Tuesday, 19 June 2012

IM UK 70.3 - 17th June 2012

Swim - 27:46 (12 in AG, 65th Overall)

T1 - 4:59

Bike - 3:13:48 (32nd in AG, 274th Overall)

T2 - 2:33

Run - 1:41:28 (16th in AG, 141st Overall)

Total - 5:30:35 (20/141 in AG, 151st Overall)

Barring the organisation of this race - I had a great time. Sadly Ironman has decided that because this race sells out, they'll try to cram a few hundred extra athletes in, keep upping the price and offer nothing extra in return. I had an amazing time two years ago and was really looking forward to going back. Unless things change however (I accrue more money than sense) - I won't be going back.

I felt sorry for the Rotary volunteers who had to deal with hundreds of angry people as we were stuck in the car park for over an hour and a half just trying to leave the venue after registration. The whole system had snarled up, and gale force winds and rain, left inappropriate cars stuck in the mud let right and centre. Add to that the hour queue to get into the car park in the first place, the first day didn't go well. They left people queuing in the rain when there was plenty of room in the registration tent and the desks were hugely understaffed.   Race morning was no better - as the race was delayed by 30 minutes - and the two wave start (due to the added numbers of athletes) was no better. The water was cold, yet they still insisted on the unnecessary singing of the national anthem pre-start, which left people around me shivering uncontrollably. There was no starter horn, and everyone just started swimming at the end of the national anthem - perhaps out of sheer frustration - many, myself included, were WAY infront of the start line, as the kayakers made the most apathetic attempts to push us back I have ever seen.

Anyway - rant over. The race:

My bike - ready to roll (really slowly round the bike course)

All smiles (not sure why) pre the delayed swim start - photo courtesy of Tobias Mews
I had grouped over at the front left of the main pack with Amy, Rob and Mel and I swam hard and found no feet whatsoever for the first stretch.  It was a 1 loop triangle course that they have reversed from years past to stop one stretch from swimming directly into the sunrise (the only beneficial improvement they have made - shame the sun was hidden behind clouds). Anyway, after the first turn I found some good feet, but ended up going past them as I felt I had started to take it a little easy. On the final stretch I kicked on, and saw another group about 25m ahead - dammit - too far to bridge and I just conserved my energy. At Roth, I am going for glory, and going to swim hard all the bloody way! I came out of the water with 26.30 on my watch - but my split was 27.46 - no idea how that works - as a guess it would be that we all jumped the start and they retrospectively guessed when we had started post-anthem (and got it wrong).

The swim start - photo courtesy of Tobias Mews

Swim exit - photo courtesy of Tobias Mews
Anyway, 20 yards up the steep slope Brundish runs past - (damn, I really thought I'd be able to hold him off to the finish ;-)) gave him a bit of encouragement, and felt like death as I ran the rest of the way up the hill. Changed into arm warmers and was out on the bike in reasonable time. As you will see from Gabriel's report I fortunately had a clear transition to go through. Had I been a reasonable swimmer in the second wave - it would have been utter carnage. At this point, I was happy with my swim - but when I saw the results and that my time was only good enough for 13th in my AG, I was a little surprised - I guess it just goes to show how competitive some races are now.

Bike HR data
Anyway, out onto the bike and took my time up the first hill. Amy flies past me grinning like a looney, she was clearly already having fun, and went on to put together a brilliant race. I am used to the usual flow of bikes coming past me early on, but was suprised to see how many kept coming past. Since Geneva 3-4 weeks ago, I've had issues with my right knee and been riding less than 50 miles a week. I thought it had finally cleared up but after maybe only 10 miles it was already starting to ache. I know the pain doesn't get unbearable, so just carried on, trying to conserve energy in the hope of a good run. I think I could have and should have gone a little harder on the bike - as my avg hr was still about 5 beats below threshold, but it was clear my legs weren't up for it. On the second loop, I did push a little towards the end and I went back past a few who had clearly imploded, and came in off the bike 6 mins faster than two years ago - so not all bad. But still - I had gone out on the bike in 65th overall, and come back in 192nd! Clearly a lot of work to do on the bike.

Lap 2 of the run - photo courtesy of Tobias Mews
Luckily the course was still quite empty - photo courtesy of Tobias Mews

Up yet another hill - photo courtesy of Tobias Mews
A quick pee in t2 and out onto the run, which I left with Gabriel exchanging the odd grumble.  I felt good though.  Took it steady on the hills and openend up on the downhills. I wanted to hold something back for the last lap. It was muddy underfoot and some trainers with decent grip would have been nice. The racing flats couldn't really cope, so I spent a lot of the time running on thick grassy verges to get some purchase.

What goes up, must come down - photo courtesy of Tobias Mews
Anyway, I think I wimped out a little on the run too, as although I pushed a little more on the last lap avg HR for the section was only 164 and my threshold is 170ish, so again clearly could and maybe should have run harder, by quite a bit :-S.  It is a great run though and I think the best thing about the course. The terrain suits me down to the ground.  I had a caffeinated gel at the start of lap 2 and then was on coke and water at every aid stop. I seem to have some run strength in me at the moment, so I look forward to leaving it all out on the course come Roth.

Run HR data

I managed to pass 37 on the run, with a comfortable effort, but not close to making up the 100 others that passed me on the bike. Steady improvement over the last 2 years though and 15 mins off my time from 2010. Who knows maybe in another 6 years I'll be mixing it with the speedy ones.....;-).

Well done to all the Tri Londoners (Mel, Lotte, David and Joe) for some great performances, and the other two for their quite frankly ridiculous performances - Amy looks like she had the race of her life, and Rob showed that even without a training plan, or knowing anything about exercise - it is still possible to mix it with the best ;-)

One more week of hard work - then I think thats Roth o'clock......

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Why POWERbreathe?

In spending the majority of our free time with triathletes (who are also our friends), Lotte and I are often found discussing upcoming races, training and the season's plans. This year, the Gore-tex Transalpine run has received more than the odd mention, and along with it, our team name - Team POWERbreathe UK.

On occasion, these discussions then move onto the details concerning our sponsorship deal with POWERbreathe, as people try to extract some of the 'juicy details' of said (assumedly) multi-million pound arrangement - yet the deal isn't quite what they expect.

In return for a POWERbreathe device to help with Lotte's training (I already had one) and a couple of t-shirts to wear out and about at the race, we will blog on our training, race under their name and spread the word where we can.

The reaction from many is almost little disparaging at times, but to me the beauty of the deal is in its simplicity. Just like a POWERbreathe device - its understated, yet functional.

The responsibility of blogging on our training and fulfilling our part of the deal will keep us honest. It will make sure we do the training, and remind us when we let slip, that we have an deal to honour.  We talk about our training anyway, putting it into words isn't difficult. Its not even like the training is difficult - 30 breaths, twice a day takes less than 3 minutes! But it still needs to be done! If we put in the work - the results will follow (I believe this because of the extensive peer-reviewed evidence base that exists). Those results, in the scenario I outline below, are worth more than any sponsorship deal money could buy! (maybe if the sponsorship deal involved a helicopter......;-))

I do not need to think for long before memories of the full force of what Transalpine has to offer come flooding back to me; trying to pick my way through technical trail covered in snow and slushy ice at for 10km at 2000m, three-quarters through a 50km stage after back to back marathons, sucking in air but not getting nearly enough. Cursing myself for not training harder as I slow to a stumble, my posture failing with fatigue and with it, the abundant aches in my legs beginning to amplify......

Reflecting on moments like those,  I often think "what I would have given to make it feel even 1% easier?" The answer is certainly a lot more than 3 minutes a day for the preceding few weeks, and putting my training in writing.

"Only if the training works!" I hear you say. And you'd be right, it needs to actually have a benefit for this elaborate sponsorship deal-training motivation exercise to pay off. Over some subsequent posts I'll put forward the rationale and evidence from peer-reviewed journals that suggest that it will....and how.