20 Nov – Brecon Beacons Ultra
FAST AND FURIOUS RACE REPORT
Sunday 10 October
5km Run/22km Bike/5km Run
This was the last of my multi-discipline races for 2011. I only decided to enter the race two weeks beforehand and trained right through it (inc a 2hr run after the event), so was just after a solid performance but not expecting much. A friend mentioned Richard Stannard (ITU pro athlete) was turning up, but I thought he was joking until I spotted him in transition on race morning – damn it I thought! He’s going to make the rest of us look silly! At the same time though I relished the chance to race against him and see how close I could get.
The race was broken up into three waves starts. The faster athletes were considered to be in the final wave but there were one or two quick times from the first couple of waves, which made the medal ceremony a little more interesting. I did a little warm-up, before lining up with Stannard and a few others for the start. The race involves a 5km run starting with a small lap of the school field on run1 and finishing with the lap on run2. The rest involves an undulating run around the back of Eynsford. The 22km bike course goes to Sevenoaks and back.
From the off the pace was quite high and I was surprised how bunched up we were. After 1km we started to spread out and I slotted in nicely behind Stannard. There was one guy in front of us who gradually pulled away. I managed to keep to the same pace as Stannard for 3km, despite it feeling a little quick, but then he would put a second or two on me on the inclines, which I couldn’t claw back. By the end of the run he’d entered T1 with a 15:54 split. I followed with a 16:15. The leader did an impressive 15:32 but was in contrast a terrible cyclist and dropped to fourth by the end of the race.
Not a particularly good T1 and to add to that I had to wait 15-20secs for traffic before crossing the road and mounting the bike. Very frustrating. A few of those behind me had caught up so my hard run was almost wasted. I went hard after that to make some ground up on the two leaders. I was overtaken by Malcolm Davies (who looks like he’ll be a decent duathlete in the future as he’s very strong and looks like he has more potential) about 5km into the bike. This helped as I now had someone to pace to and tried hard to keep within 100m of him. By the 11km turnaround I was surprised to see Stannard had already taken the lead and was only about 30secs ahead. We were obviously cycling around the same speed, although I had a better race dynamic. The return 11km was fine. It was still hard work and I expected to tire, but my strength and endurance is very good at the moment and held me to T2.
I saw Stannard running out of T2 as I approached, but not Davies. Another average T2 having to run tentatively in my socks on stony ground (in the future I will use trainers for both run and bike with clipped pedals, as this will save time). I picked the pace up straight away knowing I was running out of time. After 1km I spotted Davies and spent the next 2km gradually reeling him in. He was running strong and I’d been busting all day, so after sitting on him for a few mins I decided to build up a cushion. I went quite hard for 1km and tried to make it look comfortable. Then I had a problem – stomach cramps were developing with just 800m to go and only a 10-15sec lead. Rather than fight through it, I tried to ease back a little and relax. I really didn’t want to lose 2nd so once I arrived at the school ground and 300m to go I picked the pace back up again and managed to finish 7secs ahead. Stannard finished in 1:04:15 (a big course record). I finished almost 2mins back in 1:06:05. Pleased with the race all things considered and if I didn’t have a hold up out of T1 and used trainers with clips I reckon I’d have been close to 1:05. Good to chat to the guys after and it looks like Stannard is working on a come back. I didn’t ask what format and distance.
A little late with this blog as Yve and I headed off for a week in Malta. The last 4-week mesocycle block was quite tough averaging 18-19hrs/week for 4-weeks. I suffered the inevitable crash during the first two days of holiday but I wasn’t really training anyway, so it was good to kick back and relax. The only slight negative on the training block is that I was unable (psychologically unwilling) to go low aerobic and build up the long distances. There have been a lot of sessions in there, but nothing in ultra terms. The longest bike has been 97miles and longest run 2 x 11miles. However, my running pace over medium distances at 73-74% Heart Rate Reserve (147-148bpm) has increased to 7:15/M, and I’ll be looking to build the pace (and distances) to 6:20-6:30/M over the following months. The swim has been tough and I haven’t even swum 3km in a session let alone non-stop! I visited Linda Pymont on the final week with Yve to practise the tricky technique of strapping the shoulder with kinesio tape to reduce chances of impingement which has been an issue in the past whenever I up my swim training. I just need to order some black tape to match the race gear!
A few more races have been confirmed/added to the 2011 calendar. The A-races are now:
5-6 Feb – Double Iron Lanzarote
17 Apr – London Marathon
10 Jul – Challenge Roth
31 Jul – Ironman UK
I have set some high targets for all of these races, but I’ve been seeing some great improvements in my strength and endurance of late (mainly in the running) and if I continue through November to February the same way I have in October then I will be far fitter than in previous years. The main focus of my training for the next block will of course be running, with the Brecon Becons Ultra approaching in November and the London Marathon in April (I am training for a sub2:45). For my swimming, I’ll need to get the sessions up to at least 3km with a weekly total of 13-15km. I have a couple of 150mile bike rides coming up and should have a new training bike by next week to hammer out the miles. I’m probably going to upgrade the Argon bike and sell my new Ceepo (around £2k if someone wants to get in early before xmas?). I’ve also been in talks with a new bike sponsor/team but that’s not confirmed yet. So I may have a couple of completely different bikes next season.