Last Sunday I ended a somewhat disapointing personal triathlon season at the Fleetwood sprint triathlon. I wanted to go out with a bang, something positive to build on over a long hard winter of preparing for my 2012 season. Thankfully this past Sunday it wasn’t my dodgy hamstring that went bang, more my time.
I recorded a new personal best, by just over 7 minutes, which when you think about it, in a sprint race is quite a big chunk of time. The best thing is I know I could have gone faster as well, I actually held a lot back on the run to protect my injured hamstring. I’d not run for a month as a precaution, and I won’t run again for a month. I felt strong on the run and had to tell myself to slow down, I didn’t want my leg to go pop and set me back months, missing vital winter Ironman training. I finished the 5km run in 25.30, with no ill effects, which realistically in the long term is even better news than my 7 minute pb.
I wore my quad guards for the first time, and it may be psychological but my upper legs felt stronger because of it. I’m convinced that they protected my hamstring, but I need to gather more evidence on that.
The day had started out brilliantly and I just seemed to grow from strength to strength. I’m never going to be a strong swimmer so my time of 10:46 ( including T1 ) for 400m won’t exactly scare Michael Phelps. However it was good for me, and I actually managed to lap one of the swimmers in my lane, which was a unique experience and one I guess I’m never likely to repeat.
But let’s face it this is me, the guy that loses a saddle in a race so something had to go wrong didn’t it? Well yes, but thankfully it was corrected by a scuba diver. My timing chip band slid off my ankle as I kicked off the pool wall after the first 25m lap was completed. When I returned to the deep end of the pool I scanned the bottom of the pool for the errant band but couldn’t see it anywhere. As I swam I resigned myself to the fact that with no chip I wouldn’t record an official finisher’s time. That would be disappointing but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Approaching the wall at the shallow end I could see the red board placed under the surface by the race official to signal that I only had two more 25m laps to do. Next time I reached the shallow end I’d be on my way to getting dry. In a flash I was out of the pool, pausing briefly to tell the official I’d lost my chip. “Here it is” she said and handed me it adding “The scuba diver taking underwater photos saw it come off and retrieved it for you, have a good race.” I thanked her and told her to thank the diver as I ran out of the pool and into the car park that doubled as T1.
It didn’t take me long to throw my helmet, sunglasses and cycling shoes on. I was soon into my stride on the bike, the ROO seemed to be a part of me ( and in a good way this time, not the impaled way of my last race ) as my legs spun the pedals in cadence of 90rpm. The hours practicing one legged cadence pedalling on the turbo in an attempt to improve my technique suddenly seemed worth it. I lost count of the amount of cyclists that I powered past, sounds great but this was an event for all comers. Mountain bikes and Hybrids were common, they were no match for my Tri bike. I soon had my COLT clubmate Chris Lawson in my sights, I shouted “Come on try and keep up “ as I sped past. Knowing fine well that my mate would react and chase me down. He’d set off fifteen minutes before me and was actually on his second lap whilst I was on my first. For the whole of that lap we switchd positions more times than Paris Hilton in one of her “home movies”, each time the banter just got funnier. It’s a wonder neither of us fell of our bikes. Chris, fresh from his Ironman training pulled away from me at the end of the lap and finished in a new pb also of 1.08. A cracking performance. He was the only competitor that passed me on the bike. I was so pleased about that. Again I felt that I could have pushed harder on the bike but again I didn’t want to destroy myself – something I need to learn to become a successful Ironman. Although the bike is the key, burrying yourself to gain 15 minutes is a false economy if it costs you an extra 90 minutes in the marathon.
So there you have it, my triathlon season finished on a high. My performance has given me the confidence to face my winter of Ironman training head on. I’ll be back at Fleetwood in September 2012 and I will be quicker.There I’ve said it, my short race goal for next season is a sub 70 minutes in this race. Hopefully coming off Ironman fitness next year will make me stronger, and with some tweaking after July 1st ( my second Ironman race ) I’ll get my speed legs on.
So It was great to end this season on a high, I got my bang and it was a good one 😀
ps: Thanks to Wiganer for the photos, nice to meet a UK Ironman legend.