Monday, 9 November 2015

Challenge Forster HIM November 2015

Short report: time (overall rank/AG rank)
Swim 0:38:57 (156 of 202 / 24 of 29)
Bike 2:35:06 (34 / 6)
Run 1:32:06 (18 / 3)
T1 & T2 2:12 / 1:34
Overall 4:49:56 (31 / 8)

Long report:
Pre race training/objectives: 
My last number of halves hadn't been the best attempts at a PB, being too extreme (AxTri), too little training (Mallorca 70.3 x2; Challenge Batemans Bay) or a DNF (Western Sydney 70.3). As such a 2011 half in Milton Keynes still stood as the benchmark (5:06 - 39: /2:53: /1:31:46) as did the target of going sub 5. I came into this tri fit but without a lot of tri specific training. This and western Sydney 70.3 were originally my A races for 2016 until the Sydney marathon came up and the quest for sub 3 took over. The marathon was done (and target achieved) on sept 20. I then did very little for a few weeks and neglected my running and diet. No runs since then of over 10k. I focussed on the bike to the detriment of the run and swim, fearing that all the running for the mara had put my bike back (which had improved over the last few years). 

Coming into the race I was hoping for a PB on swim and bike and to be close on the run. Swimming had seen no improvement over the years with limited time spent on that discipline. That said I did do 5.1k in the week leading up to the race over three swims...

Pre race: 
We drove up on the Friday and found our accomodation to be very central to the race - T2 and the finish line were directly underneath the apartments we were in. The Beaches appartments were really nice and very well located for the race and the views of main beach and 9 mile beach weren't bad either. Minimal prep the day before, not as easy as it once was to while away hours packing, rearranging and tinkering with ones bike when you have a 1 and 3 year old. As such prep was done when they were down with fingers crossed that nothing was wrong with my kit or the bike. I packed my wetsuit just in case even though the water temp was 28degrees the day before. Annoying for me being such a bad swimmer....

Race day:
Alarm at 4, food, pump tyres and leave at 5 for the 5k cycle to the swim start and T1. Unfortunately it was cold, dark and pissing down so I was soaked and cold by the time I got to the start. However, I was very happy when I was told that it was wetsuit optional for age groupers doing the half (????? Not sure why though). I was beginning to shiver so I was happy to get the wetsuit on. I made sure I heaved it up as much as possible. I had only trief it once down at balmoral and suffered as it was very tight on the shoulders when not pulled up properly. After pulling a few bindis from my feet I decided to enter the water. It was like a bath and very pleasant compared to the pissing rain and wind on the bank.

Swim was 2 laps and with the entire field being fairly small we were only split by over and under 40s. Swam without incident and was pleased to see c18mins after first lap. Without many waves to overtake me also made the swim more pleasant. The wetsuit worked well (orca3.8) and glad I bought it along just in case. Will be interesting to see the difference at western Sydney in a few weeks time as that will surely be a non-wetsuit swim. Came out of the water and saw sub 39! PB this put me in a good mood even though it was still raining. Bit of stuffing around with socks (should have left off given they were already wet and got wetter) and was off on the bike.

The course was largely flat with a few undulations. Despite not having my HRM (not sure where that went in the packing) I felt comfortable controlling my effort from my legs rather than through cardio. I was picking up places pretty easily (benefit if being relatively rubbish at swimming) and was feeling good. A two lap course 50k then 35k with the 5k back to T2.

I was pretty happy with the set up on the bike. 5 gels - one immediately and then one every 20k. I had electrolyte in my bladder and filled it up with endura 3 times. Puncture repair kit in the rocket launcher (tied in with elastic bands) and the food pouch duct taped to the plastic underneath. In hindsight I do lose time through the feed stations by slowing to fill my bladder from the bottle and discard it within the zone allowed. Maybe will look at a different set up or one of those bottle carriers between the tri bars - every second counts.

Em and Amy made it out on to the course for the end of lap one, so I saw them twice which was a great boost! Only got over taken once on the bike and had moved up 93 positions from 146th to 53rd. With an average speed of nearly 35km I was pretty happy. And it was c18mins quicker than my PB HIM time. The sub 5 was on as long as my run held up. T2 involved a quick change of socks. And despite not having bothered to check out the layout worked it out by someone else getting it wrong and hearing/seeing that unfold. And then on to the run.

The run was a 2.5 lap course and pretty flat. Pacing felt OK although it was sitting around 4:20 when I started to get km splits on my watch. So not as fast as I had run the entire marathon in but it was the pace that felt right. After only a few kms my shoelace in my left shoe came undone. Didn't bother to fix it as didn't want to waste time and who trips over their own shoelaces? A myth surely as anyone with a reasonable stride length will be nowhere near treading on their own laces. As the were elastic laces the tension was being maintained and thus the shoe felt fine. Pretty much everyone I passed said "mate your shoe laces". I know they were trying to be helpful but I also wondered (and I had a while to consider this ie c18kms) how they thought I didn't know given that the laces were flapping about and hitting my other leg mid stride???

Em, Amy and Henry were supporting well and about half way I was doing the maths and worked out that a sub 5 was still well on but a PB run wasn't. So I said I will run down the shoot with Amy. Continued chasing people down and mulling over when to pick the pace. Instead the pace felt to be drifting..... Happy with the gel plan of one every 5k with the 4th pulled earlier to 18/19k. The real benefit of the mara training that I noticed was that 21.1k didn't seem like a long run and seemed to go by quickly.

As I was nearing the finish I saw I was on for sub 4:50. I saw Em drop Amy over the hoarding and I took her hand and we ran down the shoot together, picking her up to cross the line. I gave my medal to her and as you can see below she was so happy!!!

As was I, sub 5 done, PB swim and bike (with the bike being a big PB) and a pretty much dead on run time. Had I done my maths right I would have pushed to get inside my last time, but by that point I was already committed to running the finish with Amy and was glad I did. Happy to let that PB escape me by 20 secs and come back for it another time - like western Sydney at the end of the month when I have no support crew.

Moved up another 21 spots after leaving T2 and finished 31st overall and 8th in AG. Percentiles were c 85th, 20th and 10th. So swim slipping against the Aussies despite getting 'quicker', but the bike gains were in the bike. 

Questions remain as to how to race western Sydney? How much further can I pull my bike down as I am loving the riding at the moment. HurtSquad should keep the run up to scratch, but will I ever pull my finger out on the swim? Or does a duathlon beckon?

One happy camper!

View from the balcony - beach bums and the finish.

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