As part of my Ironman training I had no plans to enter a ‘short’ triathlon such as this but then a couple of weeks ago I managed to get a entry to the race 3 of the 2010 series via the lovely good people at For Goodness Shakes on Twitter.
The Thames Turbo races are held on bank holiday Mondays so it wouldn’t interfere with my normal training. I chose not to taper for this race and just treat it like a good hard workout to help back-up a solid weekend of training. The weekends training consisted of an 18.5 mile run on Saturday, culminating with a 21 minute 5k just to finish me off. Sunday I was up early for a 2.5 mile lake swim and then a hilly 60 miles on the bike to my parents for a BBQ and family birthday party.
Monday morning dawned and at 5:20am I was busy having my breakfast of porridge and coffee. After an easy cycle to Hampton Pool I got ready for the start - I was in the first wave of swimmers in the pool and was the 13th person to set off. I’d not swum in a pool for about a month (having only been swimming once a week in a lake) so didn’t really know what to expect, but thankfully I had a solid clean swim with nobody overtaking me (or me overtaking people).
I came out of the water feeling good (and more hydrated than when I entered the water!) and ran to transition. Socks, bike shoes, helmet, glasses, race number belt and away I went. My time for the 426m and transition to the bike was 9 minutes 17, which was 64th overall (22nd in my age group - male 30-39). Although I was 13th in and out of the water in my wave, there must have been lots of faster swimmers in the second wave, and also people with faster swim-bike transition times than I (my T1 time is always going to be slower as I’m putting on socks and bike shoes here - whereas many others don’t wear socks and have shoes already clipped into their bikes).
The bike was fairly uneventful. I overtook about four people over the course of the 21km bike leg and straight from the start pushed as hard as I could. It was giving it my all and no doubt my legs were feeling it from the weekends training but I did as best as I could. My bike time was 36:20 (26th fastest and 9th in my age group). Of the people in the first wave of competitors I was 4th to finish the bike.
Looking at the bike leg data on my GPS I averaged 22.2 mph for the 36 minutes or so. Interestingly (well, for me!) my cadence averaged 102 - all of my other rides this year have averaged about 91 rpm cadence. Is this indication of me ‘spinning’ faster related to miles already in my legs, or is it just how things are when you bust a gut and race hard for short distances.
After the bike you have a seven minute ‘non-compete zone’ to get back to the transition area and head off to the run. This transition was pretty quick - throw the bike on the rack, helmet off, slip my running shoes on (elastic laces make this super-easy) and away I go.
After about 1k I met up with Danny and Kirsty who were on the course supporting. Danny was on his bike and gave me some good words of encouragement for a couple of hundred metres of so (and again at about 3.5k).
Being in the first wave of runners meant that there were very few people on the run course so it was a lonely run with nobody in sight to chase down. I got some great support from the marshals throughout - especially the children at the drinks station at about 2k and 4k during the run.
By the time I got to the finish I was absolutely spent but very happy with how things went. After a lovely late breakfast in Hampton Hill I headed home and awaited the final results.
My 5k run time (including transition) was 19:18 (8th fastest and 3rd in my age group) which after the pounding my legs took on the bike I was chuffed to bits with. Run wise the first km was run at 3:57 pace (although I went past the 1k sign in about 4:30 according to my watch!) and then my GPS splits were 3:39, 3:45, 3:45 and 3:42. This gives a time of 18:48 (GPS logged 3.1 miles) - one of my fastest 5k’s in months! The extra time that makes up to my ‘official’ time includes bike-to-run transition and running through the car park onto the pavement (which is when I started my watch).
Overall my finishing time was 1 hour 4 minutes and 55 seconds and I finished 15th overall (out of 330 finishers) and 5th in my age group. Looking back at the same race in August 2008 I finished 20th overall in a time of 1:06:33. Update: final results were posted a week later and my position dropped to 17th.
Overall for a race I’d not planned to enter I really enjoyed doing a short incredibly tough workout (similar effort to a 10 mile running race) on what would normally be an easy training day.