Friday, 23 November 2012

Shepp 70.3

It's safe to say I wasn't expecting anything special from my race at Shepparton over the weekend.  I actually didn't know I was racing it until recently; it sold out fairly quickly and I must have put myself on a waiting list and then forgot about it.  When offered a start I took it with the intention of trialling a 'more composed and disciplined' pacing strategy.  I race to go hammershit- composed and disciplined has no place for me in a race.  But here's how it unfolded...

My aim was to head out on an easy swim, easy ride and hard, fast run.  As is the trend for me in Kialla Lakes, my swim was an embarrassment   I can only assume that when swimming blindfolded (as the lake is so dirty you may as well be) I am unable to properly asses my speed.  Well, that's the excuse I'm using.  I expected a slower swim of 33 minutes, not 35 something.  My 1st transition felt like it took forever because I felt like I was in juniors again- head spinning, ensuring I don't lean over too far and black out!  Although the race in my head didn't start until the run, so I took my time.

Doing the maths when I got on the bike I knew my swim was terrible- I actually thought it was closer to the 38 minutes so I did my best to ignore that and get on with the task at hand: riding very slowly.  Well, sort of.  I wanted to keep the bike moving as fast as possible while keeping my heart rate below 140bpm.  Luckily the Shepp bike course is very flat and straight.  It's perfect for a time trial with no need to spike in power or heart rate.  I was able to hold a touch over 30km/hr while keeping HR low so I was on track for a 3 hour ride but that was the only easy part.

(Really should get a bike fit...)

Mentally, this was tough.  The bike is my weapon.  Always has been.  Hopefully always will be.  I love riding fast and it was really difficult watching so many people pass me on the bike.  It actually became boring.  This should have been a 2:40-2:50 ride but I got off in just under 2:58.

On the upside, all the frustration from the bike left me ready to roar on the run.  My nutrition had been immaculate- I had nothing else to do on the bike...  My heart rate was low, my legs were relatively fresh, I wanted to hammer it.  I decided to let the first few kms play out however they will.  I just ran with no thought, no data and certainly no analysis.  2kms in I realised I was running around 4:14/km- a touch too fast for this early.  So I backed off to just below 4:30/km sat on another guy's heels and made sure I kept eating.  If things kept going this well I could up the pace again around the 17km mark.  The guy who was pacing me had a great technique and was slowly increasing the pace as he was 1 lap ahead of me.  I was feeling good and loving it.  Even though I'd have to do the last lap without him, this guy was helping me immensely.  I had the flow I'm always looking for.  But the strap from my timing chip was rubbing on my ankle.  I went all zen and willed the pain away.  I wasn't going let this stop me.  I had the whole Buddhist Vihara behind me as I ignored the pain but when the strap stopped bouncing because it was stuck under my skin I had to stop to loosen it.  I was desperately hoping my pace maker would stop at an aid station for a second so I could fix the strap but he was on a mission and as I removed the velcro from my raw Achilles I watched my 1:35 run off into the distance.  I had to run my own pace.

There were a few people I know racing and after my pedestrian bike pace they were all in front of me so thanks to the out and back section of the run I could put a pace on them and start to pick them off.  The frustration of holding back in the swim and ride allowed me to really focus on the run and not back off/ pussy out on the run like I might have otherwise done.  In the end I managed to keep a relatively consistent pace throughout the run and clocked 1:39 something.

(Funny how technique goes out the window when tired...)

I'm happy with having a consistent pace across all three legs; it was a well paced race.  But it wasn't a race.  If that was an ironman it might be a different story but I've tried racing ironman and I can't do it.  That's a day of survival for me, not a race.  70.3 is a race and I want to be going hard throughout.  I probably lost 4 mins in the lake, at least 10 mins on the bike, and made up maybe 4 - 10 mins on the run.  Timing wise, that's not worth it.  Mentally, for me, the lack of speed on the bike is certainly not worth it.  So I'm glad I tested that pacing strategy at Shepp but it's not for me.  I can recover fairly quickly so I want to leave it all out on the bike, then try to regroup in transition and hang on for dear life in the run.  That is a race.

Thanks very much to Shepparton Tri club for one of the best organised races I've ever done and, despite the poor standards at present, a fairly good Goodies Bag, including free race photos from SuperSport Images.