Finally got out of the starting blocks this year. Kilsbergen triathlon -dubbed as Sweden’s toughest Olympic triathlon- was the event, it was indeed tough and I am very happy with my performance. Pretty windy out there but all in all great weather considering how it was two hours before the start:
The plan going in was to hammer the swim, be ultra conservative on the bike and hammer the run. The success of execution could be considered as mainly a success. The gun went off and I swam with the lead group towards the first buoy. JUst after the first turn I started to get a little anxious and my breathing tightened up. I decided to drop back behind the guy who was causing me the most stress and just hang onto his legs instead. After I recovered my composure I found the pace far too slow and decided I’d come around him; unfortunately he (and me by default) had let a 10m gap open up to the lead group. I chased hard, felt strong but all my work was in vain – I not only didn’t catch the group, I didn’t even close the gap.
T1 was uneventful and the bike mount was less sloppy than Stockholm triathlon’s attempt last year. The first 4km of the bike leg was down the infamous 4km hill – seems easy. Being my first time on my new wheels – Planet-x 82/101s – and discovering the effect a crosswind has on such wheels for the could in normal cases be considered a stressful experience; experiencing this for the first time at 69km/h is just plain silly. I alternated between fear and laughter as I snaked my way down the hill. After the descent I had a plan to hold around 200w on the flat and add a few extra watts for the climbs. At times I caught myself pushing 240-250w on the flats and backed off. I pushed about 230-270w for the main 4km climb and 220-240w for ths smaller drags. Lap two was the the same as the first but with more controlled pace… I felt very good throughout.
I had heard and worried about the bike leg for the entire week and had assumed the run would be ok; nobody really talked about it so the assumption was there was nothing to talk about; Not in any way true!
The course was difficult. It dropped down for 3km on a mixture of surfaces before it transitioned a ski slope and then headed upwards. The elevation that had been lost in 3km had to be climbed in just 1,9km – It was very tough. I pushed on gaining back 4 or 5 of the places I had lost on the bike and I think I crossed the line in about 20th place overall. First in age group but there was only five of us so nothing too great to cheer about…
1500m swim, 44km bike, 10,5km run in 2:28 and some change.
It’s not a fast time but it’s a tough course and it far exceed the expectations I had placed on myself. Great day out and I can’t wait to race again.
Here’s the bike data:
So it’s done and the result is better than I ever expected – perhaps there is a runner inside me after all. Whilst my specific training was not very long, I believe my strategy was pretty spot on. Prioritise distance and try to maintain some speed would be a good sound bite for the approach.
I tapered well and was feeling very fresh on marathon morning. I wrote a blog entry the night before with my predictions. I firmly believed that 3:07 was the most likely outcome. Even with this prediction in mind, I didn’t actually have a plan for race day outside of: let’s see how much I am able to suffer today.
I made my way up to the front of the first start group and decided to just run. The gun went off and I did just that. I ran by feel and hardly looked at my watch at all. After two miles of effortless running I glanced at my watch and saw that I was hitting 6:30/mile – suicide pace for sure. I decided that I’d just keep running and see what happens. I hit two bad patches during the first 10km where I didn’t feel smooth. I had to force my running and the paced backed off somewhat during these two periods and the tone for the day was set: feelings of fluid natural running interrupted by some unusual awkward and sluggish patches. I passed the half way point at 1:31:00 with bitter sweet feelings. Firstly, I was way ahead of plan but so close to sub-3 pace that I could taste it. I then adjusted my plan to just hold pace until 14km to go and then give it all I have; this is 4km sooner than I would usually decide to kick.
The 14km to go point came and I started to execute my new plan. I had just under an hour to try to make the sub-3 a reality. My quads started to hurt very soon after my kick began. Pain management became an exercise in denial: “my legs aren’t sore, they are nice and warm” became my phrase of denial for about five or six kilometres. With 5km to go all such mind games were futile – I simply started to estimate the amount of minutes remaining and dismiss them as being ‘no time at all’. Three kilometres to go was the point at which I nearly gave up… the rational argument in my mind almost beat the urge to drive myself forward. Thankfully I relented and pushed through to the finish in the most pain I have ever experienced in a race to date. I glanced at the clock to see a time of 3:00:50. For some it would be a disappointment – so close to the sub-3! For me it was a great achievement – having gone so deep into the red for so long was what the day came to mean to me. It’s now two days later and I’m still proud of what I did; In this case, the effort was more important than the result.
Now to see what I can do with 26 weeks prep.
Dublin City Marathon is starting in just under eleven hours.
I’ll predict 3:07 but not be surprised by 3:15
2:59 is pie in the sky type prediction.
I’ll know in 15 hours.
…That’s how long it has been since my last triathlon.
Two children, one house move and one year as ‘just a runner’ with two years off the bike in between.
I had great aspirations entering the season, some would say it was borderline arrogance!
After getting some good training in between October and February, I thought I’d be able to ramp up the volume to eight hour weeks and attain a level of fitness I had not seen in years, if ever. The sad truth was that -because of work and family commitments- I never did break the four hour week; I believe my average for the year was 4:23 per week.
The decision to even enter the race was tough and it was only after reading last years end of season review that I decided to race. “Give yourself a chance to fail.” was my reasoning for entering. All things relative, I don’t think I did fail. After racing with the lead group in the swim for the first 200m, sense prevailed and I eased off and cruised the rest of the swim in 23 minutes and some change. I knew my fitness was not deep and racing at this late stage would have been suicide. On the bike I kept the same approach – easy does it to get a 1:07 split. I then decided to leave it all on the run course. Unfortunately, it all, was not that much. The course was very short and a 35:20 run split does not tell the tale. I’d say I was possibly running 4 minute kilometers, which given my fitness, was more than acceptable to me.
I’ll derive lessons from the year at a later date and make a plan for next year based on that. Until then I must now ‘prepare’ for Dublin Marathon. I’m actually afraid to check how soon that is.
The plan is going pretty well up to now. Two minor amendments and one failure. To be honest, I believe skipping the run will only help me on Saturday but will cause a minor setback in my Dublin City Marathon preparation. It’s effectly putting me a week behind in my already very tight schedule.
Doing a ‘crash block’ like this may have very small benefit from a physiological perspective, from a psychological perspective -AKA HTFU- it does deliver.
Today was my third quality swim in three days and I had to go pretty hard to pull it off. While there have obviously been no fitness gains in the past three days I am getting better at holding a steady pace throughout the set. In swimming practice gives speed as well as fitness. The race is in 9 days time, so I’ll also get some physiological benefit too.
Tonight will be a big challenge: get on the trainer on a Friday night. The day after I just got a new job. A new job I have not celebrated getting.
So the choice is:
Have a glass of wine with the lady at home.
Do 2×20 minutes on the trainer in the pain cave.
Not as easy a choice as it seems!
Whatever decision I make, I’ll then carry all that fatigue into Midnattsloppet.
Fun times indeed.
I may be foolish now.
Alternatively, I may have been foolish for the past 6 years.
Let me explain.
Up to this year I only entered races that I thought I was well prepared for. My definition of well prepared was “prepared enough to either come close to or beat my PB in that specific event”.
If that was foolish, then I am now less foolish.
If that made sense, then I am now foolish.
I have a 10k race in 3 days; #1: I have ran five times in the last seven weeks!
I entered Dublin Marathon last night; #1 from above plus #2: Dublin marathon is in 11 weeks.
I have an Olympic triathlon in 9 days; #1 from above #3: I have not done a triathlon in 6 years #4: I have never done an Olympic triathlon before #5: I have not swam consistently since early May
Last year, in my end of season review, I stated: “I must give myself at least a chance to fail”.
Boy did I ever succeed in that!
I ran just over 10km today.
4:00/k for the first hals.
Got difficult after that.
Ended the run with 4:13/km average pace for 42 minutes.
Well, I’m finished am now in possession of a new 10km PB – even thought the time is not what I hoped for. Legs felt good, weather was perfect and I may well have executed the race nearly flawlessly; so all that was lacking was the fitness that I thought I had. Can’t complain about that I suppose.
Because of the lack of racing experience over the last few years I did find the mind games particularly tough. Holding focus was quite difficult and I believe that I let is slip a couple of times during the 7th and 8th kilometre. Pain was where it usually is at and the clock stopped 1:11 sooner than my last 10k race and my previous PB. My new PB now stands at 37:28. I would love to take 1:30 off that time next year. Is that possible? One year will tell.
I’ve not updated this for a very long time; I’ve had many balls up in the wire and had to let this one drop! Over the past few weeks I have done some running and very little cycling; mainly 30-50 minutes indoor quality sets. Despite the lack of cycle volume, I placed myself on the start line of a 135km bike race today and gave it a go.
All went very well for the first 10 minutes until a giant tractor blocked the road and the group was split to bits. I procrastinated a little too long and my decision to wait for a group to help me catch the main group proved to be the wrong one. Initially we were just two and by km 50 we had a good group of 7 working very well together. I felt very strong but was in no way confident; I was waiting for my lack of cycling volume to tap me on the shoulder and say “hey buddy, out the back with you!”. At km95 our group had whittled down to 4 and I was still feeling pretty ok – I was tired but far from being expelled out the back. With 20km to go I started to feel an ache and had to dig very deep several times to hold the group. This got harder and harder until eventually -with just 3km to go- the elastic broke. I was out the back and all alone. I limped home and was absolute exhausted upon crossing the finish line; I don’t think I have ever gone that deep on the bike.
I’m now sitting here with that warm glow of exhaustion that only cycling can bring on. I’ll press publish now and hit the bed with a smile on my face.
135km / 35,8km/h
Race: I ran 38:39 on Saturday. I’m pleased with that. Can I find another 2 minutes this year? Hässelby calls!
Rest: I rested on Sunday despite feeling as if I could have raced again; no fatigue whatsoever.
Roll: I jumped on the trainer and did the most intense interval session ever. 30 minute at IM pace followed by 3 x 4 min Max with 4 min rest between intervals. I was absolutely fried afterwards.
Goal: Under 39 minutes on a difficult 10km course. I’m going to have to get ready to welcome the pain.