Trimmathlon – Vereinsmeisterschaft 2017

It’s been a while, Pirmasens was cancelled for some reason and Remagen has been cancelled too.  I have been ticking over in training, but I don’t have any pressing goals, so it is a bit more relaxed than normal at the moment.

Vereinsmeisterschaft

The Vereinsmeisterschaft (club championship) is a super sprint with 300m swim, 17km bike and a 4km hard run. The run is a right bastard, but we’ll get to that later!

I got to the start in good time, everyone was in good spirits but the potential winners were looking a bit more serious. Our wave started at 09:50, which means that the pool is full of competent swimmers, which is good for avoiding collisions.

Surprise start

The race started and we were off. I was the fastest in my lane and most of the race was to my right hand side, with only one guy behind near me on my left. 300m is basically a long interval, but you can’t start too fast, or you will blow up after 150m. I paced it ok and got out after just under 5 mins had passed.

My change was quite quick and I overtook Marcus in transition. I got going on the rolling bike course and saw that Sebi was stopped with a technical problem at the side of the road. Up the hill I was passing the fast swimmers who can’t bike so well. On the flat a little later I was doing fine, but I wasn’t feeling confident on my TT bike.

Cautious Riding

After going wide on a round about, Marcus and Sebi passed me. Sebi was getting a nice draft off Marcus for a long time, before passing in him on the next hill. I was losing time on the downhills, gaining on the uphold and staying about the same on the flats.

Te last few km were a bit twisty and downhill, I haemorraged time on this part. After just about getting in clipper on the downhill to T2, I had a good change and was off on the run.

Running Tough

The hills are tough on the run. There is a steep bump, then a bigger bump, then a long slight downhill, a switch around and everything in reverse. I caught Marcus on the big bump, but everyone else was way ahead of me, and I couldn’t see anyone behind me. At the turn, I could see that Max was in range, I got him just at the end of the long drag uphill. I knew that I was in 5th but way off 3rd and in a different time zone to Lukas and Konrad who were side by side in 1st and 2nd.

Meh, but better than last year

I jogged it in for 5th in a time that was 3 mins faster than last year. My swim and run were decent, my bike felt like crap! I was just so careful and felt like I was losing time on every corner or bend.

It turned out that Sebi had crashed at the start, he didn’t have a mechanical. He did well to get going again so I forgive him his recovery draft! Christoph came third, he has got so much better through the season, he’ll be tough to beat next season.

So another Vereinsmeisterschaft is over, and with it my Triathlon season 2017. It was my best season by a mile, it’s just a shame that 2 races were cancelled. I’ll be back next season though, targeting the shorter stuff and hoping to help us get promoted again!

P.s. Lukas beat Konrad by 17 seconds on the run.

City Triathlon Merzig 2017 – Sprint – RTV 2. Landesliga

  Merzig the Third

I’ve done Merzig twice before, but it is a staple of the RTV league calender, so I was down to do it again in 2017.  I haven’t been doing much training since Roth, and I have been eating lots and have gained weight, so I was worried before the race that I wouldn’t be on form.

I had to get up at 5:30am and I had only slept about 4h, perfect preparation. Add to that that I had a puncture on Saturday, so walked home and hurt my foot by standing on a stone, I wasn’t feeling tip top!

We were there at 8:30 and the weather was nice, we had a very strong team, Christoph, Michael, Heiko, Jonas and me. After being the best team in Zell and Worms, we were hoping to win again and make getting promoted a near certainty.

Wetsuit Swimming

Happily the water temperature was 21.2°C so we could wear wetsuits, it’s only a 750m swim, but given my lack of training, I wanted to wear a wetsuit.  We watched the mixed relay whilst warming up, the referees were pretty confusing, one told us that we had to hang our bikes by the brake levers, the other said that it didn’t matter, the saddle was fine too…

So at 10:09 we went into the water. I hung back slightly so I could find some clear water to swim in. With absolutely no advance warning, the race started!  I felt like I swam ok, not brilliantly, but decent enough. The Buoy was packed at the turn around, but after that I could get going on the 2nd half.  I had hoped for about 12minutes, but got out and saw 12:45 on the clock.

Draft legal?

There is a bit of a run from the swim to the bike, team captain Sebi told me that I was 20 seconds behind Christoph and 30 seconds behind Michael.  I got going on the bike and didn’t feel so great, but my pace was good.  There was a group maybe 100m ahead of me, so I pushed to catch them.

After 3-4km I caught the group, or should I say peleton. They were riding in a group and after Worms I didn’t want to get involved in that. A couple of guys gave it a good go at blocking me by accelerating as I was passing, but I made it past.  I got to the front of the group and wanted to push on, but soon enough the group swallowed me up and I was left in the middle.  I decided to hang off the back, as we had a near 41km/h average speed, so I couldn’t speed up to get away on a flat course, so I would just hang and hope that they get busted.

Trying not to draft!

We caught Christoph after maybe 12km and he had the same problem as I had had. We ended up just rolling around near the group, it sucked. In Worms I averaged 310w or so, here I averaged 255w.

Not feeling the run

In T2 I messed up putting my shoes on again, so Christoph was 15 seconds clear of me. Apparantly Michael was 40 seconds clear, that would be tough!  I passed Christoph after about 500m but wasn’t feeling too hot. I was passing plenty of people, but my legs felt flat.  By the 2nd round it was getting a bit better, so I could at least roll for a few km.

I could see Michael in the distance at the turn around, but I wasn’t catching him. I kept my pace up, but it wasn’t so impressive.  On the last lap of the 4, with only about 400m to run I could hear someone behind me.  A quick look back showed me that it was someone from Tri Post Trier, so someone from my league, this was for position!

Sprint for position
Tri Post Trier man right behind me on the last lap

Though I really didn’t want to, I started building speed early so that it wasn’t a side by side sprint. I kept accelerating and could hear that he wasn’t keeping pace, phew!  As I started to feel like the job was done, it was still 100m to the finish line and he wasn’t far back, so I kicked again and got over the line 1 second before him 🙂

Race Overview – meh but 5th place

It felt like a bit of a nightmare race, my swim was average, bike limited by the group and run below par. I was 3rd from the 5 in TCEC.  When the results were posted though, it turned out that I was 5th in the league in 1:04:06, so more than 6 mins faster than in 2015 (I think the bike was shorter and faster this year).  I only lost to Michael by my bad transitions and ran the exact same time as he did. Actually it was a decent performance.

TCEC – always winning

More importantly, with 3rd, 4th, 5th, 12th (and 19th) for Michael, Jonas, Me, Christoph and Heiko, we were easily the best team, in fact it would have been near impossible for us to lose with those results! So we have won every race this season clearly, and just need to stay competitive in Pirmasens and Remagen to win the league.

For me, I need to get back into training. It doesn’t need to be crazy training, but more swimming and running would be good, and maybe ease up on the eating too!  It’s been 3 weeks since Roth, I have been sensible and taken some down time to recover, but now that time is over!

The Road to Roth – Roth 2017

Warning – this is going to be a long post!

We got to Nürnberg on Friday and headed straight to the Messe to register for the race and get my numbers and stuff. I signed up for the shuttle bus at the 2nd attempt and was good to go!  On Saturday I went for a 15min dip in Rothsee, checked in the bike and went back to the Messe to hear the race information.  It was boiling hot, like 32°C and sunny so I think everyone was worried in advance about the run, I know I was.

           

Race Day

After kind of sleeping/dozing for 4h, I was up at 4am and ate lots!  6 pain aux chocolat and a banana later, I was on my way to the train station to catch the first train of the day with other athletes and drunks on the way home after a night out. I had noticed on Saturday that I had forgotten my trishorts, so I was going to have to swim/bike in my bibshorts, then carry my run shorts in my back pocket and do a full change in T2.  It was a bit of a nightmare situation, but I would have to make the best of it.

 

I made it to the shuttle bus on time and the traffic was crazy, but the bus driver just rode on the wrong side of the road the whole way, so got us there in no time! The journey only took 20 minutes, so I was at the start at 5:40am

My bike was wet from the dew, and my front wheel felt a bit soft. I am not a fan of high pressure tyres, but I decided that it was a bit soft, even for me. It’s a good thing too as it turns out I only had 3 bar in before then!  It was 6:15am when I dropped off my swim bag, then I went to the toilet, dropped of my ‘After Race’ bag and got my wetsuit on and waited for the start. It was all very surreal, getting into the water I almost felt numb, but the cannon went off and the race was underway.

I got smacked around, grabbed and pulled a lot in the first 400m, but then it spread out and I could start to swim properly.  The signs at the side were really useful so you always knew where you were.  It all went swimmingly, my arms didn’t really tire, so it was just a case of plugging away until the end.  I was curious as to how it was going, but didn’t check until the end when I got out and saw 1:08 on the clock, right in the middle of my guestimated time.

I had a slooow T1 as I had to mess around getting my running shorts ready in my pocket. I had also packed lots of stuff ‘just in case’ in my swim bag, which the helper emptied out, only to be told that I didn’t need them! After that was sorted I found my bike, turned on my Garmin and ran to the bike start line. I had a good long fiddle to get my shoes on properly, but then got moving.

The Bike

There were a few turns at the start, but then we hit the longer straighter roads.  The road surface was perfect, it was rarely flat, but the hills were easy and the downhills fast!  After 30km I checked my average speed and saw it was 35km/h, but my power was 240w, a bit high.  I was eating and drinking all the time, which is abnormal for me, but I knew that I had to to keep up my energy for later. After Greding, a climb that is half as difficult as people say it is, the wind seemed to be helpful, so I was flying and my average speed was increasing.

After 70km or so, I came to a hill. Music was playing and some people were at the side of the road, so I thought it must be Solarer Berg. It was ok, but but a bit of a let down. Then 2km later I came to what I realised was the actual Solarer Berg!  It was mental, people were everywhere and the atmosphere was amazing. My face hurt from smiling so much.

Fool me once – no drafting

I was really careful to avoid drafting after Worms Triathlon. I never got close to anyone, and when I drifted a bit close, I passed them straight away.  I only saw one small group riding together after 90km, but it was only about 5 guys.  The 2nd loop went much like the first, except that I tried to control my power a bit more. My speed was great for me, I was smiling to myself as I really hadn’t expected a 35er average.

After 120km I was eating a banana when my Garmin flew off. I had to stop and luckily someone was at the side of the road who gave it back to me, it only cost about 20 seconds, and it didn’t break either, so it actually worked out quite well considering.

After 140km or so, I was still feeling fine, but fellow TCECler Marcus Jores came past me, despite starting 10 minutes after me.  The 2nd time up Solarer Berg wasn’t quite the same as the first, not as many people were there and there were some very slow relay riders blocking the way, and overtaking with the crowd on either side was tough.

After 172km I was scared that I had missed the turn off to Roth, there seemed to be fewer riders around, so I worried that I was on lap 3!  I asked someone who said that the turn was in 1-2km, phew!  The last few km into Roth aren’t well signposted and lots of normal cyclists are on the road, I was never 100% sure that I was on the right route, until I saw T2…

The Run

After arriving in T2 and promptly taking the wrong bag for 5 seconds (number 1349 instead of 1439 – like Katja’s sign!), I did my full change into running shorts and set off. The start was downhill, but I went off stupidly fast. I saw 3:45/km on the watch, a suicidal pace. I was talking to myself, saying ‘slow down you idiot’ but my legs wanted to go, so I was at 4:15/km pace for a long time. I kept to my ‘walk the aid stations’ plan, so I didn’t blow out my legs. The stations are sometimes pretty close together, so I had a 30 second walk for the close together stations and a 45 second walk for the further apart ones.

I assumed I would need a poo stop, I mean I almost always do when I run, and I really needed to pee, so I held off on the pee so I could do both at one – efficient!  I didn’t need to crap somehow, so after 9km, I finally took my pee break.  Before then I had found Katja, she was at about 3km on the run course.  We had a ‘thumbs up/thumbs down’ system so I could let her know how it was going. I gave 2 big thumbs up, I was feeling great!  After 5km I saw 22:30 on my watch, so fast, surely I couldn’t keep that up, but maybe I could…

Katja was at about 8km again, so I stopped for a kiss before heading off on the way back. There was a decent downhill (that I couldn’t remember climbing) on the way back to the middle of the run course, which is two laps of an 8 shaped loop.  After 12km the course goes past the Marktplatz where we had been on Friday night, I laughed to myself, I couldn’t believe that I had done 12km so quickly and so easily, I remembered the Macca quote ‘when does this start to get hard?’

The 2nd half of the run loop was tough, there is a nasty hill that starts off easy, then gets steeper, then continues on up for a while more.  My lungs weren’t happy at all on the steep part as my HR peaked, so I slowed a lot.  The turn around in Büchenbach is a loop of a small pond/lake, it was brilliant there, maybe even better than the Solarer Berg. It was so loud and so many people, again I smiled all the way around.  The downhill back to the end of the 1st loop was good too, nice easy running.

After 24km I saw Katja again, I still gave a thumbs up, though it was getting harder now.  My 1st half was in 1h38, so I had 2h01 left for the 2nd half to break 10 hours.  On the short canal part I saw Ralf and Karl-Heinz from TCEC. Ralf ran with me for a few metres and took a photos, before wishing me well and letting me run on.  After another short kiss stop, I was off on the way back down to the middle of the course.  I was worried about the hill coming up this time, I was starting to struggle now, but time was on my side.

I decided to add a walk break on the steepest part of the hill, a 45 second walk. I think it was a good idea, I didn’t need to push it too hard.  After reaching the top I felt like I had the hardest work behind me.  I also worked out that I could average 7mins/km and still break 10h. I looked at my watch and saw 4:50/km, granted on a downhill, but I felt pretty confident.

The last few kms were just basic maths and survival. 4km in 30mins is a fast walking pace, I had it in the bag.  I finally turned off the looped course and onto the finishing part.  After crossing the railway line I knew it was only a little further to go, then I was on the carpet. I was so happy, I had my hands in the air, I was pumping the fists and was just ecstatic. I had done it and with time to spare too!

Finish line

I got my medal and tried to calm down, my lungs were really tight, but I was fine, that just seems to happen to me sometimes after a hard session, and Roth was a hard session.  I walked off to the finish area and saw Bevan James Eyles from IM talk there. I said ‘Hey, Bevan! How’s it going?’ so he asked what my name was, I told him Richard ‘Stinger’ Rae, the nicknames are given out to patrons of the show. So he interviewed me, which was really cool, even if I probably just babbled rubbish! (starting at 73:15)

I got my instant finishers certificate, it showed my 9:49:02 finish time. I also knew from the run course that I was the fastest TCECler, so all goals were reached, and lets not bullshit, surpassed.

It was just such a great race for me. I have never done a real endurance race where it went really well. My marathons have been okay, but this was like a 2:45 marathon for me. The atmosphere was great, the best I have experienced in any race, the bike course is so fast, and the run was pretty good too, except for that nasty hill in the forest. I think I got lucky with the weather, it was probably more like 29°C and a bit cloudy than the predicted 32°C and sunshine, though I drank so much and threw so much water on myself that I think I would have been fine anyway.

The end of the Road to Roth

So, that is that. I will almost certainly have a bit of a come down from this high, but I am proud of what I have achieved. I set a goal, I worked hard and I achieved all aspects of it. I don’t even see how I could improve on it, I mean I could swim faster, I could maybe knock a few minutes off with better training over more time, but this was it, this was my race, and I’m not sure that I want to do another long distance, as it can’t really live up to the day that I just had.

 

Nibelungen Triathlon 2017 – Drafting

The 2nd league race of the season was just one week after the first. That was a good thing for us, as we easily won the team sprint, so were hoping and expecting to win this week too.  We thought that we could have 4 in the top 10, that would be cool. I was secretly hoping and dreaming that I could win, but I didn’t want to say that too loud.

An Early Check in

The race was set to start at 11:45, but as they had stupid check in times, we set off on the 8:13 train.  I met Christoph, Robert and Michael at the station, along with Judith who was racing too.  Christoph was starting in the league team this time instead of Robert, I will say that I didn’t think it was the right decision, but I didn’t think it would make too much difference either.

Delays – again!

We arrived and signed in, then had hours to burn!  They moved the start back to 12:00, with the masters race starting at 11am.  After running about 1 lap to warm up, we headed to T2 to check in the bikes and watch the swim.  They announced that they had a 30min delay, so the races would start at 11:30 and 12:30 now. Great.

Drinking the Rhein

Continue reading “Nibelungen Triathlon 2017 – Drafting”

Mittelmosel Triathlon – Team Sprint 2017

TCEC have been looking foward to this for a while, we want to get promoted, and with only 5 races in a season, we had to start off well in the Team Sprint.

Team Sprint

The team sprint is simple, but with complications. Everyone swims pretty much as normal. Then the team mates wait for each other in T1. When everyone is there, they set off on the bike together, where they can ride in a group within their own team.  Only road bikes are allowed.  After the bike, is the run. As soon as someone is dropped by their team by 20 seconds or more, they are ‘lost’ and are out of the race.  The clock stops on the 4th man over the line from a 5 man team.

Before the race

Delays

The start was delayed by from 11:45 to 12:35 for some reason. It was then delayed for another 13 mins due to a ship coming through!  We set off and I felt like I was swimming well. There was quite a lot of contact, including someone hitting me on the head before the start of the race, but that doesn’t bother me too much. The swim was 700m in the river flow direction, but that wasn’t much of an advantage.

Neoverbot

The water temperature was 23°C, so we couldn’t wear wetsuits. Normally that is a nightmare for me, but now that my swimming is ok, I wasn’t overly worried about it.

After about 400m of the swim, I started to notice fewer people around me. I knew that some were ahead and had my old fear of being last out of the water! T1

Bike and run

Shortly before the end of the swim, I saw another TCECler next to me. I overtook them.  After getting out of the water I was amazed to see that that was Michael!  I had imagined that it was Robert or Heiko, but Michael is a faster swimmer than me normally.  I had plenty of time in T1 to put on my sock (a major swim goal for me), it was almost 2 minutes later when Robert came out of the water.

We set off on the bikes and it went really well. We were flying for a few km, then Heiko and Robert started to struggle to keep on the back after their pulls.  The pace slowed a little and only me, Jonas and Michael took turns on the front for the rest of the ride. We finished with basically a 40km/h average. Not bad.

Running to the win

After struggling with my shoes again, I was last out of T2. The pace felt quite fast to start with but settled down to a comfortable speed for me. We stayed together for 3km, then Jonas stepped out, he couldn’t keep up anymore.  We were dependent of Robert who was the 4th fastest in the team.  He fought and kept the pace high.  We saw a weird bike crash on the 2nd loop, when a guy on a flat bit of straight road swerved off and hit the side, crashing quite heavily.  Other than that the run was quite uneventful. A team ahead of us was tantalisingly close, but we just couldn’t get to them.

winners

Champions!

We finished and then had to wait ages to find out how we had done. The 1st RTV league was also racing at the same time, we are in the 2nd RTV league, so it was hard to know what place we were in our league.  After a good while, we found out that we had clearly won the 2nd RTV league race, with nearly 2 mins on 2nd place.  We were the fastest on the bike and on the run!

Team Sprint winners

So we got on stage and took our prizes, but more importantly, we started our promotion season off as we needed to.

Next week is Worms. The 2nd RTV league starts there alone and it is a normal triathlon, not a team race.  I have an inkling that I have a chance to win it. Who knows if that is realistic, but sub 1:03 would be great anyway.

Gimbsheim Sprint Triathlon 2017 – 3rd place, won age group

I found it a little strange, but the Gimbsheim Sprint Triathlon, that only has a 500m swim in a outdoor 50m pool, lets you swim in a wetsuit!  I only found that out the night before the race, so washed my wetsuit and was ready.

Silly o’ clock again – Triathlon version

I got up at 6am and ate my normal breakfast. That is 3 weeks in a row that I have had a 6am Sunday morning alarm!  I had to meet Michael at 7:30 in Gau-Bischofsheim to ride to Gimbsheim, so there wasn’t much dilly dallying time. Continue reading “Gimbsheim Sprint Triathlon 2017 – 3rd place, won age group”

Rhein Ahr Triathlon 2016 – Triathlon Season Over!

Only a few days after my good 5km run and 2 weeks before Berlin, I had my last triathlon of the season planned.  Ideally 2-3 weeks before my marathon I would have done a 10k-HM run, but actually I think it worked out well in the end.

Sinzig or Remagen (which is what everyone calls the race) is kind of an Olympic triathlon.  You swim 2.8km in the Rhein with the flow, then cycle 45km with quite a few hills, then a 10.5km run.  The swim should actually be faster than a normal 1.5km swim, so that wasn’t a bad thing for me.
We had arranged to meet at 7am at the pool on Sunday and I set off in partial light at 6:30am.  I met up with Heiko B and Wieland and we drove to Remagen which takes about 90 mins.

It was surprisingly cool when we arrived, it has been consistently warmer than 28 degrees for a while now, and was predicted to be 30 degrees for the race.  The water temperature was 22, but we could still use wetsuits, phew!  The teams were pretty different to our usual set up, in the 2nd team we had Heiko Maris, Walter, Marco, Andre and me, I have only raced with Marco before, so didn’t really know what to expect.

Continue reading “Rhein Ahr Triathlon 2016 – Triathlon Season Over!”

Merzig City Triathlon – Olympic Distance

It’s been quite a while since my last race, mainly because it’s been hot, and I don’t race well when it’s hot.  Berlin marathon training has been going well though, I am half way through and starting to feel a groove coming.  Long runs haven’t really happened yet, I just can’t run 28km+ in training when it is 30 degrees and sunny!  Anyway, though running training is going well, I haven’t exactly been a regular fixture at the pool, or on the bike really!  Since Italy 6 weeks ago I have ridden about 4 times, twice longer than 60km.

That all being said, it was time for Merzig City Triathlon, a proper Olympic distance triathlon, 1.5km swimming in the River Saar, 40km of flat cycling, and 10km running.  I have been a bit worried about the swim, it goes 750m upstream, then 750m back downstream.  The riverflow is very slow, but it still makes a small difference swimming upstream. Continue reading “Merzig City Triathlon – Olympic Distance”

Zell Sprint Duathlon

I hadn’t planned on doing Zell, as it is a team sprint and as I may have mentioned before, my swimming isn’t that good.  It turned out though that the 2nd team didn’t have enough people to make a team without me, and due to high water levels in the Mosel, it was changed into being a Duathlon, absolutely perfect for me.

I had done a little online stalking of my team mates, I know Stephan already, he is a great runner and biker, Volker seems like he must be very good, he was in Hawaii and still runs fast, then there was Marco, who ran a 4h+ marathon in Mainz, it seemed like he might be out limiting factor.  We met up in Mombach at 8am and headed to Zell, which is about an hours drive away.  Heiko was with us and was racing in the 1st team, that race started much earlier, hence the early start.  We were there at 9am and it was pretty clear why we wouldn’t be swimming, the current was crazy!  I reckon you could float 750m in about 12 minutes in that stream!

We had a little chat about our tactics when we were all there, I suggested that we run our first 2.6km at 10km race pace, then ride like crazy and run the 2nd 5,2km run as fast as we can, whilst staying together.  Marco said that he thought 4:30/km would be ok for him, so that was out plan.  We watched the Regionalliga and saw that Konrad was doing great and the others were giving their all too, our race started at 11:55 with a mass start.  We started at a good pace, but not over doing it, we were just over 4:00/km and Marco seemed ok, so we held about 4:05/km for the 2,6km.  We weren’t first place, but we were far from last too, so it was ok.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading “Zell Sprint Duathlon”

Regionalliga – Woogsprint Triathlon

This is what I have been dreading for a long time, my first Regionalliga race, a higher league that the ones I did last year, and what is worse is that it is a ITU style race, i.e. it is draft legal and it is a dry start, with us diving into the water.  The draft legal bit is bad for me, as it means that I, as a bad swimmer, will be behind the main groups riding alone, whereas they can ride easily and quickly in a group.  The diving in start was also a bit worrying, my goggle never seem to stay in place when I dive in!  It isn’t the biggest problem in the world, but a worry nonetheless.

I was hoping that wetsuits would be allowed, apparently it would be borderline, but on the morning of the race I heard that they would be allowed, phew. Continue reading “Regionalliga – Woogsprint Triathlon”