Outlaw X

Welcome to race 17 in the 2021 Worfolk Triathlon Series (WTS). Based in the beautiful grounds of Thoresby Hall, it was set up to be a lovely almost-season-ender rating alongside Graeme, Naomi, Amy and Lydia. And the weather even held out to kee the lake nice and warm too.

The plan

My previous two middle distance races, Sundowner and IRONMAN 70.3 Weymouth were both 6:47 and change. I was 99% sure I could beat that. My spreadsheet had me about 6:10:00 so that was my stretch goal. But if things went better than expected sub-6 would be lovely so I set that as a super-stretch goal.

My estimate was based on a 46-minute swim and 3:15:00 bike, which I got by halving what I did Outlaw with a minute or two off the swim. The sounds pessimistic on the bike but Outlaw full was pan flat whereas this allegedly had 900 metres of climbing in it. Next, I took my Outlaw full marathon time (4:06:ish) and put it into the Run Less, Run Faster pace charts that suggested a 4:06:00 marathon runner could run a 1:57:00 half. Finally, I gave myself 7 minutes and 5 minutes for transition based on Graeme, Aron and Jack’s time from two years ago.

The swim

OBS promised us a weed-free swim. “We’ve cut a channel through the weeds,” they said. They had not. Or if they had, it was a very narrow channel. They were everywhere. Possibly they had cut them which is why there was so many floating around. On my arms, on my legs, but worse was on my face: they would cling to me and I had to pull them off to take a breath.

Worse, being at the back the swimmers are not always the best at pacing. And the lake, even in the centre, was hilariously shallow. As a result, some of my fellow swimmers would get fed up, stand and start walking at random intervals. Another swimmer would go super-hard for 15 metres, then have to stop, and just as I was going around him he would go again. And he did this for basically the entire swim.

Thankfully, the weeds did clear up on the final third of the swim and I was able to get into more of a rhythm. It is a beautiful lake when you don’t have a face full of weeds. And I came out of the swim in under 45 minutes.

Transition 1

No faffing! Not even a toilet break or a feed stop. Just bike gear on and on the move. It was a 400-metre run to transition and an additional run up to the mount line filled with slower athletes. It felt like a parkrun where I had failed to seed myself properly as I dodged around slower-moving competitors. Just under 7 minutes in total.

Bike

I started eating as soon as I got on the bike and managed to keep eating every 30 minutes. The bike course was flat. Although it supposedly contained 900 metres of evaluation gain, my bike computer only recorded 650 metres, most of which came at the end.

As a result, the first 70 was pan flat. I forgot that when someone from Yorkshire describes something as “rolling” and when someone from Nottingham says “rolling” they mean every different things. This was great. Me and my aero legs were rolling around at anywhere from 30-35 kph.

I stopped for a wee at the aid station 56 km in. Unfortunately, the sudden braking and veering off into a layby set the Garmin crash detection feature off. I didn’t realise what it was and so it ended up sending an alert to Elina. So, between queuing for a toilet, using the toilet and texting Elina to let her know I hadn’t crashed, I lost a few minutes.

The final 20 km was rolling and my narrow hold on a 30+ kph average speed evaporated. I found myself desperate sprinting up the hills and descending as fast as I could in an attempt to get it back. And it worked! I finished with 30.09 kph on my bike computer (that had auto-pause on).

Transition 2

I braked hard for the dismount line and this triggered Garmin’s incident detection again. This time I spotted it. I ran with my bike on one hand and my bike computer in the other as I tried to read the tiny on-screen text about how to cancel the alert. No luck. Worse, my phone signal died so the second message to Elins didn’t send. I only got a message through to her when Paul kindly lent me his phone after the race.

I treated myself to a gel on the way out and passed the timing mat in under 4 minutes.

The run

As I headed out onto the run course I checked my watch. Just under 4 hours! That gave me 2 hours to run a half marathon and go sub-6. The dream was on!

I went through the first kilometre in around 4:51. I knew if I could maintain a 5:00 per km pace I would finish in around 1:45:00, although more like 1:50:00 or more once I added in some aid station walks and 1-2 toilet stops. But I was also very aware that I felt okay for the first two kilometres of Outlaw before settling into 40 kilometres of hell.

The run course was beautiful. The sun was shining hard by this point but much of it was a train run through the woods with plenty of shade. I kept fueling with a gel, energy drink and coke on each lap. I managed to hold the pace fairly constant despite an increasing discomfort in my hip and my toes starting to rub.

Paul was cheering us all on each lap and I was heading out on each lap just as Graeme was coming back. I actually spotted him on the second lap. That’s very rare for me: poor Amy has endured years of me not spotting her on the canal even though we were running right past each other.

The finish

As I came towards the end, I knew I was going to make it under-6, significantly, and set a half marathon PB to boot. So, I did what I have been meaning to do for ages and dropped down to an easy walk at the finish chute. If there is one thing I have learnt from doing 3 full distance races this year, it’s that it is worth really enjoying that finish. Plus everyone from the club was there to cheer me home.

I finished in:

5:46:47

Here are my splits with my previous races for comparison:

Disipline Outlaw X Weymouth Sundowner
Swim 44:37 27:06* 50:20
T1 6:49 11:15 7:35
Bike 3:03:47 3:46:10 3:34:01
T2 3:45 11:44 7:12
Run 1:47:49 2:11:44 2:09:05
Total 5:46:47 6:48:01 6:48:13

Weymouth swim was cut in half as they could not get the buoys out, apparently, despite it being calmer than Redcar. So, an hour faster than both of those races! I was more than happy to be the last Harrier home given the awesome times everyone else put up as well.

After going long three times this year, racing at the middle distance felt more like short format. That doesn’t mean it is easy: short format means going hard and putting out as much power as possible. But there is a lot to love, too: no discipline takes too long, there is less time to get sick of your nutrition and you get to finish with plenty of daylight left and the bar still open.

For now, it’s time for me to put my feet up and relax. Until the season-closer next weekend.

Timeline

Newsletter

Don't have time to check my blog? Get a weekly email with all the new posts. This is my personal blog, so obviously it is 100% spam free.

Metadata

Tags:

This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 29th, 2021 at 11:00 am and is filed under Sport. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.