Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Marshman Half Ironman - 2015

Happy triathlete
The Race
Other than a couple of sportives, I haven't raced since the Outlaw Ironman last Summer . So I approached this warm up ('B' race), with a little nervous excitement. I was keen to see how the increase in training over the winter (and injury reduced run volume) translated into race day performance at the half distance as well as gauging improvements over last years race.

Short Version

Position overall 5th out of 90 starters (HIM)
Age group 2nd (40-45)

Swim (6th)
Bike (3rd)
Run (6th)
Transitions (13th/21st)

Transitions were 3:20 mins total (nearly 3 mins better than last year) - practice makes perfect


Long version

2014 was a very gusty, overcast and a much cooler day. Today, the weather was sunny with a 10mph breeze - uncharacteristically mild for Lydd.

Pre race
Decided to get up early and drive Family Weeks down for a 7:45 race start rather than camping the night before. Registration was incredibly relaxed and I had loads of time to build, test and rack the bike before the coffee/poo/suiting up ritual. The race briefing confirmed the 15.5 degree lake temperature, then we were into the water and off!

Swim 29:30 
100 metres to go

The water was pretty calm, a little murky but odourless. Just like last year, I got my goggles dislodged from the off but they didn't leak so I didn't adjust. I swam comfortably and clear for the first leg of the 'reverse M' shaped course before dabbling in some drafting. This didn't prove to be particularly successful as the swimmer in front was sighting like Mr Magoo. I leapfrogged a few swimmers until I found a better draft partner before picking things up and kicking harder for the last 100m to get clear. I exited in about 7th position (1 position higher but 8s slower than last year). I was initially disappointed that I wasn't faster but didn't feel I had worked overly hard so was happy to stay the better side of 30 mins.

T1 1:48
Last years transitions were somewhat geriatric. I rehearsed T1/T2 several times in the garage and knew there were minutes to be saved. I decided to wear a short sleeved Jersey as I expected it to be cooler (wimp). This proved to be overkill and probably only increased drag (may have prevented some sun burn though). It was also difficult to dress over a wet body - more time lost. A barefoot exit was still not possible due to the stoney run out (wimp again). 

I managed to goof the ‘Triathlon’ function of the Garmin, this meant that I had to start/stop the bike and run leg separately - resulting in slightly cropped files. I will have to just miss out on the Strava glory!

Bike 2:23:23

I had cycled the route a month earlier on the new Canyon Speedmax CF 8.0 with Zipp disc on board, so I knew on a good day, a Normalised Power of about 250 watts would give a 2:30 split. I was confident that I could bike a bit harder and still put out a decent run. This race would give me a chance to test the theory.
255 watts NP was to be my goal power but I was prepared to push harder in the first half to catch the faster swimmers. The tactic worked well.  For the majority of the race I had 2 others for company (Dan Sims - 3rd overall was one). This broke the monotony somewhat and probably prevented me going off too hard. The Westerly winds really were minimal compared to 2014 but the final push into Camber/Lydd was made easy when they were on my tail and I was able to break free from the group to enter T2 with a bit of breathing space.

I did have a few calf twinges that came and went, causing me a few concerns, thinking that they might impede the run later on.

Nutrition wise, I stuck with the tried and tested 2 x 750ml bottles, each with 3 scoops of High5 energy source +1.5 High5 zero electrolyte tabs. I had one High5 energy bar half way - (these never taste good and I must find an alternative).

T2 1:32
This went pretty smoothly I think, certainly a big improvement on 2014. Could still sharpen things up though, after all it's just a 'hat-n-shoe' change!

Run 1:28:01 (PB)
I exited T2 feeling pretty good despite the faster bike split. My first mile timed at 6:23 and I slowed by about 5s per mile until the 10 mile mark where I held 7:00 for a bit before speeding up for the finish. My plan was to shoot for a 6:50 average, which I was just able to go under.

I took a gel at 3 mile intervals, drank water at each aid station and cooled off with what was left in the bottle. It was a lonely run. I was passed by 3 guys as I came out of T2 - (2 of which were uncatchable and out split me by 2-3 mins). The 3rd (who had wheel sucked for a 1/4 of the bike leg after being overtaken) was dropped in the 2nd mile - quite satisfying. 

I was met by #superfan Grant on the run-in and then nearly turned my ankle as I tried to sprint the finish shoot (bit uneven!!!). I had no idea of my bike split so was very pleased with my overall time and position when my crew gave me my printout!

The good
  • 15 minutes and 1 position improvement on 2014
  • Easy swim made for a calm T1
  • New Canyon Speedmax comfortably rocks!
  • Wheel choice - gotta love those Zipps
  • Bike pacing tactics were spot on
  • Nutrition was still perfect for the HIM distance - just need a tastier bar
  • Another half marathon PB, paced a little better than last time.

The bad
  • Possibly need to re-position Garmin, or use the 'key lock' function, as the buttons are easily knocked.
  • Transitions can still be faster I.e. No Jersey and possibly no socks for the bike.
  • Old faithful tri suit getting a bit baggy / legs kept riding up on the bike - fancy one of them there new 'sleeved' versions

Looking forward to 2016 - as a 45 year old.