Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Return to Norwich Tri

Before I get into the race itself I just need to highlight what a great event this is, it's really well organized, has a great atmosphere, great mix of people (business relay challenge, sprint and Standard tri as well as a Friends and family relay and some decent prizes to encourage some form racers).
Thanks to Mark Philo and the rest of the crew along with all the Marshals, spectators and all the racers.
Also I encourage you to read a friend of min's report on his attempt at the Arch to Arc here.....
On to THE RACE......
I've raced Norwich two times before, the first resulted in a 2min TP and a frustrating 4th place, the second was in 2011 with the longer run route (11k+ including two pretty steep uphill sections) resulting in a win and course record (2:01:and change). This year the course was shortened to a regular 10k route and was FLAT, yes FLAT!

I have always enjoyed racing here; Why wouldn't I? Its local, I know the route and it is well organized. The only small downside is that being my local race organized by my local club does mean it comes with an element of expectation and therefore some pressure.

I like to have a plan when I race and I usually base this around my main competition. For example, in my elite races I am realistic enough to know that I am relatively not a strong swimmer, I also know that I will catch a lot of the junior athletes on the bike and that they will hang on to me until the run and then having done little work run away from me; I accept this but use the races as a really good bike workout with a hard brick at the end.

Agegroup racing is different – my swim brings me out closer to the front but normally a couple of guys back (when fully fit), my bike gets me back in the mix and my run is either hit or miss ( I have run 34min 10k’s and I have run 40 min 10k’s off the bike).

At Norwich I knew I had two main competitors  (Toby Morrell and Sam Proctor) who would give me a run for my money. Depending on where they were in their training and how my injuries reacted would depend on how tight the race was.

My expectation was that they would swim a similar pace, Toby was stronger on the bike but Sam had a bloody good run on him which could mean a very close finish. After racing Dambuster (where Toby put 45s into me on the swim) and coming out with a half decent performance I was hoping to be able to build on that and make up time by having a stronger run and swim. And to go close to my 2011 bike split of 56 and change, run a 36-37 and job done for a conservative 1:58 ish. At fitness I believe I could go sub 21 swim (inc run to T1), 2.5min Transitions, 55 bike and a 35 run giving me a 1:53- 1:54 final result).

Unfortunately since Dambuster (Report here) I had not been able to run or bike due to a hamstring injury but had managed to get some additional pool time as the rehab on the shoulder (and taking my time) was showing positive returns. With this in mind and being so pleased with the way it held up at Dambuster my plan was as follows:

Get on Toby or Sams feet and come out of the water with them hopefully around the 22min mark (slightly below my 2011 time)
Hit it hard and get away so no advantage could be gained by pacing from me – lack of bike training I was expecting a 58ish (but hoping for a bit faster)
Maintain a 37-38 pace to reduce stress on hamstring and put pressure on the chasers to out run me by 3 mins or so.
T’s:  Approximately 1m to 1:30

Overall: 1:57/1:58.

Race Day:
Expecting Norwich to be a 1st come 1st serve racking (with it opening at 6am) I aimed to get there earlier than usual (normally only takes me 5mins to set up my bike) and I cruised down just before 7. The temp was already picking up and it looked like it was going to be a hot one. The transition format had changed and was done in a way that you were racked in order of arrival but given no choice of position, in hindsight this is similar to being number racked but I had never seen this method before and did find it a frustrating way of doing things. I had previously racked at the top of the slope and wanted to be positioned there (nostalgia and comfort) so when directed to the lowest and furthest point I decided I would leave and come back to rack later as athletes progressed up the slope. Had the racking method been clear before I had entered transition I would have just waited, but once in I essentially sat in the corner and waited patiently and didn’t make a fuss.

A bit later on some other athletes started racking at the very top and there didn’t seem to be any direction given to them, for fear of missing out I also joined them at the top only to be moved on about 5 minutes later. Again I took my bike away and sat waiting for the racking closer to the top. When we got nearer that point I joined the queue and racked where told also helping a lad space his bike accordingly.


It transpired that the Tflow had changed since 2011 and was now more even with everybody running the same distance (or at least it looked to have changed to me but I may be wrong). I still preferred to be at the top of the hill (less uphill running with bike – it’s the little things that count).

I started to the far left along with Toby who must have had the same idea as me of finding some feet (although as he out swam me earlier this year I wasn’t sure what his concern was). It was a bit cramped at the start and I didn’t really get away as I had some swimmers on my legs, I could see one swimmer getting a bit of the gap at the front and believed it was Toby or Sam so went after them as hard as I could without using my legs (as these still appeared to be under someone else). I didn’t make the feet of the fish and after a couple of attempts decided I would settle in a bit and not completely blow myself to pieces trying to make up the 5m -10m gap now in place. This gap stayed pretty consistent for the first 600-800m of the swim but when we started nearing the 800m Buoy my lack of fitness started to show and I started to drop further behind. I couldn’t feel anybody on my feet from about 400m so figured that the Fish was someone other than Toby of Sam and that I may have been able to gap them which was well above my expectations. nd about 55s down and much closer to him than I was at Dambuster (1:56 down) and :30s up on Toby, :27s up on Sam and even managed a swim PB (albeit by a massive 3 seconds or something).
Andy Bourne came out of the water first in what I believe to be the fastest swim at Norwich for a number of years, I exited 2

Practice and familiarity are the buzz words for today children – T1 was pretty poor TBH as was my attempt to get my feet into my shoes on the bike. Lack of race practice meant I was kicking off my wetsuit after I put on my helmet rather than both at the same time.

Coming out of the swim second but up on Toby and Sam meant that my overall plan didn’t change, I wasn’t sure who was ahead of me or how much Gap I had but I knew I needed to bridge the gap fast and put some clean space between myself and the chasers. I had planned to try and average 42.5 -45kmph round the course and see how it went with the expectation of blowing towards the end but I never really got going. I caught Andy in Stoke Holly Cross and made sure I took on fluid before passing him so I could concentrate on developing a gap. My circuit was not as neat as it was in 2011 and without the knowledge that Liam Gentry was chasing me, some additional ‘luggage’(see below) and the unfamiliar heat I scraped round with the fastest bike time of 58:03. It was about what I expected but I was still disappointed nonetheless. Not being aware of the flow T2 was a shock, I was expecting to go in at a different angle to the directed route and it did throw me and cause some late minute adjustments before I ran into Lynn.

I keep an eye on my weight quite frequently and know that I run my best at under 83kg, on the day of the race I was 85.6 kg and realized I might be in for a tough day. I raced Dambuster at 82.8kg and despite hobbling combined with no running for almost 2 months managed a high cadenced (to ease pressure on hamstring) sub 37:00.

This was a different kettle of fish, in fact I probably would have done better swimming part of the run. There was no rest-bite, no wind and in all honesty I should have taken on more fluid on the bike. The heat was unexpected and I just couldn’t get into a rhythm with the changing services and suffocating temperature. I realised I was going to fade on the 2nd lap if I went off at any pace although my hamstring kept me from running with any fluidity. The first lap was knocked off in 18:50 and I had tabs on the athletes behind me. At the start of the second lap I worked out I had almost 3minutes on Toby and that he and or Sam would have to run less than 5k 3minutes faster than me.

I had always decided to back off and rest the hamstring as much as possible should I get into a position where it looked like a win, and dialled back the second 5k. I was thankful to have enough of a gap to do this but it looked like I would miss out on the sub 2hrs which I was disappointed about. I knew It was going to be close but wasn’t exactly sure what time I had started.

Had I been aware of the exact time I probably could have found 13s over the final 1k…perhaps!

Coming into the last 500m I had a competitor close in on me and it took me by surprise, it wasn’t Toby, it wasn’t Sam but he was on his way up the finish with me….just what I needed a bloody sprint finish, My mum was shouting that I was getting caught and I had no choice but to dig in and push the last 100m, everything tightened and I expected that a heap may be hitting the floor pretty hard. I looked round to see if Id lost him and he was nowhere to be seen – I only worked out a few minutes later that he had been on his first lap and he had taken a wrong turn up the finish…….

I ended up with the win which was really pleasing. To come back and retain the title at less than 95% made it a bloody tough call with the conditions making the race all the more difficult. I wanted to come back and Go sub 2 when I originally considered entering last year and this was before the route was shortened and made easier…but one thing I have learned is that you have to manage your expectations no matter how much it bites.

2:00:13 New Course Record (10k Run)
2:01:48 Old Course record (still in place due to change of course. 11k Run)

Thanks to:
Streetlife cycles for looking over my bike pre-race (cheers Alex/Tim - esp for lend of shoes)
Tri-Camp for the comfy new kit
Sockshop for the Falke Compression socks that are in continual use

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading that! An honest, keen and modest account of the race! Well done on the win, but I'm not surprised, you are Matt Ellis after all :-)

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.