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2004 Race Reports, Page One

Sevenoaks Easter Triathlon, April 11th 2004

Up very early to pack the car and set off. Registration opened at 6.30am and I wanted to get there nice and early to take a look around and watch the first swimmers set off. As it turned out we were there very early, before the organisers had set up the course. After some waiting I registered and sorted out transition. This was my first race so I only had a rough idea of what to do. My plan was to copy what others were doing so I stood there and had a good look around. Then the chap next to me asked what I thought he should do to set up his area, this was his third tri and he still didn’t really know what to do! I thought that was quite amusing as he was copying me copying him.

We saw the first of the swimmers set off and immediately my fears about being the worst swimmer were set to rest. I think it’s fair to say quite a few of the early starters were struggling a little with the 400m swim. I watched a couple of friends set off and through T1 then it was my turn to get changed and do the off. Got to poolside around 7.30 but there was a queue and it took another 15 minutes or so before I was called to the pool.

I’d been practicing my 400m ‘from cold’ swims for a couple of weeks before the race and my plan was to go off really easily. The difference in time between swimming off fast and easy was about a minute but the level of effort needed for fast was considerably more which would leave me tired for the rest of the race. So in I got, 3-2-1-GO and I was in my first ever race. Swam up and crashed into the other end, I’m used to swimming in a 33m pool and the shorter 25m pool confused me. Up-down-up-down then I received the 2 laps to go board and out I got. The swim went without any drama at all, it was almost boring and I got out very fresh and with a feeling I hadn’t put much effort into it but the clock said 7 minutes 23 seconds which I was very pleased with, all going to plan!

Ran out into the cold but didn’t really notice the change in temperature. Struggled to get my cycle shirt on over my wet body but it didn’t waste more than a few seconds. Shoes on, helmet on, number belt on, de-racked the bike and off I went. Being there early meant I was racked very close to the mounting point for the cycle so I didn’t have far to run in my SPD’s. I thought my cycle leg would be the strongest of the events and the plan was to keep catching the people in front of me, use them as targets and hunt them down. Cycling up Sevenoaks High Street I saw the first victim. I pushed and caught him very quickly. Trouble is, that pushed my heart rate very high and I struggled to get it down, even down the long hill towards Hildenborough. My plan had a flaw, I didn’t see anyone else on the cycle ride. No one to catch and over take! The next people I saw were just coming back into the High street back into T2 where I over took two people and one over took me.

A very quick T2 and I was off running. Legs felt fine but I felt I had a lot of water sitting in my stomach. Got to Knowl Park, turned right and started to run up the valley. The key word there is ‘up’. That hill seemed to go on and on, must have been over a mile and at the end I was ready to throw in the towel but a marshal shouted “end of the hill, the rest is flat or down”, just in time too! The water in my stomach was now causing me some real problems, I started to feel sick but luckily as soon as I started on the down hill section I burped out a lot of wind and the sickness went away. The rest of the run went well, even managed to push on a bit. Still didn’t over take anyone but at least no on over took me. Ran back up the steep path into the car park and across the line to complete my first triathlon.

Looking back on it I think the start of the cycle leg is what caused the water to sit in my belly, pushing my heart rate up really high probably caused my digestion to slow down enough to cause problems, something I’ll have to watch in future races. The cycle leg turned out to be my weakest of the three with swimming the best and running second. Times look like this (transition times are included in the bike leg):

Swim - 400m T1 Bike - 27k T2 Run - 8k Total
7:23 included in bike 58:32 included in bike 41:27 1:47:22
Weather: Cold but clear, typical early spring day. Finished 10th in age group and 44th overall.

I’ve taken a lot from my first race, the need to work on hill running for one, but the little things you need to do to get a smooth race. Setting up transition, packing your kit into the car, stretching before the swim. Things to work on before the next one.

Team Outrageous Midweek Sprint Triathlon, Race 1. 19th May 2004

I'm in there somewhere
Feeling very tired and fumbling with my shoes
Off for a ride up and down the duel carriageway
Ready for a run, this chap to my left stayed with me most of the way then run off into the distance on the run, never to be seen again

Got there nice and early, racked the bike amongst some very nice bikes indeed so it must have been the desirable end of the racing rail then waited around and took in the view. It was nice and warm, the temperature gauge on the car said 29°C, so I sipped on some water while waiting. Around 6pm (an hour before race start) I started jogging a little and stretching my arms to warm up a bit. I met a few people and chatted, then warmed up again! By the time I put my wet suit on I was quite sweaty which made putting it on difficult, I think I've got to invest in some bodyglide. Arrived at race briefing at 6.45, received the 'no drafting statement' and the instructions for the race. The race started from the other side of the lake, I knew this before the day and had already decided to swim across to get some sighting practice in. I messed up a few, swallowing some water but I eventually made it over to the other side. Being in my own stupid world at that point I didn't realise being last over to the other side meant I was at the front of the pack for the off!

The claxon sounded and off we went. It was quite busy and a few people pushed me aside but it wasn't anything that put me off my stroke. The main problem was my sighting, I was aiming for a pylon and once I started swimming I was bumping into people which was confusing me, was I off course or them? Then I had a couple of sighting strokes which really ruins my stroke and takes me a little while to get back into it, especially if some corrective manoeuvres are needed. I got about half way across (it's a 550m swim, I don't think I've mentioned that yet!) and was on the back of the lead pack but I was starting to struggle a lot. I decided a few seconds breast stroke to compose myself might be a good idea so that's what I did. I had a look around and noticed there was a fairly large pack behind me, catching me up! I got back to front crawl but couldn't sustain it for long. The wet suit felt really restrictive and my right arm started to ache. I'm not sure I put it on correctly, being sweaty when putting it on I might not have pulled it tight to my arm pits which would cause water to collect there and weigh me down. It definitely felt different from Fridays swim. My sighting was really letting me down (and I really need to work on that) and I was getting tired. I struggled along to the pontoon and got out. A woman shouted to a chap just behind me "there are 25 behind you" so I was three-quarters of the way down the field. Definitely not what I expected. I thought I'd be a middle of the pack swimmer.

Out the water, feeling knackered, I pulled the top of my wet suit off while running to the bike. I got the suit off quick enough which pleased me as I'd struggled to get it off on Friday. Put my socks on (probably the only person there who did!), shoes, helmet and ran out with the bike. It's about a 100m run to the mounting point which was easy enough even in SPD's. Got on the bike and started burping, I must have swallowed a fair bit of air/water on the swim. After the first kilometre I felt better and some strength started coming back. By 5km I was in full bike mode and started to push on. The bike course is fairly flat and is around 5 roundabouts, so some tight turns to get around. I immediately noticed how much ground I was making up on the roundabouts so started using that to my advantage. I picked up about 10 places in the first 10k then things settled down and I followed (at a non-drafting distance) the same three people for quite a while. At the turnaround point I over took them all on the roundabout but they came back on me up the straights so I let them go. I pushed on and got back to T2 in 37 minutes (21k ride, 21.2mph average) which is my fastest ever bike ride. Not a bad time to pull out a PB!

Dumped the bike, shoes on and off on the run. Felt crap for the first bit but that's expected and I knew it'd pass. After about 1k (it was a 5k run but felt like a long 5k) I was following three people but found myself with no speed to get past them. I wasn't tired, just didn't have any speed. Eventually, and very very slowly, I got past them and set off for the next people. Made up about 10 places again but started to get really annoyed at one chap who was sitting on my shoulder for 2k or more. I knew he'd over take me as he was just sitting there matching my pace but couldn't get why he didn't just over take and get it done with. Sure enough he pulled passed with about 500m to go and one other went by too.

I've entered three of these races to gain open water mass start experience and that's the point I struggled on the most. I really need to get my sighting sorted and get some long wet suit swims in. I felt a lot better swimming 800m on Friday than 550m tonight. Maybe the 550m swim to the other side was a mistake but I did gain some sighting practice on the way. I'll definitely get myself back to the lake this Friday and try to get one lake swim in a week, at the moment I'll never make 1900m Sherborne swim in anywhere like a decent time. Sighting is throwing my rhythm off so much that I'm not doing it as often as I should which is causing me problems. Mike (the man who organised tonight tri) said to sight every 5th stroke but that seemed an awful lot to me. Maybe sighting that much keeps you straighter so you need less corrective strokes. The problem with corrective strokes is as soon as you do them you need to sight again to see if you've done enough/too much.

The bike leg went well and I felt quite strong. I could have pushed a bit harder but after a disappointing swim I got the "my race is already ballsed up" feeling so probably didn't try that hard. I enjoyed the run but lacked speed to get past people. The race was in the run section and I could have pulled a lot of places back. I felt tired towards the end but not so tired I felt I needed to stop, but I couldn't be bothered with a sprint finish!

In all, I really enjoyed myself and learnt a lot of things I need to work on. Exactly why I entered the race in the first place. Next one is three weeks time. I prefer the mass starts, it feels much more like a race and gets you more involved and gives lots to think about.

Swim - 550m T1 Bike - 21k T2 Run - 5k Total
11:03 included in bike 38:36 included in run 24:29 1:14:10
Finished 67th out of 91 finishers.

Team Outrageous Midweek Sprint Triathlon, Race 2. 9th June 2004

Swim done, off for a ride in my new QR kit
Half way on the run, just 2.5km to go
Finish line, race done

The main aim for tonight's race was to sort out my swimming. To remain calm in the race environment and get out the water feeling good. Trying to reverse what happened in the last mid week race. Of course, if I finished in a quicker time then that'd be a bonus. We arrived later this time, with only about 40 minutes to spare so I racked the bike straight away and got a really good spot, right on the end so I had plenty of space to spread my stuff about and not worry about anyone else getting in the way. I warmed up, put the wet suit on and they called us to race briefing.

I decided to walk around the lake to the start and while I walked I did my land warm up for swimming, swinging my arms around and stretching my upper body. Getting in the water I felt fine, swam up and down a few times while we waited for everyone to get settled. Then the hooter sounded and we were off. It was rougher this time, I got bashed about quite a bit. Someone was hitting the back of my legs, hitting me straight on the Achilles at one point. After about 100 metres people started to spread out and I got some clear water. I felt a lot better sighting and didn't worry at all about where I was going. I plotted a straight course and it seemed most other people were on my right. At around half way I got splashed and took in a fair amount of water. I coughed and had a moment to myself to still kept going. I cleared my through and carried on. The finish seemed to come up fairly fast and out I got. I felt good, a little wobbly but I don't think there's any getting around that.

T1 was OK. I felt as if loads of people were running out while I was changing but it could have been my imagination. Racking on the end meant everyone came out past me so it might have been that. I set off on the bike and immediately over took a couple of people, overtaking one person on the run down to the mount point. The same thing happened again at the roundabouts where people slow down too much so I over took quite a lot at there (there are 10 roundabouts on the course so lots of opportunity to do this). My legs started to hurt towards the 10k point so I eased off a little. It was windy and there were a few places where you ride back into a headwind. That saps the energy and a couple of people got past. I was caught napping at one point, just plodding along and someone came past and I realised I'd stopped pushing. I quickly gained speed and got back past him and didn't see him again. I think I probably maintained my position on the bike, it felt quite difficult but I believe it was faster than last time which is good considering the wind.

T2 was good, nice and fast. Setting off on the run was fine, no wobbles but it was hard work. My breathing was quite laboured and I struggled for the first 1k or so. But I got into it and over took a couple on the way to the turn around point. Over took another on the way back too. I was doing alright but took a wrong turn and let someone past with about 500m to go. This was the same woman who got past me last time on the final part of the run so I was very annoyed with myself. It's annoying to loose a place over a stupid mistake, I should have been concentrating.

Overall I'm quite pleased. It felt harder than I remember the last one was but that might be my mind playing tricks. I did put some pressure on myself to beat my PB. I felt good on the swim, staying calm and swimming at my own pace. The bike felt difficult and the run was hard. Towards the end of the run I felt good and settled in but it took a while to get to that point.

Swim - 550m T1 Bike - 21k T2 Run - 5k Total
10:30 included in bike 37:53 included in run 24:09 1:12:35
Finished 53rd out of 84 finishers.

Team Outrageous Midweek Sprint Triathlon, Race 3. 23rd June 2004

Race Start, the light blue hat is Foggo, the yellow hat to his right is me
Swim done, out the lake onto the pontoon...
Up the bank into T1...
T1 done, out for a very windy bike course

Strong winds and heavy rain all day meant a PB was off the cards and a whole new batch of challenges were afoot. I racked the bike, warmed up and made my way to race briefing. The race had been delayed by 15 minutes because there was traffic on the A228 and they didn't want us to argue with stationary cars. After a quick race brief I made my way around the lake and got in for some warming up swimming. It was quite a cold day, the thermometer in the car said it was 15°C, but there were still people getting in without wet suits on. Totally nuts!

The hooter sounded and off we went. I got bashed about a lot more on this swim. In fact, I had a very busy swim almost all the way across. For the first 100 metres I was getting hit quite hard by someone just behind me, to get out of his way I deliberately swam off to the side for a few strokes. I was after some clear water but didn't find it. Shortly after someone came up on my right side, swimming within inches of me and making it hard not to hit him, I swam off to the other side to find someone else who wanted to swim right next to me. I was also drafted off by someone and found that very annoying. Not that he was reaping the rewards of my hard work but that he kept touching my feet. All this while I'm trying to navigate my way across a lake where I can't see my spotting tree because the light was so poor. The organisers put up one of them 500w lamps so we could swim towards that but because it was quite low it made it hard to see. I think I did a pretty good job of getting across and felt pretty good with myself, I remained calm and in control despite getting bashed and harassed.

Up the bank and into T1, I remembered to kick hard for the last 100m of the swim so I wasn't as wobbly as usual which made getting my socks on much easier. I think it was a faster transition than usual but can't be sure. Set off on the bike and despite the high winds felt alright. My right knee was playing up but that's usual and I have to let it do its thing. Eventually it sorts itself out and stops hurting and it did that around the mile point. I wore my heart rate monitor for this race and it settled at 163. I wasn't looking at the reading and adjusting my pace, doing it the other way around, riding at a comfortable pace and see what HR it was. I thought 163 was quite sensible for a sprint race and pushed on.

At the furthest roundabout we go all the way around and start to head back for the second lap. This is when the wind hit, it was really sole destroying. I was down to the third largest sprocket on the back (and the small ring on the front) just to keep going. Normally I'd be on the big ring rolling along. The wind really took it out of me. Lactic built up and my adductors were hurting. I pushed on but it was hard work and eventually I had no choice but to back off a bit. I wasn't going to do myself any favours on the run if I carried on like that. I lost one place to a young lady from Serpentine Running Club at this point but once we were out the wind I took her back and caught up another rider but didn't manage to get past him until the run into T2.

The chap racked next to me had done such a crap job of racking his bike there was no room for mine. I could have moved his bike but I don't like touching other peoples stuff so I went back to the end of the rack (where the car was parked) and lent the bike against the car. It wasn't far but quite annoying. I changed shoes and started off on the run. Mike (race organiser) shouted at me to get a move on which was quite funny and much appreciated. Setting off on the run my sore adductors made their presents known. I plodded on and started to feel quite good on the run. It surprising how much the foliage has grown around the lake and it had moved into the path which made it hard for the outward runners to run past the home bound runners. I ran through thistle patch to get out the way of the leader! (You know who's leading because he had a marshal on a push bike in front of him, the last place person has one behind so you know who's last too.)

The run went quite fast and I actually felt quite good running. I'm sure my speed was up and the HRM settled at 172. I settled into a comfortable pace rather than trying to push on. There was no one in sight up ahead and no one following me so I thought I'd practice my pace running. That meant I went out easier than usual but found it easier to increase the pace once I'd reached the turn around point. If I've PB'd the run I'll take this back, but it was quite annoying setting off at a slightly slower pace because I narrowly missed overtaking a pack of about 5 runners just before the line. If I was 20 metres up the road I'd have taken them all.

The weather really changed the way the race went for me. I didn't like the bike leg and found it really disheartening to have my speed taken away with one gust. It made very hard work of an almost totally flat bike course. It even made some sections of the run difficult. I'm pleased with the swim, that went well and I hope my speed was up as it felt good. In all I enjoyed the race because it was different and brought a new batch of experience to learn. It didn't rain so Team Outrageous narrowly escaped loosing it's "It hasn't rained for the 10 years the races have been running" status. I ache quite a lot at the moment so wind makes it all quite demanding physically and mentally. This was the largest field ever to run this race at 126, I bet the list of finishers is no where near that figure!

Swim - 550m T1 Bike - 21k T2 Run - 5k Total
10:07 included in bike 39:53 included in run 23:32 1:13:35
Weather: very high winds, a miserable evening. Finished 44th out of 64 finishers.
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