Friday, 18 November 2016

Challenge Shepparton 2016 - Race Report

If I was to put the way I'd like to race a triathlon into a musical context, it would probably be Led Zeppelin's When The Levee Breaks. Right from the start, it's powerful and features a driving tempo which is relentless, right until the very end. 

Right now, my races are probably more like a John Williams 1980's Olympic theme song. Starting off slowly and quietly, building in the middle, before reaching a frenzied crescendo, although I must admit, my crescendos are not quite as soul stirring as those of the man known for his movie scores such as Star Wars and Indiana Jones. 

Challenge Shepparton was my first foray into the world of "half-distance" racing and very much fell in line with said Williams motif.

Andante (the musical term for moderately slow) - The swim took place in Victoria Park Lake, one of the prettier parts of Shepparton. The water colour may have resembled a short black that your local barista  serves up most mornings but, lets face it, you're not there on a marine biologists field trip. An overcast morning meant it was easy to sight the gigantic red and white cube-shaped buoys throughout the M-shaped course.

Like a solo brass introduction to a Williams classic, I had began. Understated, mostly solo and possibly underwhelming, the song was underway.

I felt I swam as well as I could on the day, in a discipline that I'm working hard at and slowly progressing with. I exited the drink 38th of 55 in my age group. Definitely an area that I can improve in, and that I need to. 

Moderato (The musical term meaning at a moderate speed ) - The bike was a two lap out and back affair on very flat terrain, however the conditions made it a tough gig. 

This is the part where Williams introduces a little bit of bass and accompanying strings to the piece. Nothing over the top, just a little fuller sounding.

Strong cross winds and a fair amount of rain made for a testing experience. Thankfully we often encounter similar winds in Wollongong so it was far from uncharted territory.

Being my first race over the distance, I was conscious of not over doing it on the bike, particularly with the run being my strongest leg.

My two laps were reasonably consistent, I'd got my nutrition right and was feeling pretty good. My time of 2:50:13 is certainly something that I can improve on. The bike is a work in progress and always coming along. 

Something I may not have been prepared for was transition. I entered T2 incident free and realised that the combination of rain, wind and 12 degree temperatures had left me numb. I grabbed my helmet strap but couldn't feel a thing, it was more a case of remembering what to do rather than feeling it that eventually allowed me to get it off. Putting socks and shoes on presented a similar conundrum yet, soon enough, I was on my way.

Allegro (The musical term meaning moderately fast) - Having only ran one half-marathon before, which wasn't off a bike, I'd only estimated a rough pace that I may like to run. The plan was more a case of finding a rhythm, which I did.

Slowly I felt better and better, as though Williams had commanded the military style snare drum and dramatic cymbals to join in for a glorious climactic curtain call.

I thought I may even have enough in the tank to push home with a little more vim over the final 3km, yet when I reached that stage, it was as though my right hamstring held a picket line with some tense negotiations.

To paint the scene, this was what I got back after I'd asked for a little bit more, just for 3km.

Hamstring: "Yeah I can see what you're trying to do, but I've been at it for five hours, how about we just agree to keep it at this pace, if not I'll cramp, your call buddy."

And with that, I continued as best I could to the line, wondering if Williams had ever met similar resistance from an orchestra member.

My run split was 1:43:57, only six minutes slower than my non-triathlon effort over same distance. I'd taken 5:18:25 to traverse the full race and finished 26th in my age group.

There was plenty to take away from the race and lots to improve on. The Shepparton course is a gem to race on and one that I'd recommend.

For now, it's back to shorter course racing with the view to the possibility of another half-distance race at the back end of the season. Until then it'll be a lot of hard work and hopefully a little more Led Zeppelin and a little less John Williams.

A massive congratulations goes to my coach Nathan Miller who finished top ten at his pro debut, along with Carolyn Dews who won her age group and Matt Lewis who finished second in his.

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