Two 70.3 races in two weeks, some people just never learn!!
For me to do two 70.3 races in consecutive weekends in the lead up to a long course triathlon (Ironman) isn't unusual ,but as I keep clocking up the years they are definitely getting harder to recover from. But if you have been reading the blog then you will be aware that I have been putting together a real good block of training and am in pretty good shape for an old dude!!
the first one was the Monster Mojo in Peterborough, a race that Tony Cullen won in some mental time in 2016, this year Tony wasn't racing but younger brother David was along with an army of Tri Central athletes, so I knew full well the race would be full on. In fact it seemed like most of the North West has gone down south for a bit of a play.
I had training partner and good pal Andy for company, which was great for moral. As we got to our room on the Saturday we were met by two armed police officers and CSI Peterborough two rooms down from ours at the Premier Inn. 'Where the hell have you brought me' was Andy's question. I felt like Han Solo in the first Star Wars film (Episode 4 actually) 'Its' not my fault, it's not my fault'. Some of you will know the scene. He was much happier once we put on the Eurovision Song Contest and slated every single performance except for Great Britain of course, by far the greatest singer in attendance!!
Race morning and guess what, its bogging it down, but apparently the lake was 16 degrees, absolute bollocks, it was freezing, muddy and full to the brim of weed. My swim was terrible I couldn't get into a rhythm, I was eating weed as well as clawing myself through the stuff, one word GRIM!! 37 minutes is my slowest 1900m for a long time and I had the added bonus of loosing my Garmin 920xt, but this time for good. So no power data no run data, this was going to be interesting to say the least. On the bright side Andy had a great swim 34 minutes so he was well gone.
On to a very wet undulating two lap bike course with lots of roundabouts, farmers crap, potholes and gravel to contend with. But to fair this was a fast bike course. My plan minus the Garmin was to go hard or go home, you guessed it I went hard. A simple plan was hatched to go as hard as I could for as long as I could with out breaking and if I broke then so be it. As they say 'if you're gonna die, die with your boots on'.
I passed Andy towards the end of the first lap which worried me a bit as I know he is going really well leading me to thing I was really overcooking it. After the race Andy said we were flying when I passed him. Still I had committed to the plan so I carried on with it. The second lap was much of the same but I was suffering somewhat and was looking forward to getting off the bike, although I didn't really know what ot expect even though I Know I have been running really well.
A speedy T2 and off on to the run. Unbelievably there was none of the jelly legs or transition from bike to run legs and I thought I was straight into it. I say thought because I had nothing to go off, or did I. When I run in triathlon all I see are targets. I love chasing people down and take great pride in not being passed. So I was on the hunt. And that was the strategy. I was getting all the information that I needed from the other athletes. comments like 'flying mate, great running, good form' were telling me all I needed to know. Additionally we all know when we're going well. I was going well. Four laps in and off to the finish and that was that.
Barring the swim in that horrible lake I would advise you to have a go at this one, the bike and run were short but it was a well run event, very friendly and not too big. It would be a good introduction to middle distance racing. Andy also had a great day finishing off a solid swim and bike with a very impressive run which was brilliant because of the amount of work he has done on it over winter.
Swim 37:15 (CRAP) T1 1:13
Bike 2:19:06 (HAPPY) T2 52 Seconds
Overall time 4:14:12
7th overall and V45/49 age cat winner
So onto the second race The Graffman 70.3 at Graffam Water, a bit further south and all on my own this time in the Premier Inn. The first thing to say about the Graffman is that you don't start till 8am, which as most will know is a lie in. Again a great event much bigger than the Mojo and really well organized. Add to this the attendance of the fantastic, incredible, wonderful, lovely, legendary BTF officials then you just know you are in for a great race, especially when those wonderful officials shorten the swim to half the distance due to the water in this massive expanse of water being fecking freezing, what a result, happy doesn't even begin to explain how Mrs Duckworth's only son was feeling, even though I was sporting my new HUUB wetsuit (which was brilliant Marc Laithwaite).
Green Ice. That is the best way I can describe Graffam water. You know those smoothies that everyone drinks, well I and 600 others were swimming in one. Despite the rolling start it was a war as usual. but I've been here many times before and have my own coping strategies which thankfully haven't deserted me. Simply ease into it stay long relax and swim. This got me round in 17:33. not a great time but I was really comfortable at this pace, so job done.
T1 was fast again with the old shoes fixed to the bike being part of my armory now so I was out onto the bike in 1:29. The bike course at the Graffman is great in the right conditions. We had wind but nothing too extreme, the roads for the most part are good and surprisingly quiet. Its a rolling course with a few sharp inclines here ant their but nothing you haven't seen before. Due to this nearly all the bike was done in the TT position keeping a close eve on the power output, I had data this time, so wasn't racing naked. I did however push pretty hard mainly due to the out and back nature of the course. I could see I had a lot of ground to make up if I was to finish were I wanted to in the top ten. At the first turn round I stopped counting at about 75. The plan was to get the head down embrace the suck and just go hunting again, this time on the bike. Yes it hurt but I was passing a lot of athletes and a lot of cheats drafting, my pet hate. at the last turnaround before heading back to T2 I counted 24 athletes putting mt 25th. The power on the bike was up on what I would have called Ideal but as with the Mojo I had committed to the plan and just had to see it through the best I could. My onlt issue was having pretty tight gluets, which was a bit worrying for the run. Bike time was 2:31:24 for 56.9 miles, which was pretty good and up there in the mix with some of the best times which was very pleasing. A 1:18 T2 and onto my playground the run.
The run is 2 laps on tarmac and trails with a few little bumps, a very nice run in my humble opinion. Additionally I got to see a lot of potential targets getting closer to me during the race. Thanks to my good pal Joe Elding I was armed with a garmin Fenix for the run so I had splits. As with the Mojo I was straight into it a bit fast to be honest with the first mile of 5:46. Calm down was my thought at this point, so i settled into 6:20 pace which felt manageable. Of course it varied dependent on up of down hill but it was fast enough for me to be picking off athletes for the two laps. At the last turn round I spotted what was possibly the last athlete I could pass, and a proper odd looking bloke he was too. He wore a Batman cap, mirror shades, had longish dark slicked bac hair and a 70s porn star mustache. This is what sold it to me, I don't care how much this is gonna hurt, I'm not having a porn star beating me. And so it began, and my god did it hurt. I waited till the last incline about 800m from the finish to attack him. 'Please don't try and hang on'. Guess what, he hung on, so it was on like Donkey Kong for about 400m and thankfully he broke just prior to me. I crossed the line in a time run time of 1:20:53 and an overall time of 4:12:39 for 12th overall and my second age cat win in two weeks, this time taking the age cat by over 15 minutes. So really pleased despite not managing the top 10. The most pleasing part of the race was the bike split and managing to run 6:19 pace for the half marathon. The last mile was bang on 6 minutes so happy, happy, happy. I tried to say well done to the porn star but he didn't understand me at all, he was Italian, Kona flashback!!!!
Next stop for me if the Lakesman in Keswick on the 18th June, my first long course race of the year (Ironman). I've got a few weeks of really hard work to get through prior to a 10 day taper period. There are lost of friends coming to watch the race, mainly the marathon due to it being 5 laps of Keswick so really spectator friendly. A lot of triathletes have the ambition to go under 5 hours for the Ironman bike leg. I'm a bit different, I've always wanted to go under 3 hours for the marathon. I've come close with a 3:06 and Keswick is pan flat so who knows. I can promise one thing it's gonna get really, really dark!!
Till then take it easy
Joe D XX