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TriHardAlan - Tales of an Age Grouper
TriHardAlan - Tales of an Age Grouper

World Age Group Aquathon Championships - Hyde Park

TriHardAlanby TriHardAlanSep 11th 2013
I will start this World Championship report the way I ended the last one, by thanking my sponsor, my employers, WorleyParsons. As well as sponsoring me in the traditional way they are also extremely supportive of my training and both employees and management take a huge amount of interest in what I do, for which I am eternally grateful.

A perfect build up to an event is elusive, and this one had been mixed. Despite it being a World Championship this was not a major event on my calendar and I was more interested in enjoying the occasion, especially with my children coming along to watch. Since Roth the bike has been my strongest discipline. My run had been interrupted by hamstring problems. And my swim was inconsistent. After the rubbish swim at the Vitruvian I reflected that my better swims this season have been technical ones like Bristol and the MK Tri where lots of turns meant less chance to drift of course. And in an attempt to fix a leaking dam with a sticky plaster I had a one-on-one open water coaching session and was told, in summary, to lengthen my stroke and sight a lot more often, the latter at least confirming my own thoughts. A trial Aquathon on Saturday at Datchet told me little, it¬'s an easy course to navigate as its narrow and worryingly, despite running injury free and pushing hard, my run was well north of 19 minutes, which was slow for me.

After registering and attending race briefing on Tuesday and enjoying the expo, meeting a few friends from other events and being generally impressed by the big event set up I arrived early on race day only to be greeted with a hell of a queue for uniform check which got significantly longer after I joined it! Sprint and Standard athletes take note. Once through got in to transition and was told the box¬'s we were told we must use will not be issued, no biggy. After putting my run shoes underneath my number on the rack I looked at them and thought to myself ¬"is that it?¬" It was, nothing else to do. Having to clear Transition by 8.45 and my wave not of till 10.10 I had quite a while to wait and more chance to chat with some other familiar faces from the World and European scene.

As we assembled in the start area some worrying thoughts started to run through my mind. I had resigned myself to being the last Brit out of the water in my Age Group (I was in the qualifier but I also had the fastest run) and with the Age Group below also starting in my wave I was concerned I could be dead last. With my patchy run form I was not convinced I would catch any other members of the British team, or anybody else for that matter. Of some small comfort, not all nations have the strength of depth in Age Group racing that we do, the swim course was anti clock wise which suits my tendency to drift left and Saturday aside I normally run well in Aquathons. In addition, on the two previous occasions I have worn the GB Trisuit I have pulled something out of the bag, fastest run in Age Group in Elait and a huge PB in Ottawa. Could I do it again?

Swim; As we sat on the pontoon waiting to enter the water and was given the two minute warning I reminded myself of the plan, keep stroke long, site regularly and keep elbows high, which is not something I have been told but have simply noticed I swim quicker when I do so. We lowered ourselves in when told and with one hand on the pontoon after what seemed just a few seconds later we heard the ¬"on your marks¬" command and then the sound of the claxon and the expected chaos ensued! As we approached the first bouy I felt I was swimming OK and could feel somebody on my feet, great, I¬'m not last! More rough stuff on the turn and now down the longest straight of the course. Spent most of that bit bumping in to the guy on my left as he breathed to his right and me to my left and guess we both drifted a fraction. Reminded myself to sight regularly and lost him by the next turn. After turning kept an eye out for the red bouy¬'s which I had to keep to my right and even though I was now on the home straight, reminded myself again to keep on sighting. As I got back to the pontoon and up the ramp started to undo wetsuit and didn¬'t look at my watch till I left transition at the beginning of the run so only knew it was a sub 19 minute swim. Was that good? Well, for me, it was an improvement. 18.24 was the official time which would equate to a 27 min 1500, far better than I ever do in Olympic races. Was I the last Brit in Age Group? Yes! Last overall? No, 55th from 69.

Transition; Its long. Plenty of time to undo zip, strip to waist, take googles off etc as you run down before getting to your spot. Rest of wetsuit was off reasonably smoothly, shoes on, and of I go. Time, 1.17. Little disappointed not to get under 1 minute but nobody did in my Age Group and mine was 35th quickest transition so no disasters.

Run; After forgetting to hit the lap button as I left the swim I at least did so as I started the run to get my run split. And now the chase was on. Any negative pre race thoughts about my run form were forgotten, and the mission was simple. Chase everybody down. And I was ticking them off, quickly and often. Is there an extra satisfaction when you overtake somebody in the Trisuit of another nation? Hell yes! First two turns took us on to the long straight of Rotten Row, a stretch I¬'m used to running in the other direction, downhill, at the Serpentine Last Friday of the Month 5K and Jekyll and Hyde Duathlon and whilst it¬'s only a gentle undulation you notice anything at 5K intensity. But I didn¬'t notice hardly any change of pace and I was still moving through the field like the proverbial hot knife. I had gone past a number of GB suits but were they my Age Group or the one below? Or maybe even two or three below and were Athletes on a second lap. I had no way of knowing. Nothing to do but push, push and push. I was hurting, but the kind of hurt you enjoy. As I approached the end of the first lap I passed a familiar British face from my Age Group, keep pushing, let¬'s find the next. As I hit the blue mat and passed the grandstand got a huge cheer from my children, waved and thoroughly enjoyed the moment. Pass transition and the beginning of lap two. Reminded myself not to let running form go to pot, and, well you have guessed it, to keep pushing. Passed Mike Morris from my club Thames Turbo who had started in a later wave and was on his first lap and gave him a cheer and was then on to Rotten Row again. Felt harder work this time but still, not a single person had gone past. As we hit the blue mat again in front of the grandstand I made one last lung busting effort to overtake another Brit from my Age Group I recognised and heard another loud cheer from the children as I rounded the switch back and sprinted the last section and over the line. A marshal checked I was OK, was staggering a little, and the took a look at my watch to see an 18.17 run and a total time of 37.58.

So, what did all that mean? In total I finished 39th in Age Group. I had managed to overtake 4 other Brits on the run. Only two other Brits had run quicker, one of which was now World Champion having finished first and the other was British Champion. My run was 8th quickest in Age Group. My time of 18.17 was the quickest 5k I have run for 6 years, including standalone events. Had I pulled something out of the bag? Yeah, I think so.
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