Sunday, June 11, 2017

Chester Triathlon 2017

Prologue: if you're looking for Chester Race Report, scroll forwards to... "Anyway, I digress"

I really hate it when a good race gets spoiled by sickness afterwards.

I didn't have much to say about the Chester Tri.  It was exactly what I wanted after I crashed in it in 2015... it was uneventful.

I swum.  I got my clothes off in the right order this time.
I biked - without crashing.
I ran as fast as I could which turned out to be 2 minutes faster than 2015's best on this course.

My post-race analysis is cathartic.  Sometimes a way to put down the excitement of the day.  In this one, it's not so much inwardly gazing as analytical.  I thought I'd plateau'd in performance and training enthusiasm but my post-race analysis this time is helping me draw out learning experiences and identify the sources of my disappointment and is fuelling my lust for improvement.  It's going to be a challenge to execute a change before my next big race at the end of July and even greater a challenge to remember them for next season but I'm going to set myself the target to do that.

Unfortunately all the excitement came on Tuesday.  Having drunk a protein shake that had been a few days in the fridge, I threw up the entire week's food.

I took Wednesday off work and then, feeling better on Thursday, cycled to work and back, via the polling station.  I should have known something was wrong when I made it a third of the way through the car park before realising I was on my bike, not in the car and retraced my steps to the bike shed.

It was a struggle to get myself up the hill coming home so on Friday I drove to work and slouched in my chair all day, pretending I didn't exist before leaving at 4pm to go back to bed.  That's when the rest of the illness caught up with me and I drained everything else I had eaten in the rest of the week down the loo.

I have spent the remainder of the weekend recuperating, eating cream crackers and drinking herbal tea and mostly stewing in the fact that I should be out there preparing for the most expensive triathlon I have ever done yet.

The two iron man events I chose have been relatively cheap.  Lisbon Standard was the most expensive so far with a Euro's entry fee and last-minute flights and a cheap hotel in the business district.

Never mind the race fee for Alpe d'Huez (which I managed to buy when the pound was at it's weakest - I think that was a knee jerk reaction to Brexit), the ferry for Alpe d'Huez has cost me the equivalent of an Ironman race fee - and all so I can sleep through the 5-or so hours it would take me to drive to Dover-Calais Ferry (and back again).  Instead I sail from 'Ull to Zeebrugge and then drive to the Alp in almost the time it would take me to do the Dover run... and I get a pleasant overnight stop on the way in a bijoux french Ferme or luxury Restop campground (only fate can tell).

Penticton Duathlon World Champs may be more expensive - but that's a month later so it doesn't count.

Chester on the other hand, was an average price and accommodation was sourced via the Caravan and Camping Club website.  After last time's disappointing pitch at the Delamere forest site (not at all forested) alongside a straight B-road filled with midnight boy-racers screaming up and down the road, we found this little gem.

Anyway, I digress


In my following of Kelly D O'Mara on the interwebs I have learned that I really shouldn't have taken my goggles and hat off before trying to get my wetsuit off... as clearly demonstrated by this photo.

but look at the crowds of people spectating in the background

34 minutes for the swim.  My PB on this course is 28:29 in a year when I was trying especially hard to improve my swim.  It's a shame it has taken me 2 years to vindicate this approach to swimming so maybe, yes, I will spend a bit more time in a wetsuit.

Otherwise my transition was OK although I did bother to put on a jersey which I was glad of on the windier parts of the bike.  I laughed in the face of fate by not bothering with gloves again.  I jumped on to my bike across the mount line, just as someone else plopped to the floor in a writhing mess (he ran out of momentum with both feet clipped in).  I left a cheering TSK to help pick the other bloke up.


I failed to crash on cobble corner and then just settled in to my ride, with nothing more on my mind than where the hell were my sunglasses?  Oh well... squinting will have to do.

I was really glad I'd gone out the day before as I felt well settled in to my riding position.  I spent most of the ride balancing on the edge of, "Go faster / Can I keep this up till the end and still do a 10km run?".  I probably erred on the side of the latter.

With 10km to go it turned to, "Can I beat my pb of 1:19?" (in 2010).  I admit I only had a plan for that time, I didn't work out a pacing strategy to meet it and that is probably the source of the failure to do so.  It's hard to tell for sure as all the "climbs" are at the beginning of the course and the tail wind was at the end of the course but my time for the first 10 miles was 35 minutes; 29.5 minutes for the second 10 miles and just under 15 minutes for the last 4.5 miles.  It felt like a negative split and not just because of the inclines.

Last year I only did 1:26 because of the crash.  It was a good job I had that target to chase because I came in at 1:19:50 and if I hadn't have pushed it then I would have been really fed up with myself.  As it is, I'm still just mildly disappointed.

My bike's supposed to be the strong bit and I have abandoned it a bit.  I admit it.  There's nothing else to say but this race was a good arse kicking.  It was the B minus again.

I passed a few into transition in my race to hit that 1:19 and jumped off the bike as I hit the line then disgruntled someone having a nice walk with his bike as I called politely to pass on the right.  You can't please all of the people all of the time.

Remembered to take the helmet off (yes!).  Next bit of learning: after struggling to run without  socks at Bala, I opted for socks here but the tiny ones with no ankle.  Massive improvement! No blisters and without the time spent trying to feed my slightly damp, senseless toes down a long tube of tech fabric, still a fast transition.  Didn't bother doing the shoes up (didn't seem to matter, see above reference to numb feet).

I grabbed a few gels... Eugh! That one wasn't mine and it was open... and now all over my hand.  Dilligently under the eyes of the BT official, I returned it to its rightful place and resumed running.


Felt good joining the run.  I'm getting the hang of hitting high speeds coming out of transition.  It also helped that after 100m, you're joining faster racers who are already on their later laps so not only are they faster, they're also into their stride.

After a short period of exuberance I checked my speed and was hitting 7.8mph.

Well, that's not right hey, so I backed it off and took a drink of crisp fresh water.  I didn't want to be wasting bottles so I didn't take any more after the first one that I ditched 7/8ths full.  Time to check my competition.

My aim was set on beating a woman wearing a GB suit whose name was Priscilla (this would have been her surname).  In retrospect she may not have been competing for an Age Group place so she may not have been important.

She may not have been on my lap or in my age group (at the moment I am about to move up so it's difficult for me to race and remember what age group I'm in).

However, it also appears from the results that she didn't even exist and she was merely a figment of my imagination.  I don't mind her though because she made me run faster. At first I was satisfied that I was gaining on her (I clearly saw her twice), then I was satisfied I had left her behind - I didn't see her going the other way on the out and back.  Then I ran faster to put more time between us.  She truly was a great imaginary friend.

Bits of me hurt that shouldn't - hips that I've been having problems with for a while.  I loosened my muscles off and moved around more whilst I ran.  I think I've been holding too much tension whilst running and this seemed to work so more lessons learned.

Otherwise, there's nothing I could have done better on the run.  I went as fast as I could for as long as it took and as I ran to the line, I was going flat out.  Someone passed me - Gemma Collings - and there was absolutely nothing I could do to answer her but that's OK because she was 15 minutes ahead of me in a different start wave and a different age category.  She was a good test for me though.  Nope, nothing left.  I was glad it was done.

Swim: 34:23, 41/47, 212/257, 767/933  [104 men in cat.  676 men in total]
T1: 2:13 34/47, 184/257, 628/933
Bike: 1:19:58, 33/47, 157/257, 677/933
T2: 1:51, 38/47, 214/257, 760/933
Run: 49:31, 31/47, 129/257, 579/933

Overall: 2:47:57 35/47, 160/257, 659/933 (qualifier result - H-125%. I-122% - unconfirmed)

Target times to aim at - 2:41 (9 minutes) or 2:34 (14 minutes)

Swim - down by 3 to 5 minutes (29 to 30 minutes)
Bike - 3.5 to 5 minutes (1:15 to 1:16:30)
Run - 1.5 to 4 minutes (45:30 to 48 minutes)
Total - 2:33:30 to 2:38:30  

With the same transitions, this would put me Females: 85th to 116th instead of 160th.  Short of the obvious positives of a gorgeous day, not crashing, feeling comfortable on my bike for the first time in ages and it not raining, I did this on minimal training.  I have slacked off so hard recently.  I'm focused on Alpe d'Huez now for the next 6.5 weeks but with tight targets above to work to as well I have no choice but to get off my ass and stay out there until such time as it all comes around again.

(c) all photos thanks to the organiser that recognises a good set of free photies is more rewarding than a teeshirt bike cleaning rag.

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