Portland Olympic Race Report from James

It was a beautiful sunny morning on the way to Weymouth and it was a perfect race day, the sea was fairly calm and only a small breeze. My last race I felt very left out in not having a ‘transition box’, and so this time I was prepared and my box was one of the biggest and I know what your thinking, ‘what are you going to put in it?’ don’t you worry I managed to bring pretty much everything including the kitchen sink. This was a distinct disadvantage as this time each transition area was the size of a postage stamp and so i had to store all my unwanted clobber somewhere else.
What felt like loads of time to get ready, I suddenly realised that the race briefing was starting and I was still getting my wetsuit on, not exactly the perfect preparation. As I stood there eyeing up the competition and looking at everyone else to see how they were preparing, it suddenly dawned on me that I wasn’t wearing my timing chip, doh!! After a frantic run back to transition area and eventually finding it under half a tonne of other rubbish in my transition box I was finally ready to start.
Having had no experience at open water swimming, before this summer, I had been quite apprehensive about the start of the race however I made sure I had practiced a few starts the week before and so I was confident and got right to the front. As the race started we all ran down the slipway and we were soon in the ‘washing machine’ of arms and legs going in all directions. My strategy was simple, high arm cadence and kick as hard as you can, my thoughts are that if I hit them back harder than they hit me then other people are more likely to give me more room and it worked quite well. The swim was a 2 lap swim consisting of nice calm harbour and semi rough open sea, after the first lap I felt pretty good and as soon as I was back in the harbour I increased the pace and went for it. Coming around the last buoy I still felt pretty good and started to think about T1. I was really pleased with the swim and I soon had the wetsuit off and was heading for my bike, over the timing mat in 27:08.
After putting on my bike shoes I was soon running out the door with my trusty stead, and heading up the Portland Mountain. The bike course was a 3 lap loop, with the first half flat out in the aero position all the way down to the bill. For those that haven’t ridden around Portland watch out for potholes I hit a large one at 55kmh and thought that I was going to jump the lighthouse. The second half was a bit more challenging climbing all the way up again before repeating the course twice over, it was quite a nice feeling when I was heading back down from Portland and heading for T2. I was really pleased with the bike section and averaged 29.2km/h and finished in 1hr: 22.
T2 was simple trainers on, gels in the back pocket and gone. I set off at a good pace and my aim was to beat 50min and try and do a negative split without damaging my knee. My knee has been playing up since November, and was so painful on the Saturday that I nearly had to pull out; thankfully Scott Langston had sent my pictures of all the pressure points and I spent Saturday afternoon working them to get the knee right. As I approached the 5km point, I did as Fran suggested had an energy gel then washed it down with some water as I turned at the half way point in 23min. I was then heading for home and went for it maintaining a good pace and finished the run in 44:22, and completed the whole course in 2:37:44. Pretty pleased with my first Olympic distance triathlon and I look forward to doing more of this distance next year. Next race 13th July Weymouth Half distance before the big one Ironman Wales in September.

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