Ulrik Lind – Giant Duathlon 25th April 2014

UntitledSo, after about three months of dedicated training it was time to see what kind of improvements had been made.  Although a relatively short dedicated period I still wanted to see the benefits of having a coach as well to understand my fitness level and where it can take me performance wise. Simply put, the target was to get faster on the bike as it is my weakest discipline. The races available for the time period was the Giant Duathlon series. As my base fitness level was not up to my expectations I selected the shorter distances, that was 2.5km run, 20km bike and 2.5km run. I also have a old Achilles Tendonitis to manage so a shorter run was preferred. So after the 1st benchmark race completed along with the roughly 3 months of training it was time to race again. As all the training went well and improvements had been clearly noticed the expectations of the result made me quite nervous in the week leading up to the race. My mind started to make up various scenarios on how the race would unfold. Along with the training results, which was good, I also started to think about how I would feel if everything did not pan out as desired. Anyway, it is just a race and hopefully there would be something good to take home even if the result wasn't that great. Even though I really enjoy other peoples race reports with various mistakes, new experiences and general fuck ups I really try make my races according to plan and try to eliminate possible mistakes before they can happen. Basically I want to finish the race with no excuses. So, the day started 3.15am with a breakfast shake, a little smaller than for a normal Olympic distance triathlon, taken 2.5 hour before start. Well, at least I started as planned, it takes a good 30 minute to drink it. Have made same kind of shake several times before so it shouldn't cause any problem despite the early morning. After a 2nd visits to toilet it was time to leave for the Camel race track where the race took place. Aimed to be a location at least 1 jour before to allow for a proper warm-up. I generally need a long warm up. And as it was a Sprint I wanted to complete my warm up with sprints and stretching as well since it is full on from the gun. Got there 5am. These races just starts absurdly early when it gets hotter. Toilet visit needed again?? Is this race going to end before it even started? Anyway, found the toilet and got as light as possible, kind off. Seemed ok. Off to quick registration and started the warm up. Hmm, already 5.20am, this is going to be tight! Bike warm up finished with a few sprints to get rid of the sluggish feeling. But now it was getting really late. Is this going to be my biggest fuck-up ever? Missing the start? Racked the bike 5.47am. Rushed quickly to the car for change into race gear. I try to change to race gear quite late, just to get into race mode, get the mind ready for racing, sort of. I also try to limit the amount of gear needed as there is less possible mistakes along the way, especially in the transition. That ment for this race all I needed was bike, helmet, bike shoes, running shoes and race belt. No Sun glasses, gel etc. A final gel was also taken leaving the car. Quick change done. After a few sprints, express stretching and final race briefing we were all lined up for start. As for the race plan the first 2.5 km run should be at 3.40min/km. That was 10 seconds faster pace then previous race. That should be doable. Bike should just be really hard, keeping a cadence at 90+. Last races bike average was 35.3kph, that just need to be faster! Then to finish off with 2nd run at 3.40min/km for the first km, then just hold on until the finish. Last race the 2nd run was done at 3.48min/km. This was going to be hard again... Race started and off we go!! Pace your self!! Looking at the clock the pace was jumping around a bit. Running along side others that also are trying to dial in on their pace was a struggle. Finally after the turn the group started to thin out and I also had to speed up to get back on pace. Close to the transition the two guys in front went for the turn to complete the 5k loop for the longer race of the day. I continued into transition. Find the bike, helmet on, running shoes off, bike shoes on (have not yet converted to triathlon shoes and having them on the pedals) then exit for the bike ride. Anticipated that I just had to follow someone, but now I was in the front and had to pay extra attention to waving race marshals. After two roundabouts and a left turn I was onto the wide road around the Camel track. My legs were burning, as always after transition. Just be patient, it will take a couple of k's and then it will feel better, I told myself. However, as I should push it really hard on the bike I just had to make sure the burning sensation stayed, and keep the heart rate close to 170... or at least don't let it drop to much. My normal bike experience in triathlon is that I get passed a lot after being able to have a fast swim, but no one was passing me yet, I guessed it was just a matter of time. 1st looped done and now riders from the longer race showed up in front of me. Always a good mental boost to pass people on the bike. Continued to push it as hard as I could. A little of head wind and slightly uphill added to the challenge, pushing the heart rate close to 170 with burning legs. Getting close to transition, no one had overtaken me. Guess the majority of fast people was in the longer race, but I must also be faster this time. Managed to get up to 36.3 kph in average which was on the right side for the bike target. Transition time. Had a quick check of how my feet was feeling. As it was quite ok, not too numb, I opted for getting out of the shoes quite close to transition, just not too loose any extra time. Jumped off the bike just be fore the line, ran to my place, throw the bike on the rack, dump the helmet, got the running shoes on again and off to the last run. The plan was to exit the transition at 3.40 pace. But with the exhilarating feeling of being first in and out of transition the pace was through the roof, below 3min/k pace! During training I had experienced how it feels to blow up on the run after a fast bike. And this was not part of the plan, it would become really painful, and the experience is just horrible. So, tried to slow down a little, but as I was literally flying out of transition it took a good minute to settle down. The the first 1 km lap time popped up at the clock. 3.47! Too slow! Now it was really time to go to work, bring out the positive pictures about track records, cheering crowds and what not just to keep it positive and replay crossing that finish line! The turn was coming up and I was still feeling quite good. So, made a quick turn and got quickly up to speed again. Managed to get it down to 3.15 pace but it was getting harder by every step. Heart rate started to creep up as well, closing in on 180 bpm. At the turn I realize also that I was quite alone. Had I made the cycling correct, was this the right turning point etc. It took my concentration away from running for a second, and again the pace slowed down. No one to pass and get a confidence boost, no one to hold off, so it was just to stay focused. I was realizing that I was going to finish nr 1 as well, for sure that was a distraction. But I really would like to see a good running split. So, I focused on proper running techique, keep a forward tilting body angle, run on the toes and focus on something in the distance, just to keep all other thoughts away. With the Giant banner in the distance getting closer the running became a little bit easier, I tried to pick up the pace, just feeling strong and happy it was soon over. Managed to get the pace down to sub 3.30 when crossing the finish line. Done!! 1st place! Great! That's it. So long time of training and then you barely missed the whole experience! But what a great feeling of being able to push it all that you have and still feeling strong in the end! So, with 1 month and 20 days between the races I took off 8 seconds in running pace for the 2.5 km and 1 kph faster average on the bike over 20 km. That is just great! For the 2nd run I made basically the same time. However, average HR was now 175 compared to 180 last race. Seems like I could have made a faster time after all. However, this could of course be depending of the day, but maybe the pace could have been higher after the initial km where pace needs to be controlled. And it's a matter of allowing yourself to suffer enough and test how hard you can go. As I now managed to get faster on the bike with same race and equipment conditions I can now allow myself to invest in a proper triathlon bike and see how that additional bike speed will place me in future races. Until then, enjoy your training! Ulrik