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.

 

The Road to Roth – Week 16 – The end of the Road

The road to Roth has been a long one, it has been tough, but I feel like I am coming out of the other side in the best shape of my life.  I just need to not mess things up in the taper, and on race day, and I should be good to have a successful race.

Monday

Cycled to swim training, I really pushed the pace as I was a bit late.  We only have 1 lane this week (school holidays) so only the Roth starters were allowed to train.  There were 5 of us total, the other 4 all do their own thing, so I had Chris – the coach – to myself.  I got a good few tips and swam in my wetsuit the whole time. 1:22/100m was ok, at a push, but 1:27/100m seemed like an easier pace to hold for a longer time.

I did 6x100m and 2x200m as the main set, and a few drills and water starts, and that was it. Only 45 mins, but it is my tapering week, so it’s ok.

Cycled home with a bit less power, but still a decent pace.

Tuesday

Just a little Brick today.  A 45min bike followed by a 15 min run was planned. I picked a crappy bike route and was worried about puncturing, but I didn’t so it was ok. I took my bike up to the flat, then set off on the run.  My pace was far too fast, but tried to slow down. I managed to go from 4:15/km to 4:40/km, but I felt like I was walking. On Sunday I will have to be more controlled.  After another bad decision of running a short and uneven trail (I almost turned my ankle) I got back home after just over 15mins.

Wednesday

The weather is heating up.  I had my last swim session before Roth today.  There were only 2 of us there, Dirk Kornau and me. Chris came too, which was good of him, as he knew I would be the only person there!

It was a short swim, I did a 6x100m at 1:27/100m like on Monday. The first one I had to go very slow to stay on pace. The 3rd and 4th were with flippers, but at the same pace. Swimming in slow motion my first 100m was actually too slow! I needed to go 2s faster, so I sped up and swam the next in 1:20… oops!  After 30 mins I was done and ready to cycle home.

Thursday

Just a shortish run after work. I planned 45mins, but ran 9.1km in 42 mins, and didn’t fancy adding and extra 3 mins for no reason, so that was that.

Friday

My train to Nürnberg was at 1pm and I had to get some last things ready and do some jobs around the house, so I ran 1st thing before breakfast for 8km at a shockingly fast 4:36/km. My legs are feeling great at the moment.

Saturday

Just to keep a bit of the feel for the water, I went for a dip in the Rothsee. I had picked up my bike from Stephan and was waiting for the team photo before the bike check-in so had 15 mins free. The water was nice, but there was lots of seaweed in the deeper water, which creeped me out a bit. I also kept thinking that I could see Jellyfish, but it was just the air from my swimming.  I was for 15mins and my gps says it was 750m.

Roth…

The Road to Roth – Week 15 – Le Tour de France

Last week was a good one and I already feel much better than after my last long run and ride, but this week should be when my tapering really gets going, after all I did 15h last week!

I don’t have anything longer than 2h planned this week and that is an easy ride on Sunday. Otherwise I just want to swim 3 times and get some regular short runs in. Continue reading “The Road to Roth – Week 15 – Le Tour de France”

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”

The Road to Roth – Week 14 – Tapering

After a good race on Sunday, the first week of kind of tapering started in week 14.  It looks like being a boiling hot week. Generally warmer than 32°C basically all week.  That won’t make it easy to do my 2h longer run, or my 4h longer ride, but I am happy that the real heat waited until this week to arrive, 2.5h runs in 35°C heat aren’t fun.

Monday

Just a nice easy swim.  That makes it 3 consecutive days of swimming! We only have the pool for 1h now, and I forgot to start my watch, so I don’t know how much we swam. It felt like quite a lot though, I gave us 2700m.

Tuesday

It had to be done, and I knew it wouldn’t be fun, but my 2h run was going to be a hot one.  I set off straight from work and felt ok for the first hour.  In the shade it was bearable, but in the sunshine it was dreadful. My heart rate started to rise, not helped by the fact that I had my rucksack on for the first 90mins.  After the 3 brückenlauf, I headed back to Hechtsheim.  I wanted to drink something, but after downing 700mls of water, I had a bad stitch. Continue reading “The Road to Roth – Week 14 – Tapering”

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.

The Road to Roth – Week 13 – Zell Team Sprint

It feels like I am over the hump. My 16 week plan builds for 13 weeks, then tapers for 3. Even though the first week of tapering is far from easy, it looks easy compared to the last month!  This is the last week of the build and it ends with the Zell Team Sprint.

Just a quick note, I have Tuesday and Thursday off work, so will be trying to get my long run and long ride in on those days, so that I am in good shape on Sunday for the race.  I’m not 100% sure of how I will manage with week, but Saturday will be quite easy, but with a swim, bike and a run!

I am feeling a bit better now, I am still tired, but maybe not in a hole like I was.  My confidence is rising too, the end is in sight and my training has gone well. I could have done more hard sessions, but I my right calf is a bit dodgy for fast running, and I have been struggling with the number of hours, without much quality!

Monday

The traglufthalle is gone, so swim training is in the outdoor pool now. Lots of people turned up to training and we actually had the whole pool to train in, though there were no lane markers. Training was pretty good, but it only lasts 1h now, so I was finished before I wanted to be.  I practiced my sighting quite a lot, it felt fine most of the time. I cycled to the pool and back.

Tuesday

I had Tuesday off work and had planned a big day of training. Katja wanted to visit Germersheim, a uni where she has a masters spot, but she isn’t sure about going there. We got the train there and wandered around for a few hours. I stupidly ate a 2 scoop ice cream.  I got out of the train early and decided to run home.  Mettenheim seemed like it would be about 30km away, so I got out there.

I set off straight into a head wind, my stomach was very unhappy and I was having frequent ‘breaks’.  In Oppenheim I had to go again, but I was in the town, so I had to walk to a toilet, meaning a big break in the run.  After about 2h I was feeling dehydrated, so I stopped at a Netto. There was a long queue and I accidently bought fizzy water, so my stomach was further annoyed.  After a final stop in Bodenheim, the last 5km or so were fine and I sped up, but all in all it was a nightmare run.  I was so badly chafed and my stomach was a mess.  Anyway, it was 31km in 2h30, also shorter than I had planned.

Wednesday

I just went to TBB 25m pool to swim after work.  Just after paying at 16:45, I was told that all of the swimming lanes were booked after 17:00. Great.  Luckily as it was hot and sunny, the indoor pool was pretty empty.  I took a line next to the lane marker and swam my session. Some bitch decided to get in and swim exactly where I was swimming, so I made a point of swimming straight at her and kicking water up whenever I passed her, she moved over after about 15 minutes. I did a 10x100m leaving on 2mins as my main set. I was getting in on 1:38 or so, it felt quite good.

After 1h05 I was done, the pool was filling up with more annoying floaters (they weren’t swimming anyway), so I left.  I cycled home, though it was only 7km.

Thursday

This was the big one, I had a 6h ride planned.  It was set fair, but would get hot later on, like 33 degrees hot.  I set off after a big breakfast at 10am.  I had found a GPS that would get me to about 6h online, so i planned to follow that.

My legs felt tired from the start, but I was always comfortable.  I wanted to try to get a good 3h donw before stopping to eat and drink.  After 80km or so I saw a fountain that seemed to have drinking water, so I filled up there.  After getting off course due to closed roads, I eventually looped back into Zellertal, somewhere I had never been 6 weeks ago, but have been 3 times now!

I had guessed that I had 100km done, but actually I had 110km, I was feeling good, if somewhat warm and in need of food/drinks.  In Worms I decided to kick on to Osthofen, where I knew I could stop and fill up, except I got a bit lost and didn’t get to Osthofen.  Now with 150km done, I was getting into some trouble, I needed to drink.

After several small towns with nothing open, I went to Eich as I had heard 1 day earlier at work that you can get ice cream in Eich.  2 scoops and a few litres of water later (it was a total rip off, 2 scoops + 600m of coke cost 7,40€) I was back on my way home.  The (tail) wind was nice at the end, though It was very warm.  I got home after 6h12 and 196km, job done.

Friday

I just ran on Friday, my legs seemed to be feeling good and I had to actively slow myself down a few times. I did 13.6km in 1h, faster than normal, but felt easy.

Saturday

I didn’t want to destroy myself and be tired for Zell tomorrow, but I needed to get some hours in too.  I started off with an easy run for about 1h. My stomach wasn’t great, but otherwise all was fine.

Later I rode the road bike a bit to get to the pool. I thought the route I had planned would take 1h, but it took 36mins! My legs felt tired when riding.  I swam for 30 mins in the freibad, mainly 200m intervals until I got to 1500m, then I cycled around a bit to get home.  I had done about 2.5h but it was an easy day.  It did mean that I wouldn’t manage my 20h planned week, but I have to accept that with the team race tomorrow.

Sunday

Zell Team Sprint day, see the race report.

lovely Zell am Mosel
lovely Zell am Mosel

So I only managed about 17.5h this week, not 20h.  I am fine with that given that I had a great long ride and a dreadful long run, along with a race and 4 swims!  There is no need to catch up the hours, I think I am pretty much done and ready to taper, everything feels like it is falling into place.

On the podium

The Road to Roth – Week 12

I feel like the training stress is building, I am switching between being pretty tired and being very tired!  The actual exercise is fine, but I am a bit stressed about getting everything done.  My diet has gone to pot, I need to get back on it.  I haven’t done any fast stuff for a while either, I mean I do some efforts when cycling, but I haven’t purposely run fast for a while.

This week is another big one, I won’t be on plan much, but I will still aim to get my 19.5h minimum done.  I will try to get my long run done during the week, so that the weekend is less stressful. Continue reading “The Road to Roth – Week 12”

The Road to Roth – Week 11 – Weather

Monday

Cycled to swimming, swam, cycled home. Not much more to it that that!  I think we swam about 3300m, but we did lots with flippers and far too much in backstroke, as appears to be the trend.  I was feeling pretty good though and swimming off the front.

On the way home I did some sprint intervals, just messing around, but a good sign that my legs feel good. Continue reading “The Road to Roth – Week 11 – Weather”

The Road to Roth – Week 10 – No race!

Not alot to say about this week going into it. I am feeling a bit tired, but all good.  Thursday is a bank holiday so I will be splitting my long run and long ride to Thursday and Saturday/Sunday.  I might ride the Undenheim RTF on Sunday, if anyone else fancies doing it too. Continue reading “The Road to Roth – Week 10 – No race!”