This is the 3rd time I have raced the Marshman Half, in 2014 I was 6th OA, 1st AG, in 2015 5th OA, 2nd AG so when I booked this years race I was hoping for the same sort of improvement. Then came the knee op at the end of February and my expectations were reset.
Initially I had written off the race, then as the knee improved and strength returned, a swim/bike/DNF run looked a good strategy for a long training session. The knee then responded better than expected and I was able to put in a few long runs and some short fast runs (just no long/fast runs).
At 12 weeks post op, I felt I could have a crack at the race and just see how the run played out.
Age group winner (45-50)
Transitions (nearly 30s slower than last year - bit confused)
2014 was a very gusty and overcast, 2015 was sunny and still, this year was overcast, light wind with a few spots of rain - pretty good racing weather.
I carbed up the day before and tried to get an early night. Ate (too much) carb based breakfast, and drove Grant & I down to the race! The finish line had moved to the lake this year and the last 3K of the bike route was clipped as the road surface was poor. The general registration was way better this year and in the absence of supporters to take care of valuables - a secure bag drop off was really welcomed.
Swim 28:47 (43 seconds faster than 2015)
The water was pretty calm and a claimed 18 degrees (possibly a degree or too warmer on the start line - and a touch saltier too).
I got off to a good start, found clear water really quickly and never let the fast guys get too far ahead. I wasn’t able to take advantage of any real drafting as the swimmer in front just couldn’t sight! The swim felt pretty comfortable and coming out in 3rd just 87 seconds behind the leader was excellent although at the time, I had no idea of my actual position.
I was hoping for a faster T1 compared to 2015 as I had opted to ride with no cycle jersey.
I was really surprised to find out I was 24s slower??? I did toy with going sockless, I definitely will next year!
I have cycled this route enough times now in training and racing to know that the conditions make all the difference. Race day condition were good and I planned to shoot for a 255W Normalised Power (tried and tested in training). I went out pretty hard to catch the leaders so that I could hopefully benefit from a ‘legal’ group ride. I passed what turned out to be the 2nd place rider at mile 5 and I was a lot faster so just ploughed on putting out 260w for the first 15 miles. At half way I passed the leader (and eventual winner - Sam Begg) who had punctured, I offered a tube but he thankfully waved me on. I now suspected that I was leading as every time I passed a marshal, I was catching them off guard. I had a few vomiting moments on the bike (nothing new here), but only consumed one bottle of 750ml energy drink and one sports bar - seemed about perfect for this duration/intensity/temperature. I allowed myself to relax my efforts a bit as I was really comfortable and felt doing so would help the run, I also saw that at a slightly reduced power, I was still averaging good speed that would result in a reasonable bike split. My Normalised power for the ride ended at 242W with a variability of 2%, so less power than last year but smoother power delivery resulting in about 0.3mph less average speed.
I entered T2 and the absence of bikes confirmed that I was leading the race —a first for me— My lethargy resulted in a 12 seconds slower T2 than last year, felt pretty slow too. I was absolutely busting for a pee (understand why now - explained later) and hit the porta - potty at the start of the run.
Run 1:30:32 (including wee)
The 90 second Austin Powers wee relegated me to 2nd before I had even zipped up! and about 3 miles later I was passed again and now in 3rd. This wasn’t really a surprise as I know this race produces some fast runners. I tried to stay close to 2nd place but I was losing about 10s on him each mile so I accepted 4th place. My average pace was 6:40 min/mile at the half way point but just like the 2 previous years, I allowed this to fall. I kept glancing back on some of the long straights and I seemed to be a fair way in front of 5th so just held on until the end, just as my calfs started to tighten up. The usual routine of 3 gels and water to drink/cool worked well as before. Discounting my monumental wee, my average run pace was identical to last year - I was really happy with this based on a lot less training and obvious injury.
36 seconds slower than last year with a slightly shorter bike - all things considered - pretty satisfying.
Strangely, despite starting my Garmin as the gun went off and stopping on the finish line, my watch time was 4:22:37 - very strange (may have hit stop/start)
- 1 position improvement on 2015
- Faster and easier swim
- Less faff in T1 (but slower - confusing)
- Bike pretty fast for the effort cost - and was very comfortable
- Race nutrition was spot on
- Missed podium by just 70s and was clear of 5th place by 8 mins
- 1st off the bike (only as leader punctured - but still)
- Despite being cold on the start of the bike, warmed up well - good suit choice
- Ate too much the day before (1500 Kcals too much - and still too little carb - love my fats)
- Too much salt prior to race - this with increased carb = water retention, making me feel a bit bloated and giving a full bladder
- Transitions need to be much slicker
- Only need one water bottle (thats a 750g saving)
- Raced at 74Kg - plan to reduce this by 3-4 Kg.
Podium next year???