After 18 months of struggling with an Achilles tendon injury my knee flared up riding home the Thursday before the race. Guessing (hoping) it was just an overuse injury from the high intensity of my commutes I took the rest of the week off of the bike and restricted myself to swimming. My Achilles generally behaves itself after cycling, but as I wasn’t able to ride my bike, I went 10 days before the event with no cycling or running, less than ideal in every way as I would likely feel flat on race day.
When the gun went off my arms jumped into action and I headed off with the lead group. “First time for everything” I thought to myself as I settled into a pace. Having improved my stroke enormously by focusing on my catch during the off season I was happy to have put my swim troubles behind me.
However while I had greatly improved my technique the same couldn’t be said for my pacing as I soon found myself being passed and realised I must be slowing. I found another swimmer in a BlueSeventy suit and sat on his hip for the last 300 metres before hurling myself out of the water and along the very long 400M run to T1 where I took quite a few places.
Sprinting out of the water after my best ever swim
My T1 was relatively efficient minus the standard wetsuit struggles and I was soon on the bike, heart in mouth. My pacing tactics were to sit on my threshold for the entire race and see what happens, not especially advanced or pretty, but after completing a number of sprint triathlons where I’d held a bit back for the run, I applied the formula I’d developed for success at Olympic distance where I throw everything at the bike course and hope that my run legs hold on.
Out of the saddle on one of the rolling sections
The course at Blenheim was very technical so I didn’t spend as much time on the aero bars as I anticipated, navigating sweeping turns, short, sharp changes in elevation and some tight, tricky corners. I knew I was dehydrated from spending all of the day before talking, and had struggled to re-hydrate in the evening and morning before the race. As it was around midday by this point my body was calling out for water and carbohydrates, but my stomach was still a little unsettled from the swim and sitting on my threshold made it difficult to take on water or gels. I took small mouthfuls of each before the energy gel tried to make a reappearance, causing me to lose time, less than ideal.
Never trust a man who smiles during the bike leg
At the end of the bike, after playing cat and mouse with a couple of other riders I took to the run course with pretty empty legs, unsure how they would perform as it would be my first fast 5K run of the year due to ongoing injury rehab. I soon got up to speed running around my 4 minute kilometre pace that I traditionally sit on for a 5K run before slipping to a 4:30 pace as my body simply couldn’t push further and wasn’t used to running. I still overtook hundreds of runners and only got passed once myself so can’t complain too much but my run was still a few minutes longer than I’d have liked.
The bloke behind tried to outspent me. Lived to regret it
750M swim 14:27
19.8KM bike 39:44
5.4KM run 25:15
It was probably my strongest race overall though, I went full gas from the gun and don’t regret anything, except maybe that last mouthful of gel…
Here’s a video provided by the race organisers of a couple of highlights of my race
And here’s a video of my run sped up to 1000%, courtesy of the GoPro clipped to my running visor