Attempt number two!
by leighschvartzSep 1st 2013
First of all - big shout out to Justin Robbins @ www.weemancoaching.com who helped me prepare for this race following Henley (my first sprint tri), after drastically helping me improve my running times back in 2011 for the Reading Half it was very good to have a GB athlete in my corner for this one!
After the last sprint tri at Henley (see previous blog post!) I got home and immediately registered for the Ely sprint triathlon which was on September 1st 2013. The date gave me a good chance to improve but also was far enough out to still be a short term goal - so it was perfect. Plus the girlfriends parents live very close by, so a weekend of fantastic home cooked food could do nothing but aid my motivation!!
Training went well, thanks to some great tips and suggestions from Justin Robbins (@WeeManCoaching), incorporating some speed work into my running and cycling and varying my swim distances throughout the sessions. I'm still balancing it all with weight lifting so my time is stretched, but it's working well for me at the moment. My training split was as follows:
Monday Lunch: Swim (mix of 300m / 400m / 100m sets)
Monday Pm: Weight Training
Tuesday: Fast Run
Wednesday: Weight Training
Thursday: Fast Cycle
Friday Lunch: Interval Run
Friday pm: Weight Training
Saturday morning: Longer Run
Sunday morning: Cycle / Run Transition or Cycle interval training
I felt good going into the weekend, I had a PB session during my 'taper' so legs felt very strong both on the bike and on the run. I was also aided this time around with a brand new Boardman Team Carbon bike which I was getting on very well with - so hopes were high.
Although we registered the day before the race, we still had to be at the event for 7:30am to rack and prepare the transition areas - really this was a good idea, as it meant that nobody could access the areas while competitors were going in so it was a lot less congested. Once I'd racked the bike and prepared my transition areas we made our way to the poolside to watch some of the other competitors. Had a chance to catch up with a friend from uni who was taking part in the team event (Sam Strong @StrongCRM) which was great. Before long, it was time to kit up and start the swim.
Compared to Henley, the swim was fantastic. Although it was a slightly shorter course, the event was much better organised with people going off every 30 seconds rather than every 5seconds, so had a lot more time to swim your own swim without worrying about anybody else. I felt the swim went well, the aim throughout was to just to have a steady swim as it's my weakest area and I wanted to get off to a confident start - which I think happend with no issues. I did opt to reduce my leg involvement during the last 100m which was probably a mistake given it had a slight impact on technique - but nothing major. I still need to be more in the mindset of a 'sprint' and that all disciplines should be at 100%, but I was certainly better in this respect that last time around.
Final time: 06:28 - Rank 38th
I knew I had a lot to improve upon from T1 at my last event, and I made a few minor adjustments in terms of changing my t-shirt choice etc. But this (and T2) were still a big let down for me. I made some very silly mistakes like having socks inside out and not laying things out in the correct order (helmet still done up, gear too big on the bike etc). But I can take these learning points on - and there are lots of easy corrections to make here. I was also right at the back of a tennis courts so I had a long run in my cycling shoes to get to the bike out which didn't help!
T1 Time: 02:38 - Rank 102nd (very poor)
From last time my thoughts were that I needed to go harder on the bike, which I think I did this time around. The route was bumpy and the wind was quite intense, there were sections of the course that were, although flat, quite challenging in terms of the wind but then others which I was absolutely flying with a nice tail wind - so overall I was very happy with the cycle and a much improved effort from last time. I also made sure to take regular water onboard as to hopefully avoid some of the cramping issues I had on the run last time ...
Final Time: 37:16 - Rank 19th
(20mph avg including running in and out - need some tri bars to cope with the wind!)
Although better than T1, it was still poor - the actual transition was OK but I took too long to compose myself when really I should have just started slowly. Key learning point is to have a second bottle ready for the run so I don't have to stop and have a drink from the bike - but not as bad as T1.
Final Time: 1:08 - Rank 78th
The run course was very challenging, being a school cross country route it was quite hilly (I would describe the final portion as more of an assault course!) but one of my biggest regrets last time was not pushing myself 100% so I made sure to run, run, run this time! No cramps which was fantastic, and also a respectable time given the course - my run has been a work in progress this year so I am pretty happy with where I am. Know I can go faster just need more miles in my legs! I've been trying to dip under the 7min mile barrier for my transition runs, but didn't quite manage it this time but got bloody close - a goal of mine for next time and in my next training period for sure!
Final Time: 21:56 (07:02 min/mile) - Rank 16th
Overall - 1:09:30 / 23rd out of roughly 140 competitors.
Overall I was very happy with this effort, although it was a slightly shorter course than Henley I smashed my PB and hopefully the future is looking bright if I can keep up the training. There were some key points I absolutely have to work on for next time, and I'm confident I can take 1-2 minutes off that time with better transitions!
Last times key learnings:
1. Wear a zip up t-shirt so I don't have to waste 30seconds trying to get it on over my wet back!
--- Done, this was improved but it other parts of T1 were worse than last time. More learnings to follow..
2. Have water on my bike to make sure I stay well hydrated and avoid cramp
-- Done, cramp avoided and water intake was much better on the bike.
3. Concentrate more on technique and breathing in the pool rather than just avoiding an underwater boot to the face
--Done, swim was much stronger. Could still be better though and this event was much better in terms of having less people in the pool at once.
4. Pace faster in the cycle and run, as without the cramp, I would have had some left at the end.
-- Done, really felt like I gave my all this time around>
Learnings this time:
1. Buy a tri-suit to further improve on learning 1 from last time. Need to get T1 down
2. Practise running without socks so I don't have to waste time putting these on in T1
3. Go harder in the swim, don't want anything left in the upper body afterwards.
4. Get a bottle ready for T2 so I can run and drink / hydrate. Also need more confidence in not taking 5-10 seconds to compose before setting off after T2.
5. Look at getting some tri bars to help improve speed further on the bike
6. Get a GPS so I can pace myself better on the run and also analyse my bike / run portions better after the race
Looks like the next one might be a duathlon given the season for triathlons. A duathlon would certainly play to my strengths more, so that could be an interesting test!!
Thanks for reading all - always feel free to give me a shout if anybody has any questions or is looking to make a similar transition into the world of triathlons!!