RACE REPORT – Eton Dorney Sprint tri (worlds qualifier)

The big one.

As my A-goal for this season is to try to qualify for the world championships or my age-group, this race has been my main focus for the better part of about 8 months now. Which probably goes some way to explaining why I was so much more nervous in the week leading up to it. Those pre-race adrenaline-fuelled butterflies that normally only show up about an hour before a race made an appearance 5 days early whilst I was sat at my desk thinking about it! This was probably exacerbated by the (slightly creepy) amount of Internet stalking of my competitors that I did – British triathlon handily publish a list of all those that have registered their intent to qualify, and Human Race release a start list of competitors in each wave. This meant I could see that of the 40 or so people intending to try and make the 25-29 AG team, at least 20 of those seemed to be going to Dorney. Those numbers were repeated for the 20-24 and junior age groups who would be starting at the same time as me. This was going to be a fast race.

Of course I had known that for months. A calm lake swim, flat draft-legal bike and flat straight run. Close to London, the only qualifier South of Sheffield. One year after the Olympic triathlon and a wobbly-brownlee/SPOTY fuelled triathlon publicity frenzy. A world championships just over the channel in Rotterdam. The first chance to qualify this year. This is pretty much a perfect storm for attracting as many fast people to a single race as you can get. But googling some names and seeing some incredibly fast previous results (including ex pro-swimmers, previous AG tri world champions and domestic elites) did nothing to help relax me.

Pre-race


All of this makes the sense of calm contentment I felt on race morning even more bizarre. My thinking was that there is no more I could do at that point, so what will be will be. The training is behind me, I’ve arrived fresh, fit and ready at the race. Now it’s just time to perform at the level I think I can. Looking at last years results and qualifiers I figured if I can pull out a 1:04:xx at this race it would be enough to make the team.

Breakfast, drive to Dorney, pick up race pack, transition set up, warmup run. My wave start was was at 9:50 so for the second time this year I had avoided a painfully early start. The weather was a beautifully calm, sunny 18 degrees,  with the lake at 16. Bags were kept out of transition keeping my setup simple. I tried and failed to not to not be impressed by all of the wind-tunnel shaped Carbon racked either side of my aluminium, shallow-wheeled steed. I always see transition areas as a little bit like an old fashioned farmers market, where a race horse or prized cow is led around for potential buyers to ogle over and shout ever increasing bids at. If someone actually set up an aero/deep wheel shop inside transition where kit envy reaches its peak, I’m sure they would rake it in.

I put on my wetsuit and wandered over to the briefing point whilst slowly cooking in the increasing heat. I chatted to a few other nervous looking guys –  it was their first ever draft legal race. And some of them had never even done a tri before. Maybe I wouldn’t get totally left behind after all?

Into the water. The temperature is nice and cooling, and I try to tread water and fight for a spot on the front row despite the incredibly narrow start line. Just holding position for 3 minutes waiting for the buzzer was difficult with everyone jostling for position. This was going to be a rowdy start.

Swim

Everyone went out at what felt like 50m sprint pace. This was a violent swim, at least on par with my previous worst last year with Basingstoke Bluefins where I spent  1500m fighting my teammate with every stroke.

Within about 200m a lead pack was starting to pull away. I tried to cut in from the outside of the pack to get onto some feet but was blocked by a mass of swimmers determined to take the longest possible route to the first bouy. Ok, I will sit on a hip and draft off the pack to my right until things calm down. Except people on my left have decided to try and do the same thing and are pushing me into the washing machine. Open water swimming really is a full contact sport. Round the first bouy and things are starting to thin out, I can see a pack about 20m ahead, and I am sitting just wide of the second group. By this point I was getting pretty exhausted from the contact, and decided I would be better off giving myself some space and trying to keep things smooth. Around the second bouy and back towards the exit. People still can’t swim in a straight line and I’m clashing arms, but I manage to find a bit more clear water and try to control my breathing.

My hands hit the exit ramp and I’m up and opening my wetsuit. The front pack of about 10 people are 30 seconds ahead and heading out with their bikes, and there are about 10 others coming out of the water with me. I guess here my swim isn’t the strength that it is at smaller races. I got the wetsuit down to my waist as I reached my bike, but managed to get my zipper string caught down my left sleeve and I had to wrestle the rolled sleeve off my wrist. I put my helmet on, grabbed the bike and started running before realising my race belt was still hanging from my handlebars. I grabbed it and hastily stepped into it, ripping off one corner of the race number in the process leaving the number flapping by one corner for the rest of the race. This must all have cost me about 20 seconds and I left transition kicking myself for such silly mistakes.

I

Swim = 10:00, T1 = 1:12.

Bike

I worked hard out of transition to try and catch any stragglers from the front swim pack, and caught a couple of guys within half a lap. After giving them a bit of encouragement we got working together to try and chase down the lead pack but watching them comfortably pull away from us I soon realised this wasn’t going to happen. I tried to settle into a rhythm but it became clear that one slacker in our trio was along for the ride and was putting in much shorter turns on the front. As a bunch of 4-5 significantly faster riders caught and passed us on the second lap I tried to bridge up and hang onto them. In the mess that ensued, both of our groups ended up splitting, before reforming as our original trio watching the other group ride away. Damn.

At this point I told myself that it would be unwise to try to latch onto any other groups if they were clearly a lot stronger on the bike than me, as to do so meant digging deeper than I could handle if I wanted to hold together a half decent run, and the risk of breaking the groups and being left as a solo chaser was pretty high. Unfortunately for me, the slacker in our trio had other ideas, and when a solo rider doing about 45km/h passed us he decided he would try to attack and latch on to this rocket. Knowing he would soon be dropped again, I tried not to chase too hard and take even turns with the sole remainder of my small group to reel him back in, which we did on lap 3. We continued to push on but were caught yet again by a much bigger group of about 8 riders at the start of the final lap. I managed to find shelter in the group and hang on here, as slacker, but I was flagging by this point and just let too much daylight appear between myself and the pack on the corners at the mid-point of the lap. For what felt like the 1000th time this bike, I watched the group ride away from me and this time I was on my own. Luckily for me there was only about 1.5km to transition, but as I rolled into transition I realised I had lost another 20 seconds by not being able to stick  with them.

Bike 34:13 (37.2kph average)

Run

Luckily for me, this group took their sweet time in transition and I quickly gained a couple of places back. The run course for 2017 consists of a 2.5km long straight next to the rowing lake, with a dead turn and run back the same way. This means that get a pretty good view of who is ahead and behind at the turnaround point, but is incredibly mentally tough and scenery just doesn’t change and all you can do is focus on maintaining form. Luckily for me this is how I like to run in training, and I managed to hold things together reasonably well. I did very little overtaking but also wasn’t really overtaken either. I spent most of this run just being thankful for the uncharacteristically calm conditions – if there had been even a slight headwind this run course would be brutal.

I tried to put in a final sprint to the line but I had nothing left to give so tried to hold things together. I guess this is testament to how well I paced the run, as I felt I was really balancing on my limits of endurance for the whole thing, and when I finished the tank was well and truly empty.

T2 = 0:47, Run = 18:53.

I checked the results at the finish. 9th in Age-group, 1:05:05 final time.

Rolldown percentage of 109% – the winner of my age-group managed to be 2 minutes clear of the next fastest person, and was the fastest person all day, which unfortunately means I will be unlikely to qualify of this performance. In previous years approximately 107% has been the actual required percentage to make the team (had I done this time in last years race I probably would have made it!). It just goes to show how much it depends on who else turns up on race day, and that is something that you just can’t control.

I am really proud of how far I have come since last year in this sport. Whilst I didn’t achieve what I set out to this time, this was a great race for me. My swim was a decent time considering how violent it was, the draft-legal bike was amazing fun and still a very fast average speed for me despite being my clear weakness, and the run was only 1 minute shy of my standalone 5k PB, and 2 minutes quicker than I have ever done in a tri before. It has given me a lot of confidence in my current fitness, and also clearly shown where I can improve.

I spent the rest of the day getting sunburnt, eating terrible hotdogs and cheering Chloe around the rest of the course. Good day all round.

http://humanrace.co.uk/event/itu-sprint-distance-triathlon-world-championships-qualifier/

I have left this race report a bit late so Blenheim Palace Sprint tri is tomorrow! First time racing with clip on tri-bars to looking forward to seeing how it goes.

 

RACE REPORT – May Day sprint tri, Winchester

First race of the season in the bag.

Race goals

In a repeat of last year, this was my first triathlon of the season. I set myself a series of goals for this race. In decreasing order of priority:

  1. Finish on the podium;
  2. Finish as fastest Savage tri club member (and quicker than last year’s fastest Savage);
  3. Every discipline quicker than last year.

No pressure then?

Pre-race

Let’s just say the week leading up to this race didn’t exactly go to plan. I originally started writing a full review of the week building up to this race, however I decided to save it for a separate blog post – it was a short period of hamstring injury and rapid rehabilitation that I learned a lot of useful lessons from so didn’t want to bury that information here. So I will gloss over the fact I couldn’t even run until the day before the race and and start from race morning…

A leisurely wave start time of 09:20 is a rare treat in triathlon, and provided plenty of time on race morning that you wouldn’t normally get without sacrificing some sleep. 6:30 wakeup call, my usual bowl of granola for breakfast, followed by a 30 minute drive to the race venue with Chloe. On arrival we collected our race packs then parted ways to follow our own race prep routines.

After some discussion with my coach, I decided to try a bike warmup on the turbo trainer. This really seemed to help prepare my glutes and hamstrings, and saved them from the shock they usually get after the swim, despite starting it about 1 hour 15 mins before the scheduled race time. I spent 20 minutes gradually building cadence in an easy gear, with a few spin-outs and  a couple of minutes pushing a harder gear. I then went for a 10-minute jog incorporating some drills and short bursts of 15-30 seconds race pace running. I think this routine really helped to wake my body up and I will be trying it again throughout my other races.  I’ve never been particularly fond of morning training/racing and find I need a long warmup at this time to really get going.

This left me with 15 minutes to head to transition and setup my kit as practiced before heading indoors for the race briefing, some dynamic stretches and a meetup with my club members. After applying and rinsing a thin layer of shower gel off the inside of my goggles (the only guaranteed way I have found of preventing goggles fogging up), we filtered through to wait outside the swimming pool, and were told the waves were 15 minutes behind schedule.

 

 

Swim (400m, pool)

When we jumped in to get ready for the start I was able to do a few strokes to get a feel for the water, and agree an overtaking protocol with the 2 clubmates I was sharing a lane with. It’s a huge help to swim in a lane with people who are happy with overtaking down the centre of the lane rather than waiting to the ends of the pool, particularly as there was maybe a 3 minute time difference over the 400m between us. Only once did I have to drop the pace back for a few seconds to avoid a collision, which meant I could swim at a nice solid speed throughout. I decided not to push too hard to prevent spiking my heart rate, and completed the swim and run to T1 in 5:24, which turned out to be quickest of the day by around 40 seconds.

Transition went perfectly, with no wetsuit to worry about, and I got on the bike and up to speed quickly.

Bike (24km, 2 laps)

On the bike I settled into a quick but comfortable pace. I was cautious not to try to get too low/aero as I didn’t want to put too much strain through my hamstrings early in the race. I focused on keeping a high cadence spin on the climbs and worked on catching the people from earlier waves who were ahead of me. Traffic was significantly busier than  last year due to starting later in the day, and there was one particularly irritating kilometre spent trying to overtake a car who was stuck behind a slower cyclist and was intent on trying to move in or out to block my attempts to get past him. I was also stopped at traffic lights by transition as I was starting the second lap, and worked hard to get back up to speed as quick as possible.

I wasn’t sure what sort of speeds/time to expect as the course is rolling with a few short punchy climbs, but was thinking I would be maybe a couple of minutes quicker than the 50 minutes it took last year. It actually ended up 5 minutes quicker, which is a huge amount considering the increased traffic and the fact I was holding myself back more than I would have like to. This is probably the part of the day that I am happiest with, as it shows I am making significant improvements despite my cycling being the least structured part of my training.

T2 is a challenge at this event, as the approach is uphill with speedbumps making maintaining speed and removing feet from shoes pretty difficult. In removing my right shoe I managed to flip it when I hit a speedbump and pedalled with it upside-down  scraping the floor to the mount line. This caused me to hurry while trying to remove my left foot, and while doing so my calf cramped pretty badly. I hit the ground to run through transition and realised this cramp wasn’t going anywhere fast. Interestingly this is almost an exact repeat of what my legs did at Brighton tri last year, so I have made a mental note to remove my feet sooner and take out the left foot first at the next race.

Run (5km, 2 laps, mixed terrain)

Shoes on, helmet off, start running. Ignore the cramp. This run is tough – hilly, 2 laps, with a mixture of road, bark, and grass. Stitch hit me at the end of lap one, and my pace slowed considerably. I managed a 20:45 5k here, which is about 1 min slower than I wanted to do at this race, and only 1 minute quicker than last year (despite my standalone 5k PB being about 3 minutes quicker than last year). This was not a good run, and I struggled mentally and physically throughout. However, given that I couldn’t run at all for a week until the day before the race, I’m not surprised that my legs were struggling. My cardio fitness didn’t feel too pushed on this, which does give me some hope for the next race.

Overall Results

Finish time: 1:13:51 (3rd/250 overall, 1st in Age, 1st Savage tri club)

Splits: 05:24 (1st), 51s (2nd), 45:54 (12th), 56s (13th), 20:45 (7th). All faster than last year.

Despite the race organisers saying they would allow for time stopped at traffic lights, the results don’t reflect this. The winner finished, in 1:13:30, and 4th place was 1:14:15. This means there was 45 seconds separating all of us, so if stops were factored in these places could totally change! It is a bit annoying that 2 weeks after the race this still hasn’t been resolved (and is the reason this has taken a while to write).

However, I am considering all goals for this race accomplished. Overall I am happy with how things went. Chatting to all of Savage Tri club after the race was a lot of fun, with everyone buzzing from their performances. Extra proud of Chloe for smashing her goals and finishing as fastest female Savage, and 5th fastest lady overall – we now have 2 shiny trophies in the house to find shelf space for.

Next up is the big one – Eton Dorney, AG Worlds Sprint tri qualifier.

 

1 week to go!

1 week until I my first Tri of the 2017 season.

I always get most nervous for the first race back after a break, even if it isn’t my A-goal. It will be interesting to see if I feel the same way going into Winchester Tri next Monday, as I have still been racing in small local single sport or duathlon events during the build phase of training. But I know I am certainly excited to put a full swim-bike-run together again, and it will be great to finally see where my fitness is at after a really solid training block.

I have high hopes/aspirations for my performances this year. I have never really been the sort of person to speak openly about my goals in sport, choosing to stay silent about them in a bid to potentially avoid the embarrassment of having to explain a failed attempt at achieving what I set out to. It is much easier to talk about putting in the hard training hours over so many weeks if they have actually amounted to some measurable form of “success”.

However, there is something about triathlon that has made me a bit more willing to discuss my aims. After finishing my third and final triathlon of last year, I was reviewing my race data on Strava and thinking about what events I wanted to enter for 2017. I decided that I wanted to try to:

A) Qualify for the GB Age Group team for sprint distance, and

B) Compete for podium positions at smaller races like next weeks Winchester sprint tri.

But arguably more significant than the goals themselves is the decision to tell people about them. I have been trying to put my finger on what has made me decide to be quite so open about this, putting myself at risk of publicly being seen to fail at achieving something. After all, triathlon is a sport where hard work and discipline are rewarded as much as talent (i.e. if I don’t achieve my goals, the only person or thing that I can blame for that is myself). I have tried to summarise what I think the key factors are that have influenced this:

  • I think I can actually achieve it with a bit of work. As much as people like to talk about setting themselves challenges to push their limits etc, I think it is actually quite a rare thing for someone to enter an event/openly state that they will try to do something that they genuinely believe they can’t complete (assuming they have some knowledge of what is involved to get there).
  • Triathletes seem to be a very welcoming bunch, who have a lot of first hand experience of failing/having bad races/overtraining and getting injured. They are therefore more likely to understand the difficulties of juggling training, a full time job, relationships and friendships, and that this balancing act means that sometimes the preparation needed to achieve a tough physical challenge just doesn’t happen.
  • Telling people about my aims makes me accountable. I know that I need to put in a lot of hard training to qualify for  the GB AG team, and if I don’t do that then I won’t qualify. That doesn’t mean that I am doing it to save face or appease anybody else; amongst the many reasons I do triathlon are my genuine love of hard training and the adrenaline-induced buzz of competing. But I don’t know anyone who would want to tell people that they are aiming to achieve a certain standard in sport and then not at least try to put in the training needed to get there. This accountability helps get you out of the door on the days you would otherwise skip, and 90% of those times I am grateful for that motivation once I actually make it to training.

I am acutely aware of my weaknesses and deficiencies leading into this first race. I have gotten used to being nearer the top of results sheets for my swims and runs recently, so getting my ass handed to me in my first cycling time trial last week by the majority of people there (including the other 2 members of my club) has served as a reminder that although my cycling has vastly improved, I am not the cyclist that I would like to be. A minor hamstring strain in that same race has meant that this week is going to be a much longer/easier taper than I had planned for it to be. Wednesdays brick training will be skipped because I am going to a gig that I booked long before my races.

But being open about my goals keeps me honest in training, and helps to keep me going when all I want to do is lie on the sofa and watch Netflix. Winchester was my first ever tri last year, and I finished 15th in 1 hour 20 minutes. I intend to smash that time, and I cannot wait to get out on the course.

Tri season is finally here.

View from the top of Porlock Hill, Exmoor (April 2017)

 

RACE REPORT – Reading Gotri Duathlon (March)

Back for round 2. After thoroughly enjoying the Gotri event I did in February I decided to give it another go a month later. The aim was to check my fitness is still progressing at the rate I want it to, speed up my transitions and use it as another short brick training session. That was the plan anyway…

Long story short, I had a little bit more to drink on Friday night than I had planned. This meant I spent Saturday lying on the sofa feeling a a bit unwell (and a tad guilty for missing the bike ride I had planned to do), and only ate 1 meal all day. Maybe this is what people actually mean when they talk about the challenges of age-group athletes balancing “life” and training?

Sunday rolled around far too quickly, and still feeling a bit hungover I decided to race anyway. The pace from the start was higher than I knew I had a chance of holding onto (under 2:50/km), and I quickly mentally resigned myself to sitting in second behind the lead runner. The pace stabilised after the first 400m or so and I found myself following the leader the whole way around the race to finish second with 200m between us throughout. This race felt like a mental battle as much as a physical one, and it was hard to feel like I could catch the leader on the run after he so easily put time into me from the start. Looking at the results afterwards, we were a very similar pace throughout except for the sprint start, and my transitions were definitely quicker than his. On a better day I might have caught him, but that’s not how racing works unfortunately.


This was not a comfortable race, with strong headwinds and a severe lack of energy meaning I was about 30 seconds slower than previous on the bike, although I was pleased to see my run splits totalled 1 minute quicker than last time. Given how horrific it felt I am not quite sure how that happened. Run pace was consistently 15 seconds per km quicker than last time, although I am still losing 15seconds per km from run 1 to run 2. Transitions were fast and smooth and probably made feeling terrible for half an hour worth it.


All things considered this was a decent performance, finishing 30 seconds quicker than last time overall in less than ideal conditions. More work on the bike needed over the next month before Winchester sprint tri, and more discipline in the days leading up to a race. I expect and deserve no sympathy for self-inflicted suffering.

(results: http://www.gotrigreenparkreading.org/results/4589165532 )

Running Progress

Whilst visiting family at the weekend I decided it was time to put the running training to the test at Parkrun again. My last time doing one of these was around October in Basingstoke before an IT band injury from hill-repeats in training put the brakes on running for the rest of 2016, with my PB sitting at 18:50 and a highest place of 7th.

Training from October to mid-Jan therefore consisted mostly of run-specific strength training with Savage Triathlon Club and very gradually building up the ability to a continuous (slow!) 5k pain free again. From the end of January these club sessions were converted into track sessions to start to build up some speed again, complimented with some longer easy/recovery runs exploring some more of the local area with Chloe and I am now back into the full swing of training (albeit only ~20km a week).

So tackling a new parkrun course I wasn’t sure what to expect. The start was pretty chaotic with a lot of jostling for position, but once things settled down I set about reeling a few people who had gone out too fast.I went out with a strategy of running even splits and that is exactly what I did (each 1km within 5 seconds of each other), whilst still managing to finish running at my limit and fully exhausted. I finished 2nd/450, time of 17:46, over a 1 minute PB. Training is working then…


To prevent re-injury I have had to be extremely strict with myself and hold back in training at times when I have really wanted to push hard. This has made my training into this season a very gradual ramp and I think that this has actually helped me to better periodise my training and not peak too soon. I am terrible at being injured normally and tend to end up eating a lot of Dominos pizza and feeling sorry for myself, or trying to train through the pain and hope it goes a way (note to future self – it doesn’t!). Thankfully this time it seems to have worked to my advantage.

More than a bit of credit for this has to go to Dave Savage for suggesting adaptations to sessions wherever possible and really understanding how frustrating it can be to be injured when all you want to do is hammer yourself in training. His club training program seems to have worked to help me recover and is now really starting to sharpen up my speed as race season gets closer. I cannot recommend joining a club (and specifically Savage Tri Club) enough – it has totally changed my outlook on tri training for the better.

http://www.savagesports.co.uk/

RACE REPORT – Royal Navy Masters swim open meet

Last Sunday saw me enter my first masters swim meet of the year, at Millfield pool hosted by the Royal Navy swimming club.


So training has generally been going well for the last few weeks. I seem to have finally shaken the knee problems that have been plaguing me since October last year, and I have found a good consistent routine since mid-January. As my focus this year has really shifted away from swimming towards triathlon, I have been swimming less to focus more on my weaknesses on the run and bike. However, I have upped the swimming to 4 sessions a week for 2 weeks in preparation for this meet, and combined with the extensive race-pace/lactate tolerance work we have been doing every week in the pool I was feeling reasonably well prepared for this.

The race schedule for the day was a bit tight with minimal break between events as is the norm for smaller meets like this. I wanted to choose my events based on my goal swimming events for the year at masters swimming world champs in Budapest in August (800fr, 200IM, 100fly). However, the only option for medley was a 100, and the longest freestyle event was 400m first thing in the morning (immediately followed by the 100 fly!). As I haven’t swum a 400, 800 or 1500 outside of a triathlon since I was about 15, I was really keen to try the 400 at this meet. That wrote off the 100 fly as an option, so I added in the 50 fly to compensate – noting my total lack of fly training recently this was probably sensible! This meant my races were precisely half distance of what I would be doing at worlds (400fr, 100IM, 50fly + 2 relays and 100fr which I only entered because I sent a cheque for 4 events instead of 3… woops!)

It was also great to have Chloe come along to support/spectate for the day, which gave me good boost.  Little did she know that the event was short of officials and she would be roped into timekeeping all day (sorry!). She made the best of the situation as she always does and I know everyone was really grateful she stepped in to help run the meet, even if it meant she couldn’t sit and eat the holdall of snacks for the day that she brought with her.

So the day started well on the 400fr with a time of 4:34:36 (3rd overall, 1st/3 in age). In recent training I have been doing a lot of negative split 400s with Savage tri club and am finding it is paying off. It has really helped me to visualise the race as 4×100 increasing effort on each one, rather than as a steady 200 followed by a hard 200. Racing in this way seems to help me pace a lot better and hit more even time splits. I was a bit too enthusiastic on the first 100 (1:03) trying to keep up with the quicker guys next to me, which meant I had to back off in the 2nd more than I would have liked (1:09) to get my breath back. The 3rd and 4th I was able to progressively pick up the effort and finish in strong even splits (1:10, 1:10). With a bit more discipline on the first 100 I think I could probably turn that into 65, 67, 69, 69, but this distance stuff is still new to me and I am happy with the time.

I finished the morning with a 50 backstroke in the medley relay in 30.18, which I think may have been a lifetime best (with a bad/deep start I should add). Not sure where that came from, but feeling good.

The afternoon opened with 100 medley, time was 1:03:98. 0.2 away from my masters PB but have been struggling more than usual to find the pace on breaststroke lately, and my back/breast turn was pretty sloppy. Definite room for improvement here.

5 minutes after that was the 50 fly in 27.68. Another decent time considering the lack of rest between races, and within 0.3 of my short course PB.

After nearly backing out of the 100 frontcrawl I decided to just go for it. I finished in 57:47 which is a masters pb and my first time under 58 since I came back to swimming. I can’t help but always feel like I should be faster than I am on this event, but this was good for considering I hadn’t intended to enter.

Finished off the day (5 mins after 100fr) with a Freestyle relay (1st leg) and swam a 26:11. Not the 25 it should have been but lack of rest before the event (and slow turns) make a big difference on 50m.


Overall, very pleased with my swimming at this time of year considering I have not put the time into it I could do. The cross training seems to be of more benefit than I thought it would be to my swimming.

It was also my first time racing in my new Arena Carbon Pro mk2 jammers and I was really impressed with them. I am planning to start adding some gear reviews in the near future so will be sure to write some thoughts about these.

Full results link below:

https://www.swimmingresults.org/mastersdata/results/?y=2017&v=1&c=3A3499FF-5791-4BF0-B007-CCF3D1003ABD

RACE REPORT – Reading Gotri Duathlon

What better way to start a sports blog than with a race report?

Over the winter I have found myself training with more focus than I can ever remember having, particularly since the start of 2017. My weekly training hours are up to around 7-10 hours a week with a mix of all 3 sports. This may not sound like much to many triathletes but I have been trying to build the intensity level up in preparation for the main build phase towards summer racing. Unfortunately, this has also meant I have found myself with various lower limb injuries that I have meant I am still not training at a level I would like to be.

At this point in the year it’s easy to feel  like  the race season is a long way away, and recently I have been itching to get back into racing and doing more speed work in training . A training partner suggested entering the local Gotri Duathlon and I decided to give it a go as a way of injecting some short distance race-pace work whilst testing my weaker 2 disciplines (whilst telling myself I would back off if my injuries started to give me any grief… yeah right!).

A surprisingly mild February day made the early start a bit more bearable, though having never raced a duathlon I was a bit unsure what to wear. I ended up going for a trisuit over a cycling jersey and arm warmers (I don’t own tri shorts, can’t run in bike shorts, and didn’t want to freeze/scare the locals by getting out my deathly pale shoulders in the depths of winter). This combination worked surprisingly well and turned out comfortable throughout the run and bike.


I went out at what felt like a reasonably hard pace given that my recent runs have been mostly  long slow distance with some run specific strength/circuits thrown in. It turned out to be approximately my 5k PB pace so not too shabby for this time of year. I settled in behind the leader and tried to stick with him into T1 thinking I could attack out of transition to try and create a gap. This worked very well and I quickly managed to find some space at the front. Having had this strategy used against me at Brighton draft legal sprint tri last year, I know exactly how hard it is to see someone immediately ride up the road away from you, and it can really make the person getting dropped feel like they can’t chase/catch up so they don’t try to.


I settled into a high cadence spin to avoid putting too much power through my aching legs – a hilly 17k run on Friday, and spending saturday walking round the London Tri show (with a “mizuno running solution” gait analysis thrown in) had really put some fatigue in my legs and they weren’t feeling great. In hindsight I probably slowed down a bit too much through the 2nd of 3 laps and found I was caught by someone on a TT bike on the third lap.


I came into T2 about 10 seconds behind TT guy and managed to make up that difference through transition. I again attacked hard for the first 500m to create a gap before slowing down more than I would have liked to the finish of the run, crossing the finish line 1st with a final time of 29:26. A decent performance for this time of year whilst feeling pretty fatigued.


I was pleased to average just under 22mph on the bike given that I am currently only doing 1-2 hours a week bike training. More work needed going forward as this is clearly still my weakest discipline. Transitions went well, with some reasonable run splits. This was also my first time running barefoot in my On Cloud’s and found them extremely comfortable and light on the run.

The only real negative of the day was when I looked down at the finish to see blood coming out of the side of my shoes and realised I had taken some skin off my little toe in T2. More care needed on the dismount in future, as over a 5-10k that may have started to bother me on the run.

(results: https://www.gotrigreenparkreading.org/home/4588959242 )