The last post in my training log was written in the middle of week 20 – in the run up to the Swashbuckler, my first half Ironman of 2018 – and only my second middle distance race (here’s my first one). Here’s my race report.
In that post I said;
“I don’t have great expectations timewise on Sunday. I’m guessing the swim could be anywhere between 2.00 and 2.15 per 100m, I’m expecting to the bike to be between 13 and 15 mph and the run between 8.00 and 8.45 min mile pace. Transition is not a strong point. On that basis I’ll be aiming for around 6.5 hours plus.”
The swim which turned out be 350M short of Middle distance was in fact slower than my prediction at 2.20 per 100M (36.29). The bike was a bit faster, at 16.4 mph for 53 miles (3.14) but a much easier course than I’d expected and relative to the rest of the field, slow! The run thankfully was at my optimistic end at exactly 8.00 min mile pace for 13.85 miles in a time of 1.50.53. Transitions were slow! The finish time was 5.50.
Overall, I was very happy with the result as it put me where I thought I was and I was very pleased to get a middle distance race done 20 weeks out. Racing, particularly in triathlon, not only gives you an injection of fitness, but it also is a learning arena. In triathlon there are more variables to consider than in the single sport and therefore always lessons to learn.
The positives for me were the 330am alarm and 515am start wasn’t as bad as I feared. Swimming at 515am may have accounted for my slower swim, but also I have to admit I’ve done very little swimming in the last six months (even before breaking my collar-bone). I was in the wrong position at the start – too near the front so had to endure lots of kicks in the face and large bodies trying to swim over mine! I looked up at one point and it seemed to be a frenzy of arms and splashing water in the mist and it reminded me of a brilliant photograph from a tri magazine – but I wasn’t sure it was that brilliant being in it! However, I managed to avoid panicking – unusual for me in this sort of chaotic swim.
I was very slow in transition one – a total of 6’13. I hadn’t mentally rehearsed transition or allowed myself to think about what I should do. And for transition two I hadn’t managed to sort out laces in my new running shoes. I had decided for this middle distance race doing it was more important than the fine-tuning, but I will pay attention in my next race (The Tribesman in Galway in July).
On the bike I realised that my cold hands were going to get colder. I had a thin bike jacket, but hadn’t put in arm warmers or gloves – a mistake, particularly with such an early start. I couldn’t change into the bigger gear and was only able to move through the easier gears. I couldn’t grab my bottle for fuel but I reasoned to myself that it would probably be an hour of coldness and I could cope with that. After an hour I attempted my bottle. I had to slow down almost to a stop and managed to a few good gulps of TailWind. I also ate half a Clifbar. The second time I tried, the bottle felt out of my hands and I decided I needed fuel so got off the bike and ran back to where it had rolled off the side of the road. The next time I dropped it, I let it go! But I finished the bar. I felt I had enough fuel for today.
So far so good. I was enjoying the ride through the insanely scenic New Forest, where cows and donkeys roam freely on the quiet roads and a heathery backdrop made for a peaceful early morning setting. Cycling into the finish I became aware how much work on the bike I’ll need to do as I saw more and more runners streaming past and guessed I was in the bottom third. I knew even with a good run I wouldn’t be making it up though the ranks of the women, but I decided the run was my chance to feel a bit better about my peformance.
The run started well and as I comfortably passed people, most of whom were on their second lap, I did let them know I was on my first. I didn’t want them to feel despondent. Passing through people is a great psychological boost and the 7.45 wish pace felt easy, feeling I was holding back I thought I’d go faster on the second lap and pick it up to 7.30. This was not to be! With hardly anyone left on the course my pace dropped off on round two, not shockingly so and I didn’t physically feel bad. I knew I was on for my goal of 8 min mile pace and sub six hours, so felt happy. I also felt relieved not to have bonked at all and reassured that I’m fit, even if I’m not super fast.
A good day
After the race I spoke to my coach about my slight disappointment with being so far down the field after the swim and the bike. Not surprisingly he reminded me that I need to do more of both. I’m also hoping that a time trial bike will help me to race faster, but I’m very aware that all the gear… well it won’t get me far if I haven’t put the miles in. Roll on the summer….