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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cowman 2009 - Race Report

Today I did the Cowman 2009 (Half Ironman distance, 1900m, 56 miles, 21km).

The race started in fog after a 15 minutes delay due to safety issues. You could only just about see the next buoy. The canoeists were also wearing high visibility vests on top of their normal gear. I was thinking putting on sun cream before leaving the hotel (without checking outside) was a bit optimistic.

I was in the first wave I started in the middle of the pack for the first time in a race. I had to be carefully as there were a lot of arms and legs all over the place but luckily the water was clear so I could see if anybody was getting too close and take some avoidance. I stayed in a pack for most of the first lap which helped with spotting the buoys. Starting the second lap I noticed a lot more of the other 2 waves going past me (different colour swim hats). I stayed focused and had I good second lap only going slightly off course in two places. It is a step exit to the swim but you got pulled out.

The transition had 3m high inflatable cartoon like figures for each of the disciplines so you knew where to exit transition.

While in T1 the person next to me said it was 42 minutes for the wave so I had a better than planned swim. T1 may be a while as I made sure I put another layer on due to the fog and temperature, also making sure I took all my nutrition with me.
The cycle was 3 laps, 2 laps of a bigger loop and then a smaller lap all having the big hill at the end. The exit and entrance to the transition had a covered grass verge to go over so you have to be a bit careful there.

The most of the course is undulating with two noticeable inclines on each lap. However after the last big hill there is a couple of miles of faster road section (slightly downhill) which I was maintaining a high speed for me. Each time going past the race venue there was a lot of support cheering you on. I was eating food every 30 minutes and also had sports drink with an added salt tablet. Due to the lower temperature I only had the drink that I started with I was prepared with a sports drink sachet which I could easily add to the supplied water at the 1 water stop per lap.

I even had a police cycle escort for part of the course, well they where a police forces triathlon club.

From my cycling GPS I completed the 57 miles (officially 56 miles) in 3:22, that’s an average of 16.9 mph with a maximum speed of 34.1 mph. My average cadence was 73 RPM which is higher for me, I was concentrating on maintaining my cadence on the whole course. The course had a total of 1,838 feet of ascent.

In T2 as it was heating up by now I decided to take off the cycle top which was a good decision. I put on some additional sun cream at this point. With my gels and tuc biscuits I also had a salt tablets with caffeine. There were 3 water stations on each of the 4 laps having water, gels and energy drink. Due to the soaring temperature on each lap I was having half a salt tablet in the water. I was using run/walk method (25/5 minutes) which helped me get the right nutrition during the walking phase. It also kept me feeling strong all the way round. The course was part through the country park, local village and cross country round a few fields for each lap. Each lap you went through the main area so you got a lot of support there plus around the park. On the last lap near the last water stop with over mile left a car (4x4) turn on to the grass right in front of me he said he did not see me, I was quite conspicuous in my pirate tri-suit (yellow with black skull and cross bones on).

I completed the run in 2:14 which is an average of 10:36 for the last mile I did it in 8:34 that’s how strong and in control I felt. There was only 700 ft of ascent on the course.

I completed it in under 6:30 (clock time on the finish line) which was good in the heat and the lack of long runs recently. All the sections everything went well apart from an unable to open the gels due to fingers too slippery as sweating in the heat.

This is a really good event which I enjoyed, they also have a team relay and sprint triathlon on the same day just starting in a later wave. It is challenging enough course for all abilities, with the run not being particularly hilly. It is well organised event and useful race gifts of a holdall bag this year plus a paper weight.


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