The Longest Day 2006

approx splits:
Swim: 58min
T1: 2 mins
Bike: 5:04
T2: 2 mins
Run: 3:09
Position: 1st !!

Click for report in Middlesbrough Evening Gazette

It’s an early start for The Longest Day with the start at 6am. My alarm went off at 3.25am to tuck into a small breakie in my tent. I had decided that I would make a point of following a particular nutrition approach for this race. As such, I passed on the pasta party the night before and instead had 3 turkey breast fillets stuffed with cheddar and peanut butter. Then my morning breakie was a couple of bananas mashed up with a little peanut butter.

The bus to the start left at 4.15am – I dozed on the bus and went over in my head the race ahead. There were a couple of goals for this race. One was definitely a top 3 finish, going for the win seemed less likely as the current national long course champ, Paul Mountford had entered in the last two weeks. However, the main reason for this race was as a marker on my training so far for Florida. To this end the plan was a steady swim followed by a balls out bike (to see if the winter mileage had paid off) and then see on the run. I’d sacrificed swim and run training to work on cycling. Long runs had been limited but I’d done alot more running off the bike. Sub 9.30 was the target time.

It was a nice relaxed T1. For once a race had more portoloos than required ! Not a single queue. I had been the first to rack and had a great spot. I could see Paul Mountford racked at the next best spot.  He had quite a support crew stood with him, covered in sponsored kit and as  he’s local loads of good luck from all the marshalls etc.. This was great for me – really got me motivated, I loved the idea of being this unknown, here on his own who kipped in a tent the night before the race and then went and beat the local star !

With only 200 in the race and a spacious swim start there was no argie bargie whatsoever. Several relay teams went off like bullets (they had different colour hats) but I just concentrated on long strokes and staying streamlined. After about half a lap (of two) I found myself with the lead lady and another guy. It seemed the fast starters had been caught. I came into T1 with these two but passed them both (a first for me) – got out onto the bike thinking I’m first in the race. Ask the first marshal I see and he says no you’re 4th ! The 3 fast starters must have got way ahead.

I started pushing it along on the bike and felt pretty strong but also knew I tended to feel stronger later on on long rides. At about 5 miles Paul Mountford came by me  like a train. Then at about 15 miles another guy went by. That put me in 3rd and aiming to push to try and keep them close enough to try and run them down on the marathon.

At halfway I was feeling really strong and decided to pick it up another notch. By 80 miles I’d recaught the 2nd place guy and had passed all the relay team riders. I was now 2nd on the road and still feeling strong and able to really push to the end of the bike.

Coming into the change tent I heard the announcer say I was in second and that I was 12 minutes behind the leader. He then said that he didn’t know how good a runner I was. So I said to the lady helping me in transition “I’m a bloody brilliant” – she said ‘Go get him then !”

I headed off pushing the first lap to see if I could make inroads and perhaps put a few doubts in the leaders mind and perhaps make him push abit beyond his limits. I wasn’t too hopeful since I knew he’d done a 2.32 at London this year (a post on The Longest Day Forum had commented that Paul had entered the race following winning the National Long Course and that he’s done 2.32 at London). The course is 4 laps out and back along a disused railway so I knew it would take to halfway through the second lap to see how I was gaining on the leader and how 3rd place was doing behind me.

At the end of the first lap the announcer said I’d gained about 3 minutes. I must admit I thought “Bugger – this means I have to push this as I could catch him”. I tell u it hurt but I kept pushing along and at the halfway of the 2nd lap was surprised at how much I’d made up. Each time I saw him he looked focused, he had a cyclist leading him and a guy on a bike behind him who I guessed was his coach. This just motivated me more. The coach looked at me each time and I thought he realises his boy is being caught. Push push push, hurt hurt hurt. Halfway through 3rd lap and  I was stunned must be within 4 minutes of him. Push even more as this would be close possibly down to the wire. Trying to shove thoughts out of my mind of slow down, 2nd is good enough and you don’t want a sprint finish and replace with this with YOU CAN WIN. End of 3rd lap and the leader has blown up, he’s walking. As I turn into the finish area for my last lap I look over my shoulder and see he’s running again.

Into the 4th lap I push like hell. I have to break him. Decide there’s no looking over my shoulder since if he’s close he’ll take that as encouragement. Push push push. This is now seriously painful. I now have the lead cyclist ahead of me, who on approaching a feed station asks what I want and cycles ahead to get it ready for me. Turnaround on final lap – he’s not in sight. When I finally see him I’m 2.5 mins from the turnaround. Now the thought is keep this controlled it’s in the bag as long as you don’t cramp. This final half lap is great, with the cyclist ahead of me all the spectators (and there were alot on the run route) knew I was now race leader. Other runners congratulated me, high fived me, many knew I’d chased the leader down.

Coming into the finish was awesome, the crowd support great and there was even a tape across the line ! I needed no encouragement to raise both arms and punch the air as I crossed the line. I must have had the broadest grin by far the best win I have ever had.

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