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Race Reports 2007


10th March, The Ballbuster

The Wednesday before the race was my last training run, 5 hilly miles in a years best time of 36 minutes so things were looking good. But on Thursday I was in a lot of pain with a lower back problem, the physio said it was a stuck sacroiliac joint and after some discussion about the options I had it freed up. Friday morning I could hardly walk but he said it'd clear up by the evening and I'd be fine to race but he did say the joint has been stuck for years and several important muscles have failed to develop correctly so freeing the joint would bring them into play and I'd need to go through six to eight weeks of strength work to balance things out. Saturday morning things seemed fine with very little pain from the area so I decided to race.

Warming up for the race everything felt fine which was a relief, weather was good with a fine sunny spring day but there was a cold wind blowing over the hill, temperature at the start was about 6°C. The race set off, with a smaller field than the autumn race of about 140 people. I noticed straight away that I was having to work quite hard to run at my usual pace, my breathing was heavy and effort levels high. Once up the first gentle hill which goes on for about 2 miles you take a sharp left, up another hill and then a long downhill section of about 3 miles. Even running down the hill I was still working hard and basically struggling but figured that I'd probably clock a time faster than an hour for the first run which I would have been happy with. With the hour in mind I pushed it a bit up the Zig-Zag hill and back to T1 with a time of 1:01, slower than my November time! Changed shoes and collected the bike and set off for a cycle. Again, it became quickly apparent that I was working hard to cycle at race pace and I all but stopped once I got to any hill. I made good progress through the field on the down hill sections but lost a load of places on the hills. The hip was slightly sore when on the tribars but still working fine. Back to T2 and I was feeling knackered, something was clearly going on that I couldn't explain. Setting out for the second run I took it easy for a few minutes but basically I had nothing left, I felt totally knackered, but I put my head down and got on with it. It was very hard to keep going but I maintained pace and even over took a few people. The hip started to make itself known and by the time I was at the end of Narrow Lane the muscles on my right leg were firing off in the wrong order. I was having difficulty bringing the leg forward so it seems by body had found another way of doing it. But I've had that before and did a lot of hip flexor damage so I called it quits and jog/walked in to the finish. Not that I'd have been able to run up Zig-Zag hill anyway, I was done.

After the race I felt pretty low. All that training over winter, pushing myself hard in training and I clocked slower splits in each section when compared to the November race. I can only guess what went wrong, it wasn't feeding as that went well enough (had 6 gels, one every half hour washed down with plenty of Nuun/water), it's not illness as I haven't felt ill for a few weeks. Maybe it was something the physio mentioned, that getting the sacroiliac joint freed would bring certain muscles into play that weren't developed and would need strengthening before being able to match the strength of the quads and hamstrings. Weak muscles mentioned were the glutes and core muscles. Whatever went wrong, it doesn't leave me feeling confident for the season ahead.

Run 1 (8 miles): 1:01:35
Bike (24 miles): 1:31:46 (including T1)
Run 2 (8 miles): 1:15:15 (including T2)
Overall: 3:48:36 (103 out of 135)
Conditions: 10°C, sunny with a cold breeze.

Quick get ready, they're about to go
So tired

8th September 2007, The Vitruvian

Listening to the race briefing and putting on my wetsuit I thought I'd have plenty of time to get ready for the start and quietly get in the water all calm and ready. But with 5 minutes to go I went to put on my swim cap and, on checking my right wrist, realised I'd lost my hair tie. While this might not sound like a disaster it most certainly is, without it my swim cap will fall off and then I'd not be able to breath as the seaweed monster gets me. There was little choice but to run back to the car to get another. In full wetsuit I ran to the far side of the car park and collected another and ran back to the start line just in time for the starter to make the final call for 35-39. Blimey, I was really hot and out of breath. Quickly sorted my goggles, got in the water and tried to calm myself. Made sure the wetsuit was on properly and found the original hair tie on my left wrist – doh!

Hooter went and I knew I was aiming to the right of the sun. It was hard to spot the buoy but easy enough to see the sun, no need to sight, just look forward for the bright light. After the initial biff it settled down and I found space to practice my crap stroke. Turning left at the buoy and I had no idea where I was supposed to go next so just followed everyone else. Eventually we turned another buoy and then it's back to the boat, out the water and around for a second lap. I was pretty much alone for the second lap until the faster yellow hat people started coming through. It was busy at swim exit with the woman's wave exiting for their second lap, the slower blue wave (ie, me) and a few yellow hatters going around again. But off into T1 and a calm and casual Ironman style change into bike mode.

The plan on the bike was to hit it quite hard. I like this course and enjoy overtaking people so quickly got up to speed and held heart rate in the mid 150's (compared to an average HR of 139 for IMUK). The top road was pretty windy so I tried to get as low as possible to get out the wind. While this was working well it meant my back was taking a hammering and complaining a bit. I'd taken pain killers before the race so didn't expect it to annoy me to much. The bottom road was done with a tail wind and I must have made up about 10-15 places and it felt good to be at speed again, it seems to be ages since I did anything like that. But on the left turn up the country lane section the road goes up hill and my progress was tragically slow. I must have lost at least those 10 places I'd gained and possibly more. The second lap was similar but was getting more complaints from the back and by the time I'd hit the A606 for the last time, heading back to T2, it'd had enough and I had to sit up. Just want you don't want to do into a headwind. Back into T2 and another casual change of shoes, TT visor on and set off for the run.

I knew the run was going to go wrong as my last training run on Thursday went very wrong but I expected to last a little longer than I did. Got to the first cattle grid, about 500 metres outside T2 and had to stop to catch my breath. I felt like I'd just done a super hard interval session and was totally out of energy. Walked over the first hill to recover then jogged a bit until HR/breathing went mad then walked a bit and that's how it went for the next 20km. Totally exhausting and I considered pulling out after the first lap. My feet were going numb and I wondered if I was damaging nerves with my back injury. Obviously there's no race that's worth that so I figured I'd get back to transition then call it off. But on one of my many walk sessions I looked at my numb feet and thought my laces looked a bit tights. I loosened them off and my feet came back to life. Without a decent excuse to stop I went around for a second lap and collected my T-shirt.

Despite being another tragic race I still enjoyed the weekend, meeting the TT crowd and shouting encouragement to the many TTers in the race. It's a great race and I'll certainly do it again. But I'm also glad that this is the end of the season and I can put my feet up and get over it. It's been one problem after another and with a few weeks of downtime I can hopefully get some things sorted. Top of the list is my poorly back and my bloody awful swim 'ability'.

Swim: 48:25
T1: 3:43
Bike: 2:48:43
T2: 2:02
Run: 2:24:51
Total: 6:07:58
Conditions: Very warm for the time of the year, wind picked up for the bike but no problems on the swim/run.

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