Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Burnham Tri & Wolves Marathon

It's been a busy 3 weeks of racing, 3 weeks of racing tired too as Ironman gets closer there's been no chance to rest up before races they all just have to come under the category of 'hard training sessions'. Last weekend (4th Sept) was Wolverhampton Marathon which followed a Saturday 83mile/6mile Brick Session. Then this weekend just gone was the inaugural Burnham on Sea Standard Distance Triathlon which I rode the 73miles to the day before........ Long work hours and Ironman training have a lot to answer for.

First up, Wolverhampton Marathon
This is a regular pre-Ironman event as it's up in my home town so we go up to visit the folks and combine it with an Ironman 'training race'. As I mentioned above I trained the day before (as normal) but this was to be slightly different. Normally I set out with a plan that I may use at my Ironman, in the past I've I've run it to heart rate, built the pace throughout the run and done a run/walk/run strategy which resulted in my current Marathon pb (I think) of 2:56:29. This years plan was to pace a running pal Mark around in 3:30.
Unfortunately it soon became clear that our aims were a bit high. A young child and long working hours meant Mark hadn't got the training in he'd have hoped to and after 9-10 miles I could tell he was struggling at the 4hr pace we were keeping. As we finished the first of the two laps Mark asked if I'd mind him stopping, much as I really wanted to drag him round I could tell he hadn't been feeling comfortable for some time and there was no way I was going to make him struggle for another 13 miles. Most of us do this sport for fun and when it's not fun any more we may as well save it for another day. He'll be back fitter and stronger for another race on another day, then maybe he can pull me around the Marathon in 2012.
We'd already run past Shell and I'd told her 4hrs+ when Mark made his decision, I had a quick think and decided that a solid 2nd half might still have me chasing 3:30 so asked him to leave Shell a note on my conveniently parked car before I headed out onto lap 2 like a man on a mission.
My legs settled into the new pace with remarkable ease but I hadn't eaten during the first half so made the decision to walk a good minute at the aid stations to take in gels and plenty of fluids. Everything seemed to work like a dream as I knocked out the 2nd half in 1:28 overhearing several 'interesting' comments as I flew past people who must have been wondering where the hell I'd come from. I eventually crossed the line in 3:29:17 or 3:28:18 on the chip timing.
The A goal had sadly not succeeded, but the revamped goal had worked out nicely and I'd had a really solid 2nd half. My Garmin report from the race is here - http://connect.garmin.com/activity/111890244

This weekend it was time for the first Burnham on Sea Standard Distance Triathlon
I've been doing Burnham races for years, the Triathlons are a constant fixture on my calender, so when they announced a Standard Distance race there was no way I was missing it. In the run up to the race the UK had the threat of Hurricane Katia. Ironman Wales which was taking place just across the water had already moved their swim location and plans had been put in place at Burnham to make the race a Duathlon if needed. The day before at registration all the talk was about how windy it would be and how rough the sea would be for the (very) early start. Many people were secretly keeping their fingers crossed for a Duathlon and although I'm a relatively good swimmer I'm not a fan of rough water either. Come the morning though the weather was actually gorgeous, there was a decent bit of chop on the water, it was a bit windy on the bike, but the sun was out and it was dry. Nobody could have imagined it would be so nice after seeing the weather forecasts.
I poured myself into my wetsuit for the first time in almost a year and got ready to hit open water for the first time since Ironman Hawaii last October.
Burnham is at the mouth of an estuary and a dirty swim, you put your face in the water and see nothing but brown. With my notoriously bad sighting this was going to be fun! We had a running start from the beach which 'strangely' I'm also useless at and by the time I actually started swimming several people were already well ahead of me. Once in the water I just muddled my way through trying my best so sight the buoys and canoeists that were out there in my usual open water zigzag swim style. When I got out of the water I was pleased to find that only two people had got out before me. One of those was a good 2mins ahead, but the other was still in T1. I suspect the course may have been a little short because my swim time of 18:54 is a couple on mins quicker than I'd have expected to swim, especially with my navigation issues.
I set off knowing in the back of my mind that I'd had a tough ride yesterday and not wanting to blow up, but there were two speedy swimmers ahead that I wanted to catch. The early miles were good, the predicted heavy winds hadn't appeared yet and the breeze that was there was at my back.
I'd made a total mess of my Garmin, somehow recording the whole race as a bike ride rather than in Multisport mode so I wasn't sure of the exact distance I'd covered. Within 3-4 miles though I found myself in the lead. This was where it got all weird.
I'm not used to being out front solo and not knowing what's going on behind. I had tired legs, so should I ease off and save some for the run? Push hard because I might be getting chased down? It was really hard to motivate myself to push when I was ahead, the last 8 miles were really draining mentally. They were almost pancake flat but I'd now got a headwind which seemed to suck everything out of me. I was convinced that I should be going much faster than my Garmin said but I just had to get on with it and work my way to T2. Three of the top 5 finishers beat my bike split, but none of them caught me. I was still leading as we hit the run.

Ok, this was easy(ish). The course was great and pretty much pancake flat. The Marshals were brilliant and cheered at every opportunity (most of them knew me too which is even better) and I had a lead bike to follow.
That was all just as well because my legs felt trashed! I left T2, tagged onto the lead bike and chatted his ears off all the way round the course, I just had to hope nobody was running me down because my legs had found their pace and they weren't going faster for anybody. I have this quite often, although I felt like I could have carried on running at the same pace for another 10k I couldn't actually run any quicker. Had somebody caught me I'd have been able to do nothing.
It seemed a long time but finally I hit the Finish Line having increased my lead by posting the fastest run split of the day. A 38:10 on what my Garmin told me was an accurate 10k makes for a happy me, especially when it never actually felt that quick.

Results for the Tri are here http://www.bospool.com/uploads/files/205.pdf with my name sitting nicely at the top :-D there's also a write up on the local website here http://www.burnham-on-sea.com/news/2011/triathlon-review-11-09-11.php   
There we go, two weeks racing in one post and hopefully nobody's fallen asleep while reading it. With less than 8 weeks to go until Ironman Florida I promise to try to make poss a little more regular from now - honest!!!

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