This year I decided to reduce the number of events I was going to enter and concentrate on 3 main races for 2019. The first event was The Boskman triathlon in The New Forest. I always like to do new races and experience different courses around the UK. As I have said in previous blogs, I am limited to what races I am able to compete in, due to work commitments. I only have one full weekend off every month, so I have to plan a race that fits in with that rota. I did some research and found a race in The New Forest called The Boskman. The race was advertised as a 2.5km swim, a 1.7km transition run, a 120km bike and a 21km trail run. This sounded perfect for me and one that fitted in with my work rota. There were 3 races on the day, a middle distance, The Boskman and The Forestman, which was a full Iron Distance Race.
We arrived on the Friday and settled into the B&B, which was a couple of miles away from the start. The race brief and registration was on the Saturday, which was mandatory, so we headed over to find the location and register for the race. The race director explained the course in great detail and ensured that everyone understood certain aspects of the race. He explained that while there would be feed stations on the bike course, athletes would have to stop at the stations and fill their own water bottles up. I’m glad that he mentioned this, so I decided to put an extra bottle cage on my bike and carry 3 water bottles instead of the 2 I originally put on.
With the registration complete, we headed out for some food, before getting an early night.
The alarm was set for 3am, ready for a 6am start. Catrin and I made our way over to the start to rack my bike and make our way over to the lake. The lake was 1.6km away, so we had to ensure we left enough time to walk over, get my wetsuit on and get ready for the start. The Forestman triathletes were in the water first and started at 5.30am. As we arrived at the lake they were starting their long day out.
The set up was very similar to Ironman Wales, where we had an extra transition bag with our trainers, to make the long run to T1. I placed my bag and trainers in the transition pen and made my way down to the water’s edge. The lake looked stunning with the sun rising in the distance and the water very calm. We were given a 5-minute warning, so we all made our way into the water for a deep water start. No warm up this time as the first race was already underway. I positioned myself at the front of the pack and decided I was going to go out hard for the first 50 metres or so, then settle down into a steady pace. The gun went off and I quickly made my way towards the first buoy. I was expecting at least a few athletes to join me, but it turned out as I approached the buoy, I was on my own. I decided to ease off into a very comfortable pace and make my way around the course. The water temp was around 16-17 degrees, which was quite pleasant. The only part of the swim I did really struggle with, was the turn from the last buoy back into the start. The sun was rising and I literally couldn’t see a thing. I had to stop, tread water and take my goggles off to figure out where I was going. This was the same for the second lap. I exited the water in 30.50. I gave myself a target time of 30 minutes for the swim, so I was content with that. I made my way up the ramp and quickly got out of my wetsuit and into my trainers for the long transition run. I decided to take my time on the transition run and approached the tent in 38.07. The volunteers in the changing tent were brilliant. I shouted out my race number and she got my bag almost instantly. On with my helmet and race belt and off to get my bike. One little mishap during the transition and that was one of my Clif bars falling out onto the floor. Luckily for me, Catrin and a Marshall were both shouting at me to let me know. Out onto the bike course for 2 laps of The New Forest.
I set off on the bike feeling good and quickly got into my rhythm. The bike was a 2 lap course, with a few steep climbs to contend with. The road surfaces were pretty poor and we were warned of a certain section where it was very bumpy. I was out on my own and was taking in the beautiful scenery of The New Forest. My power was spot on where I wanted it to be and I was just enjoying the race. I got stuck into my nutrition early on and ensured I was staying hydrated, as the temp was around 19 degrees. I didn’t see a single person on the first lap, just a hell of a lot of wildlife. There were horses, cows, sheep, deer and a few Geese. The race director did warn us of this and I did almost have a run in with a herd of wild horses. I was on a flat fast section and they made their way out into the middle of the road. I swerved and thanked my lucky stars that I didn’t collide with them. After that close call, I didn’t want to take any risks, so eased off the descents and played it safe. I rode past transition after my first lap, where Catrin was positioned in a time of 1 hour 33 minutes. Feeling very good and looking forward to the second lap. This is where the roads started to get a bit busier. The road traffic had starting to build up and the athletes from The Forestman had started their bike leg. To be fair the cars and tractors on the road were very patient and waited for a clear gap before overtaking any cyclist. I knew I was still in the lead at this point but had no idea by how much. The rest of the bike leg went very smoothly and I came into T2 with a time of 3.08. Almost an even split for the 120km course.
I knew I had a very difficult run to contend with, so I mentally got myself prepared in the changing tent and made my way out onto the course. I felt really good exiting the transition area and I saw other athletes coming down the road taking their feet out of their shoes. I thought to myself, right I only have about 3-4 minutes lead on these guys, so I’m going to have to go hard if I want any chance of winning. What I didn’t realise was these guys weren’t in my race, they were doing the middle distance race. Looking back I am quite glad I didn’t realise because I always race better under pressure and when other athletes are hunting me down. The first 2 miles were uphill on the road, passing the other athletes on their bikes going the other way. I clocked my first 2 miles at around 6.10mm pace. The course then took a left turn and onto the trails. This is where it was difficult. I stayed in a good rhythm and kept an eye on my heart rate. As I went into the woods there was a tough section of sand and gravel, my pace obviously slowed and heart rate increased. I had to stay focused because I thought there were a few guys only a few minutes behind me. I am not the strongest of runners and usually, that’s where other athletes catch me up. It reminded me a bit of The Gower and my sessions spent running through the trails with Rab. Funnily enough, I was thinking as I was running, ‘Rab would absolutely love this course’ He’d be in his element. This took my mind off the pain I was in and I battled on. It was an out and back course with a couple of feed stations. There was a very steep descent on the way out and I remember thinking, ‘oh god I have to run back up this’. I reached the turnaround and this is where I took a look at my watch to clock what time it was. I knew that I could work out where second place was and by how much. I ran for around 4 minutes before I saw another athlete coming towards me, but he had a different colour race number, so I knew he wasn’t in my race. I could see the hill I had run down in the distance and it looked bloody steep. I started running up and my legs were burning, so I decided to walk for 20-30 seconds before running the rest. After that hill, for some reason, I went into autopilot and didn’t take any notice of any runners going in the opposite direction. I just wanted to get myself to the finish. Once I left the wooded area and got back onto the tarmac, I knew I only had 2 miles left to run. I was pretty confident that there wasn’t anyone who was able to catch me at this stage, so I took my foot off the gas slightly and ran into the finish. Run time of 1.27.44 and an overall time of 5.14.16
A very pleasing performance for my first and only race before the big one in Challenge Roth. I feel that my training has been good over the past 8 weeks and I feel I am getting fitter every day. I am really looking forward to Challenge Roth and trying to achieve my goal for that race.
Overall a brilliant race in the New Forest. I couldn’t fault it and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a bit of a different race to have a go at. 6 weeks until Challenge Roth, so it’s time to get right back into training and focus on the main race of the season.