Mumbles Triathlon 2011

Before the race

Oh what a miserable start to a June Saturday. We sat in our cars waiting out the latest heavy rain shower wondering if we were really going to have to get out and race in this horrible weather.

Of course we would. The weather forecast showed the showers mostly holding off for the rest of the morning anyway, and by the time we’d racked and wetsuited up (largely to stay warm) it hadn’t so much as “brightened up” as much as the very dark clouds had just become a little less dark and menacing.

I had another cracking swim, tacking a more direct line than those around me thanks to picking out some good sighting marks on the shoreline, and picking and changing good feet. I came into the ramp below Verdi’s cafe (what a great spot to have a triathlon) only a little off the back of the front pack, which is great for me.

The run through transition was really sharp and rough tarmac but my feet were nice and numb after the swim so I didn’t feel a thing. Racking was a bit tight so I made sure to lob my wetsuit under the bar and out of the way. The racking wasn’t evenly set up either, and racking in the wrong spot would have made for a longer transition run than I had (it’s worth checking these things out early y’know). The bike mount line was “anywhere after the timing mat” at the T1 exit, so I chose to run all the way out to the road, missing the little incline and the potentially dodgy junction and had a clean run, mount and escape.

The bike course is nice and hilly, and the bike splits last year had been rather long, I’d noticed on the interweb a couple of days before. These roads are all in my back yard but I’d never ridden this loop all together in one go. The plan was to tick off each little hill and hit the next one a little harder than the last, paying attention to the wind that was going to be blowing into our faces going back past the airport. The hills felt great, but the 1:4 climb up to Lunnon from the Three Cliffs Bay bit was a really jelly leg fight over the top. I had to force my legs to keep pushing as it flattened out a little. I’d made up a number of places to that point and caught sight of the fella in 2nd place just as I went to jelly. I figured his legs had done the same by the way the gap had closed.

After that the gap remained and as we hit faster stretches the spatial gap widened even if the temporal gap remained similar. My buddy Ed was marshalling at the Upper Killay turn and confirmed that I was in 3rd. I hammered hard back towards the sea, then the downhill back to the Mumbles was flat out, dropped aero and slippery wet, hard, hard braking for the roundabout (poor bastards on carbon rims today must be having a horror here) and back to T2.

Fast through T2 I saw a first year medical student that I teach, Andrew Loftus. It was his entry to the race that made me enter. Out of T2 hurt big style, and I pushed to focus on good, tall technique, caught and passed Andrew with a slap on the back (I probably couldn’t speak by that point) and pushed, pushed, pushed out around the bay beside the sea. This was a path I used to run daily. Its very nice. Not many people in the way at 8am on a Sunday either.

Everything had softened up a bit by the 1.25km turnaround point for the short sprint distance race, and there were only three of us continuing on the stretch out to the 2.5km turnaround marker and the lonely marshal. The gaps looked ok. I thought I was gaining on 2nd place.

On the way back I saw lots of Cardiff Tri lycra and just about managed a waggly thumbs up. Lots of pain. This was our chosen club championships event so I was pulling the stops out here. There was a fair gap to 4th place though so I was pretty comfy there, but I wanted to try and pull back 2nd. Pain, pain and more pain. That 5km at the end of a sprint triathlon is fast and short. Ow. My running still needs a lot of improvement.

I was very glad to see Verdi’s again, and rounded the cafe to hit the finish line with a massive smile. Very happy with 3rd overall. I clapped a bunch of people home, jogged to the car to get warm clothes on, and saw Stu MacCormac running in. Great to see Stu racing. It was a great morning generally, and it was brilliant to have so many Cardiff Triathletes over to Swansea to race. I just wish the weather could have been better, but hey, it was fairly representative of the Swansea climate.

Cardiff Tri picked up a bunch of prizes, as you can see. I’m looking forward to picking up my Club Champs trophy this weekend when we meet again at the Pembrokeshire triathlon in Broad Haven.

Cardiff Tri haul

Mumbles triathlon plate

Img 7895

Windsor Triathlon 2011

Nerves? Me?
I raced at Windsor last year and had a great time. It’s a really good location, I like the windy river swim and I think the run route is cracking (even if it is slow), and I did quite well. I knew I hadn’t paced it brilliantly last year though and was keen to have another crack. It had been only my second standard distance triathlon too, and the last one had been seven years before that.
This year I was hoping to get a prize in the 35-39 age group category (its a big race) and it was my first A race of the year. Most of my training had been focussed on it, and much of it has gone quite well, apart from the running. Lots of people, noisy crowds, proper podium, lots of prizes, good competitors. Worth a go, eh?
I’d spent time thinking about the swim route & laying as much of a plan as I could. After having problems in the first 2 race swims this year, I nailed it in the Thames at Windsor. I made good decisions not to try & stick on feet that were too fast, and came out of the water 2nd in my wave under 23 minutes which, for me was an awesome start. Good pacing, good line. I hit the final swim turn properly too, which is tricky as it’s hidden from the swimmer’s point of view. Kim was at the swim exit & I think I had a big grin on my face. Fun.
The long jog to transition is great as it gives you time to clear your head & sort yourself out, and T1 was steady. Biking felt great, my legs were in great nick, and pacing was spot on again. I even had to overtake a van at one point. I felt like a machine, and didn’t really notice the wind and rain when it hit, apart from my hands & feet starting to chill & my left quads starting to get a bit chilled & weird. The rain made the course very slippery, so I took the (few) corners steady.
After a little confusion on the way back into Windsor & getting one of my feet out v v early I bombed into the long narrow ride through the park to dismount into T2. Through and out, saw Kim at the start of the run and then started the first time up the hill fairly steadily. Lap 1 steady, lap 2 faster (stitch, ow, relax, push) lap 3 all out. It was a bit of a push hard survival thing, not as much fun as usual, and a pain dodging wet, slippery surfaces and lots of other runners. It took me ages to catch the pirate though. “Aaaar!” What pace was he running dressed like that? Awesome stuff. Also, did he wear all that under his wetsuit? Was one of his goggles blacked out? Anyway…
I caught the fella with “Yeoman” written across his back & twigged that he was the fast swimmer in my wave of 37-year-olds that I’d seen at the start, so I guessed that I’d moved into the front of my wave at least. Push, push, push to the finish, pain over, legs back in the Thames with the swans wondering why the hell I didn’t have any bread for them, expecting a better class of stroller than these strange people in lycra.
Kim looked after me, I got changed & we hung around watching the elites (wow, Tom Bishop and Aaron Harris looked damned motivated on the run). I eventually hauled my soggy crap out of transition & chucked it back in the car, and we went back to the park to wait for the prize giving ceremony. My finishing time of 2:10 was the same as last year, even though my performance was much, much better, so I wasn’t really expecting a prize. I was hoping though.
Yeoman’s name got called for 3rd place in the 35-39 category (“ooh, I passed him”, I said) and before I had a chance to strip off to my Cardiff Tri colours I was called up for the 2nd place prize. Awesome! A podium to stand on too. All on my own though as neither 3rd or 1st place had stuck around. Big grin nonetheless. Kim was very excited.
Windsor Podium
It got better. When the results went up at the end of the day the chip timing people had included a guy in my age group that had only run 2 laps. Scrub him out and that put me into 1st place. I’d won my age group! Big tick. I was 14th overall though, matching the time of 13th place and only a minute from the top 10. And me on bog standard alloy wheels on the bike too. Another crack next year, maybe?

Statto: Toshiba Windsor Triathlon 2011

Uh, oh, I’ve gone all statto. I really try to avoid this. Analysis is good, over analysis is often too much.
Racing at Windsor on Sunday I had a really good day (race report coming soon). I won my age group (!) and was 14th overall, but coming out of T2 into the run I couldn’t work out why my time was so slow. I was aiming for a 2:07 race to try & get inside the top 10 and after the bike the maths said that I needed to run a 36 minute 10k to hit that. But the bike went well, and I rode like a machine. I did the bike course in 1:05 last year in my first season of triathlon after breaking my foot in February. This year my biking has improved really nicely, and I knew I was going well but again I did the bike leg in 1:05. The rain, and with it came the wind, hit about half way through my big leg. It’s difficult to feel how windy it is in the time trial position with an aero helmet covering your ears though, so maybe the wind was stronger than I thought. I was also very surprised to have won my age group category with an overall time of 2:10 when the winner got under 2 hours. Everyone ahead of me on the results list biked faster than me, and, obviously, were in different categories and therefore had different start times.
So did the change in weather have an effect on bike times, I wondered?
Windsor Tri 2011 Ag Average Bike Splits
This graph shows the average bike time for the race for most of the age groups present and a shorter bar means a faster average time. There were 129 in the 20-24 category, 289 in 30-34, 356 in 35-39, 404 in 40-44, 276 in 45-49 and 122 in 50-54 based upon those that completed the race.
The fastest age groups by around a minute are the 40-44 and 45-49 age groups. These athletes started before 7am. Almost all of the other athletes started after 7am.
Of course this doesn’t take many, many other factors into account but does it indicate that the weather affected bike times? I don’t know. Maybe. I certainly think the data may be skewed as the 40-44 age group in particular has some very, very fast and powerful cyclists in it, but the sizes of the 35-39 and 40-44 age groups, the comparative abilities of those athletes with respect to age, and the 30 minute difference in average start times suggests the change in weather may have had an affect here. Ideally I would compare to the data from previous years’ races, but I don’t have that in a useful format. Yes, I should test the significance of these data with an ANOVA too. Maybe later.
This is not an excuse, nor a grumble, but merely a thought to ponder and an idea that may explain the slower than expected race times for some. I know I have to get much faster on the bike to get past these guys anyway!