The Season Begins…

Finally it is here. The season has started and I already find myself nearly two races in. I write this after my season opener sprint distance event at Eton Dorney for the All Nations Triathlon. This I do every year to dust off a few cobwebs, test new gear and get back into racing mode. An update on this later. I’m just about to complete the Outlaw half this weekend coming – the second time I have completed this race. Both are a week apart and it has been a ?????? start to the season. Why the question marks? Well I think I will answer that one after the Outlaw. Remember that statement! Let’s revisit it after the Outlaw.

I’ll use the blog to update on a few other things also, such as the coaching project with Miia and her first race.

Fitness wise, I’m good. The numbers are good, especially in the pool. I think this is finally starting to show in my open water swimming and something I have struggled to transfer across in the past. I’ve managed a few niggles and things this season (as always) and believe I’m probably fitter than ever. So as I entered my first race of the season, it was going to be a good insight to where I was but also how hard/easy the effort felt.

It has certainly been a cold start to the season. I managed to get an open water swim the week before the Tri with Sarah and Miia over at Upminster. Water = 13.6c. At Eton there was no improvement. Water 12.6c! Colder still, and it felt it when we got in. So how did the race pan out? Well, I can sum it up in a few words… Great swim, terrible transitions, mediocre bike and great run.

Results:

I actually completed it in the exact same time as last year – 1:11. No improvement you may think? Well when you look between the lines there was actually. My swim was under 7 mins for 400m – the timing mat is situated way after the swim exit hence the time difference. That to me is a massive improvement. I think I believe in myself a little more in the open water. I finally believe I can sustain the paces I set and not blow out my arse half way through. I’ve always started cautiously and saved probably too much in the swim tank. I started right at the front of my wave and had the cleanest swim I’ve ever had in a triathlon. No bumping, people swimming next to me or touching me in any way at all. My wife watched from the sides and caught me exiting the water somewhere out in about 4th from the wave start.

The swim at Dorney was bloody freezing and my hands were so cold I couldn’t get the wetsuit off. This carried on throughout the bike and into my feet, as when I got off, they were like two blocks of ice and I could not feel anything until after the first lap of the run! Plus – add on trying out shoes attached to the bike for the first time which was interesting. It took me a lot longer getting into them on the bike then I thought, so more time lost. I still need practice at this. I ran really well off the bike considering the numb feet. The 4:23km average for the 5K was easy. It’s always good to try and find another athlete to run with which I did through a GB age grouper. I only wish now I went a little harder as felt I had more in the tank.

Anyway I’m not going to delve too deep into this triathlon, as like I said, it is more for me ironing out issues and enjoying it really. The real test for me is the Outlaw Half. More on that in the upcoming post.

The new gear I tried out above

As mentioned earlier, it was Miia’s (who I have been coaching since winter) first triathlon and one she was looking forward to, but obviously a little apprehensive about. She performed really well and overcame some open water fears and came in at 1:22. In-fact, her words were ‘I loved it.’ It must be noted that Miia had quite a bad bike accident a few weeks ago, fracturing her cheek and hurting her shoulder. Luckily she managed to get herself back together for this and had enough time to recover. Her training took a little backward step – quite obviously and with good excuse. She is more or less back on track now and with a few tweaks to her plan, she will be in good shape for her A race. We spent the following day getting in one last long ride for me – a nice 63 miler out to Hanningfield Reservoir.

Miia’s friend also did her first triathlon. All pics were captured by my wonderful wife and her super photography skills!

I have entered a taper week now as I prepare for war with my body on Sunday. I just hope the weather holds and the lake warms up a little! The next post from me will be on the Outlaw half. So check back for the read on that.

Eton Dorney All Nations Triathlon 2018

Well here it was – the first triathlon race of the season for me. This is now the second time I have taken part in this event and I can see it becoming the first event and a regular thing for me each season. Why? Well it is just a nice, simple race that is flat, fast and a sprint distance (400m swim, 20K bike and 5K run). It’s a chance to blow some cobwebs out, and there were a few of these especially the transitions.

I cannot recommend this event more for any beginner or newbie. Being enclosed around Dorney lake with just a few hundred participants, you can’t get a simpler triathlon. It all kicks off at 10am, so not the usual early morning start. What’s also a bonus is that the wife likes this one as it’s dead easy to spectate.

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Isabel had fun with my wetsuit beforehand!

Race Analysis

I’ll try and break this down and go through each section of the race. The overall results in comparison to last year are good. A new PB for this course. The graphic below shows the 2017 result and then the 2018 result.

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So a PB of nearly 5 minutes. I’m getting older, but I’m getting quicker 😉 Don’t write me off too soon!

Swim

The swim was probably the worst part of the race for me which is unusual. I didn’t feel great in the water and the swim was slightly slower this year. I don’t think it was lack of fitness although I have swam a lot less this year. I just didn’t feel great and couldn’t find my stroke. I also felt like I zigzagged a bit and need to get in the open water to swim and get some feel for it. That’s the great thing about this race though – it uncovers the cobwebs that need dusting. Short distance swims are not my forte. It takes me at least 500m to start getting into my stroke! I struggled to get out of my suit surprisingly as well. It took me a few goes to get the velcro open. I’ve never experienced that before!

Bike

I was happy with the bike section and the splits this year. The 2017 was a 42:25 and the 2018 a 38:26. My average was 19.9mph so was pleased with this. The bike was running well, the legs felt good and I certainly had less of a head wind this year.

Run

Last year I was suffering a little with my ITB but managed to run it ok. This year I felt good on the run and could tell all the running I’ve done this year was paying off. It’s the fastest 5K I’ve run in triathlon sprint distance. The first KM was used to ease into it and it should be like this on a triathlon run. I certainly upped the pace with each mile and the mile splits were 7:27, 7:15 and then 7:08. The run was completed in 22:32 compared to 24:16 in 2017.

I always love finishing a triathlon and the great feeling being an all-round athlete it gives me. I think the photo below shows!

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Isabel was happy also with the sweets on offer at the end that I managed to get her, so all is good in the world!

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So what do I need to work one?

Well my transitions were painfully slow especially the bike to run. I decided to run in socks and sodded about putting those on. I don’t like running without them, but for this race they weren’t needed. The run is not long enough to cause any issues. I certainly also need to get into the open water. The trouble is, the next open water swim will be in a half ironman distance event – the Grafman, next weekend!

Thanks for reading and I will blog my exploits from the Grafman next weekend! Enjoy your week!