Sunday, 5 October 2014

Challenge Weymouth - The Day The Wind Came

So its been 3 weeks now since the inaugural Challenge Weymouth. A day which will be remembered for the wind and the swim.  Arriving in transition around 5.30am it was still dark but seemed ok.  After sorting my bike and dropping off my bags the call went out that the swim was going to be shortened and the start delayed due to the weather conditions and safety concerns.  Disappointed by the call i went and found Lisa and the kids and chilled out for a bit before getting my wetsuit on and heading over to the sea front.  Once on the prom it was fairly obvious why the call had been made. A strong easterly wind and low tide was kicking up surf that is rarely seen off Weymouth beach.  Seeing two of my sisters and loads of people i know was great and i was super relaxed heading down to the beach to line up.  A quick dip to flush my wetsuit and we waited for the horn to go off.

A few swimmers getting lost in the surf!
Lining up behind the professional field the original plan of take the swim hard and try and hang on to some fast feet now turned to survival.  The horn went and we ran in, it was instantly obvious that fast swimming was well out of the window and just trying to keep moving forward and drinking as little sea water as possible was going to give you the best chance of a good day.  Sighting was interesting and after fighting and diving through the waves on the way out to the first buoy we started to turn across the waves then back into shore.  Catching waves back onto the beach i hadn't got it quite right and still had a fair run across the beach to start the second lap but had judged it better than some others! Second time round i knew what to expect and just had fun in the waves.  There were a few hats from my wave around me and we were now into the back of the swimmers from the second wave. Finding any feet to follow wasn't much of an option but i sighted better back to sure and came out of the water in good company ready for the run across to transition and to start the bike.

Through T1 and onto the bike i new i had to ride my own race. I was in the company of some very fast professional athletes and trying to stick with them would have potentially been disaster later in the day.  I planned to ride 260 watts start to finish with little to no fade or drop in pace.  Fuelling was every 20 mins from a calorie bottle behind my seat taking water and drinks from aid stations for my front cage.  Although being local i still hadn't managed to ride a full lap of the course in training but had a rough idea where we were going.  The first lap went well, i was passed by a couple of pros but stuck to my watts and felt good heading back to town after the first lap.  2 hours 32 for lap 1 and with half athletes out on course had people to chase down.  Going up the ridgeway climb the second time a spectator shouted to my that i was in 7th!  resisting the urge to hammer the climb and feeling very good about things i cracked on.  The second lap was a bit more eventful with a nasty accident on a fast corner with ambulances on course and plenty of half athletes on the roads.  Onto the fast sections on the second half of the lap and my legs were still there and i was holding good watts.  Back onto the main road and i had gone through all my nutrition and taken an extra gel.  I had ridden the whole ride solo and managed to negatively split it! second lap time of 2 hours 29 and Normalised power of 263 for the whole ride, 5 hours 1 minute and i was around 10 minutes up on what i had guessed it would take.

Through T2 and out onto the run and Lisa was there on transition exit which was nice and it was over to the prom to start the marathon.  I had put my Garmin on but only had limited data on view as i didnt want to be too bogged down with it and try and run more to feel but keeping an eye on pace to hold back or push on as appropriate.  Straight out of transition and running fast felt easy so i made an effort to back it off and settle into a more sensible pace. Down through town on the first lap and it was awesome to be running up the main street with people i knew all around cheering. I felt comfortable through the first 2 laps and although had a pretty painful stitch for a few km's is went away.  With all the half athletes on course as well it was hard to know who was in front and if you were being chased down but it was great to see people i knew on course running as well.

Towards the end of the second lap i caught an athlete who passed me early in the run, initially i hoped to run with him for a bit but unfortunately he slowed down through an aid station and i carried on.  It was getting tough now but through lap 2 and another band and i lapped my Garmin. 1h39 through 21km so i knew my pace was good i just had to try and hold it! Heading towards the top turn on lap 3 and i saw my dad with my sister. He has not seen me race a long distance event yet so that was really nice and a little more motivation to keep pushing.  My pace was slowing going into the wind heading towards the Bustinskin aid station and 5min/km was an effort but the support through that aid station was amazing and the tail wind back down to the finish area helped as well.  

Last time through the finish area and off onto my last lap with 4 bands on my wrist.  The strategy now was just aid station to aid station taking on coke and water and laying off gels.  Up through the town centre and to the top turn for the last time.  I was feeling pretty rough but going through the Bustinskin aid station was a lift and from there it was a last effort to the line.  I could feel my hamstrings starting to show the first signs of cramping, I was trying to push hard as i could but was wary that they could go any time.  I was pretty sure there was no immediate danger of being overtaken but I knew the first women was not a million miles away and certainly wanted to stay in front of her.  Round the Sealife Tower and onto the pier and i was minutes away from the finish. Back through the car park and it was onto the red carpet but this time to turn left down the chute.  A big high five to Lisa before i went down and arms in the air over the finish line.  My hamstrings tightened instantly but it was over now so didn't matter.  I got my medal had a photo and slowly headed for the after race area, a massage and a seat!

After I had finished i cam out to find Lisa and the kids along with my dad and sister.  We watched and chatted for a bit before heading to McDonalds for a cheeky Mcflurry and then to collect my bike and see the Bustinskin guys on the top turn aid station.  We headed back to the finish to watch some more people come in and enjoy the atmosphere but everyone got tired and we headed on to bed. 

It Was A Long Day For Everyone
Monday lunch time and it was back to the Pavilion for prize giving.  A load of people turned out from the club and there were people shuffling around in finishers t-shirts everywhere.  The ceremony was awesome and it was great to share to 25-29 podium with Tom from Bustinskin who smashed his first Long Course race.
M25-29 Podium
Then was time for the top 10 male athletes.  Being called onto stage as 10th overall and the highest placed amateur was a special moment.  Everyone from Bustinskin gave a massive cheer and i stood there and shook hands with all the Pros that had beaten me.  Unfortunately being registered as an amateur i was the only one not to get a cheque but for this year thats alright.  It was an amazing way to cap of the race and my 2014 season and we went out for a nice lunch afterwards before leaving to get the kids from school and get ready for the back to reality slap in the face of work the next day!

A massive thank you to everyone who helped and supported me over the weekend and the whole season.  Lisa and the kids for living with me and being at all the races, my dad and sisters who travelled down just to watch for the weekend, to the guys at Cyclecinno on portland for keeping my bike running sweet and providing great coffee and cake dates for me and Lisa.  And finally to Mark and Lins and everyone from Bustinskin for the support on the course all day and for helping me train and compete all season long.

I am now coming to the end of some time off and making plans for 2015, excited to see what happens next.

Sneaking it onto the end! 10 of the smoothest pairs of legs you will ever see!

Very proud to be putting these up!