This weekendI found myself “up north” racing my first event of 2023 at Sprint distance race held at Oulton Park racing track. A new venue for me and a course that was surprisingly undulating. A mixed bag of a result, but I think the headline would be a venue I would travel to race at again. Would recommend!
Not an excuse, but the week before was not the perfect lead in to the race. A short, sharp, but heavy cold, made it seem like I might have to withdraw. But luckily it cleared enough to get on and do it. Without being too graphic though my lungs and airways were not ‘clear’. Without a doubt breathing was impaired. Other than that the build up to the event went quite well. Much focus on cycling, principally WattBike sessions and a general perceived improvement in both form and output. If anything a little light on run sessions.
Therefore in aggregate the plan for the race was basically go out and just enjoy it. See what you can do and see what happens. If you can finish sub 1:30 then that would very good. Sub 1:40 would be OK and at 1:40 would be pretty much as expected.
Just on the enjoying it front, I have to say the UTTER LOW POINT of the weekend was in the form of British Triathlon ‘Officials’ and particularly the officious woman overseeing initial access to transition. I always resent paying my membership to British Triathlon, and frankly its people like her that help remind me why I dislike the organisation so much. She needs to remember who the customer is and what her role in the day should be! At present, I just marginally enjoy Duathlon a fraction more than I despise the way she spoke to me. But it is factional and I could quite easily not bother entering any more races if there is another “British Triathlon Episode” like that in the future.
Other than that, organisation was OK. Medal was bad enough to not bother keeping (post photo I put it in the bin) and again no tee shirt. Give the track is far from “scenic” and the post event ‘goodies’ were embarrassingly bad, I thought this was a very expensive event that in no way justified the entry fee.
It’s an undulating track with expected good surface. However, it’s no Goodwood or even a Thruxton. I would probably rate it as the least pleasant track I have raced at. But I should qualify that with the fact that I have more to explore. From the ‘start grid’ (which was a wholly underwhelming affair) the first two 2k are essentially a decent. On the day this felt like it also had a tailwind. The return 2k are mostly ‘lumpy’ with short sharp climb. Couple of banked bends were the only high point. The 4k lap length also gives rise to the perception of a faster race ahead, but consideration (I suggested) is warranted for the punch little climbs on the back 2k.
Run 1 – 22:14
This was a 4k lap so we should keep that in mind. Artificially short distance! Pretty much perfect running conditions and a few days rest, I was feeling quite good. This led to a bit of poor pace judgement on the opening 2k at way too close to a maximal effort. Luckily I reined this in before too much damage was done! Have to say that the short climbs were noticeable and overall felt that I needed to do more run sessions before my next race. Settled into a good pace, ignored some questionable Heart Rate data and just ran on feel and pace. Was pleased to find that I can pretty much do that now.
T1 – 1:58
This warrants explanation. My fingers were cold and this led to profound fiddling with my helmet clasp. A lot of fiddling, but otherwise it would have actually been quite swift!
Bike – 45:33
20k of bike and as every transitioning from run to bike and back again was all pretty drama free. Maybe I don’t race hard enough, but it has just never been a problem. The new new Assume pedals continue to impress and this made keeping an eye on power output a more worthwhile exercise than with the Garmin Vectors. The first four laps were on point, pleased with power output and this translated some good speed.
BUT and it is no small BUT, the metaphorical wheels fell off on the last lap. I stress metaphorical because in a literal sense the bike was running superbly well – having just had a complete service by Torquing Gears (my local cycle mechanic) and Andy as ever did an astounding job! But in terms of my the fifth lap was way down on power and pace. Disappointing given the work that has gone into cycling over the Winter. It will be see how the first few TT races play out, butty guess is that the bike leg was a consequence of lingering cold symptoms and burning a few too many matches on the run.
T2 – 1:46
Less helmet and col finger drama, but much more fatigue building. Tidy enough transition but could have perhaps jogged a bit faster to the run exit!
Run 2 – 24:46
This turned out to be the highlight of my race actually! Tired, aching legs and hard to breath (cold lingering), but I do feel I kept it together quite well. Not much drop off from Run 1 and even though these were short distances I was much quicker than my faster training runs. The stupidly protracted British Tri pre-race brief delayed the start by quite some time, so I had lost a sense of what my race time was. A few quick calculations and I thought that I would be outside of 1:40. But, pleasingly, even though I assumed I would be off my planned time, I decided that every second does count and that it would be worth trying to the end. Because you might just move up one place!
Every second did count and I had mis-estimated the timings. Official time was 1:36:46 and therefore inside my target time. Very pleased I pushed on even though I thought it was pointless. It never is apparently 😉
Was it my best race? No. But it was the first one of the year. I was not in greatest health and functioning off a poor nights sleep. A lot of excuses… Or a better way to look at it; a lot of things that I can ‘get right’ in the next race to improve my times.
11th of 21 in my age group. 99th Man and 137th or 172 overall. Not great but no tragedy either.
TT next and then building up to a retune visit to Clumber Park with hopefully less officious specimens from British Triathlon officiating!! Cheerio 🙂