first Olympic distance. Since then I have raced the UK Elite Superseries coming 24th in the National Elite Champs, raced Vegas 70.3 WChamps and helped Paratriathlete Iain Dawson to World, European and National Titles. In 2011 I obtained Pro authorisation from the BTF and am pushing my development by stepping up to top level competition in 2012. Aside from this I am a L1 Swim and Tri coach and Professional Lloyds Broker.