Sunday 21 September 2014

Challenge Weymouth

Last week, 14th September, I competed in Challenge Weymouth, which was in well errrm Weymouth believe it or not!
My prep for the race didn't go to plan (I will outline my training in the lead up to Weymouth in my next post) and it was touch and go as to whether I would race due to having a chest infection 2 weeks before. But come race day I was healthy, even if a little under prepared and not in the shape I would have liked to have been.
It had been 8 weeks since my win at the outlaw so I had plenty of time to recover from that race.
The days before were great, I had a look at the supposedly fast bike course, which I didn't think would be fast at all, and I was proved right on race day! It isn't fast! Hilly and technical, but it at least would be an honest bike course. The run course is pan flat and very very quick. And the swim....more on that in a bit!
Then onto the press conference, where I was ridiculed by race director Alan Rose for my apparent history as a famous hand model! I'll leave that one with you!
The weather had been perfect in the days before the race and the evening before when I went to rack my bike it was the perfect late summer evening, no wind, sunny, and the temperature was bang on for Iron distance racing.

Race day came and the walk down to transition was different from the evening before just a few hours earlier. From somewhere a strong easterly wind had picked up. This would change the race considerably. I do like a strong wind on the bike as I'm a pretty strong rider, but I wasn't in the bike shape I would have liked, and for once could struggle!
About 30mins before the start, the whole race dynamic had been changed.....they were going to shorten the swim to 1900m due to the adverse weather and how that had brought on a big swell in the sea. This would play right into the hands of the guys like Joel Jameson and others, as they're not as strong in the water as me but faster runners. And with me not having my bike legs with me would take a big advantage away from me.
Me and Joe Skipper chatted before the race and arranged to get together on the bike to catch whomever would be ahead, as we always swim about the same. Stephen Bayliss was racing as well and was a given that he would be out the swim with a lead.
The sea was rough, but fun at the same time, its fair to say we got battered. But I was out on the bike in 6th. Joe was out with me but he had to stop and change his shoes over due to putting them in the wrong pedals! (what a chopper! lol)

but by the top of the first climb I had moved up to 2nd a couple of minutes down on Stephen. There was a group of 4 of us, but there was only me and Joe working, keeping the watts at around 300. We encouraged the other 2 to work with us as we weren't happy about how close they were riding to our wheels! And there was no motorbike with us ensuring a legal gap between bikes. At the dead turn we saw Joel and he was closing fast! It wasn't long before he caught us and he went straight to the front and was riding strong. We caught Stephen and then there was a group of 7 of us that rode the remainder of the first lap together. I wasn't riding that great but I still felt comfortable in the group. The traffic was pretty bad on some of the roads and as we started the second loop I got caught behind and ambulance and a car, at this point Joe hit the front and attacked. I sort of guessed someone would attack as we hit the climb for the second time but I was stuck, by the time I got going again Joe, Stephen, Joel and Kiwi Keegan Williams had gone 400 meters up the road and pulling away. There was 3 of us chasing. I did all I could to get back but just didn't have the power, for the first time in the race I was feeling very under prepared, as I was! I just had to ride at my own pace and hope for the best. I rode away from the 2 guys with me and caught and passed Keegan at the top of the climb. On the decent I decided to really try and chase so as to limit my losses. I dropped the guys with me but I wasn't making any indents into the 3 in front. Ordinarily I can rely on bike bike strength to catch people like Joel, but today wasn't that day. The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful, I focused on getting my calories in and riding steady. By T2 I had lost 6mins to Joe, and 3mins to Joel with Stephen in between. With my lack of fitness I had to just focus on trying to hold the best position I could. The run went pretty smooth, I only lost one place, to Aussie Darren Jenkins. I did fade pretty badly in the last 10km but managed to hold on for 5th place pretty comfortably. Disappointingly the run was a little short by about 3km. But today I wasn't that bothered as I was looking for that finish line!

Joe took the win in an all round fantastic performance, with Joel 2nd and Stephen 3rd. A fit and well prepared me would have hoped for a better result. We all want to win, me included and that's why we race pro, because we want to win. When I train I don't visualise myself coming 5th or 3rd or 2nd, I visualise myself winning! But on the day I had to concede defeat and accept that I wasn't in the shape I would have liked, so with that in mind 5th wasn't too bad a performance I guess!
My race season isn't over yet, I'm racing The Gauntlet at Hever Castle next weekend. Its part of the Castle Series and the race is over the half distance of 1900m swim, 90km bike and 21km run. This will feel like a sprint!
After that? Not sure yet. That might be the end of my season, or I might do a late season Ironman..........

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