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Racing the London Olympic Course

It’s just over a week until the PruHealth London World Triathlon. I’m really excited about this event. It’ll be my first ever Olympic distance race and the course will be a replica of the 2012 London Olympic Games Triathlon course and the pro’s will be battling it out the day before.

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I hope it’ll have all the feel of a huge event & should be  stark difference to Wilmslow Sprint triathlon I did at the beginning of May. There are a few palaces in the backdrop of Wilmslow, but for all their money they cannot drive or show courtesy to anything happening in their community. That open road bike route was scary and annoying. London will be closed roads, and from what I gather also nice and flat! I thought Newby Hall Duathlon got a bad rap for being dangerous, but was far safer and a far better experience than the well established Wilmslow Sprint Traithlon.

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I entered a ballot to race in London and it has cost me £99. As I haven’t raced that much before I wanted to have a great experience. I hear a lot about this and how high it ranks on peoples choice of races. In my old motocross days it was all about getting a result and the race experience came from the battles you drew yourself into on the track itself. It could’ve been a muddy circular field but if you were in a battle it would have made for a great race or “experience”. Triathlon seems to generate most of its enjoyment and pay off by the course selection, the route, the elevation, the crowds etc.

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Ironman UK was a great experience because of the race. I had ridden the course many times in training and was accustomed to the hard bits, the nice bits and what to expect, but it was the crowd and it was the race element that made for a great experience. I have heard great things about Challenge and their focus on the experience.

A recent podcast on IM Talk interviewed Felix Walchschofer gave a nice insight into how much he referred to the Age-Groupers being the centre of attention at their races. When I go to Challenge Almere I am looking forward to being part of this experience. This should also be a great event, a great experience, as it will be part of the European Long Distance Championship so will stand out as an event in itself.

Do you have any ‘must-do’ events? Or any you swear you would never do again?

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Race Report: Wilmslow Triathlon 2014

Race Date: 11/05/14

Race Type: Sprint Triathlon

Result: 6th AG / 20th Overall

Performance: Mixed day 7/10

My swim time meant I started in a wave later in the day at 13:20, so it was a late start for a race. A couple of benefits meant it gave me chance to chill in the morning and have a big breakfast without rushing. I could watch the weather slowly brighten up. And thirdly I had my steak & Guinness pie in the slow cooker for when I got back.

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Swim – 400m – 7:33

The time is inclusive of the run out of the pool up to T1, as I was surprised at my time and thought I’d had a decent go. I set off at the front of my wave, everyone with predicted times of 7:10. I overtook 3 people in the 16 lengths, which meant there may have been a few ego times in there, which were far from accurate. I had to sit my final length behind a much slower swimmer, but overall I was happy with how I swam and kept up a good pace without tiring, which has been apparent in my threshold training sets.

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Bike – 24.2k – 40::59

It never felt the wind was behind us on the bike! I had another solid ride, backing up my performance from Newby Hall Duathlon. I feel really good on the bike at the minute. This time I held an average pace of 22mph in not ideal conditions this was a good effort for me. I learned one lesson – not to have Lucozade in my Torpedo Mount cage between the aero bars. The first sip I took resulted in spillage and sticky levers, handlebars and hands.

I came into T1 at the same time as my racked neighbour, who in turn knocked my helmet off my bars and sent all my neatly set race belt, watch and sunglasses sprawling across the floor. I lost a few seconds in T1, but I had been practising my mount which worked well, using the elastic bands with the shoes ready clipped in. Something I am gaining a lot of confidence in now is my approach to transition and being far less daunted by the list of things to do in such a short space of time.

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Run – 6.3k – 27:33

Mud! The course had been fairly chewed up across the day and I went down a couple of times while negotiating the slippery field out of transition and into the tree covered paths out and back. The run course is actually quite tricky, a few hills and two foot bridges to cross. Very slippery and not very welcome on a tri run route, but you have to play whats in front of you. I felt I was in a race for the first time in a while. I had been overtaken and then kept in touch with a guy on the bike and began to reel him on the run. I was setting up for a late spurt until I slipped up for the second time and the final footbridge broke me.

Overall – 1:17:44 – 6th in Age Group / 20th Overall

I was originally a bit disheartened at the end of the race. There could be a list of excuses – slower swim traffic, shocking drivers out on the bike course on very busy roads, and a few slip ups on the run. A poor T1 didn’t help, but in hindsight when I looked back at the result it was the best I could have hoped for. I was 37 seconds off 5th which may have been attainable on a perfect day, but much further back from the lead group which no added training could have bridged. So overall, I can take away a decent day out and some confidence going into London Pru Health Triathlon on June 1st, my first Olympic Distance Tri.

Strava Bike

Strava Run

Full Results

Race Photography

Race Organiser – Xtra Mile Events

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Note Worthy improvement from when I did this event back in 2011 (the run was 5.6k in 2011). This was my first ever Triathlon and ironically my now coach Paul Savage features on the podium!

Swim – 9:12 / Bike – 48:48 / Run – 26:26.

AG position – 16th / Overall position – 161st

 

2014 – Representing GB at Challenge Almere

2013 was a massive year for me and I only did one race – Ironman UK. A lot of people talk about their ‘A’ race but this was my only race. I trained 10 months solid for it, aiming to complete the challenge and end the year an Ironman before I turned 30.

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Before then, I’d done a sprint triathlon in Wilmslow & Erewash. Not much of a triathlon CV, and actually quite rich of me to refer to myself as a ‘triathlete’. I trained as a triathlete but my lack of competition made me a full time wannabe. I’ve done 3 tri’s in 3 years of taking up the sport in 2011 – 2 sprint & 1 Ironman.

I put so much emphasis on the project of Ironman 2013 I couldn’t focus on anything else, I was besotted with the idea, it consumed me and my entire year. I am by no means saying I didn’t enjoy last year, I loved it. I was racing against myself every session, competing with my last performance, comparing myself to myself on a weekly basis.

The first of my three Triathlons so far

The first of my three Triathlons so far

2014 is going to be slightly different. I’ve already entered some races and I want to do well in them. This year is much more about competing than just completing. I want to be a ‘triathlete’. When people at work ask ‘when is your next race?’ I don’t want to say an event that is 9, 8, 7 months away. I think racing keeps you sharp, it’s social, you see how you stack up against other people. I was just a novice and scared of doing anything that deviated from my IMUK plan.

Proud to be representing!

Proud to be representing!

So my big news is that my time at Ironman UK fell at 119% of the winner of my age group. This meant that I had a qualifying time for the ETU Long Distance European Championship 2014. I’ll be representing Great Britain at Age Group level at Challenge Almere on September 13th 2014. A complete accident if I’m honest.

If I had slowed down to high five my family on the finishing shoot I probably wouldn’t be going to this event. I didn’t have this goal in mind at any single moment of the build up or the event itself. I blew away my predicted finishing time at IMUK which was enough for me, so be selected in the first qualifying stage for the ETU Champs is a proud moment. It also an outstanding testament to my coach Paul Savage who took me from that Sprint Triathlon in 2012 to GB Age Grouper in less than a year.

Caoch Paul Savage & Myslef at IMUK Awards

Coach Paul Savage & myself at IMUK 2013 Awards

So Challenge Almere is my ‘A’ race and I wanted to try and pencil in a race at least once a month this year, so my 2014 calendar currently stacks up like this:

February – MTB Winter Classic Race at Cannock Chase (Bit of fun in the mud)
March – Wilmslow Half Marathon (Spring running focus)
April – Newby Hall Duathlon (English National Champs)
May – Wilmslow Trithlon (Returning to where it began)
June – A few ideas but nothing booked in – Nottingham Triathlon, Bala, Grafam, Pentrith
July – Holidaying in France following the Tour De France
August – Liverpool Triathlon (British Champs)
September – Challenge Almere (European Long Distance Champs)