Monster Middle distance

It's a question of what if?

As many of you know I have been working with Andy Holgate for a little while. Like 
all coach/athlete relationships it has its challenges. Andy AKA "The Glass 
Librarian" is a victim of misfortune, illness, injury and anthing else that can 
break up training. It was after one of these moments and during a coach/athlete 
catchup he said "Do you want my place at Ely Monster middle distance triathlon"? 
Basically a 70.3 including a 1.9km river swim. A little thought and I said yes.

After saying yes I asked him not to tell anyone I was doing it so basically Em and 
Andy knew and I attempted to make subtle changes to my training without giving much 
away. Everyone knows I don't swim well and I really didn't want to overly think 
about the race when I had other events. Having entered AdH tri and duathlon the swim
training(loose statement) was being covered nicely but I wasn't getting out on the 
TT bike enough and when I was it was not going that great, 2 years of just not 
feeling right. That said power was good and results were ok. My joy of running 
covered the weekly 10 miler. 

Well after AdH initially I tried to cover it with I am supporting Morgan and 
socialising but AdH was bad and I needed more help. I confessed to a small group 
what was going on. The general consensus being I had unfinished business after 
Cotswold last year. 

Would you believe I have never been sub 5 in 4 finishes over the distance? Actually 
as you know my swimming readers you probably do and although a solid runner I did 
70.3 so long ago I was not the same biker I am now. Cotswold was going to be
"how much can a bad swimmer make up" but I was stopped by a puncture. I'm not a 
completer so carry no spares. 

So I did the 2 x 25 mile TTs badly on the transition and accepted I would try a Shiv 
at some point. Finally I told "the Smell of" thread on Fetch, implied initially more
than told that I would be there. 

Bang I crashed big style in the 50 mile 2 weeks out, incredible Andy Holgate type 
luck, 2 OW sessions lost, no hard long run, no last TT. I did some jogging and some 
volume for a week but it was like tapering. After 5 days I got in the pool but even 
I can cope in the pool. 9 days out and although in discomfort I was able to ride the 
TT bike and running was ok. Went to the lake on Tuesday 5 days out and did a lap in 
the lake, steady and no legs issues. A conversation with Morgan about testing the 
Shiv came up and I collected it with a view to a one off TT on the Thursday.  
Wednesday AM I ran and my hip hurt, wrote it off to bruising and trained hard at 
intervals. Managable with common sense I thought. Cool !! Thursday and Morgan and I 
did not make the TT but I made it to Morgans. Shamelessly we 2 upped Nick Silcoxs 
KOM on "Le Petit" Sorry Nick :¬) What a bike, felt more comfy in 50 mins than I had 
been in months on the transition. Large frame happiness, the next day I bought the 
bike and Morgan set up getting it ready for Sunday. Yes I was going to ride a bike 
for over 2hours that I had only ridden for 51 min such was my feeling after the 

Ok ok ok, this is supposed to be a blog about the Monster Middle Distance and how 
the duathlete does in a serious event.

Em and I had a lovely hotel near the venue(5 miles) so after Saturday registration 
we retired to the hotel and booked a table for dinner. 

Two things are interesting:

1. I was really chilled out even for me, the crash has me accepting I was not at my 
best so much so I fitted a new tub in the hotel on the Saturday and planned to race 
on the wheel off no test riding. 
2. How focused I really was, we were in a hotel and had traveled with bread, butter, 
jam, coffee and a cafetiere. I also wanted to be up at 0400 and at the venue by 
0530. No place like home it seems

So relaxed yet serious was the message. 

Parked the van and it was raining, TRO must be nearby was the thought in my head :¬) 
It was windy, obviously I am here. Between the two of us all bad weather was always 
likely. Mini panic when the front wheel wouldn't go in but largely calm morning even 
when collecting my new number for Wave 2. Can thank the RD enough for that very easy 
wave change. 

Bike racked and a lot of hellos were said. Nice to see Dawn, HoD and TRO before the 
start. At this point I don't have any race head and am my usual loud self. We 
wondered down to the lake, as Em was there she acted as my "pit bitch" and carried
my wetsuit goggles etc to the start. So a nice race briefing as I put the wetsuit on 
and made my way to the start. 


Ok it was never going to be good, missed sessions, generally crapness but I was not 
expecting the wind to make me feel like I was in the sea. I didn't have a panic 
attack but I could not sight or find rhythm so my swim became a very broken mixed
stroke affair. The only really bad bit was when the 1500 metre people in the 
standard starting coming passed. The fast people have skills but the slower/average
(brilliant to me) swimmers smacked and bashed me a little so I did lose a little 
time here to not quite stopping but being rather self aware. End result was a rather
shocking swim time.

Swim - 3rd from last in 53.13 - I had predicted a poor 52 mins from training

As is known I do not race until I have a bike so jogged to transition and took time 
getting organised, ok more time than planned as I popped the visor off my S-works 
lid.(this is why when speed matters in transition I will use the Kask and Shades)

T1 including run from water - 3.51 - seems my jogging is not that slow and with 
everyone gone it is easy to find your bike :¬)


I had done analysis and basically I was riding to power while being aware of my 
heart rate. 150 is a good HR and power between 234 and 279 was acceptable for 
prelonged periods, anything under and the question was why and raise the effort,
anything over 279 was why and establish control back under 279. Fact is that power 
from testing said 294 for FTP but I had only ridden 27X in the 2 x 25s in build up.

On to the ride, jogged out of T1 and CX mounted on the bike, I looked good :¬) game 
on, the course is flat with a few drags and I was quickly moving at a good pace, 
sadly the wind was everything I expected and coupled with the road surface the 
average pace came back down. Usual why do this thoughts on the bike as my race was 
over after a terrible swim but all the time my HR was good and power was ok(noted I 
used a low to mid 80s cadence especially over the crap ground) and importantly I was 
passing a lot of people, including Dawn and HoD(before he jumped off his bike). As I 
headed out onto lap2 I was "in the game" smoother on the rough stuff and not held up 
by the tractor. The bike was behaving flawlessly, I was moving a little but I think 
the wind had a lot to do with that. Gel strategy was perfect and I was never low on 
energy, I did run out of fluid with 5 or so miles to go, seems I need more than 
500mls for a 2hr 30 ride so next time I will fill the bladder :¬) There was no 
negative impact however as I kicked on in the last 6 miles.

Bike - 3rd overall in 2.28.57 - missed second due to that tractor and working the 
traffic - bike is ugly but awesome :¬)

T2 - 43 seconds - I'm a duathlete who races at the sharp end, not rocket fast but up
there :¬)


This has always been my strongest discipline, it is my background, many people will 
say that deep down I will always be a runner first. Either way I hit the course with 
a plan, aware of my body and the missing session a sub 90 run would be respectable.

I tapped out the early miles with no more than a little fatigue, formed my drink 
strategy from the aid station(worked like a dream) and got on with the business of 
securing my sub 5, Em got her first report on my back. On my second lap a young lady 
came by me and for the next chunk of the lap I became her shadow which was fortunate 
as my back loosened up a little and on the next climb I was able to get moving. Em 
got the report of a tight hamstring. Seems my niggle was moving. The third lap was 
probably my best except for the wheelchair and pusher walking blindly out in front 
of me but sadly a false dawn as come the 4th lap the hamstring was now pulling the 
back of my knee and my adductor was tight when climbing. Full blown management mode
(felt like miles after 40 in an ultra) now and then flat foot as the first calf 
tightness as well. All that said I was still moving around 7mm which was fast enough
that I was moving passed everyone. There was no ceremony as I ran to the line, no 
hero sprint, just a calm knowing that I had achieved an indifferent goalmas a non 
swimmer. Woman in the tunnel remarked that I didn't look like I had raced, trust me 
dear I was sore. 

Run - 2nd overall - 1.23.23 - happy in the knowledge that the engine was even better
than the time suggests. 

So they call it triathlon as you have to be able to do 3 events hence I finished 
16th overall, people must be glad it wasn't a duathlon though as I was fastest 
overall once I was on the bike :¬) 

So the big questions have been the usual:

Am I happy ? - I am content, I have gone sub 5 as a non swimmer but no I like 
winning not completing for arbitary numbers

Will I do more ? - I have finished 5 of 6 now and this has been my best one. I have 
put last years DNF to bed or have I ? I was in better shape last year and confident 
I could have run faster as my training was more focused. One a year at the Smell
Smackdown does not seem a bad idea to me. 

Will I learn to swim ? - The 50 million dollar question, I am better in a lot of 
ways and interestingly since AndyS worked on my shoulder I have swum this year
(liberal use of the word swum) with very few real issues, it also escaped injury in 
my crash. I am serioulsy thinking about doing some more and seeing if I can find a 
way but I know from the past it is not a road I will go down if it impacts my 
cycling or running meaning I have to add more training but it may be possible.

What am I ? - I claim a cyclist who jogs a bit but as Greppers says "Truehurts" I am 
a duathlete, there I said it. Next year I shall enter the age group qualifiers, not 
to qualify but just to see how I really stack up in a loaded field. I have a feeling
there will be two triathlons in my year as well.

Just as closure, a few things 

Monster racing organise a good event, I can honestly say it was well marked and 
marshaled except at 1 point where the marshal seemed disinterested and just 
assumed we all knew where to go. 

Lapped run courses around nice towns are good from a crowd point of view, I liked 
knowing where the drinks were each lap and bad from a members of the public crowds 
point of view as they don't always pay attention. :¬) 

One of the best things about the day was actually hanging around and seeing people 
you know racing and finishing the event.  

Finally, if the DarkLord learns to swim people near the front could be in trouble.


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August 2016
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The Dark Lord Speaks


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