I had been worried about the possible weather all week to the build up to the race, with everyday having flood inducing weather and harsh wind conditions. Race day turned out to be a much brighter affair though, in fact it was a gorgeous morning.
The race start was 9:30am which unusually late for a half distance race was actually very welcomed as it meant a respectable wake up time and plenty of time in the morning to get there and get set up.
As in my previous article, my training has been on the harsh side since and before January. My focus had been to try and accumulate as much fatigue as possible without breaking down, though come race week my legs really didn’t feel as if they could spring out of action or I could take down the world like a typical taper should provide, and I actually ended up pretty much missing the targets of every session race week to try and rest up quickly!
Race morning I felt above average, which was promising but still didn’t have that spring in my step I knew had occurred last year for my build to my first half iron race. Still, the sun was out and I was excited to race at Bala just because I knew it was a beautiful place where as a kid we would go frequently on family trips.
Race start was as always really exciting finding it hard to wipe the grin from my face as the gun went off. My placing wasn’t well thought through for the swim, and I ended up being swallowed by arms and legs, lack of race experience and some balls to fight back meant the first 500m I was going a little more backward than I wanted to. Once out into the open water, things started to come my way and I found myself getting onto peoples sides and feet and moving on up.
I had also planned to pace the swim, which I have never done before, and actually thought about how I was feeling my swim technique and heading more so than splashing around like a goon. It seemed to pay off as I was catching the guys ahead in the swim towards the end and I also sighted straight onto the ramp feeling nicely fresh and still within a comfortable zone running into T1.
T1, pretty much where the chaos started. I think I am speaking with everyone from the race when I say the water was that cold that not only feet and hands were frozen solid but also everyone seemed really disorientated, including myself. Running to the mount line I quickly realized the gradient at which I was hoping to flying mount onto, this coupled with my rather chilly body made for 2 very embarrassing attempts at what is normally an easy situation. Coming completely off the bike on both attempts got me a little worked up, so I finally ran onto the road and did my best attempt just managing to keep upright feet out like a kid on a fast downhill.
The fact my shoes had managed to somehow re-velcro then made for my third and final fall. This one took the wind out of me a little, skimming a car and hitting the pavement at 17mph hurts. Just so glad that my bike was ok and I hadn’t destroyed my brand new Run and Ride trisuit or 110% compression gear. In fact that was the only reason I didn’t skim anymore skin off me, and yep all my garments (apart from destroyed arm warmers) where in A class condition (minus blood stains of course). I also had the pleasure of losing one of my much wanted Acclerrade bottles. Luckily the course provided water and High5 at the half way mark. Though, my stomach cant handle rich fructose based drinks too great so I knew I was in for a rough ride home and expected GI issues on the run.
Anyway, onto the positives, after messing around on the floor for the first 5mins. I road fairly strongly throughout, and tried as much as possible to focus on my efforts on the climbs as these are where you strike those matches, that are really needed to be saved for the run.
I came off the bike slower than I wanted too, luckily I didn’t know this at the time as in the chaos of my crashes had forgotten to start my bike computer until a little into the ride. I find that racing to feel and doing what you can in the moment works better for me than trying to chase seconds and minutes for 4+ hours, which inevitably can break you mentally.
T2 was great though, in and out with no issues. Just grabbed my rather funky looking 110% run visor and 2 Accelerade gels and I was off. Legs where a little jaded, but with the nature of the course I anticipated it to be far worse.
The run was just awful, I don’t enjoy running hills in training, so questioned myself many times during the race as to what the hell I was doing even entering this race! I had to keep reminding myself as to why I was doing this, for whom and what I will get out of pushing myself. It was tough, hard and towards the end I really missed the support from my family not being their to give me energy, confidence and pride.
The result wasn’t the best I could have done given my training. I unfortunately have made the mistake of a lack of integrated recovery through my build periods, also trying to be cocky and gaining a mere few seconds left me close to not finishing the race or in fact any other race.
Its been a good lesson to me and in planning the rest of my season out I can take these into consideration. There is no point training your bum off if you don’t stop to absorb it for a week or so once in a while, I thought I was special and having 3 days easy every 3 weeks would do it and to be honest never truly noticed an actual overtraining effect. Race week opened up my eyes as to how my body was really feeling, SPENT.
My lesson, get a plan that I know I can handle and on the days where I think I could do more DON’T! Save that feeling for race day, I am questioning whether to race next week end after a little more rest… To see if I can pull out something I feel is deserving for all the hard work.