Picking up where my last blog left off, the last week of May and June up until now has been very busy, with races every weekend and some mid week races too. It’s been a tiring month but the end of this big block of racing is now in sight. This blog is a brief (compared so some of my race reports!) report of all 11 races I have done since my last blog. Enjoy!
May 24th – Overst League Plungar 35 mile cycling race
I went into this race feeling a bit fatigued from the last weekend’s racing (Nottingham Sprint Tri on Saturday (4th Overall) and the Uni of Nottingham GP on sunday (4th) so was just hoping to get round, stay safe and maybe have a go in the sprint. I was pretty much at the back for the whole race and couldn’t really move up at all coming into the finish but managed to weasel my way through to finish around 12th I think, not a bad result and I was glad to finish safely with some big races to come!
May 27th – British Sprint Triathlon Championships, Strathclyde – 2018 ETU Qualifier
Having travelled up to Strathclyde on Friday afternoon and had a quick look around the race venue it looked to be a good course for strong cyclists as there were a few hills on every lap and the run was fairly flat. Come race day and the weather was looking good, if not a little warm. On arriving at the race venue there was already a long queue for registration and it was growing fast! It took about 30 mins to register and by the time I’d managed to register the queue had stretched the whole way around the car park… not great! The delays in registration meant all waves were delayed but they didn’t tell us by how much…
Transition sorted and everything ready meant it was just a waiting game to see when we would be able to race! I got my Zone3 Vanquish suit on when there was what we thought was about 15mins until the start and they called us across next to the pontoon. They then told us there would be at least a 20min delay until the start – already getting a bit too warm wrapped in neoprene in the now baking hot, this wasn’t ideal. Luckily they eventually agreed to let us go into the lake to cool down.
A few more delays later and we were eventually ready to start. The swim was a 2-lap, 750m swim with the first turn buoy about 100m from the start – this was going to be chaos! As soon as the horn went I sprinted to try and get a good position for the first buoy and ended up on the inside of a couple of others just off the back of the front group. The rest of the swim was fairly uneventful and I managed to push on in the second lap to catch the front group and come out of the water in 8th place in the wave.
Through transition and onto the 4-lap, 20km bike course and I knew if I was going to get a result today I was going to have to work hard. I soon overtook a few competitors in the first lap but onto the rest of the laps it was hard to tell who was a lap behind and who was ahead. I could see I was biking away from a few guys that I knew were in my age cat as the course was an out and back, and with half a lap to go I caught the current race leader. The rest of the way back to transition 4 of us were all within about 100m of each other with one just up the road a tiny bit. I came off the bike into T2 in second overall and ran out onto the 2 lap, out & back 5km run in 4th place close behind 2nd & 3rd. This was as close as I got as those ahead were soon running away from me 😦 All of us were in the 20-24AG so I knew that hopes of a podium and a British Triathlon medal were now out of the picture, but I just kept pushing and was happy to eventually cross the line to finish 5th M20-24 and 9th overall.
I was initially pretty disappointed to miss out on the podium but I had a fairly good race with plenty of positives, especially as I have tended to be less competitive at sprint distance races in the past, and another top 10 overall was a good result. A few days later I found that the result had qualified me for the 2018 European Sprint Distance Champs which is to be held at the same venue in Strathclyde – the long journey was worth it!
June 4th – Deva Standard Distance Triathlon – 2017 ITU Qualifier
This years version of the Deva standard distance triathlon was my 4th consecutive year racing in Chester – a testament to how well organised the race is! I’m happy to say this year was no exception and Chester Tri put on another great event. This year had about twice as many people as last year’s race due to the fact it was a qualifier for World Champs later this year in Rotterdam. Emily had already pre-qualified as a result of being British Champion, so I had to make sure I qualify so we can both go!
We travelled across to Chester on race morning, about a 2hr journey on nice quiet roads at 4am. It was looking like it would be a nice day weather wise with the sun coming up as we got close to Chester, with a small breeze hopefully making fast conditions. Soon enough we’d registered, racked and set up transitions and were down at the start ready to jump in and race.
A short warm up swim in the river later and we were off, the first 850m of the swim being upstream where we spun round and did the remaining 650m downstream. I’d got a bit out of position at the start and couldn’t get across into the front group. However, as we turned at the 850m mark I broke away from the chase group and by the time we got the exit ramp I was on the feet of the front group.
An uphill run to transition later, wetsuit off and helmet on and I was out onto the single lap, 40km bike course. I knew there were a few people ahead of me so I pushed on straight away, passing a few and I could see a couple more up the road, including the 20-24 leader. I was holding a fairly constant distance to him and soon we had passed everyone else, meaning I was into 2nd overall. This stayed the same for the rest of the bike and I was back into transition with a bike time of 58.47, a PB for me over the distance! Just the 10km run to go…
My legs were a bit sleepy heading onto the run and the first lap was fairly slow and I was overtaken by one other competitor. However, I managed to pick it up a bit and with the support from Emily’s family who had come to spectate I had a great negative split over the 3 lap 10km. I held my position and crossed the line in 3rd place in a time of 1.58.31, a standard distance tri PB for me. Now I just had to wait around and see who finished where in the next wave. Unfortunately two competitors managed to beat my time so I ended up in 5th overall and 2nd M20-24, qualifying for World Champs! Job done 😀 I even got some High5 goodies for my age-group placing 😛
June 10th – National Aquathlon Championships, Leeds
Next up was the National Aquathlon Champs in Leeds, a race that Emily and I had entered fairly last minute and not really expecting too much other than a good training session and some race prep. It was a pretty damp day which was going to make the partially off-road run interesting! A quick summary: the 750m swim went reasonably well in 10.16, the long, uphill run to transition wasn’t very fun and the 2-lap 5km run was a bit too hilly for my liking – my quads ended up hurting more post race than after some cycling races… When results were posted I finished 6th overall and 5th M20-24… work to be done but a good training session.
June 14th – Lincoln Aquathlon Series Round 2
A few days after Leeds we raced at the Lincoln Aquathlon series, an 800m open-water swim and 3km run. I came out of the swim in 4th, exited transition in 3rd and finished 2nd overall, swimming ~30s faster than last year’s attempts at the race and beating my overall times from last year – another good training session. Emily and I both finished 2nd overall so got some new door-wedges for our house 😛 Thanks to Deltasimons & 100% Swimming for another good event.
June 15th – Alford Wheelers 10m TT
We hadn’t planned to do this and just decided on the morning to go and see how it went, myself having not done a TT for 3 years and Emily having never done one! We were staying at Emily’s parents until after Woodhall Tri the coming Sunday so this TT was only a short drive from us. It was a pretty windy night so not great conditions for it but I managed a time of 22.21, fastest by 45s on the night and a 10m TT PB of over 1.5mins 🙂 Emily set a great time of 29.00! We’re hoping to do a few more TT’s over the summer as they’re good fun and great training for tri’s.
June 18th – Woodhall Spa Sprint Triathlon
This was my second year racing at Woodhall Spa and I was hoping to go a bit better than I had last year, although the baking hot weather might have an influence on that as I don’t tend to deal with heat very well. The 400m swim was in an outdoor pool and I was in the last wave of 5 competitors. I came out of the pool last, but this was expected and through transition I overtook 2 others.
Onto the 24km bike course and I pushed on hard as I knew there were 2 other fast competitors up the road that I’d need to put some time into if I was going to beat them. After about 11km I caught one of these and the current leader of the 20-24AG, so I pushed on to put as much time into him as possible. I could see the other rider up the road but couldn’t put any time into him, so was currently in 2nd place overall.
Just the 5km run left and I was getting pretty warm by now – luckily Emily’s brother and sister had brought their water-guns to spray us with and halfway round the course some kind residents had brought their hosepipes out and were showering competitors to cool them down, very much appreciated!
I looked back a couple of times and could see that 3rd place was closing me down gradually, but thought I could do enough to hold him off. That was until in the last km I started getting a bit dizzy due to the heat, and with only ~200m left he came past me and crossed the line just 5s ahead… damn!
That meant that I’d finished 2nd in the M20-24 AG and 3rd overall, my first overall tri podium of the year. I’d also managed to beat my time from last year by over 3 minutes, a great improvement. The result also meant that I’d won the M20-24 midlands sprint series (Southwell tri, Nottingham tri & Woodhall Spa tri) and also won the series overall, another one of my season’s aims ticked off.
After getting back to Emily’s parents’ house and having some food we headed to the beach to make the most of the lovely hot weather!
June 21st – VBCC Thoroton 3/4 40mile cycling race
My first cycling race for a month and as with the last one at Plungar, I went into it pretty fatigued and with no expectations. I stayed in the bunch for the whole race, moving to the front a couple of times but my legs just felt flat as expected. Coming into the sprint to the line I moved up a few places but then someone decided to wipe out in front of me… I managed to avoid him, as did everyone else luckily with some doing some impressive cyclocross on the verge, but it meant we were now far too far back and we just rolled over the line. All in all a good training session to flush the legs out ready for another upcoming weekend of racing!
June 25th – Cholmondeley Castle Standard Triathlon
I’d been looking forward to racing at Cholmondeley Castle for a while now as it was to be my first Castle Series race and I’d heard great things about them! It was a damp morning and as we were racking our bikes it started to rain – it didn’t stop until we were packing the car away post race!
We got our Zone3 Vanquish wetsuits on fairly early to try and keep warm and had our High5 X’treme gels about 15mins before race start. The swim was in a pretty murky and muddy lake with shin deep silt to stand in at the start – lovely! It was a 2-lap, 1500m swim with a long ‘aussie-exit’ (~150m run) to start the second lap. Once we were off I thought I’d managed to get into the front group but unfortunately the guy who’s feet I was on had drifted back off the group slightly and a gap was now opening up… damn! I came around him and tried to bridge across to the front group as we were coming back down the lake to complete lap 1. I think I was about 30s behind going onto lap 2 but I thought they were still within catching distance, so I pushed on for the whole of the second lap, still not quite able to catch them. I came out of the swim in 5th place overall with some work to do on the bike.
A swift-ish transition later and I was onto the 2 lap, 44km rolling bike course. Within about 5km I was up into 3rd place on the road and after about 7km I made the pass to go into 2nd place. I could see one rider behind who was making a bit of ground on me and a few km’s later Tim Lynch came past, who I knew was a strong rider from Deva. I upped the pace a little and stuck (legally: ~15m) behind him before overtaking him as we were heading back into Cholmondeley Park to start the second lap. We stayed pretty close to each other for the rest of the bike, putting over 5mins into 4th place and catching the leader as he was now in sight. Unfortunately with about 4km to go a car passed me way too close and pushed me into a ~8cm deep pothole with a crunch. My front tub went down within about 10m and that was game over, I wasn’t carrying any puncture repair stuff. I was pretty annoyed as I knew that I was easily on for an overall podium finish, but there wasn’t much I could do and I was now getting cold as it was still raining. I walked to the nearest marshall point, with 4th place eventually coming past me (we really did have a big lead!) and after waiting there getting pretty cold for ~15mins I got picked up and taken back to transition.
Getting back there the race organisers said I could continue the race if I wanted to so I went into transition, racked my bike, got my run shoes on and headed out onto the 2-lap, 10km run. My legs had got pretty cold and tight standing around, so they took most of the first lap to loosen up and by the finish they were pretty achey. I managed to get the 7th fastest run split of the day to still finish in 20th overall… Looking at the results and I’m fairly certain that I would have been on the overall podium had I not had the puncture. Very annoying to miss out like that but there was nothing I could do and I’ll just have to put the frustration to use in training and my next race. Overall the race at Cholmondeley Castle was a great event (even if Emily and I both had bad races) and Castle Series do seem to organise it pretty well – hopefully I can come back next year and do a little better 🙂
June 27th – Harvey Hadden 3/4 Cycling Race
I wasn’t planning on racing this but my legs didn’t feel too bad on the day so Emily and I cycled to Harvey Hadden and I entered on the line along with about 25 others. The race was 20 laps and got off to a fairly fast start with a few attacks straight from the line. A couple of riders got away and nearly lapped the bunch and another rider got off solo to take 3rd place. I did quite a bit of work in the race, attacking several times but none of these came to anything annoyingly. I think I need to focus my efforts on one or two bigger attacks and need to learn when’s best to attack! I got a bit out of position coming round the final hairpin leaving myself a bit too much work to do to get into the top 10 but sprinted to 12th place. Hopefully this wouldn’t have hurt my legs too much for tomorrow’s race at Plungar!
June 28th – Overst League Plungar 35 mile cycling race
My 3rd race in 4 days and my legs were feeling a little bit tired but I went into the race as with the last few road races just hoping to get round safely. It was rubbish conditions for racing with spitting rain and some gusty winds so we’d all have to be alert to ensure it would be a safe race. It took me a couple of laps sitting close to the back to get warmed up but midway round the 3rd lap (of 5) I moved up towards the front just as 3 riders had attacked off the front, including one team mate from Beeston CC. I then rolled to the front and as we went onto the 4th lap a couple of riders attacked and I got straight onto their wheels. I looked back to make sure I wasn’t dragging the bunch along and there was a group of 6 others on my wheel, not too many! I pushed on and we started working together to catch the 3 riders in front. Unfortunately one of these riders wiped out on a tight corner and soon we had all come together as a group of 10 at the front of the race.
Soon we started working well, chaingang’ing for the next 1.5laps or so and putting over a minute into the main bunch. It then started to break up a little with about 4km to go with a few riders missing turns and thinking about the finish. In hindsight I probably should have attacked at this point and tried to TT to the finish, but I sat in the wheels and coming up the hill to the finish I managed to sprint past a couple of riders and bagged 6th place on the line. A good result and a few more points on a night that I would have been happy to just get round! I was also pleased that I managed to have the legs to get in the break and work hard to keep us away from the chasing main bunch. It was some great experience and I’m looking forward to my next cycling races already 🙂
Next month’s plans:
So, that’s all caught up to date with my many races from the last month! We have one race left in this big block of racing before Emily and I have a small break and some time for relaxing and planning the rest of our season! My plans are as follows:
July 1st – National Standard Distance Triathlon Champs, Ripon
Break for recovery!
July 19th – VBCC Thoroton 3/4 40mile cycling race
July 23rd – Castle Howard Standard Distance Triathlon
July 26th – Overst League Plungar 3/4 35 mile cycling race
After this we don’t have any more races planned until Rotterdam in mid-September, but we’ll look to fit in a few local triathlons and other races as and when we can in August to ensure we’re in the best shape possible come World Champs 😀
Thank you to all of our sponsors for keeping us going in this busy block of racing and to all of you reading this and on our social media platforms for your support and encouragement – it really is appreciated.
That’s all for now, thank you for reading and happy racing/training 😀