Dorney to the Dolomites: part 1

This season has been all about one thing: Ironman Switzerland. It’s dominated my thoughts. It’s taken over my life. I can honestly say not a single day has passed that I haven’t contemplated some aspect of what ‘doing an Ironman’ involves. But I’m not the sort of person that can focus on just one single objective, setting everything else to one side.  I love to compete – whether against friends, unknown entrants or simply myself. To motivate me in the short term I need periodical targets to aim for. Without mixing in some other challenges, races or events along the way I’m not sure I’d make it through the 8-9 months it’s taken to prepare for my main event!

And so, when two opportunities came up which any sensible person would have considered mutually exclusive, I simply said yes. To both.

Friday 2nd July

I’d been searching for a fast Olympic distance event and the Marketing Industry Triathlon provided the perfect opportunity. Run by Human Race and set in the superb grounds of Dorney Lake, it’s a lovely course: clear water; 8 smooth laps of the lake on the bike; a fast up-and-back 4-lap run.

I got a good start as guest Daley Thompson fired the gun and was quickly into my rhythm. It’s always hard to tell where you are in the swim section, but I could sense I was in a good group near the front and – as we turned at the first buoy – glimpsed just three guys off the pack. Dorney is excellent for swimming as you can site off the rowing lane ropes so maintaining technique is far easier. I lost two of the group on the final straight but exited the water in 28.27 in about 9th place. T1 was straight-forward: 1.34.

I hit the bike hard. Well, the head wind going away from the boat house hit all of us hard, but I’d decided to go for it on the bike and stuck to my plan. I quickly caught several riders and moved up the field. I was feeling really good by lap 2 and focused on a high cadence and streamlined position perched on the nose of my saddle. Feet out of my shoes, steady dismount, I nailed a 1.08.55 split which was third fastest on the day. T2 presented a bit of a Macca moment with the camera man on me: “come ooooon” I said (more reservedly than McCormack of course!) as the insole of my right shoe slipped with my sockless foot for the third time. Fourth time lucky; I got away in 1.08 and onto the run.

I struggled in Weymouth for the early part of the run, and again my heart rate was high, breathing heavy and I felt rubbish. Still, I forced the pace and picked off one runner on lap 1. By lap 2 I was into my running. Positions were difficult to identify but I just kept pushing myself and managed to run 10 minute laps for 2, 3 and 4 and found a little something for the final metres to finish in 42.50. I was happy to dip under the 23-minute mark at 2.22.57 for 5th place. I was surprised to get a Eurosport camera and mic thrust in my face at the finish line; God knows what I said but it felt pretty cool!

Full results here.

This was the second year the Marketing Tri has been run and it’s great to do something social with industry professionals that doesn’t involve booze! The highlight of my day was actually chatting to childhood hero Daley, who is the official ambassador for the event. I hope to see this grow in popularity in years to come.

As for my performance, well, I’d treated this as a glorified training session and was generally pleased. But I think I should be faster. The swim can improve, probably through actually swimming the distance (not zig-zagging) and tactical drafting. My bike could get quicker, maybe by a minute or two on a calm day and with more high intensity work. Breaking 40mins over 10k in a triathlon should be possible given my training paces, but car-induced injuries have led to my fair share of disruptions and specific brick work wasn’t timed for this event so I would hope to run stronger off the bike as time progresses. Sub-2h20 next time out!