Wednesday, 3 July 2013

English National Championships (Dambuster)

Well, it’s been a while (as usual) for a blog but to be honest I haven’t really had much to write about. Taking some time away in November to settle down and manage injuries meant that all things triathlon had been given a back seat. Hopefully, however the rest and sensible build has done me some good.

Whenever you plan your races in a season you generally rank them in order of importance (Usually A-C) with A races involving a taper and your targets, B races as sharpners and C races I treat as training and experimenting.
This was, an A-C race, I just wanted to be in a posotion to race
So, the first event of the year for me became the Dambuster Triathlon which I entered at the end of 2012 but at that stage didn’t even know if I was going to be donning lycra (in a sporting arena) in 2013.

I had heard a lot of great things about the event and the organisation, had done some research and noted that the run was slightly short (9.6k or something), the bike 42k long and the swim a bit on the conservative side. With a long term shoulder injury and a hip injury in November sidelining me, this looked like a good race to pencil in. In addition the status as the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS gave it a nice added bonus as I knew there would be at least a few quicker guys to measure fitness against – should I get that far, should I do OK it also gave me a place at the World Champs held in Hyde Park in September (if I didn’t get fit enough to bang out a decent half by that time).

Dambuster Advantage:
  • Sensible price
  • Good location for me being in the East
  • Decent options regarding accommodation (I also have friends in the area so could have organised accommodation very late)
  • Long, lumpy Bike (being my strength and least injury effected discipline)
  • Short Run.
  • Good organisation (Pace setter events)
  • Qualifier/decent standard.
  • Good Tri-Camp Race team turn out

All I wanted from the race was a qualification spot for the Euros/Worlds (which meant top 5 in age). The plan was to be steady on the swim, push the bike a bit and then just run as well as the body would allow. I expected to be about 5 minutes off my best (perhaps, 1-2min down in swim, 30s in transitions as I had no race sharpness, 1 min or so on bike and 1-2min down in run) – essentially at about 95% (although I felt about 90%fit).

Pre Race
The lead up to the event wasn’t great, although I had no complaints with how the shoulder had been progressing and the hip issue had been managed completely (lots of strength work and glute work at Nuffield Gym) but I had picked up a hamstring injury which had resulted in no running for about a month and a more conservative bike regime (i.e. no aero).

The evening before the race I drove the bike course (I agree – it is lumpy, but nothing too bad, didn’t expect I would need to come off the big ring – 56), cycled the run course, which to my annoyance had been made 10k and looked like it was going to be pretty exposed which wouldn’t help the hamstring if I was pushing into the wind (however, a standard tri event should really be the distance). My main concern however was the swim, the course started out along a small’ penninsula’ which jutted out and essentially pointed toward the first buoy, I mentioned this to the organisers and warned them that a lot of athlete would run along there to gain an advantage only to be assured that this wouldn’t happen…….

Race Day
With a lengthened bike, a lot of wind on the day and a choppy swim (albeit shortened to 1400) my plans changed,  I would be more conservative on the bike and give myself a little bit more on the run. With no race practice I wasn’t sure how much I could push, where my limits where and what my run would be like.

Rookie mistake
I didn’t make a note of where my bike was – this caused issues in both transitions and probably cost by 15seconds or so as I ran down the wrong line.

Lining up in the 2nd wave (no longer with the younger lads) we all watched half the earlier field gain a 200m advantage by running the pennisnula, So when was our wave, half the field looked to do the same. I was half and half and went in the middle (my own decision) and lost 100m to a group who all shot off the front. The swim was bloody brilliant, I loved it, choppy, lumpy, up and down, on course, off course, clear water just great fun. I didn’t push it and came out by myself about 3rd in my wave. It was difficult to judge my time compared to others due to the running advantage but it was about where I expected it to be.

Swim Box Ticked – missed bike in transition

I expected to make up some time on the bike but had no idea who was in  my wave, who my competition was or who I needed to look out for, they seem to have stopped marking legs with AG and there was no logic to the numbers (i.e. all 35-39 200 numbers, 30-34 150+ etc). I enjoyed the bike and cruised round picking of back markers from the previous wave, got stuck behind some cars following said back markers and eventually caught some guys who looked to be kitted out for the sharp end. Still wasn’t sure what AG they were and as they were working together thought they must have all exited at about the same time (i.e. wave 1) so didn’t take much notice. Didn’t get passed

Bike Box Ticked – missed bike in transition (thought id have learned by now!)

Final part of the race and my Hamstring started pulling straight away so I had no real left stride and had to up my cadence to manage the stress. I left T2 behind a small group due to this but soon caught all but one who stayed about 20m up the road for pretty much the whole run. I had done no bricks or speed work so found the first 2k pretty hard but kept a half decent pace (although not where I would have been) and just made sure that I kept moving up the field and didn’t get passed which I worked out would probably mean I was in the top 5.

Our wave started 10minutes behind the first guys so I was looking for the leaders so I could work out how far off Nick Dunn and David Bartlett I was. They passed me coming the other way at the far end of the bridge so I knew I was about 10-12mins down on them which was surprising, but I also didn’t want to have to push the leg any more than I was.

The head wind over the dam didn’t help the situation and I had to slow the run considerably  on the way back – I worked out that I wasn’t going to get caught as had no one gaining on me, calculated I would be top 5 and was more than happy with that. Upon crossing the line I posted a 2:02:08 and was the first 200+ numbered competitor which maybe meant I was 1st in age …………I wasn’t. I came in 2nd  by c30s which was way above my expectations, also discovering a guy from the T2 group was actually in my AG which was mildly frustrating as my tactics would have changed but it was also fortuitous as I could have caused long term issues had I pushed the injury for no real gain.

Run Box Queried........


Post Race:
Was a shame to miss out on the National Title but I got what I came for. Shoulder felt good, Hamstring was pretty sore and I knew I would have issues with my calf over the next week as It wasn’t used to tempo runs.

I would recommend the race, would like to see AG markers and a solution to the swim issue to even the start (i.e. a buoy at the end of the peninsula)

Tri Camp went away with the Silver (ware) though as NickDunn put up the fastest time of the day with a sub 2hr running away from David Bartlett on the home straight.

Was great to see a number of tri anglia members including Toby Morrell, Alan Wilton, Andy Skiggs and Eve Dewsnap (I believe Marion Walker and Renata Garfoot were also present)
Training based on race
Manage niggles
Swim: Keep doing what I am doing, swim a little a lot and gain strength. progress to speed work
Bike: Mix of long and shorter bikes seems to be going well
Run: Repair hamstring, build efforts and get back to doing some speed work
Gym: Maintain gym work building strength and conditioning which has helped no end

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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.