Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Back to an old favourite: Norwich Olympic

Coming off the back of 3 races in 7 days (2 at the Europeans, Canary Wharf Elite) I wanted to support my local event and go back to my first ever olympic race.

The Norwich Triathlon is a great event ably put on by Tri-Anglia every year. The first year I did the event was in 2008 and was my first Oly distance race. I borrowed a mates planet X bike (Double Ironman legend Will Hall) for the event would have come in 2nd overall however it was the start of a regular 'Brain fart' in racing (I normally make at least one idiotic mistake)as my inexperience caused me to drop to 4th after I was blessed with a 2min time penalty :) for taking off my helmet before I racked - it turned out that in the next two years I would do this one more time (Shropshire in 2009) costing me a sub 2hr finish!.

Back in 2008 there was only a standard race, no sprint and no relay. Compared to 2008 the 2011 race's swim was roughly the same, the bike also unchanged but the run had been brutalized (if it isnt a word - it should be!). In 2008 we did two laps of the main lake and once up into the woods/hill/offroad section - and it is a muddy/offroad proper hill. This year we had to reverse the hill twice along with a big ditch and some cambered grass banks - nice.

It is strange turning up to a local event that you have done before; it's nice staying in your own bed, getting a decent breakfast, knowing the course etc but after racing some Elite races there was an expectation to do well. Despite it being a bit of a training event for me (or that was what it was down as) I wanted to come away feeling I had improved since 2008. There was more pressure here than at any of the televised Elite events - fortunately I had a good one.

I knew there would be ample competition from Liam Gentry (Fritton Winner and bike specialist) and Steve Norris (Born to Tri and podium finisher from 2010) and expected to see Liam on the bike course because I knew I had a faster swim and was sure he would pass me at some stage.

Liam and I both guide Iain Dawson and as Liam was originally down to race with Iain (who had broken his foot), therefore I was expecting more than a good run for my money on the bike section.

My aims for the race were as follows:

Record fastest splits for each discipline inc Transitions
Beat 2008 time despite longer/harder run (being 2:02:39)
Go under 2 hrs despite the longer run.

The swim started slowly but I built into a nice rhythm and worked my way to the front, it was very different from the hectic fast pace that Elite races start which have meant that even by about 400m your still in the middle of a pack of legs and arms all fighting for the first turn. The sighting at Norwich was pretty dificult as it was straight into the sun and im sure i could have swam on a more direct line.

The swim itself felt quite long but I put that down to carrying some fatigue from the previous weeks but I made sure I came out of the water first and settled for being able to start the bike strongly.

T1 went well, no real issues and I hit the first part of the bike pretty hard as I knew I had a competitor on my toes out of the swim/I wanted to put myself out of sight to stop him having someone to chase. Knowing the course I knew where the points were that it would be most likely that someone may catch sight of my wheel and I was concious to look round at these points expecting to see Liam hurtling along like an express train - wearing an aero helmet, you should avoid looking round as the drag is increased, but I just couldnt help it!.

At the turn back point with about 7 miles to go I still saw no-one and at this stage I knew that bar mechanicals I would get in first and most probably be able to hold on during the run. I didnt feel quick round the bike, especially the first half but figured that Liam must have had issues.

T2 was less sucessful as I missed my rack (which caused problems in 2008!) and I started out on the run. The previous races caught up with me during the run and I felt very slow with little back lift and recovery from the legs being a tell tell sign that I wasnt at 100%.

I kept the pace pretty even throughout the run but eased off in the second half as the uneven ground was definately taking a toll on my feet (with the onset of blisters) during the second ascent into the hills and at that stage the chance of going sub 2 was unlikely. I maybe could have done it but it definately would not have been an easy task and my feet ended up in enough of a state! As it was a training run and I wanted to be able to train for the London Superseries event I backed off.

I managed to record the fastest splits in each category (including a 56:18 vs a 58:48 by Liam) and an overall win by 8 minutes including a new course record.

All in all a pretty good day in the 'other' office and nice to get on a podium.

It was also great to record my first olympic win at my local event.

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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.