What I thought was going to be my first triathlon since Ironman Cozumel 2019, in fact became a duathlon, due to weather conditions.
That being said, I still wanted to put in a decent performance with the emphasis of the race being the run off the bike. If I was going to take anything out of this race, it was going to be to test my legs off the bike.
We decided to travel to Marlow on the Friday and stay two nights to make a weekend out of it. What a stunning place and a great venue for a triathlon. There were six athletes racing as part of Team NFT and I was really excited to share the course with them, knowing the hard work they have been putting in over the past few months.
I planned on riding the bike course on the Saturday with the rest of the team, but unfortunately the weather put a stop to that. It hammered down with rain and it wasn’t worth getting wet and cold for, so I drove the bike course to get familiar with the surroundings.
Alarm set for the usual 3 hours before the start. Up for breakfast and we made sure we got to registration early. So early in fact that I was issued with bib number 3.
Racked the bike and went off for a quick warm up jog with Team NFT athlete John Collier.
The start was a rolling start, with social distancing taken into account. So athletes were sent off in 10 second intervals. I had a few quick words of encouragement with the NFT athletes before they headed off and made my way into position.
I had a race plan to follow, which Catrin and I sat down to discuss and devise. The plan was to take the first 5km run pretty steady, save the legs for the bike, to ensure I hit my target power. I was off. The first run was 1 loop of the run course, which I would have to do again a further 4 times on run 2. It started on a trail next to the River Thames. The first 2km was challenging, due to the downpour of rain in the previous days. There was one muddy section, where you almost had to fast walk to get across, as my feet were sliding from underneath me. Once past that section you took a right turn inland, through a wooded area, up a couple of short sharp hills and out onto the main road, before turning back into transition. I felt very comfortable during the first run, entering T1 with a time of 18.17. Pretty pleased with the pacing of the run and felt fresh getting onto the bike. We all agreed before hand that we would run the transition run in our bike shoes, as the run was across grass and gravel and because we had our socks on for the first run, we didn’t want to have soaked feet for the remainder of the race. I set off without any problems from T1 and onto the bike, to start my 3 laps.
The bike course was around an 8 mile outward stretch, before taking a right turn to start 3 loops of around 12 miles each. Once completing these 3 loops it was an 8 mile inward stretch back to transition.
The plan was to hold around 295-300 watts for the flat sections of road and increase this to 350-360 on the hills. The trouble was the road surface. Having driven the course, I could see there were a lot of potholes, which would make things tricky. A certain section of road there was a bump in the tarmac every 3 metres or so. Going over these on TT bars and bouncing up and down was not fun. That certain section was probably the worst of the lot.
I was holding my power and keeping my concentration fully on the road, to avoid any unnecessary risks. First loop of the bike almost done. I tried to take some fluid from 1 of my bottles, but noticed it had popped off the back from the lumpy road surfaces. I went to grab my second bottle from my frame, but my hands were so cold, it slipped through and hit the floor. Great down to 1x500ml in the hydration system. Onto the second loop and my average power was 306 watts with normalised of 312. Loop 2 and 3 were pretty much the same as the first. Power dropped slightly and I ended up with an average of 302, normalised of 308. Bike time – 2.11 (53 miles ish)
Into T2 and I was afraid I would have trouble getting my trainers on due to the numbness in my hands, but it was in fact the helmet that gave me the most problems. I couldn’t feel my fingers to unclip the strap. I ended up pulling the strap down under my chin and slipping the helmet off that way. I grabbed my nutrition, sunglasses and managed to get the trainers on without too much difficulty, then onto run number 2.
The target for me was to run as close to 6 min pace as possible, without going into the red. First mile 5.48. Maybe a little too quick, but the legs felt good, so I went with it. Past the boggy section of trail and I was ticking off the first lap quite comfortably. I knew I had to keep running hard if I wanted to be in for a decent run split. The mile laps were coming through on my watch, 5.58, 6.01, 5.57. Pretty consistent and still feeling great, I pushed on. I was so caught up in trying stick to my cadence that I completely forgot to take on any nutrition. No gels and no fluid for the whole run. Won’t be making that mistake again. Coming into the finish and not knowing where I had finished, but it wasn’t about that, it was about putting in a good run split for me off the bike. Pretty pleased with the second run time of 1.13 for the 20km run.
Overall a good race hosted by F3 events. Social distancing measures all put in place and the volunteers were very friendly and accommodating. Pretty pleased with the result, but I am looking forward to racing an actual triathlon next time.
Onto Team NFT and there was mixed feelings as 4 out of 6 athletes managing to finish with 2 on the podium, but gutted to see 2 not able to finish, after a strong start.
Nathan Ford – 1st Place
John Collier – 3rd Place
Rhodri Workman – 18th Place
Dan Shinton – 22nd Place