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I had my normal anxiousness leading into the race, but it was more under control this time. Coach Rich gave me the plan to execute and I focused on that. I’d like to get the plan earlier next time and I’ll talk to Rich about it because it gives me something to focus on and helps me to not worry about all the other "noise”.
After talking with Rich about the plan, I was sure that the swim and bike would be fine, but I really wasn’t sure about the run leg for two reasons:
Because I know my run is the weakest part of my race and it’s a reason I started with T:Zero, I really focused on the run leg in the few days before the race.
I travelled to Goondiwindi the day before and had some anxious moments around my race wheels but got it sorted around 3pm when I hired a back wheel for the race from TLR. It was a big relief on the day and felt a weight lift as soon as I sorted it out.
I actually had one of my better sleeps the night before. I woke a few times, but managed to get some good sleep as well which is unusual for me. I had my oats for breakfast and also managed to meditate for ten minutes. I’ve been using Headspace (a meditation app) and they have a sports and motivation series. I chose the concentration meditation which was really good as it touched on a few things that Grant Giles had talked about at the T:Zero Alpine Training Camp (reserve your place for the 2020 camp).
Bike racking and getting down to the river was all super smooth and sorted. I felt ready to race.
Swim - 41:30
The basic plan for the swim was to control my breathing throughout the race, start slowly and steadily progress to RPE8 (perceived exertion) and try and find feet on the way back in the current.
That 41:30 was from my watch, the official time was 43:57 which included the several hundred metre run up to transition. I was very happy with my swim. I felt like I was in control the whole way and I was happy with my breathing. I was passing people including in the previous wave and also had a few surges to catch up to a group in front so I wasn’t swimming alone. I started slow and worked my way into it. It obviously wasn’t super fast, but it was a good time for me and compared to other races and more importantly I felt strong and ready to go on the bike at the end.
Overall, it felt easy. A couple of key things I concentrated on were head down and smooth breathing cycle.
T1 - 1:57
Easily my best transition. I had some thoughts prior to race about transition and wanted to get in and out. I felt like I did that well and jumped on the bike. My best transition in a race, easily.
Bike - 2:23:50
That time was from my computer. My official time was 2:25:59. I’m not sure why the discrepancy but I’m using the data from the computer for now (plus it’s quicker…).
My plan for the bike was to have slow progression build up. 1-10km at 73%, 10-40km at 76%, 40-60km at 80% and 60-80km at 83% (if feeling good).
1-10km – Aimed to average 204 watts and I averaged 188 watts. I was very conscious of taking it easy here because it really isn’t something I’ve ever done! It wasn’t easy to get passed and not something I’m used to on the bike (mainly because where I come out in the swim, but also I’m not hopeless on the bike), but I just let people go and got head down and really controlled my breathing and heart rate (HR). I used some breathing techniques and tried to concentrate on what I was doing, not on what others were doing.
10-40km – Aimed to average 212 watts and I averaged 198 watts. This period was a little harder for me, because I felt like I could be going a bit quicker and it was a longer period. The road wasn’t easy and there were a lot of bottles and holes etc. I had to concentrate and that probably helped to keep my mind occupied. I was happy with HR at 138 here and was in control.
40-60km – Aimed to average 224 watts and I averaged 221 watts. This was a good period for me, as I was really starting to go past people and felt like I was riding like I normally do in a race. My HR was also good at 143 and again felt like I was in control and going well.
60-80km – Here I could increase to 232 watts and averaged 226 watts. I really passed a lot of people in this period. I know it’s not about others in the race, but it’s a real aspect of triathlon I look forward to because it’s one of the only areas where I’m passing people and looking strong. I’m as vain as the next guy and it’s the only time I feel like I’m any good in this sport. It was certainly a good period for me and I felt in control.
Overall, I was happy with bike and I felt like I executed the plan well (although I could have gone a little harder according to above numbers). I went into T2 feeling really good about running. Although again, looking at the time after the race I wouldn’t say I was happy. I thought I should have been faster…
T2 - 3:03
Again, this transition time was pretty good for me (maybe a touch slow). I had to put socks on but still, I need to improve this.
Run - 1:58:54
The above time is from my watch. My official time was 2:01. I’m using my watch because dammit I want to see a sub-2!
This was where my race started. My focus was on getting this run right. My plan was to hold 6 min/km for the first 10km and then if feeling good go faster; if not then hold that pace until the end.
I did my first kilometre in 5:15 and the second in 5:29. As I was running I was desperately trying to slow down; I knew what was happening, but I just couldn’t. At the second aid station I stopped and took a gel, and really got water in; not because I had to but because I wanted to reset and get my run on pace. This worked, and I then got into rhythm and a slower pace. Every time I looked at my watch I was doing 5:45 or 5:50, but I was feeling good so I didn’t worry too much at all.
I got through the first 10km feeling good and was happy to try and increase my pace. Looking at my watch I was doing 5:30s and sometimes quicker. It wasn’t easy, but that first 5km I really concentrated on being bored and just lifting my feet – two things I’ve been practicing for a while. My HR increased after the 10km mark, and when I hit the 15km mark I wasn’t sure I could hold that pace.
The last 5km I was pushing to hold pace and doing things like trying to run with people who were passing and also trying to catch up to others in front of me. This worked well and even though these people were on different laps and had nothing to do with me, it was a good feeling to pass people. I used that a lot through this section of the race. It’s the only run where I’ve passed people and I don’t mind telling you I felt good doing it and it helped me to hold that last 5km.
It was getting hot on the last lap, but I’d say that overall the heat really wasn’t a factor all day. It was fairly mild compared to what we were expecting. I wouldn’t have wanted to do another lap though as it was heating up quickly.
I don’t think I could have run much quicker, so I’m happy with that part of the plan. It’s easily my best run in a race and averaging 5:50 minutes per kilometre was easily my best in a race. I was happy. However, when I stopped and saw 1:58 I was a bit shattered. As I was running 5:30s and faster, I thought during the race that I was going to go close to a 1:55. I know it’s only a couple of minutes, but still.
I was happy with this and gave it some thought before the race because of the predicted conditions.
I ate a normal breakfast, although I would have like a little more water while waiting for the race to start. I used the first 10km of the bike to relax and get my heart rate under control, took a little Infinit and a little water. Every 10km I made sure I had my Infinit and water. At the 40km mark I took 3 Clif chews and also more chews at 60km. I finished my Infinit at the end of bike and also finished the water. I also had one canister of salt tablets on the bike.
On the run, I used the new Maurten gels. I was really happy with these. They had no flavour and sat well in my stomach. I took gels at 2km, 5km, 10km and 15km and also had another canister of salt tablets through the run. It was the first race where I’ve taken all my salt tablets and I’m sure it helped. I made sure I had one whole cup of water at each aid station and started drinking a cup of coke as well from the 12km mark.
It was my best race nutrition-wise and I’m sure this was a factor in my run. Happy with that.
Overall - 5:11:35
I’m not joking but I wasn’t happy with my time. It shocked me in the finishers tent when AK told me. I felt like I had executed my race plan really well and it didn’t quite match up in times.
I know what Rich will say, so I’ll just say that I’m happy that I followed my race plan closely. I’m happy that I executed my nutrition plan. And I’m seriously happy that I actually ran the 20km and felt solid doing it, with a sub-2hr time. I feel like now I’ve run out a race, it’s a baseline that I can start to improve on.
I also did this race at 100kg which is the lightest I’ve been in a race. I’ve lost 13kg since starting with Rich and have made good progress in the last two months. If I can keep that same progress I’d love to be doing Port Macquarie at 90kg.
The other thing I am happy about is nailing the two main goals Rich gave me for the race:
I didn’t have anything affect me either way during the race, and let things go well. The meditation I’ve been doing and breathing exercises helped and I used those breathing techniques several times during the race. At one point just after the 10km in the run, I actually ran for a while with my eyes closed and deep breathing. All my judgements came after the race…
When there was any pain, I really leaned into it and concentrated on it. When I was uncomfortable on the seat at stages during the bike I just thought that it was good because I was in an aero position (for me) and it was a good thing. It really worked and soon wasn’t a factor. My last 5km I was struggling to hold pace, so I looked at external things I could use like catching others or running with people who had passed me. It gave me something to concentrate on other than how I was feeling. I also looked out for others, something I do in every race to keep out of my head. Looking for AK and Pete, also Ash and Mick and another guy that was running in a T:Zero hat who I’d never met. This helped me to think about someone else and not me.
Overall, I was happy with HOTW and I can definitely use some of these learnings in Port Macquarie, as well as take a little bit of confidence out of it.
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