Goalspecific and Tripurbeck athletes were out in force this weekend throughout GB and Europe, racing from Sprint distance to 70:3. First up were Mark and Evan racing in Mallorca on Saturday, both putting in great performances, more details to follow from Ade at www.tripurbeck.com . Russ was racing in a super sprint in Stratford, and no doubt after a flying swim, the consistent hard work in the Turbo sessions and the Friday evening run intervals paid off as he finished first in his age group 4th overall. Simon was racing in the Immortal Sprint which was actually somewhere between a sprint and a standard and put in a solid 2:06 finishing 8th in his AG. Next up were myself and Ray racing 70.3 distance and Eric in a hilly sportif. Eric and Ray were braving the British temperatures whilst I decided to head for the warmth of Southern France! Unfortunately and no doubt due to germs brought home from school, Ray came down with a nasty cold a few days before his race and had to set his 3am alarm clock on Saturday evening with some paracetamol and lemsip. Whilst many would have thrown the alarm clock across the room and stayed in bed, Ray persevered and made the trek to the New Forest. The swim must have been freezing and from his report was a thoroughly unpleasant OW start of arms, thumps,slaps, dunks etc etc until about 800m in until finally he found a bit of space, that is if you can relax from the half drowning effect and very cold temperatures. Glad to be on the bike, Ray put in a great sub 2:40 bike split working his way up the field, ready to go for it on the run. Unfortunately by this point the drugs had worn off, and his brain and body were on different wave lengths. Pure determination got him to the finish line far from a run pb, but a gutsy performance in his first 2017 70:3. I’m hoping he now does not spend the rest of the week in bed with the flu and recovers quickly to start final preparations for Staffs.
Also battling it against the wind, and tackling the hills was Eric on this month’s challenge, which was 55 miles of hilly cycling terrain into a head wind most of the way. His aim was to complete the distance in around 3 hours 30, and he finished in 3:39 despite spasms through his quads. Good effort, and a finish in the top third of the field.
As for me, also first 70.3 of the season and first LD race since operation so was feeling pretty apprehensive! However 25 degrees plus in a beautiful part of the world is a great place to help the nerves. Biggest concern, obviously was the run (and also not picking up the cold from the coughing and spluttering boys) Whilst I have been working at building the distance and speed endurance and completing a few duathlons to help, I had not broken the 10k distance so going double the distance on the back of 90km bike could be a challenge and one I was a tad worried about. Having raced here a few years ago I knew the bike was rolling with a few mountain type climbs and some technical descents and the run was loops of the city. Plan was a solid but not silly bike, leaning towards caution so my leg had something for the run. Managed to get back to T2 (via a slightly longer route around the city than I remember) to the crazy long transition which was about a 5 min run in itself ( on stony floor with no carpet….come on IM..??) Ade informed me I was in 3rd AG place, yet again Planet x Exo3 does not disappoint, first two girls were flying, up amongst the pros,(in fact it would seem they actually race pro at times…mmm) However, it was in some ways irrelevant as in my mind I was now facing my biggest hurdle with absolutely no idea how my ankle would respond. It was definitely on the fatigued side off the bike but always is and I knew it would take a bit to get going. I had a bit of a shock to find that the run was different from previously (never make presumptions….read the blurb!) and psychologically this was not a good thing for me, as it consisted of a lot more climbs which is an area I am struggling with due to lack of strength in the ankle and surrounding ligaments. So I have to say, I had a few negative moments, and just accepted the fact I would have to walk up the climbs. Foot was tight and predictably cramping, hip flexor was unhappy and I was on the verge of being very gloomy by the end of the first lap. However quitting was not an option and once I had made it to the halfway mark I realised that actually after getting some fuel on board I had a bit more energy and it was not getting any worse. Going onto the 3rd lap Ade shouted at me, saying still in 3rd but 4th closing. I really don’t like finishing 4th so tried to pick up the pace, and actually could. Concentrating on not losing ground rather than my cramping foot, and hip flexor, took my focus away from what hurt, to try and maintain some form and consistency, in an attempt to not lose any more ground. Finally Lawrence was taken off the AG list, and 3rd was confirmed yesterday. Huge thank you to Planet X for the fantastic bike, Zone 3 for the amasing wetsuit and kit, Wonderfuel for giving me the nutrition to get around, and Joe for constantly putting me back together again,
Overall, lots of positives to take away and lots of areas that need some work, but 4 weeks to work on strengthening foot and building a more confident mental approach to the run for Staffs.
Lots of us will be lining up for Staffordshire 70:3, so looking forward to a racing weekend away, and there will be no doubt lots to report on. Ade, Nige, Laura, Simon, Cheryl, Jenni will be competing in their first 70:3 of the year, joining me and Ray, who have ticked that box but are coming back for more!