Race recap: Scorching tri – 15 November 2015

24 11 2015

With less than four weeks (yes, of course I’m counting!) to go until my Taupo 70.3 half ironman, the boss (Coach Gerrard) decided he’d make the most of the timing of the first Scorching Tri of the season.

My training plan featured the Medium Distance triathlon. This would mean my longest ever open water swim. So far. The majority of my training squad appeared to be registered for the Long Distance. When I went to pick up my race pack the day before, a few of my squad mates asked why I was in the medium queue.

“It’s the one that’s in my training plan”

“Well you’re on the wrong plan!”

I’ll take that as a compliment! But in reality I was glad I stuck with the shorter swim. Luckily I wasn’t alone and about four of my squad mates lined up next to me in the shorter race.

I’ve been working really hard, and I mean REALLY hard on getting my swimming right. I decided to join the boss’s Monday night “technique” swim squad with just six weeks remaining. I had to reorganise my life to do this. I usually teach a Group Power class at the gym on Mondays which had prevented me joining before. But with my confidence not improving, I felt that drastic times called for drastic measures. I got cover for all the remaining classes in 2015 and devoted Monday nights to the pool.

The Long Distance tri contained a full 1kms in Scorching Bay. It’s a great swimming bay, nice and sheltered from the prevailing Northerly wind. But I just didn’t feel ready for that. I’ve done way more in the pool. 2.2kms to be precise. But the sea is a different kettle of fish.

My previous PB in the harbour was about 350m doing a few laps to a buoy and back as part of one of our squad training sessions. So jumping to a full km might have been a bit much. The Medium tri gave me a solid 500m and I saw it as a confidence builder rather than replicating the big event.

Like any good athlete(!?) I had a race plan. In my previous tris, my plan was to make it in one piece out of the water and back onto dry land. This time around I wasn’t nervous of the swim at all. I’ve put in the time and distance over recent months. I’ve got in the open water a couple of times. It wasn’t new any more.

But I knew that I have a tendency to rush off at the start to try and keep up with everyone else. Including those that could pass for mermaids if you didn’t notice they had legs. This always left me gasping for breath and desperately clawing at the water as I tried to reel myself in.

My plan this time revolved around me. And my own race.

I know from my pool experience that if I relax and keep a steady, even pace, I can go the distance without gasping for air. So that was my goal. To finish the swim well, without gasping for air, and able to breathe bilaterally, every three strokes, all the way to the end. And just focus on the stroke. Efficiency and good form would probably get me to the end faster than trying too hard.

I let the mermaids race off the start line and gently made my way into the water. At my own pace. One of my fellow squad mates commented afterwards that she’d got really flustered and looked up to see me sailing past and thought to herself “that’s what I should be doing.” Not bad for someone who professes “I’m not a swimmer” (i.e. me).

The swim went exactly to plan. If you use my objective as the plan. If you add in the objective of navigating the course well so I could swim as close to 500m as possible, I failed. But that wasn’t an objective. I’d estimated 500m would have taken me about 15 minutes, but I ticked my watch over to T1 (transition 1) at just under 14 minutes.

At the end of the race, I saw I’d actually swum 644m! Even when the lifeguard pointed over my head and said “that way mate” I didn’t think I was that far off course.

I was stoked. Imagine what time I could do if I swam straight!

Out of T1 and I zoomed past another one of my squad mates who had racked his bike near me and got on the road. I haven’t even tried that thing of leaving your shoes on the bike and trying to put them on as you ride. For someone as clumsy as me it sounds like a recipe for disaster. And in the grand scheme of a long distance half ironman, it won’t save me that much time.

So from a standing start I headed out with the tailwind, knowing a headwind was coming. We benefitted from both head and tailwinds as we wound our way around the south coast, keeping you keenly focused on the road ahead and not really able to take in the rugged beauty of this coastline.

My squad mate who’d struggled in the swim is a strong cyclist and managed to grind past me on the way back, but again, I had to concentrate on my own race and leaving myself enough in the legs to get through a 5km run.

20kms later and back in T2 (transition 2) I had a secret weapon! Conversations had been held at our previous event about the benefits of elastic laces on the run and I decided to give them a go. It meant no tying shoe laces and no fears of laces coming undone. How quick was I in T2?! I was on the road in no time, beating my swim and cycling buddy out of transition in the process.

A solid run and I finished about 15 minutes ahead of the time I expected. I couldn’t believe it when I got my phone to text hubby and it was only 9.30am!

So what did I learn from the experience as I count down towards Taupo?

  • Have a clear plan in place and execute it well. We’ve been briefed on having a plan for the main event so I need to spend some time thinking about and working on that. I have some ideas but I want to spend some time thinking about it
  • If you concentrate on your own race it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. You can’t compare your own performance to those around you as you don’t know what their plan is nor how well they’re executing it. You hear stories of people who hammer it straight out on the bike course at long distance events only to be overtaken as they fade (the tortoise and the hare anyone?)
  • Listen to the advice of more experienced people and try new things out in practice. Figure out if they’re going to work for you in the real event. The elastic laces were a winner but I’d hate to have tried them for the first time at the big one
  • Be the best you can be on the day and no one can beat you. It doesn’t matter what their clock says, it’s only your clock that counts
  • Even if other people think you should be doing more, only push yourself out of your comfort zone so far. For me the swim was enough of a stretch. I could have done the long bike and run but I wasn’t mentally prepared for the longer time in the water. I followed the plan my coach laid out, and his is the main opinion that counts
  • I still look crap in a tri suit! I won’t post the proof!

Scorcher Nov 2015

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4 12 2015
Train hard, race easy | A little old blog, by little old me

[…] and could see myself slightly off course. Not wanting to have life guards redirecting me again (like in the last Scorcher!), I kept my eye on my nav points a bit more […]




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