Sunday 18 November 2012

My Season

Well it’s been a mixed year for my first season with our fantastic new Racetime Events Race Team. The year started with renewed excitement for me when Johnny first approached me about setting up his race team to go along with his fantastic events company and his new open water swim venue. The team was a mix of “experience” and youth. Myself, the more “experienced” member of the team with fellow pro athlete Rich Stumper, local lad Rich Jeggo and the youth of the team James Nutt, whom is a fantastic prospect for the future. Equipped with some great support, USN nutrition to keep us training and racing hard, Phian bikes, Sunwise sunglasses, 1Band ID keeping us safe, Power breathe, Bonk clothing, Proskins compression and Ashmei running gear we set about the race season with the goal of getting the Racetime name and all of our supporters names out there! My own personal goal for the season was quite simply to qualify for the Ironman world championships in Kona Hawaii which was this past October. My goal of qualifying got off to a good start at Ironman South Africa in April. I had a good race, not a great race, but a good one and finished in 7th place in what were very tough conditions. This race was a “2000 pointer” so the field was good and I managed to pick up over 1000 points for my 7th place, which put me in a good position in the world rankings. There was a lot to take away from Africa both good and bad, although I rode really well in the tough conditions I really didn't swim very well and my run had problems in the mid-section of the marathon where I lost a lot of time. So it was a case of going away, recovering and then set about working on the weaknesses from the race. After recovering I started training again with the next big goal being Ironman Regensburg, Germany in June. Training started well but then something happened which was to play havoc with the rest of my season. Quite simply my hamstring started hurting! It got bad enough that I had to stop running for a week but seemed to be getting better with massage. I had entered the BRAT sprint triathlon and decided to do it. I finished 3rd in a race I should have easily won. My tri bars snapped and I couldn't run as freely as I would have liked. But I was pleased to be back “at it”. A couple of weeks after the BRAT sprint tri I was doing a big 4 day endurance block of training in prep for Regensburg. On the 3rd day I was doing the Little Beaver Triathlon as part of the training. I didn’t have any expectations for the race as I’d done around 6hrs of training the day before and I’d even completed a run on the morning of the race before I’d even started! I felt flat during the race especially during the bike but still managed to win quite comfortably. I was more pleased about the run as I felt like my injury was behind me. Next stop Regensburg! A big goal here, the podium was where I wanted to be. Not too bad in the swim, out in 6th. I soon moved up to 4th on the bike but came off the bike in 5th, although only 50sec behind 3rd. So my goal of getting on the podium was on. Then the injury started playing up, hamstring was very tight. Thought I’d run it off and I did for a while, but I got to 15km and couldn't carry on. Very disappointed but I didn't want to do any more damage. Next on the calendar was a team event for Racetime events. Johnny had entered us into the Markel Triathlon relay. Luckily I was just to do the bike and didn't have to run! There were some great prizes on offer. An I-pad for each person on the team if we won and also £5000 for charity. We won by a pretty big margin! Great result for the team. Injury wise I was on the mend again and was having pretty much the same treatment as I was before on my hamstring. I was running again and decided to enter Ironman Switzerland. My goal to get to Kona was still alive, although it was getting slimmer. I had to go to Switzerland and race to give myself a chance, period! To cut a long and very disappointing story short, the race was almost a carbon copy of Regensburg. Decent swim and was out with Ronnie Schildknecht, the eventual winner. Although I couldn’t go with him on the bike I still managed to get in a decent “group” with some good athletes. The run was the same, 15km, DNF! Very disappointing indeed. Not only did I feel disappointed for myself but also for the team of supporters, for Johnny at Racetime and also for my friends and family especially my wife, Marija. It’s a strange feeling, not one of pressure as such, but one of that you’re not just racing for yourself but for a whole team of people that believe in you! I did then carry on with treatment to my hamstring and again was running again. Kona 2012 was not on the cards now as I didn't have and wouldn't now be able to get enough points together in the short space of time, unless I went on a mad race program of an Ironman a weeks for the next 3 – 4 weeks! I kept positive and set about some early plans to get points on the board for Kona 2013. I set an early plan of going and doing Ironman Wales, in September, and if all good there going on to Ironman Arizona, in November. Before all that we had the National Relay Championships in Nottingham. The first of hopefully many for our Racetime Events Race Team. A great day to get together with your team mates, although I've never been a fan of the course. It’s probably the longest 5km run the world! I was first leg, being as I've somehow got the reputation of being a bit of a scrapper! It’s a tight first leg in the swim and you need a bit of aggression to get in a good position. I think we did okay for our first attempt and came in 11th place. I think we could have been a little higher and we were hoping for a top ten. But it was a good start for us anyway. Plenty to build and improve on for all of us. I think we could definitely be in the running for a medal in the future. Just before Ironman Wales I entered and won the Full Boar Middle Distance Triathlon at Market Bosworth. A good local event and a good warm up before Wales. It’s always good to win! Ironman Wales was next. Looking at the start list before the race there was some good athletes racing but I felt this race was wide open! Anyone of a handful of guys racing had the ability to take the title, including me. I was there to win! The course was a tough one and needed to be approached properly and pace judgement was going to be key, especially on the bike. My swim was pretty crap, again. Then we had a 1 mile run to T1! Yes 1 mile! I was on the bike in the top 20 and gradually started picking athletes off. By the end of the first lap I was in 7th then by the end of the bike I was 3rd and only 10sec behind 2nd. I felt great! At that point I thought I would win the dam thing as I felt so good and the French lad that was 5 minutes up the road and leading, I had out ran and beaten at Ironman South Africa. Confidence is a great thing when you’re racing; the effect it has on your ability to perform is almost magical. For the first time, mentally, I was ready to win a major race. I ran out of T2 almost smiling to myself! I was racing on one of the toughest courses on the Ironman circuit and it felt almost easy! I was going to win! But that feeling soon came crashing down with an almighty bang. My confidence soon turned to despair! My hamstring was getting tight again! My pace had dropped and I had also dropped a couple of places. I was still in 5th place and well clear in 5th too, so was still on for a decent if not great result. But as the same as the last two Ironman events I had started, I got to about the 10-15km point and had to stop. Race over! Season over! Because of my non result at Ironman Wales, Arizona is not on the cards. It’s time to get this injury sorted once and for all and I think we may be going in the right direction. It turns out that the problem probably isn't actually with the hamstring itself but my Glutes! If only I’d have known this 5 months ago then this blog may well have been about the fantastic season I’d had and finished off with an awesome race in Kona! But it’s not and it is what it is. At least things are starting to work. I've started my winter training, including running! Loose race plans are being made for 2013. The goal again is the Ironman World Championships in Kona Hawaii. I need to look at doing the bigger points races to qualify. I'm looking at Ironman Melbourne in March as my first one. Big points, big field, lots of exposure and would be a good start to a great season. Keep a look out over the next few months to how the training is going.

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