Well there's a chance that there will be no more racing until 1st November, there's nothing on the wall planner and it could well be train, train, train for the next 3 months. Then again, I'm always prone to a bit of last minute racing so who knows what's on the horizon.
This weekend has been a little slack after last weekends excesses but I've still managed to get in a club mile run TT, a Triathlon Relay and a 50mile TT.
I followed up Sundays monster session with a nice steady 50min ride on Monday, then on Tuesday it was down to my Running Club for the 'Tarka Mile'. First we run a steady 2.5miles out to the start of the race which wasn't the greatest feeling as I struggled to hold 8:15 pace, then it's an 'eyeballs out' 1mile effort before jogging the 1.5mile back to base (unless you fancy more). The mile was HARD being only 48hrs after the 6.5hr session and half way through my legs just felt like jelly but I managed to sneak a 5:17 which was good enough for 3rd place on the night. Wednesday was another steady bike ride (1h05m), Thursday was a rest day and Friday was my normal squad swim session which had me nicely chilled for Saturdays racing.
Saturdays race was a club relay. We'd got 5 teams of 3 from our club completing all 3 disciplines so that the race went swim, swim, swim, bike, bike, bike, run, run, run, you get the picture. There was chip timing, so although there were no traditional transitions there were interesting situations where people were trying to remove and put on timing chip bands in the heat of battle. We didn't have an ultimate FAST team and we weren't gunning for a big win (although we wouldn't have minded it), we did have 2 teams who were quick and very closely matched though and of course club pride is far more important than outright success. We'd even had race day tee-shirts made up for our team to wear for that extra little bit of needle.
My team (James, Phill, Me) were the slight favourites and we'd raced last year finishing 3rd overall, our other 'quick team' (Alan, Mark, Tim) were going to push us hard though. Our other 3 teams were there to enjoy themselves (as were we) and to no doubt enjoy the banter and abuse as our race developed.
The Swim - Our first swimmers were expected to hammer it out at the front of the race for the whole of the 400m swim, neither of them got it all their own way though as a couple of proper fish showed them a clean pair of heels. Importantly for ego preservation James came out of the water 3rd with a healthy 15second lead over Alan and it was time for our team to lay some smack down. We're all pretty good swimmers (400m @ 5-5:30mins) where as the swim would be the other teams weakness so we needed to open up as big a lead as possible. Phill headed out meaning business and was back in no time at all having taken the lead overall by a good distance. My job was to have a solid swim without my useless eyesight getting me lost (again). With Phill having already caught up with some back markers I found myself constantly passing people and used their hats in the distance as small bouys in the hope that their navigation was better than mine, luckily it was and when I hit dry land we were a full minute ahead of the 2nd placed team and more importantly 2:33 ahead of our club competition who were in 4th place.
The Bike - This was going to be a lot closer than the swim. Alan (boo-hiss) has been flying on the bike of late, had borrowed a pair of ZIPP's (404 & Disc) for the race and was no doubt going to give it everything to make some time up, there was no knowing how I'd perfom after last weekends activities and the other 4 lads are to close to call and can all beat each other on any given day. Things went pretty much as expected with Alan posting the 2nd fastest bike split of the day (22:25) for the 3 lap (9mile) course and taking 90secs out of James. This was also the turning point of the main race with the eventual winners coming into their own on the bike and run sections eventually finishing with a 5min lead.
With the lead down to a minute Phill and Mark had the pressure on them and they went on to post identical bike splits leaving me to duke it out with Tim around the course. There was never a point where I felt as if I was in the groove and each of the 3 laps got progressively slower, but importantly I managed to claw an extra 50secs advantage going into the final discipline. We were now in 2nd and 4th places overall.
The Run - Here was the point where the race was going to turn interesting, it was our weakest discipline and their strongest. James has of late been in pretty good running form and recently turned Alan over on the run at a local Tri, this was to be different though. Alan had been resting up, getting massaged etc (serious athlete that he is) and on a very hot day his slender frame whipped around the run course 66secs quicker than James. It was now game on as Phill (known to be a weak runner) took on Mark (who's taken my scalp several times on straight run races) with only 47secs between them, the question now was how much of a lead would Mark have when he came back. How wrong could we be!!!!
Phill ran his socks off and although Mark took time out of him he couldn't catch him. As I stood by the side of Tim in the Transition pen we both knew it could go either way, I'm a good runner but so is Tim, if I ran well I'd have the advantage but any weak moments or fatigue from last weekend then Tim would strike. It was going to be close, very close. We were chatting and both shouting each others team-mates on but once we hit the course there would be no conversation and no prisoners.
For the last 100m Phill hardly seemed to be moving, he'd given everything. I grabbed the timing chip off him and charged out onto the run course, Tim was just 2 seconds behind me and within 50meters he was right on my shoulder. It was Game on. I glanced at my Garmin and it told me I was running 5:20min/mile pace, that was plenty fast enough and there was no way I was pushing to run faster, if I could hold that pace and Tim could stay with me then it would be great for him and tough luck for me, I'm useless when it comes to a sprint finish so there's only one way I could run it. HARD!!! I pushed on and kept my pace and form then gradually I noticed Tim start dropping off a little, there's no way he'd quit on me he'd chase every step of the way but at least I now knew that he was struggling and if I could keep the pace on we'd be safe. Finally the finish line appeared and I crossed it for a team 2nd place finish with Tim just 18seconds behind in 3rd, I'd averaged 5:32min/miles.
After the race we chilled and ate before heading off to the local pub for refreshments, then all that was left was the 3hr drive home.
This morning I woke and crawled out of bed feeling very tired but I'd got a local 'sporting' 50mile TT to do so I mixed some drinks, grabbed some gels and headed out of the door. There's not a great deal to say about the race really, some of the road surfaces are awful, there's 1900ft of climbing on it and the weather was glorious. After just 5miles I was wishing I'd stayed in bed and after 10miles I was blowing out of my backside, after 50miles I was still blowing out of my backside but had just ridden a solid 50miles in 2:12:48 (22.7mph), now I just have to work out how to ride that speed in Florida and still be able to run after it.
That's about it for now. WAKE UP!!!!!!!!! it's over.