Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Racing in the Queen city - Triathlon Nationals race report

WOW what a fantastic day to be playing in the big smoke. Great sun, not too hot and no much wind. It was a recipe for fast racing.
This was my return after 2 years of not racing (for some reason or other) in the standard distance event. I never loved the distance because it was not short enough to play to my advantage as a swim-runner, but it was not long enough to play to my advantage as a consistent runner. Anyway, the opportunity came to go and do it and I was determined to enjoy it.
First tri ever... 
The swim was a breeze, no major inconveniences for most of the leg. Because they send us in waves, we cought some of the slower guys from previous waves. In any case, I was nowhere near where I traditionally fare in these races, so I had a good time swimming protected by the big middle pack. The water temperature was good to swim with no wetsuit, but that would have meant a further 2 min of my time given away and I was not prepared to do that. At the end of the day, it is national champs and one has to deliver.
There was a looooooong transition to the bike and I made it slower by putting a pair of socks. There’s two reasons for that, firstly, I was wearing my mate’s shoes and didn’t want any blisters or bleeding ruining them. Secondly, I was going to wear socks for the run anyway, so might as well put them on now and make a shorter T2. The bike was a 3 lap course mainly flat with one climb at the top of Queen Street. The climb was short enough and greatly compensated by a 1.5 km downhill section from the top of the golden mile to the Ferry building. That was the highlight of my race… doing 60k plus at full throttle on the busiest street of Auckland was an experience to repeat. In races like these, I am usually passed by a dozen plus others. This time I managed to hang on and even pass some people myself. I was thoroughly impressed by the performance of my lended bike. An old aluminium P3 that flew through the flats and ripped through the asphalt. Unfortunately I hadn’t had my ceremonial Nutella on Bagel brekkie, and I was banking on some gels to bring the extra energy. But I lost them somewhere. I realised only when I went to grab one after the first lap of the bike.
T2 was fast and I was feeling good… although not flash-like due to the lack of caffeine and sugars. I ran at a steady pace with the idea of unleashing the beast in the last 2km.
But there was no beast, my run time was over 39 minutes, a good 10% over what I would consider my top runs. I was passed by a couple, but passed a few myself, so all in all I went up on the run too (4th fastest in the category) and finished in a respectable 2:14 and change. The best was yet to come, though.
On reflection I came to two very encouraging conclusions. First, I had a lot of fun and enjoyed the short distance like I hadn’t done before. Secondly, I was fairly competitive without specific training and virtually no swimming. So, there is not only potential for a more competitive performance, there’s potential for lots of fun doing many more races next season. And who knows… maybe even a world championships trips is not too far out of the way. 
That brings an end to the season of multisport, I think. It's now time to go into hibernation mode and start a good block of endurance and strength training. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Back to basics

Had enough of this ultra thing… for now
After careful meditation the last couple of weeks I came to the conclusion that I am biting much more than I can actually chew in ultra running terms. That is not a bad, thing, on the contrary… it will help strengthen my jaw and, with time, allow me to chew as much as I bite.

Metaphors aside, the learning from Tarawera and Auckland 70.3 was: I can get away with doing long races without base. But only to a certain point. That certain point for me is a decrease in performance that sees me fall from the upper lines of the results sheet. It is a blow to the ego and I have now healed. 
What rests to be done is to go back to the drawing table and re-match ambition with the realities of how much time there is to put on the training. And how much choice. Should I cut on swimming for good? (not) Shall I start training a bit earlier to get miles in? (maybe). Shall I take a month off?

We’re in the part of the cycle where thing start to wind-down and one starts reflecting on the past season and build-up to the long slogs of winter training. It is also planning time in my household… so there will be list of races by the end of the month. And they will be made public.
I’ve also joined a run club, for the first time I’ll be mixing it up with pure runners and learn a few of their tricks. May even enter an event or two to see how much I can hold my own.
For the time being, there is this list:
6 Auckland Triathlon
12 Scottish run club race