My favourite pic of the whole weekend (at the end)
So this is the third year in a row I have completed this triathlon. It’s a great event – especially for novice triathletes and those who are getting into the sport. You always notice this on the bike leg and the many in transition not knowing what to do. The venue is terrific and the course not the easiest one out there, but relatively straight forward. It was quite funny this year as I was next to one such novice competitor. I remember the days well when I was in this position, but I have never put on a wetsuit backwards or not been able to attach my numbers (no race belt and forgotten safety pins), which this poor chap did. I must say, triathletes are helpful people as were the Tri-Crew, and with a collaborative effort, he was ready to go and completed his first triathlon successfully.
Again I entered the sprint event as in two weeks time I will tackle Ironman Staffordshire – another half (70.3) distance event. I planned this, which is sandwiched between the Outlaw and Staffs, as a way to keep me race ready and on my toes. The one thing about sprint events is that it is a completely different effort to ironman. Your heart rate is through the roof and trying to get it under control is difficult.
The big question I had in my head was how my current knee issue was going to cope or where was the injury was currently at. I had some positive feelings beforehand. Stiffness had gone and I’d managed a 20 min run without problem in the week to test it. Unfortunately, I soon found out that it is still a problem…boo hoo! It was good for 2K, and then the pain reared its ugly head and I just battled through to the end.
One of the positives of this event is that as it is held at Blenheim Palace and doesn’t travel outside the grounds. It means the waves do not start ridiculously early as there aren’t roads to be closed or junctions to be managed. My start time was 10.00 and it was good to have my wife Kate, and daughter Isabel with me again supporting. I was a little lonely at the Outlaw without them 😦 The wife dropped me off at 8:00am and went back to the hotel to eat breakfast whilst I set up in transition and readied myself. I would see them next out on course.
The hotel room floor mess before leaving!
I have always used a road bike at Blenheim, however now I have the triathlon bike, I contemplated using that instead this time although eventually decided against it. I honestly believe there is not much advantage to be gained using it on this course as it is quite technical in places, and with the amount of novice riders on the course and lack of opportunity to stay down on the tri-bars for long, I went with the road bike.
Registration and racking were as smooth as usual although there were extra checks in place for spectators (and rightly so). I write this waking up after the terror issues along Tower Bridge. My thoughts are with all those involved.
It would be interesting to see where my form was currently at since my previous two events and the lack of run training. Usually Blenheim is a season opener for me, but this would be my third race of the 2017 season.
Below I’ve done some comparisons from each year for each discipline to show you how I compare. To be honest, I haven’t trained for sprint distance this year and my training has been all endurance based around Z2 heart rate, so it would be interesting to see what it has done. It felt hard on the bike and I tried to get my heart rate down and find some rhythm, which took two laps and by the third, I felt a lot more in control. It’s an undulating bike course and more or less straight out of transition you are climbing.
Blenheim has taught me a few things about my pre-race breakfast as well over my past participation. This is the race that taught me never to eat eggs pre-race! Why? Well if any of you remember, this is the race I suffered terrible stitch each of the last two years, and the cause was my breakfast – boiled eggs. So now I always stick with the trusted porridge…
This is a new one that my wife discovered. Great amount of protein (20g) as well as a packing a good amount of carbs. It tastes good also.
The Swim: (750m)
I’m going to start with the comparisons from year on year. I think they will give you (in a nutshell) my performance on the day.
Swim Time 2015: 16:22 Swim Time 2016: 14:34 Swim Time 2017: 13:45
A big tick for the swim then! I knew I had a good swim and positioned myself towards the front and as triathlon swims go, there was very little fighting through the hundreds of bodies. Out of 2600 swims on the day, mine was 300 fastest.
I’ve been trying to get Isabel to high five me during races and we have finally cracked it!
Transition is a 400m run from swim to bike with the majority up hill – again difficult to get the heart rate down!
The Bike: (19.8km)
Bike 2015: 42:51 Bike 2016: 44:19 Bike: 43: 30
So faster then last year but not as quick as 2015. I haven’t done any sprint efforts in training and this would certainly be worth considering if training specifically for this event.
The Run: (5.4km)
Run 2015: 30:52 Run 2016: 30:13 Run 2017: 28:33
Improvements again we see and finally I have completed a run here without a stitch, but battled my knee pain from 2k onwards. Always something! I still really have something to give to this run and would like to compete at Blenheim once without some sort of issue. It’s also hard to tell whether I have lost much run fitness as I felt really good (apart from the knee). What is strange is the knee hurts less the longer the run goes on and when going up hill. Hopefully it completely disappears over the ironman run leg but to be honest, I am dreading this part of the race. My attention again will go to rehab in the next two weeks and strengthening, although I don’t think this will do much. I think I need a full rest from running, racing and proper rehab.
Overall race time:
2015: 1:37:56 2016: 1:36:58 2017: 1:32:31
So a course PB by over 4 mins which I can’t argue with. I have also looked at the transition times (our fourth discipline) to compare these.
Swim to Bike: (T1)
2015: 5:18 2016: 5:25 2017: 4:49
Bike to Run: (T2)
2015: 2:24 2016: 2:29 2017: 1:51
So definitely time gained in transition!
Next blog will be Ironman Staffs 70.3! See you then.