Vitruvian Race Report

When I first started writing my blog about the Vitruvian race, I found myself bored: apart from a crazy work schedule interrupting my training, this was the perfect race. But after experiencing the disaster of Elbaman 73, I thought a boring but happy story wouldn’t go astray…
I returned from my holiday in France toward the end of July. Of course, holiday for me means doing an Olympic distance triathlon and a ten day cycling camp in the Pyrenees. At work, I discovered my latest tour of Europe wasn’t even over yet, and I was about to begin a new one: this time four, rather than two, nights away each week… Until December. I emailed the new schedule to my coach Scott. “Just some things to take into account when setting my training schedule!”

He wrote back, do you realize you’ve only got 16 days at home over the next 10 weeks?

No… That was a calculation I was unwilling to do, for fear it would freak me out completely!
Since the next five weeks would be in London, we came up with a plan: I would drive my car over to London, allowing me to take my bike & turbo trainer for my hotel room, and give me flexibility to drive to parks for run training, rather than wing stuck running around Gatwick airport car park again.

The programme he devised was really effective in the end, and I found myself excited as the Vitruvian race approached. Similar in distance to Austria 70.3, this Vitruvian involves a 1.9km swim, 85km bike, and 21km run.

Race Day

I was once again racing with my friend Ironman Rich. We met at race transition at 5am Saturday morning. I love the fact that at triathlons at 5am, everyone is as perky as I am:)

I got my transition area ready, then headed down to the start to cheer Rich on in the swim.

The Swim

After having got in the water way to early for Austria – and a little bit late for Paris – I seemed to get it just right for Vitruvian.

Unfortunately, the swimming is the one part of my training that really has suffered amidst my travel schedule. When I have been training, I’ve seen my times balloon out. For this swim, every time I felt myself finding my rhythm, I also found myself off course.

I exited the water in just over 38 minutes, but minus the black eye of Paris!

Lesson learned: don’t skimp on swim training!

Transition to the Bike

I raced into transition, and as pleased to see there were still a few bikes about. Some work to do, but not quite at the back.

I grabbed my bike and ran to the mount line.

Despite the fact I had seriously considered putting my bike shoes on in transition, I had made the decision to attach my shoes to my bike and put them on as I cycled. It was the wrong decision. I made a complete mess of it, and had to stop, unclip my left foot, thread the Velcro straps through my shoes, and start again.

Lesson Learned: practise the transitions, get triathlon-specific bike shoes, or put your shoes on in transition

The Bike

Finally settled, I headed up the hill and onto the course. Thankfully Rich has done this race the last few years, and gave me some insights. I knew the first few kilometres were into a headwind, so I couldn’t expect great speeds.

I turned a corner and hit the “Rutland Ripple”, a series of hills. I love the hills – even more so after my time in the Pyrenees in July. Well, more specifically I love going up hills. Down, not so much. So I powered up the first hill, passing a number of other athletes… Most of whom passed me again on the way back down. But this time, I swear it was a result of weight alone – my hands were off the brakes. Yep, seems I may be absolutely terrified with high speeds associated with going down hills, but my competitive spirit kicks in when I race, and I’m able to forget my fears. Or I just think that racing is more important than being scared.

After the Rutland Ripple, you turn a corner and the wind picks up behind you, lifting your speeds. I hammered along at 35-40kph, and came to the end of the first lap bang on target.

The second lap was even better, as others tired and I stayed strong, again doing a lot of overtaking on the hills.

The Run

I started off strongly in the run. I raced past two men early on. One commented, “Good running!”

I replied, “Thanks,” and because I think you should always return a cheer, “You look strong too.”

As I was racing away, this guy’s mate said after me, “Show off!”

“Jerk,” I thought.

I kept up the pace but felt myself tire at the twenty minute mark. “Stay strong,” I told myself. But it wasn’t working. By the time Rich and I crossed paths, he running in the opposite direction, I could only manage a grimace and a half hearted high five to his smile.

Nevertheless, after I got a gel and some water into me at the thirty minute mark, I was fine again. And thus it went: twenty minutes following my gel feeling fine, ten minutes of misery.

I looked down at my watch and could see hope was fading for me to reach my time target of under five hours. Given my ten minute waves of misery however, I was just happy to see the finish line come up. I finished in five hours and one minute.

The Result

It seems “plus one” was order of the day for me:
Top ten? No, 11th place
Top three in age group? No, fourth
Fastest run split? No, second fastest

I was rapt with the result, and happy to catch up with Rich so we could start talking 2013 races…

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