The season is starting to draw to a close and this might turn out to be my final race of the year. It would be a very disappointing close to the year if the notably average venue of Box End was “it” for the year. But putting the venue aside what was the race like?

This was always going to be a challenging race (spot the Corporate speak… Like a duck to water!) as it was my first foray into a middle distance. In the same way as nobody fully accepts that a Duathlon is harder than a Triathlon (until they have done both), I suspect that many would not understand why Middle distance actually is a step change harder than Standard.

For clarity, the technical difference being an extra 20k on the bike and a second run that is 10k rather than 5k. So you are doing 10k run / 60k bike / 10k run.

I can’t moan too much about the venue (I know…), I have raced there and trained there many times before. I know exactly how drab and boring it is. I know exactly how tedious I find the run. I also know that I know the local roads super well for the bike. So for someone that “knew” all this at the time of booking… Well one should wind ones neck in right? 😉

Getting to the start line

The most notable point about the day was how very nearly I just didn’t bother even showing up! The day before involved much driving and I was “too tired” and I didn’t have to go. In the morning when the alarm rang I very nearly just rolled over. I had early race morning breakfast, then took my trisuit off and headed back to bed… Changed my mind, got dressed and talked myself into the car. 

Drove to the venue (20mins) parked and sat in the car. Decided that for the sake of £40 (or whatever) why bother… I could just go home and do something nice for the day. So I started the car pulled out of my space and then bugger… A friend waved at me! Now if I go home I would have to confess to all this. So I looped around and parked again. Much to the parking attendants amusement. 

For that reason, and only that reason, did I bothered to race. To say I was uninterested would be a HUGE understatement. So I got my arse in gear and went to registration… But was I really uninterested, or is that one of them many lies that we tell ourselves? Had I not seen my friend, would I have driven out only to turn around and go back? Will never know. But will always know how close I came to giving up and pleased I will always be that I didn’t. 

Run 1 1:03:28

A remarkable unremarkable run! Having looked around the (small) field at the start, it seemed clear to me that, excepting three or four people, most were competent and experienced… And there to grab a qualification! The pace was fast from the off, but the difference being that those setting it could easily hold it. They weren’t just getting it wrong at the start of a race! So with that in mind I dropped to virtually the back and ran at the pace I had planned. Was trying to find some space on my own, but didn’t quite manage that. Still there is no rule that stops people drafting you on the run whilst they chat incessantly! Course was as expected, so I shan’t waste your time by moaning about how dull it is and how rough the “bmx track” section is. 

T1 1:16

Drama free. First time using a TT helmet in a multiport, but that caused no issue. Was pleased to have left some energy drink ready by the bike. And given the very small field, absolutely no issue finding the bike! Bloody long trip though for racking to mount line – reminded me of the hike from the lake to T1 at Blenheim. Not the best surface either despite the mats. 

Bike 2:18:48

A modified bike course due to some sportive going on at the same time. Even though I don’t like multiple laps (the altered course was four laps instead of two), I would certainly have got much more cross if I had found myself having to weave and navigate through a bunch of hapless sportive riders wobbling all over the shop! Course was OK and on familiar roads, mostly flat and fast with one short sharp climb and a very few technical sections (but minimal).

Even with the revised course taking the TT bike was absolutely the right call and much of the route favoured it.

A learning point from the bike leg was that if I want to carry on at this distance, I need to get my fuelling sorted out. Specifically being more organised on the bike… Trying to open a wrapper whilst aero is just not going to happen. I seem to recall in Tri races I was a lot better organised and had accessible drinks and ready to eat food. The bike is obviously the time to take on solid carbs. (I tried that running once and threw up). But also timing is going to matter in that you want it through your stomach ideally before you get off the bike. In a 2hr+ ride that is going to be easy enough as long as we get on with it as soon as settled on the bike. Obviously if I go longer then this becomes both more important and easier to get right. 

T2 1:22

Obviously the distance back to transition was equally horrible. But again a well organised and smooth transition out onto the fields again. 

Run 2 1:21:31

This started off OK actually. I had eaten some calories so not feeling dizzy. I have always been “OK” with running off a bike, despite it getting minimal attention in my training plan. First couple of k all fine. I pretty much knew that I was at the very blunt end of the race, but that was fine by me. I just wanted to finish, any aspiration of doing anything else had long since evaporated. 

And then to my annoyance the wheels fell off. It’s the strangest feeling, but I suspect that some (all) of you reading this will have experienced something similar. Call it hitting the wall, or bonking if you are on a bike (!), but it’s that feeling that suddenly you just can’t carry on. Well having got that far there was no way on earth that I wasn’t going to cross the bloody finish line. An impromptu walk run strategy kicked in for a while and took over from a disorganised shuffle sort of movement. The good thing about run / walk is it is often quicker than a half arsed shuffle! Helps you get organised again and adds some structure. Then when you have your head sorted out, one resumes ones run 😉 

Conclusion 4:46:27. 8/8 Age Group. 41/41 Men. 50/51 Overall

I could have given this race more respect in my training plan. It is always good to race against people that leave you standing, and given the majority of the competition, it was fine that I virtually came last!

Main learning point for me was that the change from Standard to Middle was a bigger step than it looks on paper! Purely on the numbers and finishing position then it was horrible. But I’m chalking this one up as BIG SUCCESS… I got to the start line when every neorone in my nervous system was saying “Don’t bother. Give it a miss. You aren’t going to win so what’s the point…” I’m more than happy that I beat the little negative voice in my head and got my arse around the course. Thank full for all the training sessions that have happened when it would have been easier to bin them. Thank full for all times I have coached others and got them to carry on when they would otherwise have stopped. I made it to the start line so that’s the biggest WIN I could have had on the day 🙂  

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