Monday, August 06, 2012

Outlaw Triathlon 2012 - Race Report

Outlaw 2012 – Race Report

Pre race

The race day started with an early breakfast at 3am on a Sunday!! Luckily we did need to leave to much early as were fairly close but there is not much traffic on at 5am on a Sunday, until we got to the venue.

When I got there I put my drinks bottles on my bike and also checked the tyre pressures and other mechanics. I also made one last check where my bike was compared to the T1 entrance and exit, as you can be disoriented after the swim.

To Bike from entrance
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From Bike to exit
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I then went to the transition tents and put my nutrition in bags for cycle and run. Then I visualised my bags from different t1 and t2 entry points with everybody’s kit bags in place. My bag position reminded me of a double length bendy bus, as there was two tents with the connecting section covered but narrower.

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I also made a mental note where there was some hidden metal drain covers underneath carpet.

I then headed out to get my wetsuit on for the swim and the nice 6am start.

Swim


The swim is 2.4 miles (3.8km) in a rowing lake and navigationally is simple, swim 1.2 miles up on the left side then swim the 100m across the lake and then swim the 1.2 miles back. The only issues were the buoys in the lake for the rowing lanes which were all the way up the lake and the yellow turn buoys in the sunrise. You could not see the turn around buoys from the start.

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For the start there are 4 start bays, so I decided start at back of 2nd instead of 3rd bays as previous years. This pace should be 3 minutes faster than my PB so should have plenty of swim space, plus they mentioned in the race briefing a lot people last year went to the back of the 1st group as the fast people swam off leaving a lot of space.

As the start siren went off the fun of the swim started, with 1,000 people in 100m width that narrowed to about 20m after 250m.

Its quite an impressive sight seeing that many swim off at the start of a race.


For the first half a mile I was being hit and kicked a lot and could not get in to a good swim rhythm. After this I was being hit a lot less but still more frequent than normal. When I did get in to a good rhythm I swam a few meters past the turn buoy and then got hit a lot more when crossing the lake and then hit again for the next 1/4 mile. I was glad I did not put on my GPS swim watch as it might have got knocked off in the “fun” of the open water swim.

At this point I was mostly on my own and not able to draft of anybody at my pace or slightly faster. This meant I put in a bit more effort than I could have got away with by drafting.

When I got out the swim I could see the race clock which I completed the swim in 3 minutes quicker than my PB and 2 minutes ahead of my brothers previous best time but I was not sure of his time today.This added an extra spring to my step and I ran in to T1.

I felt good with technique improvements even with only 1 lake swim of 1.5km just 5 days before.


T1


I decided to change in to cycle specific kit and not tri kit as this is a long ride. I took my time (as much as normal) but then I was prepared for the cycle ride ahead. I easy found my bike thanks to pre race checks plus the lack of bikes left helped. When I was going to my bike I noticed my brother’s bike had already gone, I was a bit gutted as I thought I would beat him out this year.


Cycle


The cycle is 112 miles (180km) which started with a loop on the path around the lake (not hitting any geese), then cycle out to a north loop (done once) and then cycle to a south loop (done twice) before heading back to the race venue, simple.

Unlike last year’s race I had done up the handlebars tight on to the headset and did not fall down like last year, so that was a good start.

At about 15 miles I caught up to my brother, I found out I beat him out of the swim and overtook me in T1. So that meant I had the fastest Long Distance swim time in the family, I just needed to complete the event for the time to count.

For the first 30 miles I going fast and staying mostly on my aerobars. Then when we got to the one big hill on the course a 11% incline I was overtaking a lot of people going up it and nobody overtook me.

For cycle nutrition I was trying to stick to the new nutrition that I was trying out on the race day (not a good tip normally). This was jam sandwiches (was interesting getting them out of the bag while cycling), then in my sports drink I had added some green tea powder to give some extra kick and caffeine. From the race aid stations apart from swapping out bottles as needed I had bananas until they run out and I had to switch to gels to get some more calories.

The south loop was meant to be fast but in the wind it felt a lot harder, at least I saw the leaders as they lapped me on this section. There was plenty of support in the villages along this loop. The second loop in addition to the wind it started to rain. At this point I was starting to feel fatigued mentally and physically which was not helped by being overtaking by people every mile.

My knee had been feeling sore after about 50 miles and the last 10 miles the sole of feet felt sore. At this point I would have gladly swapped my bike for left back in the warmth of a car.

More people kept overtaking me and I was not a happy triathlete and was considering not doing the run.

Then with a few miles left to go a person fell a few 100m ahead others there to help, not sure if it was due to the wet or fatigue.

I finally made it back and I was glad to get of my bike not sure if I would even start the run.

T2


At this point I was seriously thinking about stopping as knee and my soles of me feet were sore. I took my time (again) just going through the motions of getting ready for the run I put on 3 pairs of socks with talcum powder as my feet were sore.

While getting ready I saw another competitor eating a small pork pie, I like that style I may have to use that on another race.

I thought I could not quit just because of some discomfort on a bit of a swim, cycle and run, thinking about the charity I was raising money for others go through a lot more pain.

At this point I mentally and physically zipped up my Ironman tri-suit, I was back in the race.

Run


My plan was to start at a comfortable pace for the marathon and maintain for as long as possible with walking through aid stations I got stuff from. The route was effectively 3 loops of lake and out to the city centre and back along the riverside path and then 3/4 of the lake to the finish.

For the first half of the race I was overtaking a few people and slightly less were overtaking me but they could have been on the same or 8 or 16 miles ahead of me but I felt good. There was good support around the lake and at the other end of course near the city centre (past the Nottingham forest football ground).

As the was aid stations about every 1.25 miles I was planning to have something every 2 aid stations and not an endurance picnic like I did in previous years having a few things at each aid station.

I was trying to alternate between sports drink and cola and then water if I was feeling thirsty, then a jaffa cake or some crisps with a gel about every 5 miles. I felt ok until 16 miles when I had to start to walk due to fatigue and stomach issues.

As there was three out and back loops could see where my brother was, so I was mentally working out could I beat him if I walked the rest and he ran the rest based on my calculations in my fatigued state I thought I could.When I got to any slight downhill section (only 2 from memory) I jogged that and I also walked faster when there was more support. In my last hour there was more people walking with every passing minute.

Then for the last few miles (from the last turn around) I jogged 100m walked 100m all the way back, as I thought I could make it under the next hour mark. When I could hear the finish line crowd in the last 1/4 mile I started to jog all the way to the finish.

I finished it and ahead of my brother!!
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My times were.

Overall = 14:57:01

Swim =1:20:13 (2.9 kmph)

T1 = 13:52

Cycle = 7:18:27 (average 15.3 mph)

T2 = 13:12

Run = 5:51:13 (average 13:17/mile pace)

You can see on a map of the route with my average pace for each section, I quite like this feature.


From my GPS data the average speed per 5 miles.  The red line is my average speed for the cycle, which I got to about 65 miles before the pace started to drop of a lot.
 Outlaw2012-Cycle

From my GPS data the pace per mile. The red line is my average pace for the run, which I was doing ok to 16 miles and then I hit the wall big time until the last mile and a bit.
 Outlaw2012-Run 

Summary

I was glad I got the quickest swim time in the family and did not need to visit the first aid tent this year.

This year apart from the swim time I was not aiming for a particular time, this was mainly due to the
lack of training. This was apparent on the cycle which I felt the worst from any race that I have done.

There is still more things for me to learn about long distance triathlons.

My official photos and videos can be seen here.

The race highlights will be shown on Channel 4 on Sunday 12th August nice and early at 6:30am.

There was plenty of support for Pirates (triathlon group) from the spectators and follow triathletes, there was no place to hide in the yellow black kit, aargh!!

Lessons Learnt


Some of the additional things I learnt from this Long distance triathlon, some of them the hard way.

Train for more than half race distance would be a good idea. The cycle course was no worse than where I train although the new section was more undulating than expected. The run was virtually flat and I have done this course 3 times and parts on a marathon. For other races that I have not done before I may need to simulate the course as best I can before race day.

The swim technique changed helped me be more efficient on the swim, there would have been more effect if I had done some long swims.

My core muscles helped a lot with being on the aerobars a long time and in the swim and run, in addition to the core workouts I think the pilates sessions helped a lot with this.

The jam sandwiches worked on the bike as was something different than a pure sugar of a gel or sports drinks. Perhaps I should have practice eating them from a sandwich bag while still cycling before race day. I need more race nutrition practice which ties in with doing more training.

For the cycling I should have managed my effort/pace more evenly instead of going out to fast for the first 2 hours and really struggling in the last 2 hours.

For the marathon instead of running to fatigue, I may consider a run/walk approach which I have used in an ultra marathon (39.3 miles).