Monday, 11 May 2009

the super brilliant post triathlon race report!


i came 6th!!!!!!!!!!!

that's 6th out of 83 participants. individual rankings were:

8th on the swim leg
3rd on the bike leg
38th on the run

> registration:

We arrived an hour before my start time, and headed to registration to get marked up; big fat numbers scribbled on my arm and leg. When she highlighted my name on the list, i noticed i was about the tenth last person. erg! They have a horrid system of putting all the slow swimmers out first, then
the fast ones. So having the tenth fastest swim time meant I would be entering the race right at the end. Had immediate fear of marshals packing up the race around me.

Twenty minutes before my start time i was able to rack my bike in the transition area. It's difficult to know where you can rack - because a lot of the spaces were free but had some towels etc. around them - which meant people could have just been out on the cycle route. I managed to find a spot which i felt confident was free, and laid out my towel on the ground, with all other bits and pieces. Did this for a few good minutes to make sure i was happy and familiar with the layout.

> swim:

aim for swim time (200m) : 4 minutes
actual swim time: 3 mins 43 seconds

it was a pool swim, so we were lined up waiting to get into the pool, having a chat, sharing our concerns for being the last ones out on the circuit! The girl in front of me, let's call her 1338 (her number) asked me what cycle time i was hoping for - I told her I'd done 54 mins last year but was aiming for 52 this time. She said she'd done this tri quite a bit, and her last time was 54 too. She then commented that I might end up being her pace maker- which ended up being very much the case!!

So in i went, and off i went! i hadn't trained my swimming so within two laps i was feeling the lung pressure - but luckily it was only a six lap effort so it was all over very quickly. Husband timed swim with trusty iphone again - and my time for 200 metres was 3 mins 36 seconds - much better than I'd hit in the three training sessions I'd done previously!

> transition 1:

they'd changed the pool exit from last time, so we had to run around the entire back of the leisure centre - no doubt adding to my overall swim time (seeing as they don't actually time your transitions!)

I ran quickly and didn't fuss in the transition. Dropped my goggles/swim cap - stepped onto towel, socks on, shoes on, helmet and race number on, grabbed my bike and was off! Was much quicker than last year because i was more confident and less scared of getting things wrong. This was confirmed by the fact that 1338 was still ahead of me during the swim - but ended up coming up
behind me on the cycle - confirming my transition was much quicker!

> cycle:

aim for cycle time (23kms): 52 minutes
actual cycle time: 51 minutes 2 seconds

I knew the cycle was key to bringing down my overall time, and getting in the elusive top twenty. I went a lot harder than last year - when at one point i was actually singing to myself. This time around, no singing!

Within ten minutes 1338 had come up behind me and sat in front - as she passed she said "I know you'll overtake me in a bit" and she was right. For a bit!

What followed was 23 kms of us cycling together, overtaking each other inter
mittingly, and having a briliant race. At one point a girl came up from behind and overtook us both, and she stuck in and yelled "we can't have this" and off we went.

Having my own personal pace maker was absolutely brilliant, and she really pushed me to go harder because with my competitive spirit, there was no way I was loosing sight of her.

The route itself is undulating, with about three longish climbs. From last year i was aware that these climbs are my srengths, and this race proved the same point. 1338 might have held strong on the straights, but as soon as we climbed i was able to create a considerable gap between us.

Unfortunately though - this all came crashing down when we got to the other side and it was time to zoom downhill! Even not braking as much as i usually do - my damn grandma tendancies overtook and within minutes 1338 (who clearly doesn't have a fear of speed) whizzed past.
All my hard work uphill was pointless! Note to self; must get more downhill bike confidence!

By the end of the cycle stretch though, 1338 and I were back within close sights, with another girl who had joined our pace, and we all finished strong. Without a doubt, I couldn't have done anything more, I really did give it everything I had, and as a result could barely walk post race. I found muscles i didn't even know existed. Overall I knocked a whole 3 minutes off last year's time - so am really pleased!

>transition two:
super quick! ran in, dropped bike and helmet, picked up headband, ran out!


ok peoples. here we go.

aim for run time (2.5kms): 14 minutes 30 seconds
actual run time: 14 minutes 34 seconds (!!)

overall am super stoked with my run time - AMAZED i got below 15 minutes! here's the process:

I immediately recognised my pace was slower than i'd been practicing - but my calves were on *fire* after that cycle and i had nothing more. 1338 was ahead of me, but within sights, and i felt confident that if i kept her right there then i'd be doing okay.

My breathing, however, was completely shot. They were short, sharp, breaths, and i knew i was developing the bad breathing pattern which would soon render me useless. I concentrated on breathing deeply despite the wheezing sound, and for some time it felt like i was wasting my time - and then suddenly - everything fell into place! Wheezing stopped, deep breaths returned - bingo! It actually worked! Yay for breathing from the belly when running!!!

And then something very, very strange happened.

1338 was getting closer. And closer. And - by george - it was time to over take her!

I have to say this was one of the most pleasant running experiences ever, to think we had spent the last hour or so battling it out on our bikes - and to then get to my weakest discipline, and have the honor of actually overtaking ANYBODY - let alone 1338 - I passed her trying to conceal a little smile, but feeling joyous.
After this, i picked up my pace just a little.

The pain in my calves had gone and my breathing felt strong - and only two or three people overtook me (in comparison to last year when about 40 people overtook me

Right at the very end, i felt someone coming up beind me in sprint finish style - and i prayed and prayed it wasn't 1338 - and thankfully - it wasn't!! it was actually the girl infront of her, 1337, who i had overtaken easily in the bike. I felt quite disappointed about this at the end, but just couldn't have sprinted that end stretch even if 1338 had been oferring me a few quid reward, and the opportunity to pass her.

Overall i know i didn't run as fast as training, but that's not realistic anyway after a 51 minute cycle(!) Being able to overtake people was a very new thing for me, and it all stems down to being able to control my breathing and the pushing of Paul the personal trainer dude.
He still thinks I can sub 50 minutes for the 10k - and I'm starting to think that just maybe it's all possible...

best parts of the race:

1. i aimed for top 20, hoped for top 10 - and came 6th!!

2. going hard on the uphill

3. overtaking 1338 during the run

4. finishing to husband holding treats!

things i learnt:

1. find a pace maker! it made the race ten times more enjoyable having someone to benchmark from, and was the result of a little chat before the swim.

2. use the downhills to your advantage - don't use them as rest time

3. breathe from your belly when running

4. recognise that when you start the run EVERYTHING is going to be hurting and screaming at you to stop - but keep going and these screams will die down. The worst thing you can do is start walking - just dig really deep and keep at it. the pain *does* subside.


Thomas said...

Congrats . A truly inspiring and joyfull race report!

nessyt said...

wow 6th place! well done!!!
I had a fab day, couldnt believe how much i enjoyed it. I came in with a swim time of 6.43 for 400 m, 53.32 for bike & 26.56 for 5km run (beat my normal run time of 30 mins!!!) overall i was 55th out of 204 women, im totally chuffed & pleased with myself.Thank you for your advice & enjoyable blogs!!!

Rob Bane said...

Wow - what a super brilliant race report. Sounds like you had a fantastic race. 6th place! Woohoo! Amazing. Really inspirational - I signed up for Ilkley triathlon as soon as I'd finished reading as it brought all my good memories of last year back. Thanks for sharing and keep doing it!

P.S. Be careful not to go toooo fast down the hills, it's not worth falling off for ;)

al said...

thanks guys -> was a brilliant day and had soooo much fun!

nessyt that's a FAB result --> and this was your first tri?? your run time is very inspirational, esp. after a strong cycle. is running your strength? and were the hills ok? i have to say there were a few moments they felt a bit steeper than i remembered!

rob that's soooooo great you've registered for the Ilkley tri - does that mean you'll be returning to the blog world? i still think of you on the downhills, your race report of the fall is burnt in my memory! i think i just need to find that happy medium between Complete Grannie and Speed Demon ;)

nessyt said...

Thanks Al, running isnt my strength but like you have been working on it recently. I was gobsmacked with my time as i didnt feel as if i was pushing myself! The hills werent too bad, but i really need to work on hills as my bike time could have been better (look at me never happy!!!) Have signed up to do another sprint tri in July. Are you doing the London Tri, is that olympic distance?

Anonymous said...


Great job on the tri! Was it cold out? It looks a little chilly...
And you have to go fast down the hills, that is the reward you get for climbing :-)