With the first target race of 2017 just over a week away I am sure I am not the only person who has mixed feelings with a big race approaching. Part of me wishes it was weeks away, giving me more time to train and get stronger, but a bigger part of me can’t wait for it to happen. A few months of focused training, building and now planning meaning that I now have to believe I have done enough to get the result I want.
After finishing 2nd in Celtman last year, I don’t think I would be fooling anyone if I said I wasn’t there to try and do better, in terms of performance or position. It is an incredible race with magical scenery and super tough course, but I have the blue t-shirt.
In recent weeks I have focussed on being more specific to the event, meaning a few open water swims, all be it in the pretty safe North Dock in Llanelli. Pool work has not been neglected and I have seen some good time improvements in recent weeks. This time last year I was swimming in the pool at just over 1:50/100m, where as this year it seems to have improved by around 10 seconds/100m. I hope this means I will be faster in the swim leg, although tides and water conditions play a factor, so it will be % of leg winners time that I will focus on.
On the bike, the TT bike has come out of hiding and most of my recent rides have been spent on to get used to the very different riding position. My big worry this year is that I have not spent enough time on the bike and longer riders, by which I would call anything over 2 hours, but especially anything over 4 hours have been few and far between. The only thing race or event wise I have taken part in was the Aberystwyth Seafront Crit 3/4 cat race, which was the first time in a circuit race for at least 3 or 4 years. Quite a shock to the system! I was kicking myself as I started slowly and lost the ground and spent the entire race trying to chase back with a small group of others. We didn’t make it, but I kept pushing on, making another mistake on the penultimate lap as I thought the race had just finished! Eventually crossing the line 7th, which wasn’t too bad after all.
The bike course at Celtman is what most triathletes would call tough, but personally I think it is a pretty easy, straight forward course with wind being the biggest factor. Last year we didn’t have a killer headwind on the final stretch that had been talked about so much, so I will have to be wary of that and make sure I have enough left in the tank.
Running has been a big focus, especially taking this off-road and increasing the number of mountain and trail runs and also a few races. First up was the Cader Mountain Race, which is a tough fell race starting and finishing in Dolgellau. I took part in it 2 years ago, so my aim was to beat my previous time, which was around 1hr 50min. It felt like a mixed performance, a sensible start managing not to trigger my bad left leg, but on the proper mountain section I didn’t feel especially quick and on the downhill I felt pretty slow. I did however beat my previous time and every split was marginally quicker, so I should be pretty happy with how I did.
Several of my training runs have been giving PBs, including a specific run I did to test kit/form this time last year, a 24km mixed terrain route and I managed to take almost 10 minutes off my time for last year and still finished feeling fresh. Another local race, the 3 Park Challenge was another successful event, not so much position wise but with the time, beating my 2016 by a minute, which is a race that I really put everything into last year.
The final big preparation tester for me is the Porthcawl standard distance triathlon this weekend. With just 5 rest days between that and Celtman it isn’t ideal, but the opportunity for an Open Water swim, wetsuit transition and to test my bike form and is another event that I entered last year and can compare against directly.