Wednesday, 15 June 2011

National Elite Championships

Five Races in Six weeks all culminating with the Windsor Elite or Elite British Championships event on a very rainy Sunday in June.

When I first planned my year I had two races confirmed - IM 70.3 Mallorca and Windsor Elite race. I had a number of other events pencilled in but confirmation of a place in Elite races is very last minute (unless your a consistent Elite performer where you can pretty much be guaranteed a start number).

This meant that up until about two weeks before my first race IM70.3 I had a very uncluttered schedule, 2 weeks later the reality was somewhat different.

I went from 2 races in 6 weeks to 5 races in 6 weeks (which has now potentially developed to 9 races in 9 weeks!). Obviously this has not made planning training very easy and i am pretty much on a train when I can basis at the moment.

Over the last couple of days they last few weeks really caught up with me and this may have been reflected in my swim at Windsor and my performance at Blenheim last week.

This was my first Standard race of the year after a couple of Superseries sprints and I was concerned about the amount of time I would drop in the swim (which has not been going well this year). It turned out that every bodies swim times were slow but I still came out lower down that, on paper I should. However I was relishing the opportunity to knuckling down for the bike and pulling back some places.

There wasnt a massive start list but with the likes of Stannard and Don lining up it was always going to be a quick swim and the bike would be pushed from the front. I was hoping to be on level terms with the main pack by the time we hit T2 and up until about 10k out I was where I wanted to be.

22:07 (Fastest Rich Stannard 18:49)
As I had been struggling with the swim I decided to try and settle into a rhythm and sit at the back of the pack staying out of trouble. My experience at these races has been that the quickest guys stay out of trouble and get clean water while the rest fight for space and generally a few get spat out the back. I have worked out that I am not strong enough to fight through the strongest swimmers at the moment and with knocked confidence I tried discretion rather than a gung ho attitude. This didn't really work as I lost the back of the pack and came out a long way down.

1:03 (Fastest Aaron Harris :52)
A much better T1 but I am still giving up easy time on some of the leaders - work needs to be done.

1:03:42 inc Flat (Fastest Matt Gunby 59:26)
There is one advantage coming out of the swim where I do and that is the other athletes in the same boat - Martin Cain is a very strong cyclist (as is Graham Leitch who didn't race) and I know that if we work together we can put time into a lot of the guys who came out first. We started strongly and started picking off some pairs of riders who joined the group making our way through the field. The more riders we had the harder it became as there were only a few that put time in on the front (Hill and Hayward to name names). The bike ended up claiming a number of Athletes including Steve Worthington (Flat) and Jack Peasgood (unknownn)and Davey and Bishop who had a nasty crash about 3k into the bike (C4 In two weeks!)

The rain was unrelenting and was obviously causing a number of mechanical issues/crashes as the number of competitors started to fall. Our group managed to catch the main pack just before the turnaround and we could see the leading group coming back past the other way so Martin and I put in a burst of effort to try and reduce the gap. Perhaps Burst was the wrong word to use as no sooner had we started to make a push my legs started to feel fatigued and I was struggling to push - turned out I had a flat front and I thought my race was over.

I was gutted at seeing the pack which I had worked so hard to catch and at that stage lead cycle off into the distance, but undeterred I tried to limp back on my flat tyre. The mop up wagon pulled in a few minutes later and informed me that I would have a long wait for a lift (some competitors had already been waiting an Hour). After confirming that I wanted to finish Jackie Slack (who had also had a puncture) offered me her front wheel and I was able to carry on.

I pulled back a couple of places in the bike ( a few guys had dropped off and I think ultimately canned the race) and came into T2 4 minutes after the pack - at least I would have a training run!

00:58 (Fastest Harris at 00:46)
This was quite lethargic TBH as I new the race was essentially over and thought that I didn't have too much of a chance in pulling back many places, I also knew that as there had been a lot of drop outs that the field would allow me to get a decent finishing position and some points for the Elite League. I also missed the rack the first time as my bike slipped off in the rain.

36:59 (Fastest Tom Bishop at 31:39)
The run felt great - Windsor isn't the fastest course and despite stopping to sort my shoes out on the first lap I recorded the 18th fastest run time and pulled back time on a lot of guys who only last year would have put minutes into me (and also recorded a faster run split than Tim Don - however I think he walked part of it :). I managed to pick off a couple of competitors on the way round and came in 24th overall. This was the first race I had used the Asics Piranhas for and they were really comfortable (apart from the twisted tongue) and I felt that I kept form all the way round. As these are slightly more cushioned than the Vivo Barefoot shoes I train in the run felt comfortable for the full 10k.

If I had run the same split but came in with the pack I would have come in 16th or so which is a bit annoying but overall I am pleased with the result considering the way the race panned out.

It may be a shallow victory but as I have raced and completed all three Superseries events so far I am currently ranked 13th - The only way is up!

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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.