I thoroughly enjoyed yesterdays race and was very pleased with how it went. I was pretty sure I was smiling for most of it but found it quite amusing when Richard posted up the photos he’d taken of me and in everyone I’ve got the biggest smile. Felt the selection above should speak of my pleasure of racing more than the following words !
This is what racing is about – the absolute joy of pushing yourself and feeling good doing it. I had a funny moment when running. I was just enjoying the moment and reflecting that it’s been such a long time since I’ve felt this joy of movement from running. At that moment I felt I was in no way competitive, I wasn’t bothered where I finished as this was enough feedback and gratification for me.
That moment has passed and I do want to go faster ! My race report on how it went is here. This post is an analysis of the race.
I’m not a believer in “Training Races” – if I race then I race to the best of my abilities. For some races my preparations are focussed towards peak performance (eg Ironman Austria) for others I make few concessions to be fresh and just race (eg this race). The week leading to this race was planned as my biggest weeks training. In the Monday through Thursday I did 22.5hrs training including a 100+ mile ride and a 30+km run. The Friday I eased off doing a gentle 3 hr ride and did nothing on Saturday. It meant I managed to feel reasonably fresh going in to this race.
My pre race plan / goal were:
- Controlled swim start. No redlining but swim hard.
- Really hammer the bike
- Controlled run looking to speed up throughout.
I’d put in some good work on my running and I felt it was coming a long so I knew my feeling of success in the race would be largely down to the run … that said it had to be off the back of racing hard.
It’s pretty cold in the water and to be on the front line involved treading water for over 10 minutes before the start. I kept rubbing my hands together to try and keep them warm as I felt numb hands weren’t going to help my feel for the water.
From the start I was controlled. Swimming hard enough to just stay clear of trouble but no harder. Trusting that most would not be able to sustain my pace. It took longer than expected for everyone to drop off and I had moments of doubt that I was going hard enough but stuck to it and soon was clear and had a smooth, strong swim.
Second age grouper out of the water, on the feet of the first was very pleasing. The Pros started too far ahead to have any hope of bridging. 27 minutes is disappointing but the far end of the course was very choppy.
I tried to keep control running up the hill but had to keep pegging myself back as my breathing got laboured. The guy just ahead of me hurtled up, his heart rate must have been through the roof. Didn’t rush, was purposeful and ended with one of the faster T1s
Decent mount on to my bike but then my numb hands and numb feet (from the cold swim) meant I fumbled my left shoe and managed to pull the strap right out. I tried and almost got it rethreaded. Can’t believe it crossed my mind to leave it! Luckily I came to my senses and stopped on the bridge to sort it. After that I worked hard up the first hill. Probably too hard but my aim was to really work the bike.
The picture shows my normalised power every 5k together with average heart rate and highlights the two laps giving the averages. My overall normalised power was 282 watts. I had best ever critical powers from 1h15 to 2h57 though thats probably not saying too much as this is the first time I’ve race a half ironman with a power meter.
If I’m honest I’m a little disappointed with the ride. I think I lost my focus and commitment in the second lap. I got complacent about people passing me and became unconcerned. I need to learn to deal with it … well … what I need to do is get faster on the bike. Looking at the bike splits I reckon if I was no more than 5-10 minutes quicker on the bike I’d have had a completely different perception of it. That could be a matter of being fresh for the race. This race was such good fun I would like to do it again as an ‘A’ race.
Another faff. Managed to dismount the bike nice and cleanly despite my feet still being numb. Then I got confused about the location of my bag. The bag racks weren’t fully sequential. They were sequential in chunks and my bag location was different in T1 to T2. This is something that could easily improve this race – have the racking the same order in both. I’d noted this oddity when I racked but managed to get confused and ran to my T1 bag location in T2. Then got confused. Eventually found it. Got my vibram treks (Kangaroo leather no less) on pretty quickly. A lot of people reckon it must take so long to get vibrams on … it does take longer but I think it’s a matter of 15 – 20 seconds. My T2 was 2:21 and given my faffing finding my bag I reckon putting on the vibrams was virtually cost less.
Boy oh boy was I looking forward to this. I’d been running well in training and this was like heading in to an exam when you were pretty confident you’d prepared well. It was a chance to prove myself. I was far enough up the field that I had T2 to myself and headed out on the run without many people around.
I set off at a nice steady effort. I felt very comfortable immediately and started running at a level I felt was easily maintainable for a full marathon. The graph above gives my KM splits together with my average heart rate for each KM and then the splits by lap. It’s a hilly lap, the second KM particularly.
I am chuffed to bits with my progressive increase in speed each lap. The first two laps were very comfortable other than really needing a pee during lap one. I made the wise choice to stop and use a portoloo. I felt so much better after which made it absolutely clear I’d made the right decision. It also explains why my splits don’t add up to my actual run split since my watch auto stopped so the loo break ain’t in my splits.
This race is such fun because there are so many people on the course. It made the run particularly fun. Brett passed me whilst I was having a nature break. At each out and back (three per lap) I could see him slowly pulling away. Behind Stephen was catching me and I felt sure he’d have me within two laps and was looking forward to re-passing him on my third lap. I could also see Roger and Paul closing me down.
I was looking forward to the final lap as I knew I was really going to kick up the pace and it was unlikely they’d do the same. Come the final lap I was chuffed to bits that not only I was able to really really push but also the pace I managed to get to. It was such fun I couldn’t stop smiling. Having friends on the course and surprising them by my change in pace was a buzz and then at the finish line seeing how chuffed they were for me was so nice.
I said at the start I don’t believe in training races. This run was done like I often do training runs which is to get quicker. The aim was to learn to push when tired. How I managed to push yesterday was such a buzz and I certainly felt like I could have continued for another lap. We’ll get an idea whether that feeling is correct in two weeks time when I tackle Ironman Austria. One thing for certain is that I am really looking forward to it now. I so excited to be racing.