Sunday, August 21, 2011

Outlaw 2011 - Race Report


The Outlaw triathlon is a long distance triathlon which is 2.4 miles (3.8km) Swim, 112 miles (180km) Cycle followed by a marathon (26.2 miles 42.2km). The race is based at Holme Pierpoint in Nottingham and the surrounding countryside.

Pre Race

This year I was nowhere near as anxious before this race as last year, just a bit pre race nerves this year which is ok to have. This year it was due to the lack of training as my longest swim and cycle was about two third race distance but I had run a marathon back in April. From the Bala race I was even prepared to take part in poor weather conditions up to a limit.

As I am already an Outlaw I decided to buy some Outlaw merchandise at the race expo as that would not put a jinx on my race. My brother decided to buy something pre race even though he has not completed the Outlaw before, it is bit risky doing that on a long distance race.

As I had been getting up early all race week to ensure the 3am breakfast on Sunday was not a total shock, I had left early and was at the venue for the first race briefing. There was not much different from last year apart from a change of road on the cycle loop and some of the traffic management options used at various points. Plus the weather forecast was looking favourable for the race unlike the previous week. So after this I went back to the car park and started to pack my race bags that they provided.

They had only given one number so I had to ensure it was secured on a race number belt, so I picked one of the two I had brought with me.
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Then also stuck the race numbers on to my helmet and bike. I decided to pack them in a logical order, put bike together, swim stuff, cycle kit and then run kit. So after getting the bicycle out of the car and bits I had loosened back in the correct positions I pumped up the tyres a bit.

For the swim kit I would bring it in the morning in my dry kit bag, so for the moment I put it in my open water swim kit box along with the usual kit I put in the race timing chip and race swim cap.

The cycle kit I decided on my tri specific cycle shoes which had more ventilation and easy release while on the bike, so I put these at the bottom with some talcum powder inside them. I then put some longer sleeve and various colder weather kit in as a backup options. I also put in a spare tri suit and a pair of cycle shorts so I would have plenty of kit options when I got to T1. It is better to put stuff in the bag that you may need and don’t use than not have it there when you need it. On top I put in my cycle helmet, sunglasses and new cycle gloves. The cycle helmet and gloves coincidently matched my bike colours.

I then started packing my run kit bag. First in was a newish pair of trainers that I had got which I had only worn twice while running. I put in some talcum powder to reduce any moisture in the shoe and hopefully prevent any blistering. I then put some running kit in the bag along with another tri suit and hat and gloves. The bit of running kit that was not in there were full length leggings.

There was plenty of aid stations on the course but to ensure I did not have to wait a while or they run out I had some of my supplies with me. For the bike I had filled my panier bad with some oat/fruit bars and a couple of gels and also had a packet of sports powered in my bike kit bag to take with me. For the run I put a few gels in which were caffeinated and the first time I will be using in a race and only the second time using them. I then decided to have a special needs nutrition bag as a backup option as would be accessible on the bike laps at the top end of the course. In there I put a a couple packets of sports powder, few of the new gels and two mini (250ml) bottles of regular coca-cola, I did not have time to make them semi flat so I would have to settle for the bubbles on the day.

I then racked my cycle and run kit bags on the rack and visiualised where abouts they were located. Even though they are numbered as this is an endurance event your mind can play tricks on you and can get disoriented easily.
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After some basic safety checks by the marshals I then racked my bike in my numbered position.

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It was fairly easy to find as it was nearly level with the only clock on the boat shed wall that I could see from transition and two rows from the lake.I took a few photos to familarise myself with the swim in and bike out areas of transition compared to my bike position. As they racked my bike this would be the only time I would need to be in this area until collecting my bike at the end. Normally there would be a bike to run exit.

After that we headed back to the hotel to relax before tomorrow. We decided to go for a easy swim in the hotels pool which was about 10m. Out of the three of us I was the slowest at swimming breaststroke even though one of us was not a triathlete. My excuse was I was saving my energy for tomorrow. The pre race meal we went to the a pub that had part of its name as our surname, we had to really.

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There I had the 10oz Hawaii five-o gammon steak with peas, pineapple slice, fried egg and chips then for desert I had a raspberry trifle cheesecake. That made 3 fruit/veg in a single meal, I was starting to feel a bit light headed at this point :-)

After that we went around the area taking photos of the various shops with our surname in their names, the best was the police station. At this point we were nice and relaxed and headed back to the hotel and hopefully get some sleep before the alarms at 3am!!

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Race Morning

I got up for my 3am breakfast on my first alarm out of the four devices with multiple times I had set. I then got ready for the day in a nice relaxed state not having to rush around in the morning. When we were going out of the hotel there was still there people drinking from that night, that is a more common endurance session than what we were about to attempt.

When we got to the race venue it was still dusk with the sun starting to rise which was in line with the swim outbound lake.
I then put my drinks on to my bike and setup my GPS devices. I then checked my tyre pressure using the highly scientific method of pushing the tyre with my thumb. Luckily there was a marshal there with a track pump so I did not have to get my hands dirty pumping my tyre.

I then went back to the transition tent area and put my post race warm clothes in bag and get my stuff I needed for the swim. On the lake bankside I had my pre race caffeinated energy drink and then got my wetsuit on. I then handed the non race stuff to our support crew and headed to the swim start with about 10 minutes to go before the race.

Swim
Out of the four boat ramp areas at the start I decided to go in the third which was based on their time slots the race organisers suggested. So once going round the taped off section I then eased myself into the lake. This was due to the cold water but also the mud and possible geese poo on the ramp with a a 1ft drop a down the slope a bit which I did not want to slip over and injure before the race had started.

As we were getting in before the race the music they had on made me chuckle, it was the star wars imperial march but I could have miss heard this under my two swim caps.

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Just before the 6am start looking down the U shape swim course in the rowing lake, you could not see the turning point but I was nice and calm and relaxed while still being focused on the tasks ahead of me.
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As the air horn sounded and the race started the flat/peaceful lake was then turned into arms and legs splashing and kicking making the water appear like white water rapids.
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I had decided to start in the back left of this start bay as there was about 200m diagonal swim to the left before joining the straight section of the swim, as this should then spread out the swimmers as the faster swimmers were in the bays to the left.
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However despite being at a slower than normal swim pace I was being hit a kicked a bit a fare amount up to this turn point and for the next 200m. At this point I was starting to get in to some more open water in the swim and not too many swimmers around me so that I could get back in to my swim rhythm. I noticed that there was a bit of weeds in the lake but only a very small amount compared to last year and my last lake swim.

As the swim was in a rowing lake it was easier to tell how far round you were as there was some big distance signs on both sides of the lake with distances to the row finish which was a bit before the finish but gave you an idea for pacing and not overdoing it. I felt that I had gone fairly straight on this section of the swim which rarely happens. I got to the far turnaround points and then from nowhere I was getting hit a bit by the other swimmers.

Once I got to the other side of the lake and the back section I found some space again and got into a good rhythm. Although about 200m later I slowed down as I noticed on breath stroke that about a dozen geese swam in front of the person ahead of me. Then for about a minute (felt longer) I had a geese pacer about 10m to the right of me.

With about 500m to go I was feeling strong and was able to put a bit more effort and on back section of the swim I was overtaking a lot of people with only a few overtaking me. On this few minute of the swim it was looking like it was sunny and warmer and I was going through kit options for T1/Cycle that I was no planning to use. When I got out of the swim it was fast time for me and I did not hit any of the many rowing lane marker buoys.  

T1

When I got to T1 my brother was still taking his wet suit off, so I was minutes closer to him after the swim than anybody expected, I think it shocked him more than me. However he would normally make a few minutes up in T1.

I noticed that it was sunny and getting warmer with a bit of wind. So I dried off a bit and then had a towel on floor to dry my feet as I would be on them for the next 12 hours. I then put on long compression socks and another pair of cycle socks on top. I then put on my cycle top and arm warmers, skull cap, fingerless gloves, sunglasses and cycle helmet.
I decided against putting the longer and cold weather kit that I had brought with me, hopefully that would not backfire on me. My brother left a few minutes before me, I was ok my T1 time as it is a long day and best not to forget anything at this stage.

I then headed out of transition to get my bike which I had remembered the position despite being slightly disoriented after the swim. I then ran out to the bike exit of transition.
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Cycle

In the first 100m (meters not miles) I had to stop. As I had not done handlebars up tight enough and with any weight on them they were dropping down. It took me under a minute to sort this out.

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We then went round the lake on the pathway. Halfway down the other side of the lake a flock of geese decided to fly low in to the lake, I slowed down I thought the person in front of me was going to be knocked off but he was not. After leaving the lake side there was about a mile U turn section on the local roads to get the distance up.

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I saw my brother on this section who was about half a mile ahead, it then took me to about 13 miles to catch him up despite being on my aerobars for most of this. He said the pace was a bit much for him and said he would slow down and go at his pace. I think he got caught up in the race and gone off a bit fast, I then pushed on at my pace.

The section to join the loop was longer than last year but was made up of long sections on some undulating sections. So I was able to stay on my aerobars for longer time, hopefully my lower back would be ok with spending longer time than normal in aero position (bent over the handlebars).

Within the first mile of the loop was a big hill that was 12% incline which was for about half a mile with first half being at a lower gradient. I called this incline col de pirate (had been watching the Giro d’Italia) or Pirate hill, as the Pirate manned aid station was about quarter of a mile after the top of the hill. Being a pirate I got plenty of support their and enjoyed the signs that they had put out along the road.

The road in to Southwell was fast road which I was easily staying in the 20-30 mph zone. There was a support in the town with most being at the 90 degree right hand turn with a official photographer on bend decided to use a flash luckily my bike hand skills have improved.

After a few undulating miles you joined the top section of the lap after going over a wooden ramp to avoid joining a main road with a very sharp left bend. This top section of the loop was the hardest part of the course which seemed a lot more undulating and into to headwind which I was going under 10mh in places.

When we turned off this road I was able to pick up my pace and was regularly in the 20-30mph zone and back on the aerobars. There was now just the two more laps to do on the bike and the 20 ish miles back to the end of the bike.

On the second lap about 65 miles in I stopped and got some of the gels, coke and energy drink. I was starting a bit early on the caffeinated products but I needed them already at this point. I was trying to stick to the energy drink mix that I had brought with me on for the bike as I think their drinks are more diluted than what I am used to.

Then half way round on the second bike loop I saw my brother on the side, who had pulled out due to the hills/wind not feeling right on that point on the previous lap. That lifted the pressure of being the fastest in our family but I still kept going at my pace.

The third loop was tougher especially the hill which some people were walking up with their bike. I managed to get up the hills without stopping. At the special needs aid station at about 90 miles I got the same as before which I was glad I put bag there the previous day as it was starting to get sunny and warm (out of the wind).

For bike nutrition I was trying to stick to a time based plan and not where the aid stations were. As they were about 12 miles apart (about 50 minutes) I would have half a banana at each with gels and water being option depending on how much stuff I had with me. I had a few bars and gels with me so I was not limited to at the aid stations and the few types of items they had. For the last hour I did not have any solid food sticking to the gels and drinks.

On the last lap it was starting to space out a bit more and was getting really warm. I was glad when I got to the end of the third lap until I realised I had about 20 miles left. This section had some relatively flat and fast sections along with a few inclines. In the last 10 or so miles there seemed to be more undulating sections along with more wind. The last few miles were on poor road conditions so you had to be mentally focused to stay on your bike. They had a small section through a country hall’s grounds to avoid a section of road but this had a cattle grid on the exit. I did not fancy going over this long in to the day so I went round it on the grass.

With less than a mile to the finish of the bike I was preparing for the run, by spinning at a higher cadence but at an easier gear then stretching my legs. With about 200m to go I took my feet out of the shoes and placed them on top of the shoes for a quick transition, I just had to be careful on the downhill section with speed bumps on the way into lake grounds. I got past this section and was able to quickly get of my bike and not fall over and handed my bike to the people (sea cadets) that were racking the bikes.

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I then ran in T2.  

T2

I got my run kit bag and headed to the changing areas. My knees hurting a bit from bike, so I had some paracetmeol that I had packed but had no available drink and could not swallow them, so I to bin these but had the strange taste still.

I then changed my tri suit and socks and put on race hat, just to feel a bit fresher. I put on no other layers that I packed but took some gloves with me as a long day and may get cool later.

I then tried putting my race gels in belt in T2 when mentally fatigued which these were not fitting, that wasted a few minutes.

This felt even to me a longer T2 time than normal.

I then headed out of T2 to use some of the facilities before starting the run.  

Run

As it was getting hot and sunny there was somebody at the start of the run applying sun lotion out of what looked like a cooking mixing bowl. As I had not taken any due to the weather forecast the person put some on my neck and shoulders.

As it was warm I gave the gels and gloves to my brother as I decided I would not need them, don’t know why I took them out of T2 apart from mental fatigue.

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I started of running at my marathon pace which was going ok. The first lap was around the lake and then there was three loops on the out an back to the city with each lap ending with a lap around the lake. The out and back section to the city was along the River Trent on a gravel footpath in places with a footpath underneath a Nottingham Forest FC stand to the turnaround point near the county council offices were there was a well stocked and manned aid station.
 
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I was not too keen about running past the finish straight and line three times before. Outlaw 2011 090


I was walking through the aid stations that were about every 1.2 miles (12 minutes) apart while trying to alternating gels, water, isotonic sports drink and cola.

It was starting to get warm as some places there was very little shade and the wind had that we had on the cycle had stopped. So when the sun was behind me I was turning my cap around to try and prevent my neck from being sun burnt.
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At the start of the day I was not looking forward to getting in to the lake now in the heat I could have done with a dip in it. At this point I had seen enough of the lake with the swim, lap on bike and four times on the run.

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This was going well until I think about 16/17 miles then muscle fatigue and stomach ache/over nutrition caught up on me and had to walk virtually all of the remaining distance. Only down hill (under bridge) and final straight I managed any run/jog.

Other people were in similar situation and we ending up discussing our day so far and just getting to the finish. I knew I was not going to get anywhere near last year’s time but went to my adjusted goal of getting to the finish.
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With the last 1km to go along the lake I started a very slow jog/hobble with slightly increasing the pace as the crowd support got more and the close to the finish I was.

For the finish straight I think I slowed down to high five the crowd and get photos from my supporters. Outlaw 2011 160Outlaw 2011 164

I crossed the finish line and the announcer said you are an Outlaw (again). Outlaw 2011 165Outlaw 2011 166

I got my medal and finishers t-shirt then some water and headed to the first aid tent.

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Post Race

I went to the first aid tent as I thought I had blisters due to newish running shoes and my dodgy stomach. I laid down on the bed and they check my feet, which luckily had not blistered it must have been some drink/gel that had splashed on to my running shoes mesh which looked like dried blood colour.

After lying down for a few minutes with a drink of water I was starting to feel better from heat as well as everything else.

I then headed to the post race food which was pasta with various bits in. This looked nice but I did not fancy that at this point of the day. So I went for a roll and a couple of pieces of ginger cake and a cup of tea which was only my second of the day!!
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Race Times

I finished the race with a time of 14:43:09


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My official race times for the sections of the race are.

Swim = 1:23:19
T1 = 9:19
Cycle = 7:05:04
T2 = 14:32
Run = 5:50:57

For the 2.4 miles (3.8 km) swim my average pace was 34:43 per mile (21:35 per km).

For the 112 miles (180 km) cycle my average pace was 15.8 mph (25.4 kmph).

For the 26.2 miles (42.2 km) run my average pace was 13:24 per mile (8:20 per km).

I have created my post race review separately to the race report.

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