So I'm a little late to the party with this one considering I finished my 2015 over 3 weeks ago now but things have been changing and preparations for 2016 are starting to take shape.
After Challenge Weymouth which now seems like a lifetime ago I headed to Hever Castle to tackle the Gauntlet race there, in hindsight not a great move and although I had got back into some training in the 2 weeks between the races ultimately the body didn't want to know and the mind wasn't to keen either. Unfortunately i posted a DNF after freezing in the swim and just never getting going. Lesson learned and 2 weeks after an Iron distance race just didn't give my body time to recover for another hard effort, along with some less than perfect training decisions in that time period as well.
This only left me 3 weeks from my last race of the year at Challenge Paguera-Mallorca. A trip we were making as a family for the kids to have a holiday as well. We arrived a few days before the race and settled into our hotel. Registration was easy and I did a couple of short runs, easy spins on the bike and a beautiful sea swim in the days leading up to the race whilst relaxing as much as possible.
I was excited to race, the temperature was hovering mid 20's and I knew this was my last event of the year. My kit sponsor Raceskin had shipped me out a new speed-suit to try and I was excited to test it out, training hadn't been perfect since Weymouth but there was hope something was left in the tank.
A leisurely alarm for a 9 am race start was very nice and breakfast went down well. We took a taxi to the race start and I sorted my bike and checked my bags before meeting back yup with Lisa and the kids on the beach. It was a beautiful morning and with water temps just over 20 degrees it was just about wetsuit legal. I zipped up the Zone 3 Vanquish and got in a short swim warm up before watching the pros go off and getting my position for the start.
Our countdown came and the gun went and we were off. A shallow beach meant a bit of running and dolphin diving but we were soon swimming. After a couple of minutes a few splits started to form but I just didn't have the speed to hang on with them. As some others came passed I sat on some feet and help there to the turn, it was getting pretty warm in the wetsuit and as we headed back to the beach 3 of us were swimming close together but had lost a bit of time to the front.
Exiting the swim it was a long run to T1 and I could feel my heart rate going through the roof, i got to the change tent and swapped wetsuit for helmet and number belt and ran off to grab my bike. Cleanly out of transition and with my feet into my bike shoes we headed down the main cobbled Street and out onto the 2 lap bike course. I felt pretty good quite quickly and held my power target well, I closed on a couple of people and was getting into a rhythm. On the out and back section about 30 minutes in I saw a bit of a pace line forming behind me when we made the turn, i rode strongly on the slight decent back but not knowing the course carried way to much speed into a corner and ended up going off the side of the road missing the gravel but planting myself and my bike nicely into a Spanish bush before hitting the ground.
A quick once over of body and bike and all was good, a pretty dead left but cheek bot nothing major except a few minutes lost to where I was. Back pedalling again and thankfully I still felt alright, probably working a little harder than I should but I now had nothing to lose and time to make up. The first lap ended well and I aimed to ride the second one the same. Knowing the course a bit better now was helping and I was overtaking people again for the second time! I felt strong for the whole second lap and by the end of it had managed to ride myself back towards the front of the Age Group race as we hit T2.
I had a good transition and lead it out onto the run course, my legs weren't feeling great but weren't feeling bad either and I just tried to get into my pace and run my own half marathon. It was hot but not unbearable and lap 1 went by ok, I was surprised at how hilly the run loop was but was feeling ok and headed out for lap 2 out of 4. Halfway into lap 2 I had been passed by a couple of athletes and was starting to slow, I realised I hadn't taken any fuel yet on the run and took a gel but was starting to falter a little, my pace felt like I was jogging but I couldn't physically or mentally get going again, at the start of lap 3 I saw lisa and she gave me a massive cheer and loads of encouragement but inside I was starting to give up, I got through it and was overtaken by a few more people but it was hard to now know what lap they were on, I took my next gel and drank some coke and new that with only one lap to go after this one I was nearly done.
Heading out onto lap 4 and I was starting to feel alright again, Lisa again gave me loads of encouragement and said that I was still 3rd in my Age group. I tried to push harder and it worked, my running was feeling better with every stride and I was catching people again. Coming down the long hill I managed to catch someone who had gone by me earlier on and was just focussing on getting to the line, with about 1km to go I noticed someone behind me catching me up as I turned a corner and just new he was in my age group. I pushed for the line and got into the finish loop when he came flying by me with 15 metres left. I couldn't respond and was pipped by 2 seconds and slipped to 4th!
Although not my greatest performance i am proud I hung on to the end and learned some lessons in the process. I definitely need to develop some speed in the pool and also work out a nutrition strategy to fuel the effort better as well. These are things that I will take into the winter along with everything else i learned so far this year to come out the other side a smarter, fitter athlete.
Massive thank you as always to Lisa, Jayne and the kids. The support is always amazing and makes things so much easier. Also to the great companies that have helped me out this year.
Zone 3 Wetsuits