Basingstoke Half Marathon

A beautiful slightly crisp but sunny morning this morning was the setting for Mark and myself’s meander around the Basingstoke Half Marathon course. My first time on the course, a nice if not hilly run. Great time running.

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Post Little Woody

Am at the end of my training week now after Little Woody. Things have been very tender, surprisingly for the most part I seem to have kept the same volume in my training. Although I have dropped the intensity somewhat. It’s definitely about recovering. Am looking forward to running the Basingstoke Half Marathon course tomorrow morning.

Little Woody Race Report

From the outset I have to get this report right, this was the best race ever! You don’t need to read my entire page of ramblings to know you must do this event next year!

My final planned triathlon of the season, and one that I had been dreading since the beginning of the year. For some bizarre reason when hunting the 2012 race calendar for a middle distance event, I had settled on the Little Woody. No not the flatter, well trod events for me. No it had to be a decent scalp, something worth dreading, I am truly demented.

And so I found myself in the budget hotel room in Gloucester on Saturday morning – 5am feeling sick to my stomach. I had, had the chance to scout some of the cycle route the night before and was wishing I hadn’t. The hills looked really bad, massive climbs in and out of villages with Alpinesque switchbacks. Okay for training, but I was going to go racing on this stuff. Added to that the organisers touting of the event, as one of the UK’s toughest, I didn’t have an opinion on that but it did scare me. I was starting to make negotiations with my wife Susan to just go home and say we’d done the event, no one need know. This sounded more sensible.

But, I found myself queuing up on a pontoon, in my trusty Orca wetsuit at the National Diving Centre where I had racked up my bike the night before. The swim location was turning out to be stunning. Something I hadn’t appreciated in the rainy dusky the evening before. Firstly the weather was playing ball and was sunny, for a second the water at the bottom of this flooded quarry was crystal clear. Turquoise, warm and crystal clear. After waiting for some stragglers on the full Iron Man race to creep around on their final lap we set off. My plan to lay back and take it easy evaporated as I immersed myself in the environment. The swim was turning out to be the best open water swim I had ever done. Utterly breathtaking, and so I set out to enjoy the swim, meaning I soon found myself at the front pack. Drafting was simplicity itself since being able to clearly see the competition one could position oneself perfectly. I don’t mind saying I enjoyed this for the first half lap. After which it seemed sensible to not hang about. Either everybody was being far cleverer than me and preferred to conserve valuable energy resources or I was a complete mug. But I decided to enjoy myself as much as was sensible and give the competition something to chase. I emerged out the water at the ladders first. That had been easy, running out the quarry to T1 was not so! Luckily I, as had the seemingly the rest of the field stored a pair of trainers at the foot of the quarry climb. A steep climb it was too. I had decided to not go crazy at this part of the course and let the heart rate settle. I made into T1 6th after the 800m or so climb out the quarry, but was very relaxed and enjoying myself immensely.

I got to chat to my supporters (wife and daughters) while stripping off my wetsuit, before setting off on my lap of the Forest of Dean. I had decided to pace and relax myself from the outset. So while munching away on a Power Bar I  rode on. The race was now entirely with myself, I would be ignoring everyone and everything else until the finish line.

The first dreaded col turned out to be very manageable. I was surprised. The second climb was even less of an issue. I began to settle down and enjoy the ride, that twisted around narrow roads, and as the name suggested oft heavily wooded roads. More than one downhill was breathtaking galloping along at 40mph+ for minutes at a time, what a rush. The signage along some of the roads warned of sheep and right those signs were, sheep everywhere in places. Where the hell was I? Fortunately towards the end of the cycle when the back was starting to tire some more hills loomed. This gave me a chance to get out of the aero position and out of the saddle, getting the circulation going and a much-needed reprieve to those muscles. Hills are not all bad it seems. I also decided to take it easy, I thought to myself 15 miles no problem, take them easy going and loose a few minutes and preserve yourself for the run. And then without seeing it coming the cycle leg was over, I still felt very fresh and had enjoyed the loop of the Forest of Dean immensely, some stunningly picturesque cycling and fast riding – that was tough??

I got to chat to the family while I moved through T2 (split transition) I was really enjoying myself. But I was still nervous about the run. My previous and first step up to middle distance had hurt on the run at Antwerp. But this time rather than throwing myself at the run like I would at an Olympic or Sprint (go mental) I was going to pace myself strictly and measure where I was. And so my run of monitoring my HRM keeping the max at 80% to 85% began. This turned out to be a very slow pace for me. Fortunately this was exactly what I had trained for recently, slow running – time on the feet.

The run turned out to be 3 laps of a vicious climb, utterly merciless and a fair portion off road to boot. The route planner is clearly a sadist. I was determined that I wasn’t going to be walking any of it. I paced and paced myself some more. I noticed that apart from a few fleet footed wonders who blazed past early on, I seemed for the most part to be maintaining my position. Painfully in the beginning, but growing stronger towards the end. In fact I think I was just settling down at the end! Were it not for a burst of excitement at the end in which I lifted my pace past carefully managed and into the red after the finish. I wont provide the full color of the details – let us just say a repeat of some of the fun in Antwerp!

Swim 00:35:25 T1 00:02:11 Cycle 03:01:52 T2 00:01:15 Run 01:54:14 Final 05:34:59

I felt I had redeemed myself at the 70.3 distance especially on a tougher course – next time quicker.

Clumper

Yesterday morning at the start of my taper for this weekend’s race I decided to drop in on my friend ‘Clumper’.

I see Clumper most mornings standing somewhat dejectedly in his field on his own. I like to think that he is well cared for. He has kept my company through a puncture change before, each morning I make sure to greet him with a view clicks of the tongue which will prick up his ears.

At any rate being taper day I decided it was the perfect opportunity to take him a carrot. He did seem to approve. So will make this a habit, maybe an apple or two in the future?

This mornings taper in the pool while quick 10X200m sets. I did manage to give myself a light shoulder strain during a cool down length of butterfly. I am sure it will be sorted in time. But that will teach me to go crazy sprinting.

I seem to have a catalogue of aches, sprains and minor stress fractures right now. Time to rest up before race Ashley!

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Super Swim Series Race 2

A little belatedly I decided to enter this past Saturday’s SSS race 2. It is an event I have always enjoyed in the past, being a race with a relaxed feel. Added to that this year the race was for national UK rankings. Considering my recent strength in the open water and improving times I decided to enter.

Ofcourse I realised the event was now likely to attract fast swimmers, as proved to be the case. With my busy race calendar this was unfortunately a key focus so I will wonder how much more I can improve my times with taper resting etc.

The race day itself was perfect, with us arriving a little earlier than we would normally at Bray lake. Because of Olympic events being held at nearby Dorney lake.

For the swim start I broke with tradition and placed myself on the near right towards the front of pack. Taking advantage of the treading start I even warmed up a little. No nervousness anymore it seems.

The pace after setting off was aggressive and remained that way throughout the race. The first corner was an intense melee though thankfully the numbers had thinned by then. A very definte difference to the lax pace I normally encounter. These people meant business, and so did the bozo that crossed across my path from nowhere and connected me hard on the left side of my face. No matter I burnt him off after the first lap but still have a clue next time bozo!

I laid down good pace during the swim, I could tell this from the way the laps ticked down very quickly. Four laps were up on no time, but was lap three too slow? Anyways at the finish I swam past the swim exit. I was crestfallen when I saw what I had done. An extra 20 metres swam and now I floundered on the lake bank stunning one of my toes that later was to turn a magnificent swollen purple.

At any rate I recaptured the actual swim finish and emerged after loosing I would estimate 3 (4?) places taking me out of the top twenty to twenty fourth! I was self-incensed although my daughter’s mirth at my expense did lighten my mood somewhat.

Although my loyal supporters were wanting a win or top finish considering the level of competition I am fairly pleased with myself. In fact I may look into the next race in the SSS. But I have a niggly feeling that I am fully booked 🙂