Today I did my final qualifier for the age group race in Glasgow next year. Having had a bad race in the Strathclyde qualifier it was a long wait to have another try.
Unfortunately about 6 weeks ago I started to get a twinge in my Achilles. I had tried initially to train through but that seemed to have a knock on effect on my knee so I stopped running altogether. It now became a question of what can I do.
I got in the pool and did all my sets with a pool buoy as kicking was causing pain. I could bike with no pain so I got back on the turbo and started doing some focused sessions on the turbo (Trainer Road & Netflix winning combo!).
2 weeks out from today I ran an easy Park Run. I could feel a small amount of pain but it didn’t last after the run. I continued not to run so as to try and protect it. The following week I ran another easy 5K, the pain was less but still just niggling.
On Monday night this week I decided I had to try some race speed work; one I had to know if I could and two I needed to get some speed in my legs.
3 x 1K intervals. I held my pace but could feel it was really hard work. Never mind at least I could run on it so I just had to do that on the race day.
In the mean time my swim and bike were feeling good so I went in to the race reasonably happy.
The swim was one of the most violent starts I have had in quite a while. The course was anti clockwise and I had decided to start on the right and avoid any mess. My plan had been swim straight and then cut left to get on some toes for drafting. Most of the contact came from people on my left who were swimming right!! Where were they going? My goggles nearly got knocked off but two caps had ensured they stayed in place.
The first buoy came quickly and after a short section to the second it was turn for a long stretch for the exit. I could see a small pack ahead of me decided I couldn’t let them get too far ahead. I saw someone coming by on my right overtaking me who was about 5m away. I made the decision to move across and get on his feet. Perfect he pulled me closer to the group. We never caught them before the exit but I’d made time by a good decision.
It was a reasonably long run out to transition which I pushed through and got to the mount line. I normally aim to get both my feet straight in my shoes but missed on the right. Fortunately I have spent time not only doing mounting practice but also what to do if it goes wrong. Without really thinking I got my right foot on top of my shoes and started pedalling. I hadn’t wasted any time and easily got the shoe on at the next short straight.
We were now out the park and on the main road. I couldn’t quite believe my bike computer was giving me no info! As I had checked the course and elevation maps I knew what to expect and what the course was going to be roughly like. It was flat and fast so I started to ride on feel and base on others around me. My bike is normally strong so I had to be going hard enough to be overtaking people.
As I was going along I thought to end the ride on my computer and start it again as a new ride. I now had speed and distance but still no power or HR data. Feel and speed it is then.
I finished the ride and felt quite good and my time seemed OK as well; 34mins for a 21km course.
Now to test the run. I knew I had to just commit to it and see what happened. It was a 2 lap run and about halfway through it started to bite and could tell my fitness now was not where I would hope it would be. I focused on people in front and if anyone overtook I tried each time to stay with them. I couldn’t tell who was in my age group but kept reminding myself that the roll down time could be important.
Round the final corner and I was expecting another 300m to go but the finish line was just there.
Race done 1hr10mins.
I have finished 8th in my age group but my roll down time was at 106%. This puts me at 21st place in the 20 slots available (though there is an extra race still to be added this year as the race is local). Normally I would expect to get a start from here but as the race is in the UK (and another to go) maybe not.
What I can say after today though is I raced to the best of my ability. I had issues to deal with in every leg of the race and made good decisions to get through it. I feel I have used my experience, practice and training to deliver the best I could do on the day. What more can you ever want out a race?
Other people beat me and good luck to them I couldn’t have done any more.