70.3 Weymouth, a race from last year I had some “unfinished business” with and was keen to race well at this year. The period between Outlaw and this race turned into one hell of a rollercoaster which although delivered valuable lessons for the future also left me a bit frustrated at times. The first week after Outlaw I got sick and took the whole week completely off. Then I made the mistake (isn’t hindsight wonderful) of trying to get back to full training on the second week. This lasted all of 5 days until I fell off the fatigue cliff and landed in a place that involved large amounts of cake.
This cycle happened a few more times until I took a some very easy days to try and reset and go again. At times there were some good sessions and at times I could barely drag my legs up a flight of stairs. There were days I was motivated to train well and days that I considered retirement from Triathlon alltogether. This was the first time after an iron distance race I hadn’t bounced back well so was completely new territory for me.
I attempted to race at a Middle Distance race in the new Forest 4 weeks after Outlaw and struggled on the bike ultimately riding only a couple of watts more for the 90km than I did for the whole 180 only a month ago then could barely run off the bike ultimately pulling the plug after about 8km and doing the walk of shame back to transition and the finish area head and body again in pieces. Back into the place of a lot of calories and this time 2 days later the body and mind were back and I got back to training again and it stuck! Motivation was back and it was time to try and put something together for 70.3 Weymouth.
Thankfully as the race got closer my body seemed to be there, somehow my swimming was just getting better and the bike seemed strong. I had done a fair bit of running but not a lot at “race pace” so that was a bit unknown but I was confident that if feeling good it may just work. I certainly tapered for a week for it to try and freshen the legs up and the Thursday before the race had a ride where things clicked a little bit. Power was up and I was comfortable in the aero bars and just felt really good on my bike. Being a home race I worked as normal on the Friday and headed to register in the afternoon. Everything was smooth and simple and Saturday again was easy for me with briefing, racking and a final spin on the bike and run. I was feeling very relaxed, no nerves or pressure and just excited to race!
Sunday morning when my alarm went off I had slept really well! Again no nerves and just went through the routine of breakfast and getting in the car to head to transition. Sleeping at home the night before a big race is a bonus and I think just added to the relaxed nature of it. It had rained hard overnight but as I uncovered my bike in the cool morning air everything seemed to be just as I left it. I put my bottles, shoes and Garmin on it and left transition with plenty of time to get my Wetsuit on and head to the beach. I took a short warm up swim and was instantly freezing in the water, thankfully after a few short bursts to turn the arms over I settled in and felt good in the water and my Wetsuit. I lined up on the start line on the front and ready to go hard to the first buoy. The national anthem was played and then Thinderstruck came on, We were given a 30 second warning and then the gun went. I swam hard early on and seemed to be doing ok, by the first buoy things had stretched out already and I was holding the feet of a few Guys ahead as others dropped back. By the first right hand turn I was just about there and although one guy had gone off the front a small group had formed and for the first time in a Pro race I was in it! For me then the rest of the swim was all about holding my position and staying in that group all the way to the beach. I was working hard to stay there and with a hundred metres or so to go there was a bit of a surge but I ran up the beach right in the mix.
T1 was a long run but went fairly smoothly, my transitions could certainly be polished up a bit but I got onto the bike and made sure my feet were in my shoes for the climb out of Weymouth. It was cool to start with and took my legs a little while to warm up and get going but i had other riders around me to work off and keep me pushing in those early miles. I was riding fairly hard from the start and it felt quite laboured but we caught a small group of riders that were slightly ahead and then as we rode on caught another couple to make it a group of around 6 of us riding in a pace line. I was questioning whether i should stay with these guys or try to get away and was fairly near the back of the line and at times it felt too easy. there was also some dubious gauging of 12 metres from a couple of the athletes and i wasnt keen to be part of that. I headed to the front of the group after safely getting through the rough surfaces of Puddletown woods and tried for 5 minutes to get away and put my head down and upped the power. Unfortunately this didnt really do much so instead of burning more matches i settled back down and stayed near the front of the pace line until we hit the top end of the course where i went back to the front again knowing thats where i wanted to be going into the climb of Revels hill before heading back into town.
It was pretty obvious that on the flats and downhills I was carrying my speed much better than a lot of guys and knowing the roads back to T2 I did the opposite thing any good cyclist would tell you and attacked on a downhill. It worked fairly well although to do it again I need a bigger chainring at the front as I was spinning away in my bigges gear trying to keep the power down. When I got fast I just put my chin on my arm pads and went for the aero speed tuck and when I could pedal I went pretty hard. Ultimately though it worked, initially only one other guy came with me but as we got closer to Weymouth he dropped further back and I managed to get a bit of a gap on them all coming into T2 eventually coming off the bike in 4th.
The noise going into and out of T2 was amazing. There were a great group of people supporting me and for the first steps as I headed out onto my run I was grinning like an idiot. My feet were freezing and I tried to settle into a sustainable pace and find a rhythm. Initially it felt quite good and I ticked through the first 3km at just over 3.50 each but heading back up the prom to the top turn I was into a headwind and grinding it out already. I held pace for the first 6km lap but from there it was laboured and heavy. I knew I had ridden hard and taken a risk but although my legs were hurting my brain was there and willing to keep pushing. The pace was slowing though and I was fighting it a bit. But the support on the run course was phenomenal and there was barely a minute that went by where I wasn’t getting shouts and cheers. Heading into the last lap I knew I wanted to keep pushing, I was now in 7th and the gap to the guys in front had gone out a bit but there were guys behind so I couldn’t afford to let off. Thankfully though I didn’t slow any more and held on back round the harbour side and was on my way to finish.
Going down the chute was awesome as always.
I don’t think it matters who you are or how many times you do it that chute always feels damn good and in that short moment justifies all the training and sacrifice you make in the lead up. I crossed the line in 7th and generally pleased with my race. It was my highest pro 70.3 finish to date and for the first time I stayed in the main swim pack and hung on with guys that already this year have swam a minute into me. It was a power PB for 90km and I was happy to be able to ride with these guys and ultimately get a gap on them as well. Yes it probably bit me on the ass on the run but that’s the game we play and I knew that as I went for it. It shows promise and progression for the year and although my run still needs serious work the swim and bike are getting there.
It has left me content with my season and now as I write this the day before Ironman Barcelona I feel relaxed and under no pressure. Always I want to race well but it just feels a bit different going into this one. We will find out tomorrow whether that’s a good thing or not!
Thanks as always to everyone that helps and supports. Lisa and the family along with my great sponsors and supporters as well.