Before I begin (don't many stories start like that?) let me paint a picture of where I am currently penning this from ..... approximately 30,000 feet up no less (but maybe a bit more), and in the comfort of a Virgin Premium Economy seat to boot. In fact it's a great seat, lots of room, a large seat back tv in front of me, many (many) films to choose from (currently about to watch Sweeney Todd) and regularly flowing refreshments :oO
I'm on the way to San Francisco in case you were wondering. So that's my excuse really for the delayed race report... got back in to work Tuesday and had a HECtic week so this is my first real chance of sitting back and relaxing since I got home!!
OK on to business;
ETU AGE GROUP CHAMPIONSHIP 2008: RACE REPORT
Alright we know that no race report wouldn be complete without a bit of pre-race picture setting. Now unlike me, I won't go on (too much). Highlights of the two days previous to the race itself consisted of;
(a) Meeting up with fellow LISBONKERs, Angel at Gatwick Airport then later on the Thursday evening with Jules (and Sheila his support crew). Alas for poor Julian he had to transit through Heathrow terminal 5, inevitably his bike didn't make the journey between terminal 5 to terminal 1 so Jules found himself in Lisbon bikeless for the first 24 hours!! Scarey!
(b) Friday am Team Lisbonkers headed to the swim where we had a bit of a photo shoot
(c) Friday Team Lisbonkers (minus bike-less Jules) took part in an approx 300 strong pelleton supposedly on a police escorted route reccie. Police escorted yes, but not the full route. No if we had done the full route we'd have known about THAT HILL and the extra 5ks!!
(d) Team GB official briefing really got the nerves going. Talking about when we had to put bikes in transition, no towels allowed, out of transition 0830 on day of race only allowed back in 30mins before the race, only use the transition basket (no bags allowed) and then the was the whole get into the age group “holding pen” 15mins before race start time, prior to the run down the causeway into the dock... THEN I really began to panic ;o)
Can't remember too much of Saturday I think due to sugar overdose from the amazing custard cakes and shots of expresso!! Did manage to watch in absolute AWE the elite races! That WAS really brilliant.... and boy they were all F-A-S-T!
We had to rack bikes Saturday evening, can't say there was much (ok any) checking going on – but still we got the bikes all racked up easily enough. 600+ bikes the majority of which were extremely sleek and expensive looking (poor Biancha looked a bit out of her depth amongst those steads I can tell you!). I left a little concerned that the high winds blowing would lead to a calamity of the “there's about 100 bikes to a row and if the wind gets one the whole lot are coming down” kind. Still Sunday came and the bikes were still standing! Phew!
Having deposited rest of kit by the bike in transition I headed off to the swim pen. We were allowed a quick dip to get warmed up (and remember it was salt water!), before being carrolled into our holding area. Where we were thankfully there told that it wasn't going to be a run start (sense had prevailed as the causway was very slippery), but a floating start in the water. Phew! Lucky for me they had also decided (prior to the race day) to split by heat into two waves, 20-29 ladies then 30-39.. so the fast girls were off before me which suited me fine and also meant there were only some 50 odd girls in my heat. A blessing (some of the men had near on 100). Needless to say when the little electronic klaxon sounded it was like swimming with a bunch of piranhas in a feeding frenzy! I same head up for at least 50m, during which time I had boob, head, tummy, head, boob, leg kicked, hit, slapped etc etc ... So the race was underway then!! Finally got on someone's toes in some clear water and found some rhythm. The course itself was an “M” shape so quite a few turns to navigate. All in all, besides the first 100 or so metres it was a fairly easy swim. Turned the last buoy and hit the slipway out, hitting the lap time at 27:52... WHOOP! My season goal was to swim under 28mins for 1500 – to do so in May was a real result. Mat time before T1 was 28:05. GREAT START! T1 was a bit wobbly and not terribly fast, hitting the exit in about 2'30. Not great, but still on the bike which is always a great feeling.
The start of the bike was a little “technical” with quite a few turns on slippery cobblestones. Not great in the rain. Still soon enough I was on the open road. Open being the word, as only 3 heats had gone out before me there weren't that many people on the course – so lap 1 of the bike was quite a lonely affair. And a long one. It was on the way out during lap 1 that I should have remembered my lesson learnt from La Santa – that being weather effects bike performance. Why didn't I remember this as I grumbled away to myself as I climbed (not quite the flat course as advertised), the last mile to the turn point, into a head wind with rain!! Grrrr.... starting feeling very despondent as my time was nearing 30mins... I couldn't figure it out, until I made it back down in about 15mins, yes not only the hill but a headwind – still made the journey back a little easier.
This piccie (thanks to Sheila) is me coming down to go into the stadium loop about to start lap 2. Going out for lap 2 was even more challenging on the cobblestones which were pretty wet by them! But at least I knew what was to come.... and by now I knew my aim of coming in 2hrs 46 (same time as London last year) was blown – but then I didn't know how long the course was at that time.
I grumbled towards T2, at least I managed to get my feet out of my shoes and doing a flying dismount!!! .... and then there was just the run to do....
By now I wasn't paying much particular attention to my watch so did T2 as fast as I could, grabbing a gel and epipen on the way. T2 was ok, but not great at 1:30.
The atmosphere heading out of T2 was really building – by now all the age groups were on the course and mixing up plenty. Lots and lots of supporters were out, lining the exit of T2, the half way turn point and the finish tunnel. By now I was hurting plenty but obviously stopping was far from my mind, so off I trotted – being overtaken by most I may add – I think I ran past a couple of 70 year olds but that was about it!! ;o)
We hadn't recc'd the run course – and although it was an accurate 10k it did go on relentlessly. You just couldn't see where the turn out lap turn point was, yet there was a constant stream of people running past in your direction and coming back at you. It took forever to hit that water station I can tell you! Saw both Angel and Jules on my first lap, with Jules finally catching me with about 2k to 2.5k to go – a great race from him given he started 20mins behind me (but then he is substantially faster on the bike and run!). His words to be were “just see it home now”, I think my reply was something like “this is hurting”, it must have been bad because I don't think I even swore! Really felt like taking a walk break on the way back on the final lap but that's really not my way, so plodded on (being the operative word) and finally made it to the finish line!!!
I would usually say at this point what a great feeling, but honestly I felt really really crap so I headed straight to the medical tent thinking I was having a bit of asthma. Hummm anyhow, transpires I was actually having a bit of a hypo with a low blood sugar. Despite the gels I had taken (1 pre swim, 2 on bike and 1 on the run) I didn't have enough sugar in me. Still some form of liquid, a wipe down and some rest under a space blanket saw me right. Special thanks to Sheila at this point who helped me through that particular nightmare getting sprays and clothes from my kit bag whilst the medical team did there bit. Poor Angel though, finished in a flurry to have no fellow Lisbonker team mates awaiting her arms in the air final salute!!
I was still grumbling whilst under the space blanket, having had a “bad” (so I thought bike) I reset my goal to get in under 3 hours, having finished in 3hrs and 12 seconds I was feeling a bit "WTF" bascially. It was at this stage I decided to look at my splits. Saw the swim time again which was great and then had the biggest surprise of my run time. I honestly thought I was running like a slug on a slow day, but low and behold I actually had set a 10k PB!!!! Totally (totally) chuffed with that. Previous standalone 10k was 6 years ago and something like 56:40, I cracked the Lisbon tri 10k in 55:52. OK so not a stella performance given the best in my age group was something like 41mins, but for me, a PB, amazing. I suddenly became quite chuffed and not so despondent! Later when I found out the length of the bike course I sort of put that one to bed too.
This photo was after the medal ceremony, having a part Scottish heritage I thought my Mum would like me with the old Scottish flag - just wish my Granny, Grandpa and Grandad (for the GB flag) could be alive to know about the weekend.
... and finally this IS team Lisbonkers (ok minus Simon) Angel, yours truly and Jules. We were proud!!
For my second Olympic distance race I'm both pleased and proud of how I did. Can honestly say I don't think I could have done any better. Couple of lessons learnt on this one;
The weather (again). If my bike is not what I expect time wise and it's hilly, wet or windy (or all three) then I just need to forget about any planned time!
Nutrition. Honestly I'm a bit worried for the 70.3 given how I finished this one, I just need to ensure I counter this with the effort I put in (going to be very cautious on the bike). I certainly can't afford to overdo it early and blow up on the run. Hummmmm
Just not to get miffed!!! As my Mum and Dad would say – you can only do your best.
I guess on reflection the whole event has inspired me once more. Not just seeing the Elite's but the age group athlete's too. Some of them were phenomenal, you just can't be anything but amazed by the 60-64s, 65-69s and most certainly the 70-74s!!! Amazing! I so want to do one of these again!! Being part of team GB, amongst 150+ team mates, a bike mechanic and a couple of sports mass not to mention the team manager who was a great chap... all of this was completely amazing!
Despite the earlier hypo I didn't heed the medical advisor and decided to celebrate our success with a couple of glasses of champo..... Angel, a guy called Rhyss and I set a team record that
night..... 3 bottles of champagne until 4:30am!! A good celebration indeed!
PS: Don't worry it's now the next day and I've finally sorted internet access out at my hotel room to post this post!!
PPS: Just checked on the Florida 70.3 results... WES you were rockin!! Really well done matey!!
PPPS: Just realised I didn't put my race splits up - DOH! I'll post these later along with my pre-race targets!!!