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2004 Race Reports, Page Two

Team Outrageous Olympic Triathlon. 11th July 2004

Arr, all on its own
Busy kicking something in the water
Swim around the island, quite shallow
There's transition mate, over there
Start of the second lap of the run

Being the first through the gate meant I could pick anywhere I wanted in transition so I went for my favourite end spot. That meant I could put my kit in the clear area to the right of the bike and no one would kick it all over the place or throw their bike at it as happened in the last race. We spent some time sighting the swim course, showing Michele the island we swim around then I started to warm up. For some unknown reason I got my timing wrong and I was still jogging around when they called people to the race briefing. A quick rush to the loos, the wet suit went on and down to the briefing we went. I got straight in the water and had a little swim around while we waited for everyone to check transition again. I swam about warming up and making sure my goggles didn't leak. Michele was on the bank with a spare pair just in case. I got back to the start line and kicked something under the water, as in picture 2 (that's me checking my toes). Not the greatest way to begin!

I was a little apprehensive about the swim, there were lots of turns and I thought it'd get pretty tight at the turn buoys. So I stood there at the start thinking about what I needed to do - stay calm and focussed. While waiting for the starting hooter Keith shouted "I am Spartacus" and loads of others carried that on, quite funny. Soon the wait was over - HOOTER - GO.

Sure enough, I got beaten up on the way to the first buoy. Breathing bilaterally I was able to check if there was space on either side and moved into it. That improved things and I tried to settle in. I know I go through a difficult spell at around 100m and let that pass before thinking about how I felt. Got to the first buoy, made a clean turn then headed off for the 'beach'. This was the best part of the swim, plenty of space meant I could settle into the swim and check my stroke. There were people on either side of me but they were about 2 metres away so no problems with getting thumped.

Got to the second turn buoy and the two on either side were suddenly right next to me, hitting me as they stroked. I dropped back and swam up on their right side as that was the inside line to the island. Found some more clear water around the island and spotted Michele and my sister, Karen, on the bank watching. They looked all excited and started running back to T1 which was quite encouraging. Made the last turn after the island and headed back along the bank to the start line. Started kicking with around 100m to go but got out of breath so stopped that for a bit and kicked hard again with 25 to go.

Stood up, checked my watch and it said 29:55 so I was just inside my target time of 30 minutes. Ran up the bank, easily found my bike and had one of my better transitions. I was a bit alarmed to see blood on my foot from my cut toe but as it didn't hurt, stuffed it into my sock and carried on.

Started off on the bike deliberately slowly. I knew I couldn't approach this in the same way as the mid week races so I tried to ignore people around me and ride according to perceived effort and back that up with the heart rate monitor. Tried out the aero bars on the way down to the first roundabout and they felt good with a low aero position. I was still wobbly from the swim so decided the drops were a better idea for the moment. Made my way slowly to the climb and cycled up it very gently. Last week on the reccy ride I went off too quick, this time I wanted to keep control of my heart rate. Over took a few people who were walking which was nice, got two thirds of the way up then started pushing a bit. It's a short hill that gets easier as you go up, ie less steep. Made the top then settled into the ride, legs still felt tired from the swim so I didn't push too hard.

Next came the down hill section and I went down there pretty fast, my speedo recorded 47.6mph, over took a few people and a couple of cars. Once at the bottom I felt quite good on the bike and started pushing on. I noticed that every time I went on the tri bars I caught people up quite fast. There was a bunch of people about 400m in front of me and I caught them and made up about 10 places. Made up some more places along the main duel carriageway back to T2. My back did start to ache on the tri bars so maybe they were a little too low for a first go.

T2 went very well, couldn't have been more than a minute, then off on the run. I felt quite tired at this point and I managed to mess up my nutrition again. My stomach cramped up so running was quite difficult. I tried to settle into a steady pace but it felt really slow. The clock says different, that's my second fastest 10k ever, excluding T2 it was 49:52 which I'm more than pleased with. I felt as if I was plodding along and a few people came past. I didn't really have anything left to attack back so I carried on. Took a drink at the first feed station but this made the cramping worse so I left the drinks alone from then on.

There was a physiological boost as I started the second lap, I knew I was almost home. Plodded on some more, made the turnaround point then thought about speeding up for the end. I quickly squashed that idea and settled into a steady plod. Running down the finishing straight I managed a sprint that took my HR to 185! A kid ran out in front of me just as I approached the line, I was really tired and he was lucky I didn't run him over. The mother later apologised and there was no damage done.

What was interesting about this race was the way it unfolded as it went on. I was over taken by number 40 quite early on the bike but I over took him back towards the end and didn't see him again. It seems to be loads of people running out their pacing strategies, some worked and they finished strongly while others faded. I felt really tired on the run so maybe I pushed too hard on the bike. There seems to be more tactics to the longer races and I enjoyed that much more. A very enjoyable day.

Swim - 1500m T1 Bike - 40k T2 Run - 10k Total
29:54 included in bike 1:22:35 included in run 50:21 2:42:53
Finished 64th out of 92 finishers.

Team Outrageous Midweek Sprint Triathlon, Race 4. 21st July 2004

That's me, lots of room
Look how people queue, very polite!
Up the bank into T1

It was busy at the lake tonight with a larger field. I'd say there were around 140 people in this race, probably double the field from the last mid week race. That made it all much busier and I didn't get my favourite racking spot. I decided to have a change and rack right down the other end so I was the first bike from the swim exit. At least I'd be able to find it and had room to spread out my stuff.

I got my stuff ready, warmed up with a bit of a jog, listened to the race briefing and wandered around to the 'beach' for the start of the race. I got in, swam around a bit and was adjusting my hat and goggles when the starting hooter went off! I don't know what I was thinking about but it wasn't racing. I tried really hard not to kick while swimming, it felt awkward but I didn't feel I was loosing ground on those around me so I persevered. I got hit a few times again, one chap was breast stroking and I swam into his feet, getting a huge kick in the head. I grabbed him and pushed him out the way, can't have someone kicking me in the head! I felt tired on the swim, thinking that maybe I've been overdoing it and should have tapered a little for this race. The sun was a bit lower in the sky which made sighting very hard. The sun was right in the way, I gauged that I had to swim a little to the right of the sun but I kept going too far to the right and had to pull it back. At least I had some clear water out there.

Made it to the jetty and there was a queue of people getting out. I took the opportunity to strip off the top of my wet suit to save a bit of time while running to the bike. That worked out just fine as I was racked literally a few metres from the lake exit so didn't have much time. Did my thing in T1 and off I went. Took it easy to the first roundabout in an attempt to settle myself. I didn't wear my heart rate monitor this time as I wanted to go on perceived effort. I felt alright so I pushed on a bit. Started catching a few people and I still felt good. Pushed on a little more and I was beginning to motor along (at least it felt like I was) and passing a few people here and there. At the roundabouts there's usually some bunching as people brake for them, one chap shouted something about drafting at me which annoyed the hell out of me as I wasn't and it's basically calling me a cheat. I over took him once around the roundabout but he was persistent and kept coming back at me. That's pretty much how the rest of the ride went, swapping places with the same four chaps.

There was a huge group of us as we entered T2 and it was quite busy with people racking and running. I got to my point, changed and off I went. Just as I started my run Mr Call Me A Cheat was just in front. He was running a little faster than I'd usually run so I decided to stay with him for as long as I could. We were passing a few and being passed by others. In all the run was fairly static. I felt good running, a little pushed but not to silly levels. Out to the turn around point at I still felt alright. None of that "oh my God, still half a lap to go" feeling I have had. So the plan was to overtake my rival towards the end. Exactly at that moment he started to pull away and I couldn't keep up. I scrapped that plan and decided to maintain the speed and finish where I was. It was quite clear behind me so there was no threat. With about 500 metres to go my rival stopped, he'd exhausted himself. I shouted "Come on, keep going" but he'd red lined himself and stopped for air.

I enjoyed tonight and felt good and strong all the way through but especially on the bike. I feel I've done better than usual although sometimes that can mean I wasn't trying hard enough and finished fresh. I have no idea what my time was, we'll have to wait for the results! There were lots of new people there tonight and I chatted to a couple doing their first ever tri. They looked nervous but the finished to a big cheer. They looked very pleased with themselves as they should be. Congratulations to them.

Swim - 550m T1 Bike - 21k T2 Run - 5k Total
10:35 included in bike 36:45 included in run 23:35 1:11:00
Finished 55th out of 100 finishers.

The London Triathlon, 1st August 2004

The huge sign helped me figure out where the start was
Final breifing and we're away
T1, it's huge
Second lap of the run, ankle is starting to hurt
Finish line

This was it, the day I'd planned all those months ago. To bring you up to date with training, I sprained my ankle on Wednesday (July 28) while out running. On Thursday it really hurt and it looked doubtful if I'd race. I was following all the procedure to encourage it to heal and by Friday it was beginning to feel better. This morning it was still sore but it was able to take my weight so I thought I'd get as far into the race as it would allow and take it from there.

Triathlon is a sport for the early bird. We got up at 3.30am, packed the car and set off for ExCeL at 4.30. By 5am we were in the East Car Park setting the bike up ready to check into transition. Not really knowing where to go we wandered into the centre and found a huge exhibition room packed with thousands of bikes and kit. We figured we were in the right place and set about registering, racking the bike and collecting my timing chip. That took longer than expected due to the size of the place but I had a really good spot, on the end of a row right near the swim exit point. I'd have no problems finding my stuff and that set my biggest fears to rest. We had a good look around to work out how the race would progress, where to gather pre-race, where the bike exit and entrance was from transition and where the run exit and all important finish line was. All important things to do pre-race so I don't have to waist time sorting it out while the clock is ticking. Trouble is, time was getting on and I was supposed to be at the collection point by 7.25am, I had to get my skates on (not literally of course!).

I put my wet suit on and made the collection point with moments to spare. They handed out white swim hats to put on (what a to-do that was getting a swim hat on without the aid of a mirror) and ushered us towards the dock. I was nervous at this point, heart racing but trying to stay calm and look like I knew what I was doing. We had about 10 minutes to get in and swim a bit to warm up so in I got. After the initial shock of cold water rushing into the wet suit I swam up and down a bit trying to gather myself. The first thing to strike me was the colour of the water. It was green and very cloudy. I couldn't see a thing, not even my hand a few inches in front of my face. Luckily I'd been warned about that so I'd been swimming down the lake with my eye's closed to get used to swimming this way. The second thing to strike me was the taste of the water. This will be my overriding memory from the day. It is the most disgusting taste you can imagine, a mix of salt and diesel. It was foul and I made a mental note not to drink any of it (as mentioned in the race brochure).

We all gathered on the start line and the starting marshal took us through the start procedure and finished off his speech with "oggi-oggi-oggi" and everyone replied "oi-oi-oi". Very daft but a good way to calm the nerves. The 30 second warning went up and the atmosphere became tense. The starting hooter sounded and off we all went. In typical triathlon style the first 400m was a swim-fight. People hitting you from all angles and basically confusing me to the point I had no idea where I was or where I was going. Luckily as soon as you drift off target you crash into someone and you're bounced back into line. After 400m or so was the first turn buoy, a 180° right turn. Once around that I found some clear water and settled into my swim. Once I did this everything gets nice and calm and I can think about how I'm swimming and what I'm doing. Up to the next turn buoy, a 180° left and it all got very hectic again. I swam deliberately wide to get some clear water but probably went too wide, costing me time. At the end of this straight it's a 90° left then a short straight and another 90° left back to the dock exit point. It was at this point I noticed I was swimming on my own. There was no one around me and was as if I was either the last in the water or swimming off in the wrong direction. A quick sight reassured me I was still on track, just a little behind the main pack. Once at the exit pontoon two very frail looking young girls attempt to haul you out the water then up the ramp and into the run to T1.

Wet suit off, into a plastic bag and I ran up the steps into transition. A nice short run to my stuff and on with the helmet, cycle shoes and race number belt. The floors of ExCeL are that painted concrete and extremely slippery in cycle shoes. I slipped a few times but safely got to the bike mount point. Once on the bike the first thing to do was wash my mouth out and try to get rid of that awful taste. The bike is my favourite part of the race and I immediately started pushing on with it. I caught quite a few and seemed to be whizzing through the pack. I knew not to go too fast too soon and to pace myself for the 25 mile ride but I was enjoying myself so what could I do? The bike course is basically two laps of a duel carriageway, going from one end to the other around several roundabouts and down a tunnel. Going through the tunnel for the first time was lots of fun, I tucked in and got as aero as possible, put the bike in a high gear and motored down the ramp. I must have over taken 15 people down that stretch but my joy was short lived as the other side of the tunnel was the up ramp and several of those people over took me back. I was still up overall so quite happy with my speedy manoeuvres.

Up to the first turn around point and the journey back to ExCeL. The whole of this part of the ride was into a head wind and it got quite difficult. I started paying for my early speed and my legs began to hurt quite a lot. As my progress was quite slow I decided it was a good time to feed up for the run and ate a gel pack and washed it down with plenty of energy drink. It seemed to take for ages to get to the second turnaround but I made it, saw Michele waving at me which was very welcomed and headed off for the second lap. I completed the first lap in 36 minutes according to my speedo so knew I was on for a decent time if I could sustain the speed. The second lap was pretty much like the first, lots of fun in the tunnel but not so good up the back straight. I saw a couple of accidents on the bike. It looked like they'd clipped the kerb and fallen into the central reservation. Lots of people had punctures which I luckily escaped. I use puncture resistant tyres that are heavier (so slower) than race tyres but it seems to get me out of stopping to change a tube so must be worth it.

Back in to transition for T2 and the all important test of the ankle. I delicately put my running shoes on and started to jog out. It was this point I realised I had no idea where I was running to, I'd forgotten where the run started. A quick scout around and I spotted the 'Run Exit' sign and jogged off towards it. There was some pain from the ankle but nothing I couldn't handle and I felt quite relieved. If I stayed like that I'd be fine and I tried to take it easy and not annoy it. Once out of ExCeL and onto the course the surface change to probably the worst thing a person with an injured ankle could run on - cobbles. There were loads of them all the way around the run lap. As much as I tried to avoid the worst of them it was almost impossible to avoid putting pressure on the ankle. By the end of lap one it was felling pretty sore but I carried on. Once out on to the second lap you might as well finish the run as you have to walk back anyway. By the end of the second lap it was hurting a lot. My run became as miserable limp to avoid putting weight on my foot.

Once back into ExCeL I crossed the line to great relief. I quickly calculated I'd had a great race, finishing 4 minutes under my personal best for the distance. Looking at the results, I'd saved all those 4 minutes on the run, I'd put in the fastest 10k run of my life, a whole 4 minutes off my PB. I can't believe I managed to run that fast on such a sore foot. Tonight it's really sore. I'm icing it regularly and downing anti-inflammatories at regular intervals to try and limit the damage. I'll try to get along to the physio as soon as possible which brings me full circle as it as the physio who put this idea in my mind in the first place.

Swim - 1500m T1 Bike - 40k T2 Run - 10k Total
33:20 4:00 1:13:12 2:20 45:37 2:38:27
Finished 140th out of 258 finishers in age group.
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