The season begins…

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The Tri season isn’t a long one in Britain, so when it comes around us ‘tri-lot’ like to cram in a few races in a fairly short time. My season has finally started with the All Nations Triathlon at Dorney Lake which took part on Saturday. I had never raced here before so it was a first. It was only a sprint distance event (400m swim, 20k bike and 5k un) and a week out before the Outlaw 70.3. I wanted to do a small warm up to mainly check all the race gear including the new wheels on the bike, as well as blowing away a few race cobwebs.

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Training leading up to my events has been going fairly well with around 85/90% of sessions being completed. I am still not at full capacity with the running due to injury setback in the year, but it isn’t something I’m worried about. I know my running is fine and the endurance is there to complete my events. It’s just speed wise I’m a little down on.

Eton Dorney is a simple venue to hold a triathlon. It isn’t the most inspiring although everything is there to complete a small one. I was accompanied by my wife and daughter which is always nice as I’ll be on my own next week at the Outlaw.

The Race…

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Let me start with the swim as that is what usually happens first. The water was cold…bloody cold! I was glad they gave us some time to acclimatise, but wasn’t too pleased when I saw loads of athletes just head straight for the front line ready for the off. This included many first timers who probably got a little shock as it was pretty brutal for the first 200m with elbows and legs flying everywhere. Welcome to the world of triathlon swimming!

After the rough and tumble, I found a little clear water and by the last 100m really found my stroke. By then, it was swim over as it was only a 400m swim. 6 mins 50. Pleased with that and my fastest ever 400m. As I headed into transition I switched the watch over and then accidentally touched the transition button twice as I took off my wetsuit. Bugger! It was only when I got onto the bike did I realise when the watch started beeping ‘triathlon complete’…I wish! Anyway, I gave up on the watch so do not have my own personal record for it. I must do something with the wetsuit and watch issue as this isn’t the first time it has happened.

Transition was only 100m or so away and as it was a relatively small triathlon, I was in and out onto the bike in just over a minute.

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The weather wasn’t the best at Dorney as you can probably see from the pictures. It was very windy on the bike course, but it certainly answered one question – How will I handle my bike in crosswinds with the deep section wheels on? Answer – absolutely fine. In fact, I felt really comfortable and I think it is because most of your weight is over the front wheel.

The bike was fairly uneventful with four laps of the lake on some smooth tarmac. Averaged just under 18mph and for a windy day I’ll take that. 42mins I came in on. Certainly more in the tank there and I’ll take that next week at the Outlaw.

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The Run

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Ok, so this is where things get interesting. Out of transition and I feel great. In fact really strong and running along at around 4:10 per km pace. 1/2 a KM in and ouch my left knee.

Here’s the background to this…

I went running last Monday and the came home in no pain whatsoever. Took my socks off and felt my knee twinge. To cut a long story short it was my ITB band – ON MY LEFT KNEE!!! Never does this knee give me any trouble. All week spent nursing it and hoping it’d be alright. I knew it was the ITB as it was exactly the same issue I’ve had with the right leg.

There was some light at the end of the tunnel though. I managed to carry on and run. Whenever this goes on the right knee, it’s always race over and I’m reduced to a walk. So I managed to keep going and took it a little easier bringing the run home in just over 24 mins. A total finish time of 1hr 16mins.

How will I approach the Outlaw 70.3 next week?

Well…the first goal is to complete it. I’m fairly confident I can do this, unless something drastic happens on the day, or my leg will not play ball. But even if that does happen, I can always walk. It is pretty frustrating when you really want to test your fitness, so the next question is: ‘What sort of time will I do?’ Ok, well let’s ignore the leg problem for a while and pretend it doesn’t exist. I’m good at that! I have a rough idea but you just never know exactly. I think I am going to be cautious with this one and try to complete within 6-7 hours. I have to keep this realistic. I know I can probably do a sub 40 min swim but I have never ridden the new bike for this distance. I know the course is fairly flat but I do not know it and am sure I will be careful with so many other riders around me. Also, what will I be like running a half marathon with fatigue in my legs? Ideally it would go like this:

Swim = 35 mins  Bike = 3.5 hours   Run = 2 hours       so just over 6 hours.

Can I go faster?  Yes certainly, but who knows what I will do on the day! There will be a slightly conservative approach until I know what the heck I’m doing and how my body behaves at this distance. Also it’ll take a lot longer if the knee doesn’t allow me to run.

So there you have it…my predictions, although slightly cautious! It’ll certainly be interesting when I report my race. Until next week…now for a glass of wine!

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