Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Boskman (continued)

wow, that's a lot of kit!
Saturday (Pre-race)
8am, bags packed, mounted my bike and off to Alan's.  By the time I reached his, my back had begun to show signs of strain, not good the day before a race.  We loaded the car and headed for the New Forest.  Two hours of race strategy and nutrition talk later, we arrived at Croft Cottage (highly recommended, great BnB) near Fordingbridge, met the owners, dropped our bags and headed to Sandy Balls holiday centre for registration and race walk-through.

After hearing about the course and pending winds, we were off to Ellingham lake for bike racking, where we met a few of the other competitors.
- To a guy wearing a t-shirt about bike fitting, Alan asked, "you fit bikes?  I'm looking to get mine fitted."  To which the bald guy with the nice bike replied, "I don't but my sponsors do."  'Huh?  There's dudes with sponsors in this race?'
- A couple of Irish guys that have done the race before, they queried, "so is this leading up to something bigger for you guys."  To which Alan jumped at the chance to mention, "Yeah, Bolton at the end of July." (notice the subtle reference to IronmanUK by simply stating the location, no more detail necessary)  One guy responded, "Oh great, I'm heading for Austria, hoping to match the Irish IM record." 'ok, thoroughly intimidated, let's go." (PS, we checked the Irish IM record, 9:03, that's fast).

Back to the cottage for an hour of rest and relaxation, 20min jog, 45min stretch, dinner at the Italian restaurant at Sandy Balls (avoid this restaurant at all cost, none of the food has any taste), followed by some tv and early to bed.

Croft Cottage

Sunday (Race Day)
Up at 4am, breakfast time: 1) fat free yogurt with 2 scoops of whey and dried fruit, 2) 4x Weetabix with milk and a banana and 3) Lucozade sport drink mixed with water.  5am catch the bus to the lake, organize swim to bike transition, wet suit on and heart racing.  I couldn't believe how anxious I was (can't remember the last time I felt like this) and with my nerves working a mile-a-minute, I passed on the caffeine gel planned for before the swim.

SWIM (2.6km)
Two laps of Ellingham could not have gone any better for me.  I slotted myself near the outside and the countdown began; 3-2-1 and we were underway!  The guys on either side of me dropped back after about 50m and clear sailing ahead.  Oh yeah, except for the water filling my goggles.  At 100m, I paused, let out the water and got going again.  The right goggle slowly filled back up but the left side remained clear, 'one eye should do, no need to stop again.'  My stroke felt long, fluid and easy and I was sighting the buoys well with one eye.  

At the end of the first lap I lost the next buoy.  Stopped again, let the water out of my right goggle and pushed on.  This time my right eye stayed dry, and I quickly sighted the yellow buoy ahead.  'Wow, this is going great, time to push the pace.'

Around 2km I caught some stragglers from the 2nd wave, but in the theme of everything working in my favor, I was able to navigate through without incident and soon found myself climbing out of the water just under 40mins (9th out of the water).

Off with the wetsuit, on with the socks/ cycle shoes, helmet, sleeves, race belt with number, nutrition, bike off the rack, 'oh, shoes not tight enough', prop bike up and bend down to tighten shoes.  "Hey, you're helmet's not done up," the head official barked at me.  My world stopped and in that instant I realized I had committed one of the few tri-sins, 'thou shalt put on and clip thyne helmet before unracking thy bike,' a sin punishable by DQ.  "But, I had it on, just not clipped," I responded in the voice and demeanor of a child whose mother just caught him playing ball in the house.  She knew she had me, her stern face shouting 'I'm going to make an example of you,' but, to my surprise, she quickly softened, "it's ok, you're fine,  just clip't and get on your way."  'PHEWWWW!' And with that I grabbed my bike and was off.

BIKE (120km, 3 laps)
LAP 1 - The scenery was brilliant and this lap was even better.  I was flying, 'no way Alan's catchin me.'  Done in the blink of an eye (or about 90mins).

LAP 2 - It all changed when I hit the headwind.  Having barely affected me on the first go-round, I began to struggle.  On top of that, I started to feel some pain down my back, in my left calf and all the cyclists who I had beaten out of the water began passing me.  What a difference a lap makes!  Then, at the closing pedal-strokes of lap 2, it came, the moment I had been dreading, peaking over my shoulder with each approaching competitor, Alan.

We rode together for a bit, chatting about the wind, the swim and nutrition to that point after which he parted with, "see if I can put some time into you for the run."  At that very moment, my watch went crazy, BEEP, BEEP!  I struggled to figure out what was wrong as I glanced between my wrist and Alan's back wheel which got further and further with each turn of my head.  Finally, I looked up, and he was gone, 'forget this watch, turn it off and concentrate on pedalling,' so I did.

LAP 3 - Alan was nowhere to be seen, but I felt much better on lap 3 (all pain was gone and I was catching a few guys at this point), 'keep a good pace, push the run, maybe catch'im.'

Finished the bike having downed three carb bars, three gels, one bagel, not enough water and two bathroom stops (really, two during the bike!).

Alan was on his way out of T2 as I approached, I figured I was about 10min down, a lot but not insurmountable.  Dismounted, left my bike with the volunteers, run bag, have a seat, helmet/ cycle shoes/ socks/ gloves off, running socks/ shoes on, new nutrition packed in various spots, quick stop in the bathroom (that's 3) and finally running.

RUN (22km)
0-5km - 'So, will this pace catch Alan? No. Ok, get to that pace and see what happens.'  That pace lasted about 5mins before I settled somewhere much slower.  3km in I came face to face with the hills.  Yes, multiple 300ft+ climbs at a steep gradient.  'Ok, one at a time, let's do it.' Up and down two sets and my stomach dropped, 'again, really?  Ok, a fourth time that's it, no more stops.'

5-11km - The run was several out-and-back's from a central point, so I knew I would come across Alan at least twice to gauge progress.  8km, the first pass came, high five, quick exchange of good job/ well done, and I calculated I was 8 minutes down, 'nice, made up a bit of time despite the stop.'

A couple more up and down, and I was feeling ok, but my stomach was calling again (5).  By this point, it wasn't hurting, I just couldn't take on any solid food or gels (my brain just wouldn't allow it).  I had eaten bagel 2 at the start of the run, but nothing since, and just under an hour in, I knew I'd start fading at some point.

11-17km - One more uphill and it began: thoughts adrift, focus weakens, strides shorten and doubt sets in.  I had no concept of time since I turned off the watch during the cycle.  Beginning to doubt that I would break 7hrs, I was going a slow pace and getting slower.  Saw Alan again, he looked good, I felt not good, figured I was about 13mins down at this point.  'Ok, not going to catch'im, let's just enjoy the scenery and run to the finish, whatever pace gets you there.'  With the more relaxed mindset, I thought no reason for any discomfort, stopped for the 6th time.

17-22km - I decided to try the watch and funnily enough, it had sorted itself out.  Even bigger surprise, I was well within 7hrs.  'Ok, something to push for, let's do this.'  I picked it up as much as possible and headed up the second to last hill.  "Hey, some walkers up ahead, you can definitely catch'em," some helpful advice from a woman heading the opposite direction, "thanks, nice-one, keep it up" I replied and notched up the speed.

look close, you can see the thumbs-up!
Crested the hill, saw the walkers ahead, who were running at this point, 'well, let's try to catch them on the last up hill.'  I made up a bit of ground, but once we hit the final, flat stretch they both took off, I couldn't match.  I accepted my position, reflected a bit on the great day and beautiful scenery and came around the final corner all smiles and a thumbs up.

Exhausted but no time to waste, have to start recovering for the 17hrs of SBR in week 23!  Pear, apple, MuleBar ReFuel, shake with whey and amino acids and a recovery massage.

6.53, not too bad.  4mins off target time, but definitely puts me in a good frame of mind for IM in two months.

- swim, felt long and smooth, sighted well
- bike, despite some struggling, put in a better time than expected

- nutrition, need to take on more fluids, speak to Freddy about all the bathroom stops
- run, need to stay focused, more hills over the next weeks

The Boskman is the best race I have done (not my best performance in a race, but the best overall experience).  If you like beautiful countryside, long or short distance events and out of town races that are superbly organized, check out Race New Forest, you won't regret it.  

No comments:

Post a Comment