Back in May I did some Attitude training in Font Romeu, I was hoping that I was going to be absolutely motoring when I came back to Sea level. I came back on the 30th May with Staffordshire 70.3 being on the 12th June. I wasn’t sure how I would react to being at altitude as when I looked at the research there were so many different studies with many opposing views on optimal time to be back at sea level for maximum effect. This was one of the reasons why I didn’t want to go to close to Roth as I thought it’s my first time and If I mess it up then that could be my A race of the year down the drain.
However what I found was that towards the end of my stay in Font Romeu my power and speeds were going up for a lot lower heart rate then when I first started training at altitude, great I thought this must be a sign of more red blood cells and that I’m adapting to being at altitude. However when I came back from Altitude I felt absolutely terrible for like 10 days, It felt like some kind of overtraining syndrome or something like that, all I could describe it as would be a deep sense of fatigue. I did a time trial 4 days after arriving back and my power was absolutely terrible, I just couldn’t get my heart rate up a all. Interestingly I spoke to my Dad after this time trial and he said he had been feeling the same despite the fact that he didn’t do much out in France. I guess it must be something to do with the way my body reacted to it.
Anyway I started feeling good the Wednesday before Staffordshire and was feeling confident of doing a good race when race day came around.
So the race itself. I started off with a pretty good swim for me coming out of the water closer then what I have done to the lead group and I felt as though I had a good start. The guy I was swimming with eased up though around 1/2 way into the swim and I think I should have taken a turn on the front as the pace felt quite comfortable, a bit to comfortable really.
Then out onto the bike and I was planning on holding around 330w for the bike. There were quite a lot of technical sections and downhills etc where you couldn’t really put the power out so my average power was quite low 317w with a normalised power of 332w for 2 hours 20. I lot a lot of the on the bike though which was disappointing as I would have thought with that power output I would have been closer to the front of the race and not completely out of contention stating the run.
The run was good, I pushed it hard throughout as you never know what might happen and also I wanted to get a good session in. I managed a 1.17 split which I was happy with as theres a pretty big hill you have to run up 3 times and also probably about 6 miles of offload running over the course of the 3 laps. It was like cross country in parts so I was happy with that.
My finish position in the end was 4th so not happy with that but on the plus side it then gave me enough points to guarantee my place in Kona this year which is great to get sealed up.
On the Tuesday after Staffordshire I flew out to Nuremberg with Rob Lines from Tri anglia to do a recon of the Roth course to see what I’m up against and also to get a feel for it. It was great having Rob out there as he really helped with the logistics and also the support. I liked what I saw of the course and I’m sure it will be quite surreal on race day going round them roads with the course lined with Spectators and 1000s of other athletes at the same time.
hopefully I’ll get better weather on race day!
If you haven’t raced Roth before I would say the course is definitely a lot more undulating then what you would expect especially with the reputation it has as being so quick. The roads are unbelievable though, no pot holes and a perfect road surface the whole way. The run course is pretty nice as well running down along the canal, I reckon if you are on a good day it’s one of them run courses where you would absolutely love it just picking off people the whole way with no corners or anything to break your momentum. however if your on a bad day it would probably be hell running down a canal feeling terrible for as far as the eye can see.
Interestingly while I was out there I took my training bike out with me, mainly because with my luck of taking bikes on airlines I didn’t want to risk getting my race bike damaged and my training bike is very easy to assemble, an idiot could do it. I mean I even managed to even get it up and running!
One thing though which it made me realise was how much more comfortable I have that bike set up and how much more power I can produce on it. After my first ride out there I rang my Dad up and said when I get back we are definitely going to have to completely change the set up of my race bike and get it the same as my training bike as it feels so good.
The plan for me in this race was to just go for it on the bike and get myself into contention starting the run. As well as that I also wanted to push some decent numbers on the bike to get a good confidence booster heading into Challenge Roth. Before I talk about this race I have to say a massive thank you to Emma Heavin for organising the race and also to her family as well who were all part of the Organisation behind it. They put a lot of the pros up in nice accommodation leading into the race, sorted out transfers and rental cars, and made everything really easy with the briefing two days before the event so you could really chill out the day before. The course was really good as well with a fast slightly undulating bike leg and a flat 2 lap run course. I would definitely like to come back next year and really hope it fits in with my schedule. I would also recommend it to any domestic athletes which are looking to make the step up to pro or who have recently started to race as a professional as the prize money is pretty good and you wont get looked after any better anywhere else. Also before I go on about the race, there’s loads of good cafes in Galway if you like a good coffee, unfortunately I haven’t been able to get on the cake until after Roth as I’m trying to get ‘lean’ and not look like a sausage roll!
The swim in the race was cut a bit short due to the wind on race day and the chop which we had to deal with. It wasn’t shortened by much though as I still had it as over 1700 meters on my garmin and the time it took us was pretty similar to if it had of been accurate distance due to how hard it was to swim. I felt as though I had a good start in the swim and was on the back of the lead group for a good 200 meters and I thought it might actually be my day of staying with them, unfortunately the guy who’s feet I was swimming on let go of the group and they opened up a gap. A little while later I tried to go on my own as the pace felt like it had slowed a lot. I tried to see where I was going but couldn’t see anything and thought it would be pointless leading as I couldn’t even see where I was swimming so I decided to sit back in for the remainder of the swim. I got out the water 2m 50 down but felt like I had a very easy swim and there was a lot more in the tank. It would have been good to do the swim in calm conditions where I could get stuck in to see if I could exit wishing 2 minutes of Dylan. That would have been a very good swim for me as he’s an awesome swimmer and was first out of the water in kona last year.
Out onto the bike and I just wanted to hurt myself really! I wasn’t happy with my rides in the last two 70.3s as I just didn’t think I went hard enough on the bike and I just wanted to go for it and get into the race. Unfortunately as it was so wet and humid I think it effected my power meter as I had data for the first 22 minutes which saw my power averaging 365w which I was very happy with as it felt good, I felt like I was working but that I could keep it up. Once my power went down after 22 minutes I just paced myself by wether or not it felt hard. If my legs felt like there was a bit of pain in them I tried to hold it and if it felt like it wasn’t hurting then I pushed it harder. Just before I caught the group my power meter started working again and I was still holding around 360ish. I caught the group about 6-7 minutes later and tried a few digs to get away but unfortunately it was to no avail as they had me covered. I decided then that I would conserve my energy and take my chances on the run. In hindsight I wish I had of just given it one really big attack and just gone with it but you learn each race and I was happy to have caught them. For the remainder of the bike I think I averaged around 300w which felt really comfortable, this gave me a lot of confidence as it felt much easier then this and I thought it Roth I could probably look to push around 310 and on a good day 320.
I had my bike time on my garmin as 2h09 minutes for bang on 90ks which in pouring rain and wind and with an easy last 30 minutes I’ll take that.
When we got onto the run David took off immediately and I was left in joint 2nd with Dylan Mcniece for company and Kevin Thornton just behind in 4th. My tummy felt absolutely terrible though, It was at this point I knew eating that 14 inch pizza with Jalepenos on the night before was not a good idea. Unfortunately I didn’t see any toilets and there was no where to stop to go to the loo. I had to make a decision do I take one for the team and make sure I get on the podium which I haven’t done before in a half distance race or call it a day and stop. Obviously I took one for the team and knew that I had to get 2nd after this. I stayed with Dylan for 15Ks and then made my move with 5ks to go on the run and then managed to put about 90 seconds into him by the finish.
I definitely felt like I should have taken more nutrition on during the race. I was relying on using mostly energy drink with 2 gels but as it was so cold and wet I only managed to drink one bottle which left me a bit hungry, I could notice it on the run and in future in colder events I will take more gels and bars for nutrition and in hotter events I will go for more energy drinks.
Overall happy to get 2nd place and a good confidence booster ahead of Roth in 3 weeks time. I’ve got another 2 weeks of training and then an easy week leading into the race. I know I’m in shape to pull off a good result so just need to get to the start line feeling good.