It’s been a while since I have posted and like everyone work and life catches up with free time. However, after a nudge from a colleague who used a review to help prep for an event I realised there are some benefits in the written word as many move to video based reviews.
I am going to upload all the events done on the blog and times and try to get a brief review on each but today will talk about my latest even with was 70.3 Poznan.
Cutting down the distance!
My goal since getting into triathlon was 2 fold – sub 9 hour Ironman and /or making Kona by right (so not roll down but top 3 in AG race). I will upload about my last attempt at this at IM California 2022. To note the big issue in getting fast for the FULL Ironman means being able to find a big block to put away 150-200mile bike weeks for at least a month. For me with my currently personal and business commitments I simply don’t have that time. However, I do have the time to build the endurance needed for 70.3.
As such a focus for 2023 was to get in 70.3 shape and qualify for the worlds in 2024.
Running into 2023
After a few easy weeks post IM California (see blog on Cali + Covid) I wanted to start doing something so running was what I always enjoyed and to get my head back in the Endurance game some early season half marathon focus seemed to be a good direction. I signed up for a few races the ‘Brass Monkey’ in Yorkshire and my now local Cambridgeshire half.
I am and have been (as you will see when I update the last few comps) working with coach Mark Pearce from Intelligent Triathlon training and we have built a great relationship over the past few years. As an oldie it takes time to lear how best to work with a coach and importantly for them to understand how your body reacts with the time available and mindset. We put a lot of eggs into the Cali basket so this reset was really a toe in the water to see if I could get my head back into anything competitive.
Skip forwards a few months and I picked up in part sciatic pain and also piriformis syndrome (PS) which creates some issue with being able to push off in my case the left leg. The PS creates a numb feeling when it comes on and pretty much nothing you can do. But it was manageable and training went great. However, during both halfs it kicked off and I struggles to get down to 80mins, when on much less run specific training I was into the 1.17 halfs at Cambridgeshire just a year later. Despite no pay off we would push on with the some early season goals of the Graffman Middle distance triathlon and then the Outlaw holman.
Early season racing
The Grafman middle distance triathlon in June was the 1st foot back in the water and the results were not to bad despite a flat tyre and loosing 8-10mins on the bike. I ended up with a 4.37 but of that was a 30min:39sec swim, 2hr:33min bike and 1hr:28min run. Suggesting without the flat it would have been a pretty good race. Next up was Outlaw holkham which this year was national chaps. In 2022 I was 3rd in my AG so knew the course so was hoping for a OK race. The result was a 4:33:22 (32min swim, 2:25bike, 1.31run). Not a great day with 7th in AG but I would say a day with no drama but also no fireworks. Just felt a bit flat but it was another in the bank and a good block of training so time to step it up for next race 70.3 Poznan.
Poland here we come!
Although I have done 9 Ironman and many marathons and a lot of half marathons I have done in the scheme of things very few 70.3s outside of those in the UK. They have really just been used as training for IM full with the exception being 2 events in Samorin (Challenge Champs), 70.3 Swiz, and a half Challenge Salou. So I was looking forwards to the race and was in good shape in fact the lights I had been (68/69kg) and was injury free with even the back and the glute issues going into hiding.
We had a great build going into the race but on the week going out I had picked up some bug and had spent a few days with gut and poop issue. However, 3 days before we went out it had got out my system so really just needed to re-feed.
We where flying out of the UK the day before registration and we had a 3hr flight delay the result was we had no pre-paid car to pick up when we arrived as the rental office had closed. So we had to find a cab and we were lucky and ended up with a great driver. We had a great hotel (Saint Martin Residence by Y3 Hotels) that was pretty close to the centre but also just a walk away from registration. Despite not getting to the hotel until after 1pm and a mega day of travel we had arrived, and as we all want the bike was undamaged but would need to put it together in after registration and some work (Even this like many races are tagged onto what are business trips covering food law and regulations).
After registration at the expo centre in Poznan (the same place race finishes) we put the bike together then headed out to bike racking. In hindsight I wish I had put the run bag in straight after registration as after dropping the bike which was totally different place (some 30mins drive) we had then to come back to drop the run bag.
So after you arrive at the checkin just on the outskirts (yes you need a hire car in my view and makes race morning also much less stressful) there is a massive transition. With the exception of IM Mallorca this maybe the longest transition I have seen and all uphill when you get out of the swim (see pics above – That shows about a 3rd of the transition distance)
Race morning was all good as start was about 9ish and we had already considered the route the day before. In essence you cannot pack in the same car park on the day of the event, which is some sort of outdoor hotel place. However, if you stop just a few hundred meters from the race start entrance you can park up on the side of the road. It’s pretty busy but enough spaces provided you get there say 30mins before your bike access closes.
At the venue there are facilities for coffee, good space for warm-up and toilets. There was also an 5i50 (1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run) event that set off before the 70.3 so gave a good view of swim route. Suggest bringing something to sit on and a some drinks etc as you’re sitting around with not many seats before race start. If it was a rainy day would have been a tough start so consider something warm and umbrella etc if its forecast rain (for us weather was perfect).
So I had racked and was ready. I had some gut problems again so had taken on little food on race morning but was here in Poznan so decided to roll the dice hoping gut issues that had been with me the week or so running into the race would go.
The swim was supposed to be by AG and self selected but it ended up being a free for all with groups in 6-8 getting released into the water. This was my 1st mistake of the day and I wish I had got into the start pen a good 5-10mins earlier but hey maybe they told everyone this in the race briefing which I did not attend due to the hectic pre-race drama.
Into the water and we were off. Felt pretty good and was hoping for a 30min swim but as always I never know how it’s going to be despite pool times saying I should be swimming 27mins easy. However, after my 30min swim at Grafman half a few months earlier I thought it would be a good one. Lots of bodies to pass due to late getting in the water but was pretty easy to sight and felt good all throughout the swim.
Out of the water was another 32min swim which I guess is just what it is but was ok with it as was no great swim but also no disaster. Off to the mega transition to grab the bike. I grabbed the bike and off out of transition. A tip here is don’t try to jump on the bike until you get past and just around the corner of the bike exit inflatable. Many tried on the bank up or on as soon at the inflatable and they were all over the place. Just after the inflatable was a mini downhill so you could get on the bike freewheel down and slip the feet into the shoes when ready.
Swim split: 32min (7th AG)
I was back from the main guys because of the dumb late start to the swim so had to work hard for 1st 15-20mins to get towards any riders close to exceeding 40kph on the bike. However, the roads were pretty good and by 20-30mins in much of the riding was solo and there was a good presence of draft busting motos. So where any mini-packs had appeared the moto did a great job of stopping the cheating draft packs.
By 40mins in I was settled and the gut issues had gone so finally managed to get a gel into me and some fluids. Watching the speed and 225/230w was keeping me above 40kph and was below 240w I was aiming for for the race so decided to hold at this and only push if below 40kph with the aim of saving a little more for the run knowing my feeling pre and early race was not optimal.
The rest of the bike was uneventful and I was feeling strong towards the end. I had for note made some changes before this race to bike set-up which included altered cockpit and also a bottle down the front of the tri-suit. I will say take care with the bottle. If the bottle is to large or you push to close to the front of the suit its worse aerodynamically from what I found in testing. I believe if it pulls open the front of the trisuit it turns it into a parachute. All in all the changes gave about 10-12w which is a big saving in what you need to put out to maintain the same speed.
Bike split: 2hr 12min (3rd AG)
All about the run!
As they say bike for show and run for dough..Well coming into T2 I could not find the bike must have burnt at least 90s here. I asked officials but zero help so in the end I just stuck it on a rail and then they decided to help by telling me not there. Eventually, I found it but was fuming at myself for such a school boy error. I had looked at where the bike was and even take a photo when I put in but just had a complete blank when I entered T2. I guess these things happen.
So out I shot fuming at wasted time. However, my run legs had shown up and I quickly settled into pace and after 1st lap the wife told me I was in 4th so I was motivated to keep after it. By the last of the 3 laps I was either 1st or 2nd according to the wife but you never know as people could still to be come in. I tried to push over last lap but felt some cramping kick in so had to hold back as I knew I was under fulled and hydrated and that was a recipe for a walk which can loose you time very quickly. I made it over the line in what looked like 4hrs 20mins a time a thought could win me or at least get me on the podium for AG.
Run Split: 1hr 26min (2nd AG)
QUALIFIED – 70.3 WORLDS
Come the end I walked away with a 4hr 20min overall race. I wasted a good few mins with mistakes and a slow swim so a 4.15 looks like what would be best outcome on a great day so its a nice starting position to come from.
The final result was 2nd overall in my AG no doubt loosing the win with a sloppy transition but I was pretty happy as given the race numbers in my and others groups I was likely top 3 in the AG would be offered a place at the worlds.
We had to come back on the evening to see if we had a spot and like all world chaps you had to be ready to pay. I managed to got the 1st spot on offer for my AG as the guy who had won was a vet of the 70.3 racing and turned down his spot.
It was a great experience and just again gives some great lessons in a sport that you keep learning from (Get in front of swim, ensure you know transitions, fuel, fuel, fuel, and finally don’t try to out pace best training efforts).
This which I think maybe one of the very 1st options for qualifying was really useful as it allows then for a really open next 12 months to plan training, comps and also accommodation. I have a lot of business clients in NZ/AUS and been holding off going for some years so this will make for a great work an holiday trip and most of all to visit my sister who is based in NZ after many years.
Next up is a solid block of winter training with a bike specific focus and try not to put on too many lbs. I normally book in a few very early year half marathons to keep some focus but I need to get some scans done to see what’s going on with my back and glute as its still not 100% and will need to be to break the podium over in NZ. So thanks for taking the time of reading and I hope the blog provides some insight for those of you doing Poznan as it really was a great event especially if you don’t want another draft feast that much of IM events have now become. Have a great xmas and hope to see you on course in 2024