The best swimming coach I’ve ever had is a guy in Cardiff called Andy Lane, Dr Lane actually. Technique was priority and he managed to get me close to my old swim times on only 2hrs per week. However he also had a keen vision of the whole life balance thing, and he once told me about the bath.
The volume of water in the bath is how much you can handle and depending how many taps are flowing and filling the bath obviously dictates how full it gets. When water is pouring over the top of the bath something has to give, or it all suffers. This past fortnight my bathroom floor has been sodden. Husband, dad, dentist (unless you are a dentist you have no idea how mentally stressful and draining our days are) and wanna be triathlete was taking it’s toll.
As I write this I have the feeling that it may come across slightly negative, but honestly this was the most enjoyable race I’ve had in ages. Waking up at 0445 on Sunday morning for the hour drive to Llanelli I was shattered, spurred on by picking up Craig and Loz (top spectators) I threw myself into the prepacked car and we all enjoyed some pre race chat, podcast reviewing and general 5am chat!
The start list was pretty ‘stacked’ for a local race and I really wanted to see how fast the fast guys were compared to me. I know I’m a nobody in running terms, but like to consider myself a keen swiker. I was disappointed that the waves were mixed and not in ability so again not really clued up on who was where, but looking out our wave we had some fast guys.
Swimming. Open water, only thing better for me is to be in the choppy ocean. My plan was to find Liam Lloyds feet and cling on, problem was I didn’t know what he looked like. Luckily I found my old swim pal Kieran and a youth Nathaniel who i knew was fast from racing a couple of times. Jeeez did we go off fast. The first 100m was covered in 59s, I hadn’t been that fast in a while, and I was super happy with my new wetsuit, not that I get anything from Orca I’ve always worn their wetsuits and can’t fault them. Liam and Kieron continued their blistering pace, and I settled into a rhythm with Nathaniel and who I now know is Alex John. I said this last time in sprint Tri you’ve really got to turn up mentally, and today I wasn’t there. I think I finished at about 1:25/100m, no where near fast enough. But it was great fun to swim in a group of competitive people and 4th out the water was more than rewarding for the effort. An uneventful T1 saw us onto the bike.
I was expecting a proper flat bike course, Id done a ‘best bike split’ and was predicted about 39mins for the 28km. Again the power never came, I could surge up to my target watts, but kept settling in ‘comfort’ about 30w below this. I thought I was doing well because I passed everyone from my wave except Liam, but this class economy probably lost me 2-3 minutes from my overall time. I decided I’d drink a little caffeinated tailwind at the turn point and I think this helped a lot, and hoooray no ‘gut bombs’.
Cramps again! I’d spent the last 5km of the bike easing off, increasing my cadence and dropping my heal, but again second I dismounted my steer double calf cramp! I need to do more bricks, Mark puts plenty in my plan: but my overflowing bath keeps washing them away at the moment!
I spent this 5km watching the people I’d passed pass me back. How does everyone make running look so effortless whilst I hobble and gurn my way through. By this point it was damage limitation, just finish and try and smile! Great support on the course by my friends, people I’ve met in triathlon and of course my Cr@pTri gang.
Across the line, and later I’d found I was a respectable 10th. Not too bad I don’t think. Revising the data after with uber nerd Craig a consistently low HR for the morning showed I maybe hadn’t gone full gas. Remember though your PBs/power are how big your engine is, but HR is how hard you can rev the engine!
So if you are still reading this you are probably thinking how can he say that was enjoyable, sounds disastrous. But actually I’m not a professional, I’m competitive in nature and sometimes that gets the better of me, but I do this for fun in my down time. I spend the morning prancing around in my new super comfy/revealing Team Cranc castelli kit and got the chance to swim, bike and run in the sun. Best of all I got to see my best mate compete his first triathlon, and the fact that I inspired/motivated him to stop dwelling in his post rugby career beer slum reminds me that we rock up at these races to have a good blooming time! And what a great morning I had! I hope you can think of this next time you toe the start line in a ball of stress or self expectation.
What’s next for me, well my race season has fallen apart at the seams due to weddings: 2 best man responsibilities and other family commitments so I’m just aiming to stay fit, not get fat and keep some consistency in my training!