Leeds Castle Triathlon

This is why I love triathlon. A great venue, an interesting course, well organised, quick transitions and I finished nice and early to enjoy the rest of the day.

If you have ever considered a triathlon or thought of taking on the course at Leeds castle, you will not be disappointed. It is not the easiest you can do. The bike section is undulating and the run is pretty tough due to the hills. I completed Leeds last year and suffered badly on the run. It was very hot and I experienced cramps like never before due to the torturing hills. I felt I had unfinished business here so wanted to return.

Again we traveled up the evening before and stayed in a hotel 5 mins away. It certainly makes the incredibly early starts easier. Who knows what time I would have to leave if I travelled from home. My race was due to start at 7:37. This year Leeds had been made a National Sprint Championship and you could tell there were some serious athletes about!

So how did the swim go?

I was really happy with my swim. It was a rough one, meaning each turn at the buoys saw fists and feet flying everywhere. I got kicked in the face which took my goggles off but luckily managed to sort them out quickly. I nearly lost my wedding ring as well. Don’t ask how that happened! It is another reason why I think Leeds is not the easiest triathlon to do if you are a beginner. The map below shows my swim course and as you can see there are a lot of turns. One of the highlights is swimming under the archway of the castle.

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They also dredged the moat this year which was noticeable as it was a lot clearer but also less weedy. My swim time was 15min 17 sec for 830m so not too bad considering all the fisticuffs. Last year my swim was 15:38, so a little faster. After entering transition I noticed very few bikes had left around me so I knew I had a good swim.

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I felt good out on the bike and the one area this year I know I have improved is my hill climbing. I am faster going up hill and my Strava stats are evidence to this. Every segment on a hill was a PB today. In fact, I rode the course 2mins faster than last year…not loads quicker but it was on those hills where I made up the time.

The run, the bloody run!

It is a cross country run…there are hills…lots of them…plus they are steep. It is certainly a leg sapping slog but this year I did not suffer from the dreaded cramps and felt more conditioned. I got through the run (5K) in 26 mins 21 secs…4 mins quicker than last year. It still hurt but felt good to finish the triathlon in a time of 1hr 42 mins, just over 6 mins quicker than last year. An improvement certainly.

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I had big gains in the overall placements as well. I finished 50 in my age category which was quite large ranging from 20-39. I was 87th overall and there were just under 500 athletes. Last year I had finished 112th in my age group.

I hope to get another triathlon before our family holiday in July, although I’m not sure which one yet. I will go into a bigger block of training again over the next two weeks as all the racing recently has meant quite a bit of recovery and seen me reduce it slightly. I’ve also just received my Ceepo frame for my tri-bike build that I imported from the states. I’ll blog about this at a later date.

Hope you enjoy the read!

 

Windsor Triathlon

 

This was the first time I have raced Windsor Tri and I have to say I will be back. I understand now why this race has been going for over 25 years. It is a great race and one that I will certainly be back to do again in the future. Windsor is a lovely place so it provides a great setting.

It is the first time I have had to rack my bike the day before, so we arrived in Windsor on Saturday and I picked up my registration documents including race numbers and licence. The race was held on Sunday and we stayed in a great hotel – Sir Christopher Wren which was only 5 mins from transition. We’d also booked the valet parking without knowing so this was a bonus!

I took it easy on the Saturday and we decided on some lunch in Browns followed by a river cruise and dinner in the Real Greek. So a lovely day was followed by watching England in the Euros and getting my gear ready for the morning.

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So how did my race go?

I was very pleased overall. My wave started at 7:55am and I was up at 5:45am for my breakfast which this week I got right. There were no eggs or toast to be seen after my problems last week! Only this baby…

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No stitches this week!

I left my wife and daughter at the hotel and hopefully would see them on the course at some point. Surprisingly, they turned up just before my swim start, hence the pictures. She’s not just my wife, but also a great photographer! My swim went really well which I think was helped for the first two thirds with the current. The swim in the Thames was lovely. I was surprised at how clean and clear the water was. It was certainly nicer than Blenheim river last week. 1.5km completed in 26mins 26 secs. That is a big PB for me by over 6 mins.

Transition is long at windsor. There is a long run from swim to bike and then out to the bike course. You can tell when transition takes 6 mins! The bike course is fairly flat with a few undulations throughout. It is easy to navigate and you certainly would benefit with a tri-bike with plenty of opportunity to get down on the aerobars. I had a fairly good ride but it did bucket it down with about 8KM to go. Ride completed in 1:23:51.

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This left only the run to complete – a 10km through windsor and up to the castle. If you have been to Windsor, you will know there is a small hill up to castle. Running up and down this 3 times does hurt a little, especially after a swim and bike in the legs! My run was ok. 51:05. Not the quickest I have been running lately but I did hold back a little trying to stave off cramp in my hamstring. It is always nice to race on the same course as the elite athletes, and when they fly passed you as did Emma Pallent (the new world duathlon champion), you realise how good they are. It is also nice that they give you encouragement. Emma Deary did this on my third ascent of the hill as she was coming up behind me.

Overall I finished in 2hours 50 mins and 56 secs. I was aiming for 2:50 so bang on! I will return to Windsor to do this event again, although probably not next year as it falls on the same weekend as Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire which will be my main race. I was soaked through by the end but pleased to have earned my medal. I again thank my wife and daughter for the support.

 

Blenheim Triathlon

First race of the season is finally here!

Before I go into my race report and give the ins and outs, I would like to say that overall I am slightly disappointed with my performance. Yes, I was quicker than last year – slightly,  but it was ruined by a terrible stitch that occurred at the end of my swim and stayed with me throughout the race which was horrible on the run. The same thing happened to me last year! I put it down to my breakfast – eggs and toast which I ate as well in 2015. Never do I usually have this but I now know one thing – never eat this pre race. We were staying at a lovely b&b in Woodstock that do a great breakfast, but cereal is the way to go!

I was looking forward to Blenheim for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is well organised and a great venue for a race. As well as the great location, support is good throughout and family are able to view you on all aspects of the course. Transition is easy to navigate and this is a certainly a good beginner triathlon. Going into this race my form and condition seemed pretty good. As you will know, I have been working extremely hard on my running and the last three weeks have seen me complete a number of brick sessions where my pace off the bike has been really good. So, I was feeling confident of beating last year’s time.

Pre Race

My wave started at 10:40 and when I entered the water it was cold! After the initial shock and the acclimatisation the hooter went off. I positioned myself fairly close to the front and had a very good swim. It was pretty clear all the way and I was out in 14:30 which is nearly 2 mins faster than last year. This is when I noticed the dreaded stitch starting.

Transition 1 was fairly smooth and I left to take on the bike course of course with my new friend the stitch. When looking at my data after, one thing is certainly clearer, my climbing is much quicker but I have lost a little speed on the flat. Bike done in 44 mins, 1:30 slower than 2015.

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The run was where I thought I would really knock the time off from last year but it just wasn’t to be. The stitch I had been carrying just would not go away and this is where it became even more prevalent and moved to different parts of my stomach. I started at a great pace but could not contain it because of the pain. I certainly wouldn’t stop but it did slow me down. It’s so frustrating as training had been going so well in this department. I finished the run in 30:15 which was was 40 secs quicker than 2015. I was hoping for a around 26/27 mins so it just shows how much I suffered.

It’s done now and I move on to the next, which will be Windsor Triathlon next weekend, although at the Olympic distance. One thing I have learned – no eggs or toast before a race!