Outlaw Half 2018 – 1st triathlon of the year!

It was a great race for early season and reflective of the hard work and new coaching over the past few months.

 

Since my bike crash last year there have been ups and downs in the recovery process and lots of appointments to get a diagnosis and some treatment. But am on the mend despite some challenges remaining when I do tough swim sessions – but we push on.

Other news is that from December 2017 I took on a new coach (Mark Livesey, Xhale #bricksession podcast) to help me prep for my ‘A Race’ for 2018, which is Ironman Kalmar in August. Mark is a sub-9hr Kalmar Ironman so no one better to talk from experience in prep for this event.

Since the start of the coaching it’s been on a new level of difficulty and to begin with didn’t think I could stick with the intensity of some of the session. As a scientist sometimes you need to switch of the analytical brain and just run with the process. 

The last 5-6 months have been intense and I have had some of the best sessions ever in my triathlon training. The biggest challenges have been on the bike and sticking with it has been tough but the results speak for themselves in what you can push though in sessions. 

So as per usual the outlaw half is the pre-season warn up for me as other years and it was a case of lets see how far we have come and hoping for no mechanicals as I had in 2017. 

RACE DAY

A real early start was on the cards for Sunday morning as I managed to scrape into the elite wave so it was a 6.10am start. So I planned my time based on the other years to get to the event and to give about 45 mins warp-up. So up and rise at 4am for a pre-race breakfast then to make race for 5.10-5.15. However, we got stuck in queue of cars for over 10mins at the turn in to the national water sports centre so it was rush about time as there is a walk from parking to the event and bike racking. 

Just about managed to get bike set up and wetsuit on and it was time to rush over to the water with little time pre-race start and no warm-up. 

Figure 1. Not the best swim

Figure 1. Not the best swim

Swim was not great in-fact 3 mins slower (32min 42secs) than my 2017 time, despite some great pool work over the last few weeks. Maybe the lack of warm-up, not sure; but was pretty unhappy about the swim. Once out of the water and into transition the woes continued with my visor shooting of the helmet before I could exit transition loosing me a bit more time. All-in-all I think the swim plus T1 lost me a potential 5-6mins of what where my  pre-race goal times. 

I had to just stick this to the back of my mind, relax and just concentrate on the controllable (aka the bike and run). 

BIKE

I know the course quite well and was ready for a solid bike with new found strength from all the new bike session and was aiming at 240-250w over the course. I had no idea what this would give me time wise but that was the effort I was going to put in to leave me with some legs for a strong run. 

Figure 2. Pulling back time from the swim with a solid bike

Figure 2. Pulling back time from the swim with a solid bike

I took a few more risks in the race nutrition this year with less hydration during the bike but still a good intake of carbs. As anyone who knows the finish to the outlaw half is hideous with gravel, speed bumps and pothole track making for a bike accident waiting to happen. Luckily no casualty for me but it does impact your overall time. However, looking at the power file post race I managed to keep effort up over this section. 

The only downside of the bike was drafting. I had a guy hanging off the back of me and one other rider the whole way around the course. We where in TT position and I would look back and he was sitting up drafting the shit out of us. This is so frustrating as there was nothing you can do to really stop this – you can say “get the F*~k off me,” but if they keep at it and marshals won’t intervene then that’s the way it goes.

Figure 3. Data showing well paced bike power

Figure 3. Data showing well paced bike power

Despite this frustration I had a strong bike at 2hrs 26mins 45seconds and despite hitting 250w np (240w average) – I felt pretty strong and ready for the run. 

THE RUN

Quick T2 and out onto the run. I had 4 gels with me, and fluids are of easy access on the course. The aim was a Gel every 20Mins and fluids when I can.  The goal for the day was circa 3.55min/km and I would try to stick to that best I could. I was pretty much on track and felt good but by second lap a lot of AGs where now on the course and this slowed down passing as the pathways around the course other than the lap around the lake are pretty tight. 

Figure 4. Onto the run and holding onto a good pace

Figure 4. Onto the run and holding onto a good pace

One thing I noticed was my trisuit…I have always used a race number holder that I can Velcro onto the back of my trisuit for many years to reduce the drag you get from then if not flat against your body (i.e. resulting in lost time). I had placed the rough Velcro on the race number and soft on my suit and it should have been vice versa (brain fart).

Figure 5. An expensive mistake when you put the rough velcro on the wrong way around ;-)

Figure 5. An expensive mistake when you put the rough velcro on the wrong way around 😉

I looked down at end of 1st lap as my number had started to slip to the side of me and notice 2 big rips in the front of my suit. With running the Velcro had shredded my race suit and any second the old meat and 2 veg could have been waving to the crowd if the rips got any higher. You just got to laugh – I pushed the race number down a bit to proven that and importantly to hide any accidents ha.

Figure 6. Nice effort on the run

Figure 6. Nice effort on the run

 

Needless to say I survived the run with a 1hr 23min 21sec half marathon. 

SUMMARY

It was a great race for early season and reflective of the hard work and new coaching over the past few months. My overall time was 4hr 28min 49secs, which was a new PB on the course and given the poor swim I am getting closer to breaking the 4hr 20min mark, which is need to guarantee the AG win and get into the top 10. 

Figure 7. That finish line feeling (no mechanicals ye me)

Figure 7. That finish line feeling (no mechanicals ye me)

 

The swim for sure hurt my race and lost me the AG win by less than 2 mins but I was happy with the performance and a top 20 finish. 

Next stop in 3 weeks is IM 70.3 Switzerland so will be aiming to sort the swim out on route for the main race of the year in August. 

I hope you guys are having a great start to the season and remember consistency build results. 

Barcelona Marathon 2017 – 1st race of the Season

It was looking like it was going to be a cool day, which in my book is a good day.

 

I had ran the Barcelona marathon a few times before, with the last being in 2014 so knew it can always be a challenging event due to the heat. However, it’s the luck of the draw on how hot the event could be. It was looking like it was going to be a cool day, which in my book is a good day.

Pre-Race

We stayed about 1.5km away from the race start (Hotel Universal Barcelona), which is a great position as it means race morning you get a sleep in – if you can sleep. It also means if you have a bad race not to far to hobble into bed!

I set the alarm for a 6.30am race morning wake up to get in some carbs and giving me to get ready, walk up to race start and warm-up. I also always get my kit fully ready the night before (see Fig.1) as this allows me to not have to worry about anything on the morning other than getting food in and getting to start line fully warmed up.

kit out

Figure 1. Everything I need for race day.

I had a few issues over the months pre-race such as a calf strain, which kept me out for a week and another chest infection (antibiotics again). However, come race day I was injury and sickness free. My only concern was the lack of distance runs (30-33km) at race pace but given I am training for triathlon and there is only so much running you can do without destroying your bike and swim session.

Pre-race warm up done… I felt great and ready to attack the course (See Fig.2). I made no new changes to the pre-race diet and looked to take on 60-70g/Hr carbs, a gram Sodium and 100-150mg caffeine (I take also 3-4mg/kg 45-60mins pre-race). Simple but works for me.

pre-reace wam up

Figure 2. Ready to attack post warm up.

The Race

After getting a little panic on because I could not initially find the race entrance to the section containing the sub-3 runners, I eventually managed to get into position.

I had done a few fitness (form) tests a 2 weeks out and after a chat with the coach Garry (SportsTest.co.uk) the target range was 2.45 – 2.52. I decided pre-race to take the risk and go out hard over the 1st 20k and try to hold on. This was always going to be a do or die effort but its early season and not much to loose.

The course profile is in general undulating but as Figure 2 shows the first half has some gnarly little climbs with a few lasting 1-1.5km. But given much of the rest of the course (other than last 2km) are a lot flatter and the early morning (its 8.30am race start) temp is cooler I wanted to work a little harder early on.

TP analysis

Figure 3. Training Peaks view of HR pace and cadence over the marathon.

 

I managed to position myself at the race start about 12 deep away from the 2hr 45min pace runner. There was a lot of bunching over the 1ST km resulting in a fare few acceleration and decelerations to keep the pace maker in site. If I was to run again I would have made it into the start pen maybe 10mins (rather than 5) pre-start so I could get a lot closer to the front of the race – would have made the race start a lot less stressful.

My heart rate (post race analysis) was no doubt to high and for most of the 1st half of the race it was above 160bpm. I should not of let it get above 158bpm (my max for marathon) but I was laying it all out to try to get a 2.45. By the half marathon point I was at 1hr 23mins, so pretty good and felt quite strong feeling like I would be able to lift it a little or at least maintain in the second half. However, 1.45-55mins in I started to feel the pace and come 30k (I hit 30k in 2hrs ‘2.48 marathon pace’) in I knew I would have to start to ease off if I wanted to make it to the end with a respectable if not a PB. So I pulled back on the pace to get hr down to 157bpm, but was unsure how much damage had been done or what shape I would be in come the end. Whatever was to happen I had to keep on top of the nutrition (fluids, gels, sodium) and keep the cadence going.

during race

Figure 4. Hitting 30k into the race.

I tried to maintain my pace the best I could and like us all there comes a point in the marathon where the mental games kick in. Thoughts like ‘I could just walk now,’ ‘I am not going to break 2.45 why not take it easy,’ – All of these you just have to try to push to the back of your mind and convince yourself its good training, its early season, it’s a c-race but I want to finish strong.

By the time the up-hill drag of the last 2k came I was already hanging on but not 100% dying. The clock was ticking but I was reduced to a little over 5.05min/km pace and was happy to see the finish line in sight.

Finish

Figure 5. The finish line – Just a few 100m!

I crossed the line and finished in 2hr 55min 47s. Not my best marathon but for early season and focus on Ironman and knowing the risk of a too hard effort at the start of the race I was ok with the time. Out of the 16,346 runners I placed 317th, with an average pace of 4.10min/km (6.40is min/mile). That gets me in the top 2% of all runners.

medal and number

Figure 6. The spoils of war another medal and used race number.

 

POST-Race

I believe post race nutrition and recovery are very important and its something many almost forget about post-race other than having a shower, a slice of pizza and a beer. That’s great, but for me I want to be back to Ironman training ASAP. That means correct nutrition (quality protein and carbs post race, hydration 1.5lts/kg of bodyweight loss), ice bath, Stretching and compression tights. Of course on top of that a beer and pizza 😉

The next morning after a great nights sleep and a 20min recovery spin on the hotel stationary bike we (wife and I) went to a great place called “Brunch & Cake” near the seafront in Barcelona. They do some fantastic meals and I picked up some protein porridge + treats for breakfast (See Figure 7).

post race Brunch & Cake

Figure 6. Brunch & Cake…yum yum!

I would recommend this place to anyone if they are in Barcelona and looking for a great healthy lunch or early breakfast. Another recovery meal in the bag and the path to recovery has started.

Here is to a great 2017!