Friday, 30 December 2011
2011 Race Season Summary
It’s been a pretty epic season, full of emotion, happiness and disappointments. Like any season one needs to take the rough with the smooth and 2011 will be one that I recall with fond memories.
With Team Freespeed firmly in place, Jenny Gowans, Declan Doyle,Tim Bishop and I embarked on year that would test us physically, emotionally and mentally. The teams focus would be Sub 9 hours within an Ironman distance race for the boys and a 70.3 World Championship podium for Jen. Alongside this Dec was keen to gain Kona qualification at St George Utah .We had set the bar high and our training focus was further speed development.
My focus was to race short distance and mid distance with the view to build speed for Challenge Roth which would be my ‘A race’ of the year. This race was going to be ‘boom’ or ‘bust.’ To add an extra incentive, Challenge even refunds each athlete €250 if they go Sub 9….. How cool is that?
Dec was first up in Ironman St George in Utah, and on a very tough course cruised home in 26th place. This was the first of many successes for the newly formed Freespeed team. Declan had done enough to secure his Kona slot and the season had hardly started.
My first race was the Volcano in Lanzarote, this was almost a home fixture considering that when I'm outside of London, most of my training is done in Lanzarote. For me Lanzarote is like a home from home… It can be beautiful, brutal but it’s always challenging. If it’s not the heat, the terrain or the wind, its relentlessness will toughen you up. I had a promising result, but landed just out side the top 10. Although I was swimming ok and my mountain biking over the winter had kept my bike strong. My running needed more work. I had been training to run 4.17min kms for the last 3 years whilst concentrating on Ironman racing, so I had no idea what I could hold in an Olympic distance race. I left T2 holding 3.15 min kms so it was only a matter time before I blew…. Mentally there and then I made a note to myself that I needed pacier running sets in my 2011 schedule.
Overall 14th, Swim 21.47 T1 2.46 Bike 1:04.37 T2 2.02 Run 39.20 Total 2:10:31
Next up was Ironamn UK.70.3 and the whole team was racing. We had all recce’d the course a couple of weeks prior to the race so knew exactly what to expect… It was a very tough course with 1900m of climbing, quite technical in places which suited me perfectly. Even the run was hilly.... it was more of a cross country run than your normal out and back Triathlon run. We arrived on the Friday before the race and pitched our tents in the rain. This was not a good sign, nor was the fact it rained all day Saturday... Come Sunday the rain had cleared, but left the lake a little cold....Brrrrr! I left my entry until the last minute determined to preserve as much heat as possible. This was a good plan because I had a reasonable swim and exited well up the field. This meant the race was on.... and I set about working my way through the field. I love the hills and ripped through the course, coming off the bike level with a Suisse guy who is now a good friend called Reto Brendli. I left T2 just ahead of Reto and managed to hold this gap for the run, we finished just a minute apart.
My victory added to Freespeed’s performances. Together we dominated the stage. Dec was just behind Reto, Tim was third in his age group and Jenny won the ladies amateur. She out ran last years winner Tracey Cook by 6 minutes and gained a 2 min cushion.
Overall 9th, Swim 30.09 T1 4.02 Bike 2.44.27 T2 1.19 Run 1.26.01 Total 4:45.56
We had all booked our slot to the World 70.3 Championships in Las Vegas – Yippee!
As we headed towards July the team were on a high and I was feeling good about my entry into Challenge Roth. Then out of the blue, I pick up a virus… 4 weeks in, and after 2 courses of antibiotics there wasn’t any change or improvement in my health. Always optimistic.... I remained confident that if the illness subsided, I would be fit enough to race so I travelled to Roth in anycase. Sadly my night fevers persisted and this took the choice from out of my hands and I had to pull out. I was absolutely gutted; I had been planning this race for 11 months and had endless daydreams and conversations about it. Both Declan and Tim were in good shape, so even without me Freespeed were set to fly…
That day was a tough day for the whole team. Me, because I was frustrated, ill and annoyed that I wasn't well enough to race. Tim because he pulled out on the run, and Declan because despite towing a trailer load of wheel sucking drafters around, missed his Sub 9 by a couple of minutes. hat adowner for all of us....Thank goodness for Erdinger!!!
I've learned to move on quickly after a bad experience. My focus shifted towards Las Vegas 70.3 World Campionships and I also entered Ironman Cozumel in November. Tim entered Challenge Copenhagen and Declan enjoyed his summer vacation training all over the globe.
For Jenny and I our training now centred around 70.3 racing and we focused on building race speed on the swim, bike and run. We already had London Triathlon in the diary and we were set to race on both days to make it more of a challenge.
The team would race in a celebrity relay on Saturday, then again on Sunday. Jenny would race the Olympic distance plus (Double bike and run) and Tim and I would race the Olympic. London Triathlon is a triathlon on a mammoth scale and we loved being a part of it. The organisation and efficiency of the staff at Virgin Active are second to none. Come race day... Jenny crushed the field in the Olympic plus; I hung in there having led off the bike in the sub 2.30 Olympic distance race and ended up in third. This was the first fast run that I’d done in weeks and the next day it really hurt.
Overall 3rd, Swim 25:08 T1 03:10 Bike 56:58 T2 02:17 Run 38:38 Total 02:06:10
Tim had been training hard for Copenhagen. He’s very strong minded and has a talent for being able to really increase his focus when it’s needed. I’ve always admired this about him and knowing this made me really excited to see how he would race. Heading to Copenhagen he said he was ready to let rip...and he didn’t disappoint!! The dream of Sub 9 obliterated…. He smashed it going 8.56 for 19th overall... Bravo Tim – what a result!
With Las Vegas in mind, next up for Jen and I was 'The Pennymatters Classic Triathlon' at Dorney lake. We had been doing lots of faster paced stuff in training and this race fitted in well with our training schedule. F3 organise and a great local series of races which are perfect to test your race technique and speed. Despite a solid week of work and training behind us and without a taper, we both raced very well. Jenny was the first female and I was second male. Things were looking good for both us in Las Vegas....
Overall 2nd Swim 22:50 T11:05 Bike 1:00:17 T2 0.41 Run 34:45 Overall 1:59:39
Overall 1st Swim 22:57 T11:17 Bike 1:06:22 T2 1.00 Run 37:41 Overall 2:09:20
On the spur of the moment we decided to enter a team for the National Team Relays, but neither Tim nor Dec could make it… Fortunately Richard Hobson(our coach) and Sarah Gailey from Fulon Tri came to the rescue, but this did complicate things. We were no longer eligible for the Club category. Instead we changed our entry to the Open category because both Richard and Sarah were not Freespeed members. We had a really fun day hanging out with Tim from Compressport and were lucky with the weather.
There were some speedy teams and we were in head to head with Loughborough University for third going out on the final leg. As last man out, I set off ahead of Tom Bishop from Loughborough. I had about 15 years on him and it wasn’t long before age gave way to youth. We were both running 3.05min kms which I knew I couldn’t sustain. I held on the best I could, but we narrowly missed out on third position by 30 seconds(In a time of 3.19:15)… we all pledged that we wouldn’t let this happen next year and we were up for a rematch
Just two weeks had passed and Jenny and I were on our way to Henderson, Las Vegas to race in the World 70.3 Ironman Championships. Henderson was a fabulous place for a race. It was my first time in Las Vegas and its simply an awesome place to visit. There are so many exciting tourist attractions including the Las Vegas Strip, The Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. To top all this off the race course is a really tough and honest. It was not just a tough bike or run but it was also a non wetsuit lake swim. This meant it was really fair and favoured the all-round athlete, rather than the bike or run specialists.
On race morning we were set off in waves and the previous day’s rain had made the water very cool. I suffer particularly in the cold and so does Jenny. We were held there for 15 mins treading water. I was freezing by the time the gun sounded and consequently didn’t really swim to my potential. This was the start of a catalogue of errors for me and despite picking myself up after each blow I never really delivered the race I should have. Jen on the other hand was on fire coming in bang on 5 hours and securing 4th in her age only just off third. Whoop.. whoop!
Age Group 19th Swim 32.12 T12.57 Bike 2.32:15 T2 1.32 Run 1.27:54 Overall 4.36:30
Age Group 4th Swim 32.18 T1 3.36 Bike 2.45.31 T2 1.37 Run 1.37.24 Overall 5.00:26
We both agreed that we loved the race and the course and its one we’d like to do again. I loved it there and I think that having raced it once I’d fair better next time around.
This was practically the end of the season for the Team; Dec sadly had picked up an Achilles injury and had to pull out of Kona. Tim had raced Ironman Wales with a view to an early slot and had missed out by seconds so was now in off-season mode. I was the only one still training. Jenny and I kept up our swim sessions but she had also eased back her training due to work pressures. In the back her mind she was toying with entering 70.3 Phuket. This had slots for both 70.3 World Champs and Kona. I on the other hand had Ironman Cozumel left to race with a view to qualifying for Kona. Training had gone well and I had only a few weeknds left before IM Cozumel. On one such weekend. I combined my training with 7 hour session (bike/swim) on a Saturday and a race on the Sunday.
It was a great plan, The Jekyll and Hyde Duathlon was a super race (Run 4.2km/Bike 20km/ Run 7.5km) and there were some really fast runners and duathletes. Although I had biked the fastest split I gave away a bit of time to these short distance specialists each run, and came in 4th overall which I was really pleased with.
Overall 4th Run 14.10 T10.28 Bike 31.05 T2 0.27 Run 27.47 Overall 1.13:56
Next up was Ironman Cozumel.....