TRI-ttering

Monday, 25 June 2012

Stepping up (again) and stumbling back (but with a smile)


Well - you probably missed me racing in the pro category as I appear a number of places below the rest of the field but as with all races you have to take the positives where you can!

The year so far for me has been exciting in the build up to racing my first season in the Pro category but as yet my expected level of performance has not quite developed as I would have hoped. The recent performances at The Blenheim Triathlon and the AG Sprint championships aside I haven't really got to the level that I was hoping for at this time in the season.
Why is that? In all honesty it has been a lack of training for whatever reason.
Most athletes have setbacks, predominantly caused by Injury or financial pressure and since my step up to racing pro I really can appreciate that those guys who live off the back of results must experience a whole load of pressure. I know I felt the pressure enough and I wasn't racing for a living.
Originally UK70.3 was an A race for me and was supposed to be a build on the Mallorca 70.3 race back in April. If you are the person who has been reading my blog (thankyou) you will know that I was a DNS at Mallorca which shifted all my preparations and expectations back by 6 to 8 weeks (give or take) and my training down to about 8-12hrs, although the training was only partly related to the training.
The slight injury (Poplitius) I picked up was aggravated (and still is to a degree) by driving more than anything so 'rest' was pretty difficult when you live in the country and use your car an awful lot. I must thank Mark at the Jefford Centre (http://www.jeffordcentre.com//) for their help in getting me back up to speed and their advice on the gradual increase in my training in the lead up to the revised start of the season.
Despite going into the race with the attitude that I would see how I went, and adjust future training from there I still felt under pressure to put in a decent performance. Knowing that there would be a number of guys racing Agegroup who I was pretty close to last year and without the step up in my development that I had hoped I knew there would be guys breathing down my neck and doing what I always aimed to do as an Agegrouper - take a few pro scalps!
I knew my run would be the biggest weakness having only ran 13 miles once since January and that was the week before. I also hadn't been able to do much brick training prior to the event due to building fitness back up and not wanting to push to far to soon and put myself out for a longer period.
I have known Joe for a number of years as he was originally based close to Norwich, I have also raced him on a number of occasions along with Ben Howard and Martin Cain. These were the guys I was looking at going into the race and the guys I wanted to rate my performance against. Having only dropped 10s to Joe at the national sprint champs a few weeks before I was pretty confident that I could get close to him come race day - that didn't quite pan out as he smashed the cr%p out of it while the course smashed the cr*p out of me!
My original plan had been to push the swim and try and get out in a group so I could pace off some more experienced guys and race the course as they did. The start of the race was delayed by 15mins and then delayed another 15mins when we were already treading water. I found that my arms and feet got the coldest and this turned into cramp about halfway round as soon as I started to try and make a move to bridge a gap that had occurred due to some appalling sighting (I got a bit closer to the damn than I wanted to that early in the race!). Needless to say I didn't bridge and couldn't kick at all so dropped off a bit further from the main group going through. Despite bthe cramping I had a pretty good swim in my new Blueseventy Helix (http://www.blueseventy.com/) and feel I could have bridged had the cramp not set in.
This meant that unfortunately I pretty much missed everybody and came out, as usual in no-mans land which left me pacing honestly on the bike but with a lack of any real race practice; was I going too hard or too soft early on? would the second lap bite me in the arse? what position was I in anyway?
I knew Joe was intending to smash the bike and I figured that as he trains full time and from reading his blog that my only chance would be that he over did the bike and blew on the run. As I said before, I've known Joe for a while and I would by lying if I didn't admit to always having an eye on his performance. So, with my tactics set (ride relatively conservatively for the first lap) I set about closing down some of the female riders up ahead (Holly and Emma-Kate). Once I had passed these guys the road was pretty much empty until Martin Passed me about 10miles in.
I have raced Martin a few times and am aware that the bike is his strength. I also knew that if I could keep him within sight that I would be moving OK on the bike and could potentially pick up some places later on in the race. The new SHIV was very comfortable after a BG Fit and despite fitting a 56 front ring a few weeks earlier (thanks to Streetlife cycles http://streetlifecycles.co.uk/) I felt as though I had all the gears I needed for the course (just not the engine to push them!)
The bike course itself was OK, it kept you interested and you can definitely see where you could pick up time if you were to race it on a few occasions.
The second lap was frustrating as I could feel myself tiring and knew that I had to make the most of free speed especially on the downhill sections. It was here that I got caught up on a number of occasions, first behind some 1st lappers who I did go past (ill hold my hands up) but I essentially had my brakes on full as I did - I seriously couldn't go any slower and expect that this cost me some time as well as being caught behind a car on the next downhill section so I couldn't make any ground up. I sat there for a while, not wanting to get a DQ but the car pulled over slightly and let me past (another chunk of time gone!)
I lost sight of Martin at the last aid station on the second lap as I couldn't see the rubbish chuck section and almost ground to a halt getting rid of a bottle - it was here that Sam Baxter went past (I think it was Sam); it was also where the wheels started to fall off for me.
The last 12miles to T2 seemed to take forever - I couldn't take on the fluid I had planned and was getting pretty hungry, coming into T2 I couldnt make a decision as to whether I would wear socks so half put them on, then spent an age trying to straighten them up. Went the wrong way before being directed to the exit. I had absolutely no idea how the course went as it hadn't been set up the day before (another massive advantage if you have done the course on earlier occasions) so I pretty much went wrong at every turn and even the wrong way round the turnaround on the Dam.

I had already started run walking, and although the run isn't my favourite I had expected to be able to run through the event after holding back on the bike. I was starting to make even more mistakes at each turn and overshooting the occasional dead turn areas.
It was only due to my GF basically telling me to get on with it" that I kept going for as long as I did. but the final straw came when I got caught after 1 lap by Rob Brundish and I decided to pull the plug. I sat down for about 10minutes and gathered my thoughts and let the coke that I had taken on have some effect, had a chat with my GF and then took the decision that I wanted to finish.
A lot of guys have bad races, a lot of people quit completely (which I admit I have done before and always regretted) but even more battle through and finish. My time was relatively unimportant now so I just enjoyed the scenery, the great support and ran with a few of the guys I knew from my local club - hopefully my company helped a little.
A lot of people enjoy watching the pro athletes race and I felt I owed it to a lot of guys who had helped get me to the race to at least finish. At the very least it was a good training day.
I think if you look at the pictures of me crossing the line it is probably the biggest smile I have had at the end of a race whereas it was probably my worst ever result.

What now then? I am looking at taking on a coach to help balance my training and increasing the Brick/longer workouts that I do. I am due to race Canary Wharf (http://www.britishtriathlonsuperseries.com/default.aspx?id=702) in a couple of weeks with Liverpool 5150 (http://www.liverpooltriathlon.co.uk/) a couple of days later.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Matt, what are your thoughts behind a 56 tooth front chainring?

Im basing this on the fact that only a handful of the Tour de france riders have used a 56-er today on a flat 41km TT.

surely you didnt need a 56 on a lumpy 90km bike course at wimbleball and when you need to run 20km off??

TriathleteMatt said...

Hey, Thanks for the comment. I pondered over changing to a 56 for a while. In most races that I do I always run out of gears at the top end and have only ever had to drop into the inner ring in one event (IM 70.3 Mallorca). I checked out ratio's as a comparison between a 56 and a 54 and took the decision that I could gain more by being able to pedal on some downhills and still had the whole range offered by the inner ring if I needed a 'get out of jail option'.

You could argue that many riders dont need the inner ring - so why even have it on the bike?? esp when triathlete are often so concerned with weight.

With regard the TDF riders as it was a flat course there would be no advantage of a 56 on the downhills so a 54 would be fine. If I owned both I probably would have still used a 56 for wimbleball as I used the full range of gears and still didnt drop into my inner ring.

My thoughts are it is the availability of ratio's rather than the Front ring that makes the real difference and it was my lack of rides upto anything near 3hrs that was essentially my undoing.

My bike at Liverpool 5150 champs (being much shorter) was more in line with my fitness level at that time.

TriathleteMatt said...

Hey, Thanks for the comment. I pondered over changing to a 56 for a while. In most races that I do I always run out of gears at the top end and have only ever had to drop into the inner ring in one event (IM 70.3 Mallorca). I checked out ratio's as a comparison between a 56 and a 54 and took the decision that I could gain more by being able to pedal on some downhills and still had the whole range offered by the inner ring if I needed a 'get out of jail option'.

You could argue that many riders dont need the inner ring - so why even have it on the bike?? esp when triathlete are often so concerned with weight.

With regard the TDF riders as it was a flat course there would be no advantage of a 56 on the downhills so a 54 would be fine. If I owned both I probably would have still used a 56 for wimbleball as I used the full range of gears and still didnt drop into my inner ring.

My thoughts are it is the availability of ratio's rather than the Front ring that makes the real difference and it was my lack of rides upto anything near 3hrs that was essentially my undoing.

My bike at Liverpool 5150 champs (being much shorter) was more in line with my fitness level at that time.

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.