Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Helvellyn Triathlon Notes

I had an amazing day at Helvellyn.  Sadly, the effort made me quite ill so at the moment my enthusiasm is dulled and I doubt that this post will do it justice.

The day before the race was torrential - no other word for it.  I was glad I ordered a hoodie as I needed something to wear underneath my raincoat at registration.

The race day dawned clear and we watched the mist rise off a still Ullswater as we racked our bikes.

I managed to get through the swim in less than half an hour although the jog over the line into transition has me at 30 minutes 28 seconds.

For a mixed gender open-water swim it was quite civilised.  We couldn't see the first buoy for the sun shining in our eyes so I think the entire pack swam a slight loop around to the buoy so there was a bit of swimming over eachotehr as half the pack fell into the shade and started to steer towards the buoy and the other half continued in a random direction.

As we rounded the buoy, quite a lot of people took it easy and steered wide so there wasn't much fighting.  As I swam away from it, I saw the seond buoy and the pack stretched out ahead and felt tired and disjointed.  I started to worry that I'd misread the instruction, that it was a long swim but before I knew it I was on the second buoy.  I managed to sit on someone's feet most of the way around, making the occasional effort to stay in contact.  As I reached the peir my hands froze and I reverted to combing the water with my splayed fingers so consequently I used my legs more to drive me towards the finish.

In transition I couldn't find my lightweight socks so stuck my fell running socks on under my cycling shoes.  Annoying 5 minutes for transition.  Someone noticed and asked me if they were my lucky socks.

Out on the bike I weaved my way through people dragging their shoes along the ground on their bikes or wiggling around and finally jumped on 15m beyond the mount line.  It was 45 minutes before I got warmed up, riding over the 1st climb in 1st gear, wondering how on earth I was going to get up the struggle a bit later on.

When I did warm up I settled down, making sure I was enjoying myself and saving myself for the rest of the day - The Struggle and Helvellyn.  There was a shady ride along the side of Thirlmere which made me shiver before the climb upto the AA phone box which was my trigger to take an energy gel to let it sit in my belly and get me up The Struggle.

We turned into The Struggle and I relaxed.  I knew once I was here, there wasn't much to go.  This time I went straight into bottom gear, not saving the gears this time - saving my legs instead.  After the first kick, I gave some advice to a fellow lady-competitor about zig zagging and got her back on the bike.  We both had a little walk on the next kick as my legs started to twitch with thigh cramp.

We finally reached the flattened section for a rest then hit the final climb.  Suddenly there were people watching.  Teams cheered and screamed at riders still on their bikes to keep going.  I put it on for the photographer and for TSK at the top, cheering and showing me his belly.  As I made the turn onto the top of the Kirkstone pass my face muscles were twitching from grimacing and smiling.

An efficient and skillful descent of the Kirstone pass meant TSK only caught me at the bottom.  To be fair, I scared myself a few times.  With the dry road I wasn't as cautious as last time which made me worry I was going to melt the brakes when I did use them full-on at each of the corners.  If I hadn't been a skilled cyclo-cross rider there's every risk I would've skipped my wheel into the air at some points.

It's an easy ride back to transition from the bottom of Kirkstone pass although each of the little rises did hurt somewhat.

My T2 should've been quick but I spent some time unpacking some stuff from my bumbag.  I also stopped off at the plastic boxes on my way out.

I jogged up to the begining of the climb, through the trees, along the river, past the vanu in the campsite then started walking at the rocky path.  I figure, if you're not running, you might as well eat so I finished the energy bar I started on the bike ride and started downing rehydration fluid as it was a hot, breezy day.

When we reached the moor we all had a bit of a run to the bottom of the climb to Swirral Edge.  A fellow competitor stopped for tea from a flask with her friends and I felt quite jealous.  I enjoyed the climb because I'd done it before and knew there was a cairn, a pointy rock, another cairn and then I was at the ridge, the interesting bit.

I got on the heels of a mountain goat and enjoyed the lift up the craggy edge.  Eventually I got hunger pangs so I stopped to try and eat something.  Sitting on an outcrop above red tarn watching athletes pass me by and munching was very satisfying.  Someone was skinny dipping in the tarn.  As someone faltered in front of me with their footwork I took an alternate direct route, my fell shoes acting as well as soft rubber climbing boots.

I didn't take much of a topping out ceremony, I was too keen to make the most of my food and get onto the much-practiced downhill section.  On the first drop off, I was looking forwards to going back up again, until I got there.  On the second drop off, I was passed by one or two which forced me to run myself.

At the sharp descent - the much feared zig zags - I was doing quite well.  I felt like I was running like my dad but it seemed effective.  I crossed the water station (a  stream) but had plenty of fluids left.  Food was the issue.  My tummy was rumbling but I decided I could probably make it to the finish from here.  The drop down to the bunk house was starting to get painful.  By the time I reached a small incline on the concrete road, my legs said no.  I reverted to a walk so delved in to the last energy gel.  I knew there wasn't much point in me trying to digest anything else.  It worked just long enough to get me down to TSK waiting at the edge of Glenridding village but I had to apologise to fellow competitors for farting.

Once TSK had cycled past it was the crowds of folk cheering through the village and the finishing straight that got me over the line.

Whilst it was nice to walk straight into the lake in my shorts, it became clear very quickly that the cryotherapy was not going to help my feet which tend to cramp after a race.  Perhaps not removing my shoes and socks was an issue but then I can't stand on rocks when I'm' fresh, never mind when I'm knackered.  It took me half an hour around transition to get my stuff and change into dry shoes and socks so I could actually walk back to the van.  I had to drink constantly all the way there just to refuel and regenerate enough to walk.

Lessons Learned
1. Should've taken sugarey drink and some real food on the run.
2. Any ban on plastic boxes - a replacement carrier bag should be clear so I can see the stuff in it.
3. Don't give up downhill running training - not for anyone.  It will only end in days off work after the event.
4. Don't make decisions on nutrition during the event.  I used more calories (2000) out of my body than I actually consumed in the day (1900) ie. total calories expended were in excess of 4000... and I don't often count calories.

Swim: 30:28, 3.2km/hr: 357/599, 44/92 Fem, 28/53 Sen Fem (target time 28:52)
T1: 05:05,
Bike: 2:36:13,14.6m/hr (23.36km/hr): 481/599, 58/92 Fem, 35/53 Sen Fem (Target time 2:14)
T2: 5:48.  What? did I take a nap?
Run: 2:43:18 18:08min/mile (11:18min/km) 507/599, 73/92 Fem, 43/53 Sen Fem (Target time 2:23)

Overall: 6:00:57 (gutted!) 515/599, 74/92 Fem, 44/53 Sen Fem (Target time 5:13).

End of Season lessons
More brick training on longer sessions

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