If you read my blog about Dambuster duathlon earlier this year, you will have realised that I have been out of multi-sport racing for several years. This year, I have been trying to make a comeback, and set my sight on some serious targets. The longer distance goals at 70.3 for one reason and another went by the wayside, but back in June, I made the startline of the Dambuster Triathlon.
At the Dambuster triathlon I had an outside ambition of trying to qualify for ITU World Age Group Championships in Chicago this September. Race preparation had not been great and I was carrying a slight niggle, but I was pleasantly surprised when I finished 7th in the 45-49 age-group, and secured the 3rd automatic qualification slot for Chicago.
(If you want to skip the boring bit, jump to the end for the take home training tips….)
That was it, I really now had something to get my teeth into, and get some training focus. May’s training had totalled a massive 19 hours, and June had stepped up to 21 hours (yes, monthly totals!). As well as not doing massive volumes, I can’t remember the last time I did any interval sessions, and prior to Dambuster I had managed just one pool swim and just one open water swim since a small block of swim work in April. For me, (a lack of) time and training consistency are a big weakness. This hasn’t helped with my weight either. I used to race between 69 and 72kg, I was now the wrong side of 80kg!
So far this month I have upped my training (now at 29 hours) not a massive jump, but I need to ensure recovery. I have also been doing a few more races. The local 10 mile time trials have been good as a bike intensity session, and I have used parkrun to get some run speed. However, more importantly I have tried to get some consistent swimming in. Add this together with some smart nutritional practices, my weight has fallen to something far more acceptable.
That brings me to this weekend….
I had entered British Triathlon National Championships in Liverpool on Sunday. Mostly as a tester, so that I have some Olympic distance races under my belt, but also to check I wasn’t going to embarrass myself in Chicago. That said, when I saw on Friday that the forecast was very heavy rain, I decided that I would do Liverpool as just a training session, and take the bike easy (to avoid crashing on a wet multiple lap city centre course), and so decided a 1500m/10k Swim-Run aquathon early on Saturday morning would not be an issue.
The aquathon was a low key local race, but it would be a good training session, and I had done a similar event a month earlier so I could compare progress. This is where the surprise started. I pretty much lead the swim from the start, and was first out of the water (this has never happened before). Conscious of the triathlon the following day, I planned to either cruise the run, or if challenged, only run 5k of the 10k course. All was going well, and at 4k when I realised I was being caught, I pushed a couple of k’s to drop the chasing athlete, and continued for an easy (but incredibly welcome) win!
I think this really took the pressure off me for Liverpool. I had put in a good performance, and Liverpool could now be another training session. That was until the start hooter…I sprinted as hard as I could for the first 50-100m of the swim, but wasn’t fast enough to catch the feet of the athletes in front of me. So, I settled into a nice rhythm, working hard, but not pushing. The main obstacle was avoiding swimmers from earlier waves….and the jellyfish (I speared one with my hand….NOT NICE!). As I came out of the water Becky told me I was 6th in the age group, I almost didn’t believe her!
Onto the bike, solid transition, but work to be done to shave a few seconds! As I exited transition, Simon George (my former lab technician) flew past me. He was in a younger age group and 1 lap ahead. It gave me something to chase. He was far too fast for me, but the focus really helped. I worked (comfortably) hard on the bike, keeping one eye on my power making sure I wasn’t going too mad, but also was working hard into the windy section of the out and back route.
Other than Simon, I was passed by only three other (also younger) athletes on the bike. Coming into transition, I could only see two other bikes in the section of the age-group that I was racked. Clearly the local time trials were paying off. A none to shabby 1:02:14 to boot! [Simon, finished 6th overall, winning the 35-39 age group!]
Out on the run, yesterday’s race was definitely in my legs! My left calf started to cramp as I left transition. I would take it easy and run steady, so off I went, planning just to cruise. For the first 3 or 4km I was passing a wealth of athletes, and no-one had come past me! A quick check as a km split bleeped on the watch, I had just knocked out a 3:36 km, without even trying….I better back off!
At 7k the legs started to tighten, and the decision earlier to back off was a sensible one. I was able to cruise to the finish (final three km’s of 3:46, 3:45 and 3:43) saw me home safely. It was great feeling to turn the sharp corner and head towards the finish line. I was greeted by John Levison of Tri247.com and former National Coach (who I worked with many years ago) Steve Trew doing a bit of promotion for me and Sportstest, followed by them announcing I was 2nd in age group at National Championships!
Wow, how did that happen? I was elated. What a great weekend of racing 🙂
I now need to press on to see how well I can go in Chicago.
So what are the take homes from this weeks blog:
- Setting targets is essential if you REALLY want to achieve something
- Focus on the weakest aspects of your performance to reduce potential losses
- Training consistency is vital. This is not just about what is done during training, but the work outside training on optimal nutrition, and personal care (stretching, rehabilitation, recovery) are all crucial factors to success.
- Whatever you do, make sure you enjoy it!
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