What can I say? In absolute terms, I finished with a PB and came half way up the pro field – not a bad day’s work. But I was gutted at the finish line – it felt like waste of a fast race... I’d underperformed and had a few mechanical issues to add to the mix.
So this one gets chalked up to experience, or perhaps rookie inexperience given that I had problems with my front brake pads working loose and then routinely slipping onto the rims every time I hit a bump in the road (even when released). I’d not tightened them enough pre-race and meant I ended up having to ride any bumpy sections with one arm on the aerobars and one hand holding the brakes off the front rim. Dammit. In hindsight I should have stopped and tightened them, but wasn’t sure if the tool I was carrying had the right size key (and this was a good thing as I’d have tried tightening the mech from the front, when actually the right place was behing the front fork... the things you learn..!). But it was fine for the most part once I’d realised and released them, so I kept on going, just with heavy cursing through the few kms of rough roads. The ride was flat and fast. Kms 20-80 were into a fairly solid headwind – that’s my excuse for not hearing the rubbing pads, or realising why it was such hard work. My moment of realisation was on a short gentle downhill through an undulating section somewhere around the 60km mark where I was peddling and a couple of people overtook freewheeling. That was a bit of a clue! Luckily this happened just in time. I was starting to break mentally with the struggle and seeing people pass me fairly regularly. I’d been putting it down to purely eroded bike fitness, which is definitely true at least in part, but alleviation of the mechanical issues gave a bit of a boost. Things picked up in a big way after that. At the 80km point, we turned a corner and the tailwind kicked in for a while. By the 120km mark, and just pasted the dog leg, I was starting to overtake a few people again, and the packs of age groupers behind who had been gaining steadily through the first sections were starting to fall away again. Finally feeling like I could ride again, I beasted the last 80km to try to make up some of the time I’d lost.
That meant that the start of the run was not pretty. The first 5km was a slog, and it wasn’t until the 8 mile sign that I finally found a decent rythym, but by then the effort earlier seemed to have limited my running speed. A 5 hour bike split and a 3:05 marathon were both a bit off schedule, but in the big scheme of things, not too bad.
All in all, the week was awesome fun. We stayed in a condo at the Boardwalk – right next to transition. Very convenient. Vicky, Stel and I were all racing – coincidentally all coached by Steve Trew. All of us had PBs, so thanks Steve! Kev Worster, Vicky’s other half, was also with us – and this was like having a team mechanic as Kev happens to be the Cycle Doctor (Canary Wharf), so was very handy for tools, servicing, changing cassettes etc. (If only I’d got him to check my breaks and not fiddled with them myself!). Thanks Kev! I learnt a few things about Florida too - the Waffle House is evil; Walmart is like being on a set from a reality TV show; November is definitely off-season, despite some beautiful weather - we managed to be the only people in an entire restaurant on the thursday night pre-race!
But its done, and I’m actually happy after the ups and downs of this year just to have finished another race! The swim was solid and felt fairly easy (except for the ‘running’ halfway!), I got to try out a disc wheel for the first time, and had an interesting experiment with a series of close races and how to / not to train in between them. Lots of lesson s learned.
And now? I’m taking 2 weeks easy, not least as there’s some substantial flying time in there – I’m off to Australia for the winter next week, and then its back into training. I’m actually feeling really good post Florida – I was running and riding the next day, and seem to have bounced back quickly. So the two weeks ‘off season’ are actually having to be enforced! I am remarkably up for the next phase in training already which is a good sign... looking forward to putting in some hard miles over the next few months. I’ve scraped the idea of any major races in the next couple of months, definitely feeling the erosion of base fitness as my last decent training block was now back in July!
Notable mentions for the girls from Team Timex – between them racking up 4 of the top 10 spots, Tamara in 2nd, Gabriella in 4th, Marie in 6th and Amanda in 9th (I think I got tat right!). Good work Team! And for Rachel Joyce – 5th at her first pro IM finish!