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Race Reports 2006

8th April - Club 12 mile Hilly Time Trial

I've not been feeling that well in the past few days and considered not racing. I've picked up another bug causing me sore throats and activating my glands in my neck and generally feeling crap. I’d had three days off training to try and sort it. I woke on race morning feeling OK so thought I'd go along for the ride. Chatted with the starter and was given the second start position after convincing him I’m not fast at all. It's a hilly TT and I know I can't get up the hills quickly so the plan was to hammer it down the hill and along the flat and survive the hills as best as I could. About 20 minutes before the start it rained so the roads were wet but the sun was now shining. It was 5°C and fairly windy.

I was given the countdown and I was off. Went down the hill as fast as the conditions allowed but this was my first ride on my thin tub wheels this year and they felt a bit nervous in the wet at speed (45mph). I caught the person set off first at the bottom of the hill, about the 1 mile point. That was encouraging as I knew I wasn't going to finish last. I’d managed to keep my heart rate around lactate threshold going down the hill which was something of an achievement but it meant my legs were already pretty sore by the time I made the flat at the bottom. But I pushed along as best as I could and kept the speed above 20mph for all of it and above 25mph for a great deal. The hill starts at 8 miles and I was still in “first place”. The hill is very steep and about a mile long, about half way up it the first person came past me, start number 3. A few seconds later number 8 came past, then another two people. Managed to hold position until the next series of hills where I lost one more place. Finished off with a big effort and reached 180bpm, highest all race.

The aim before the race was to finish around 40 minutes and I clocked 39:01 with an average speed of 18.5mph. Very pleased with that but a bit annoyed about the 01, I could have pushed harder for the line. Average HR for the race was 170bpm which is LT plus 5bpm. That could have been a bit higher but I went off to fast and knackered my legs out before the race even got going. Learnt lots about TT’s and looking forward to the next one. Winner clocked 32:30! Oh yeah, I finished 11th out of 14.

Course: GS310 - 12 miles

23rd April, Sevenoaks Sprint Tri

Luckily they gave me a lane to myself, lane 5 so slightly longer to run into transition but a clear lane is good for my concentration. In the two sprints previous to this I’ve miscounted the lengths, swimming two then four lengths to far. My main aim was to count the lengths and get out at the right time. I told the lane counter woman that I’m rubbish at counting and to be very obvious with the two laps to go board. Set off and felt pretty good up to the third length when I breathed in a bit of water. Managed to cough that out while sticking to my stroke and kept going. Someone else got in about half way through but started as I pushed off from the far end so a whole length between us. He was catching me for a while but slowed down after a couple of lengths. Lane counter lady was very obvious and I thank her for that. Got out and ran to transition.

I’d practiced getting on the bike with the shoes clipped into the pedals the day before and decided against doing it in the race. It was raining anyway so my socks would have got wet on the run to the mount line. Yes, I put on socks mainly because I didn’t want any blisters that’d affect training during the following week. All that faffing around was probably the only area in the race where I could have taken some time off, probably about 30-60 seconds in all.

Once eventually on the bike (had to stop to get on at the mount line) I was off – in the wrong gear. I’d left it in top gear which was way too tall for the slightly uphill start section. Once actually on the go I got aero and pushed on. Heart rate (I had a HRM on the bike but not on me so no HRM info for the swim/run) was around 170 which is over lactate threshold. In previous years I’d have slowed down to let it drop back under but the recent bike time trial I did showed me I can hold a heart rate above LT for quite a while so I continued on at that pace. Then ahead I saw two cyclists, this is unusual, I’ve done the race three times and haven’t seen anyone else on the bike leg for any of them. So set about hunting them down which I did pretty quickly.

Then the big decent on the course, an old vintage car had over taken me just before the summit and was going down the hill at about 40mph. I was being held up by this car which was very annoying. He held that 40mph for the whole of the flat straight at the bottom of the hill and I could still go faster than him, that went on for about two miles until I turned off up Riding Lane.

Not much else happened on the bike course, I caught a further 6 or so riders and no one over took me which is great news. Although it was very wet and raining it didn’t really affect my time, at least no more than the poor transition and ride down River Hill did. Average HR for the ride was 169bpm - LT plus 4, or thereabouts.

Nice and smooth, feet out the shoes before the dismount line and a straight forward run to my spot and change of shoes. Felt pretty good running to the start of the run course but my socks were all squishy.

The first section is down a steep alley and I took it slowly down there. Got to the bottom and started along the valley to the first turn point. Felt pretty good and over took one person. After the turn tree it’s up a steep hill that gets less steep as you go up but continues to climb for quite a long way. Going up this I felt really awful. Good job I wasn’t wearing a HRM as I’d have stopped or at least slowed down a lot. After that climb it levels out a fraction going past Knowl House but then it starts to climb again and once you turn a 90 degree right there’s a long straight climb which looks like it’s a very long way. I must admit I started to feel pretty bad at this point so had to dig deep to keep going. A couple of people came past me which made me feel as if I was going very slow.

But then it’s to the downhill section along the valley and I managed to recover a bit and felt OK again. Just in time really as I then had to go back up the steep alley back to the finish. I ran about the first three steps then decided to walk up it. Got to the top feeling really crap but managed a sprint finish to the line.

Swim (400m): 7:28
Bike: (27km), including T1/2: 51:24
Run (8km): 38.33
Overall: 1:37:25, 33rd overall and 7th in AG.
Conditions: Wet but warm for the time of year.

25th June, 100 mile Time Trial

Set off and my speedo failed to auto start. I later found out it was because I'd put the front wheel in the wrong way so the magnet was miles away from the sensor but at the time I had no idea what was wrong. I fiddled with the sensor then pressed all the buttons and eventually got the stop watch to start up. Fortunately that started the heart rate information as well. Having time and heart rate was very important to this race, otherwise I'd have no idea about pace or feeding. But the time on the speedo wasn't race time, it'd taken me a while to start it up.

Took it fairly easy at first. My left hamstring was tight and took a long time to loosen up but by around 20 miles it was starting to get there. The usual Q100/5 course had been changed the day before because of road works on the course. It was now a multi lap race using three different laps (one in the north, one in the south west and one in the south east, returning to the bottom of the north lap for the finish). The 20 miles took care of the north loop so it was a long ride down a bypass to start the south west loops. My target heart rate was around 145 but it was proving difficult to maintain that, it kept creeping up to 150-155. Whenever my concentration turned away from heart rate it'd creep up to the 150's so I decided to leave it there and see what happened. It felt OK, not overly taxing so it'd probably be OK. Passed the 50 mile point in about 2:28 (on my inaccurate stop watch) which I was happy with. The aim was to clock a 20 mile/hour average so anything under 5 hours would be great.

At 80 miles we pass the finish line to begin the last set of laps in the south east. Number 31, who I'd been following for about 50 miles suddenly faded and dropped right back. I started to push on at this point, thinking the finish was about 20 miles away. I had no way of knowing how far it was but it was about 4 hours into the race so about 20 miles. Dug really deep and let my heart rate do whatever it wanted. It was hovering around 163 which a fraction under my lactate threshold (of 165). It was really hurting but I stuck with it, the time clicking ever closer to 5 hours. Finally the (excellent) marshalls directed me off the lap section and onto the straight back to the finish. It's a long, very slightly uphill ride that's about 5 miles long. Had to really nail it to get in under 5 hours and my stop watch said 4:59:58 but the time keeper had clocked me at 5:00:28 so it'd taken me 30 seconds to switch on the stop watch.

In all a really excellent race. Some of the best marshalling I've ever seen in a race. It's hard on a whole different level and it took a good few days to recover from.

Course: Q100/5 - 100 miles - 5:00:28

28th June, 10 mile Time Trial

First time on this course and at this distance so didn't know what to do or what to expect. Set of at a hard pace and held 30-35 mph for the first couple of miles. I thought I was going to clock a very fast time until I got to the foot of the first hill and then I slowed down to about 15mph. Same happened on the second lap, fast along the flat and slow doing up the hill. Legs still felt very tired and sore throat didn't help much. Bit disappointed with the time but not surprised by it.

Course: Q10/18 - 10 miles - 26:30 - 2nd place

26th July, 10 mile Time Trial

Decided to try a different approach this time. Rather than hammer it all the way I thought I'd take it slightly easy on the first down hill section to save something in the legs for the up hill section. That worked well enough, felt a lot better climbing the hill, but it was windy and a head wind up the hill so I still ended up going down on to the small ring to keep moving. First lap was OK, second lap difficult and I couldn't pull my minute man any closer (or so it seemed). Hammered it down the final hill to the finish line to the finish. Calfs were cramping up but I guess that's the effects of the Ironman still in my legs. Rode back to the car to be greeted by everyone else and congratulated on my win. First one and a very pleasing night.

Course: Q10/18 - 10 miles - 26:21 - 1st place

13th August, 50 mile Time Trial

When you get out of bed at 4am to do a time trial you want to give it your best. Even if it’s a training ride you still want to nail it and make a decent deposit in the hurt account. Got there in good time, set up and did a decent warm up of about 20 minutes, steadily increasing the effort until I was at race pace. Then went along to the start line, had 30 seconds to wait until I was set off – almost perfect although I didn’t intend to cut it that fine.

It was cold (14°C), raining and very windy (18mph according the beeb) so conditions weren’t ideal. But I didn’t feel cold so no real problems, just a case of getting as aero as I could when riding into head winds. I managed to hold over 160bpm for the final hour of the 100m TT I did a few months back so that was the plan for the 50, stay over 160 and hold on (LT is about 165). It was all going well enough, I was set off as number 5 with number 4 a DNS. I caught my 2 minute man in the first 20 minutes and the others shortly after that so I was leading on the course. Number 16 went through shortly before the half way point and I went through 25 miles in 1:11. Carried on in second place (on the course), kept pushing along increasing the effort as I wanted to maintain the 21.4mph average I’d clocked on lap 1.

I then saw a rider ahead so pushed on to over take him – number 9. Then number 30 came through on me just before the finish where I stopped the speedo on 2:31. What? 2:31 I thought that’s a shitty second lap which makes no sense at all, the speedo was still saying I’d maintained 21.4mph average. Got back to the club house to find a dozen or so others there. Where did they come from, I was 3rd on the course.

Thinking about it on the way home I must have gone off course somewhere, there’s no other way number 9 could have been in front of me as he started 4 minutes behind and there’s no way I’d lapped him. Speedo confirmed it and said I’d done 54 miles and took a split at 50 miles of 2:20 – which would have been pretty cool, negative split the laps. But I messed it up

Course: G50/53 - 50 miles - 2:31:21

27th August, 25 mile Time Trial

Arrived at the revised Village Hall. They’d moved the course from the G25/89, roads I know very well, to G25/86 (profile), roads I don’t know at all. Got my number (13) and set off for the start line and a warm up. Having driven the course the day before it looked quite hilly so I didn’t expect a stunning time but I did think I’d be OK on the hills, they’re not as bad as I’m used to. I was 6th off although a couple hadn’t turned out. Heading down the first hill I took it reasonable easy, deciding not to naff my legs up in the first mile this time. I saw number 12 in front so had someone to concentrate on and reel in. Overtook him at 3 miles and then the course changed and started to go up hill. Oh boy, my legs shot. I had very little power to put out on the hills. My legs were really sore, so sore in fact I couldn’t get my heart rate into my target zone (av for the TT: 156, target: 165+). I was having to stand a lot to keep things moving on, it was going to be a long ride.

At about the half way point I caught number 8 shortly before being over taken by number 20 (the same chap who’d won the 50 two weeks before). I kept the effort levels high but it wasn’t working out. Went through 20 miles in 55 minutes and limped on to the finish line in 1:09:53.

Course: G25/86 - 25 miles - 1:09:53

2nd September, 10 mile Time Trial

It was the club open so a much bigger field than before, 105 riders this time. I was 14th off so had plenty to follow although you’d have to be a fool to get lost on this course. Out to the first roundabout and back. There are no other turnings on the course. Fortunately I had a look at the course profile before the race and saw it was uphill on the way out and downhill on the way back. If I didn’t know this I’d have been a bit freaked out that I was only holding 16mph as I approached the turn point. The ride back was good enough, legs were on fire and breathing all over the place but at least I couldn’t have got a lot faster so it’s a reasonable representation of my current fitness levels. Previous 10 mile TT’s were 26:30 and 26:21 so I should be pleased with 25:03 but I’m not.

Course: Q10/19 - 10 miles - 25:03

9th September, The Vitruvian

The swim is very simple, a big triangle where you get out after the first lap then set off again for a second. I waded in through the mud and sat in the water for about 5 minutes, which was to long as I was getting cold. But soon enough we were on our way and it was the usual bundle to the first turn buoy, a 90 degree left. Found plenty of space after that and was happily plodding away. Got out after the first lap which was good as I needed to pull my hat back on and empty my goggles then ran in for a second lap at exactly the same moment they set off the next wave. That confirmed to me I’d swam exactly 20 minutes for the first lap but it was dead annoying as I had another bundle to the first turn buoy. In all the swim went well, I didn’t try that much as I know trying just tires me out and doesn’t make me any faster.

T1 was easy enough (once I’d got my wetsuit off – of course I’m not sensible enough to use any body glide on my legs to help with that).

I like cycling and I was very much in a time trial frame of mine. Clearly this is a bit silly for a HIM but that’s the mood I was in. On top of that I’d laid a new floor in the lounge on Thursday as well as doing a hard interval run on the treadmill. My hamstrings were very sore. I cycle a lot better when I’m in a time trial situation so I picked a couple of people to home in on and over take. Caught person one pretty quickly so continued in search of person two. I should say that my heart rate monitor didn’t start up when I got on the bike so I had no idea of what kind of pace I was going at. I was paying attention to my breathing and trying to stay just under the really heavy breathing zone.

Clocked 1:20 for the first lap which was OK considering the course. Set off on lap two and caught person three. Didn’t really expect that but it gave me a big boost, not only because I’d managed it but because he was now behind and I was worried he’d come back through. Eased off with about 5 miles to go to try and give my legs a bit of a break and get some feeling back into them. They were very sore and weren’t really doing what they were told. Clocked 1:23 for lap two.

T2 was easy enough except I thought I’d try to leave my shoes clipped into the pedals and jump off while the bike was moving. There’s a long entry road so plenty of time to get your feet out and set yourself up for it. Got to the dismount line and couldn’t get my leg over the spare tub I had in a ‘behind the saddle bottle cage’ so had to stop anyway.

Left T2 and tested my legs out to see what was going to happen. You can tell within the first 100 metres or so if they’re going to play ball and they felt OK. It seemed my HR started to climb so I slowed down a bit and settled in to a sensible running pace. The plan was to run the whole of the run. Give myself an ego boost after the bad run I had in Austria. Running up the first hill away from the lake and I needed the loo. But not only would that mean I’d have to stop it also meant person three might over take. So I held on to it and kept running. Got to the turn point which was about 2km past where I thought it was and started back. Got back to transition then set off again for lap two. But by now (about an hour into the run) I was bursting so got to the top of the hill and took a pee. But that meant I’d now allowed myself to stop on the run and I took a few more walking breaks when I really should have kept going. I even took a bottle of drink with me on the run so I wouldn’t have an excuse to stop at the feed stations. I was a bit disappointed about having walking breaks but I was basically paying for the fast pace on the bike earlier. In all the run was only a couple of minutes off my regular HM time so mustn’t grumble.

It was an excellent day. The TTers and the team feeling you get when everyone is around is brilliant. There’s lots of cheering and shouts from others as well as giving shouts. The course is hard but it’s not so hard you can’t get busy with it. I’d like another go next year for sure.

Swim (1900m): 41:29
T1: 2:23
Bike (85km): 2:43:20
T2: 1:28
Run (21km): 1:55:56
Overall: 5:24:39 (286 out of 529 starters)
Conditions: Cold to start with and wind picked up as the day went on but pretty good otherwise.

11th November, The Ballbuster

The weather was around 12°C which is pretty good for a Ballbuster, it's been close to freezing for the past few years. It had rained just before the race and the wind was picking up but on the whole conditions were good. Set off on the first run with the aim of just doing my regular long run for the week and settle into a happy zone that didn't tax me to hard but neither hang around holding back. Once the initial pack had thinned out a bit I was able to move up through the pack and found some clear space. Things went pretty well and I got back to T1 in 1 hour and a few seconds. Setting off on the bike I felt a bit crappy, my legs weren't working right and were on the verge of cramping up a few times. But I was making up places on the flat and downhill sections and loosing a lot of places on the zig zag hill. Started to feel good on the second lap and things got better for the third, managed to negative split all three laps, starting at half an hour and taking a minute or so off each time and clocking 1:26. Setting off on the last run and my big toes felt very strange, I guess that's from getting cold feet on the bike, that settled down by the time we got to the first sharp left. The next section really took it out of me, essentially it's along down hill section that lasts three or four miles with a few bumps to break things up. The down hills were taking their toll on my quads and calfs. But I kept running and kept telling myself 'get to the bottom of the zig zag hill and it's as good as done'. The problem with that is I'd allowed myself to run to the bottom of the hill but not up it. So once I turned the corner I ran about 200 metres up the hill then started on a run/walk. Once I'd walked for the first time the running was all but over and I walked up most of it. I'm quite annoyed about that as there was no real reason for it. Yes, I felt tired and my legs were complaining a lot but I could have run it. On the positive, I ran the other 15 miles which is the longest I've ever run in a race and is a vast improvement. Final run was 1:11 which included T2, total was 3:41 and I finished in 210th out of 404.

Run 1 (8 miles): 1:00:39
Bike (24 miles): 1:28:56 (including T1)
Run 2 (8 miles): 1:11:44 (including T2)
Overall: 3:41:19 (210 out of 404)
Conditions: 12°C, wet on the ground with a cold breeze.

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