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”

Race Report – Köln226 – my first long distance Tri

Finally it was time for the big race of the year, my first Iron distance race, Köln226.  Me and Katja arrived in Köln on Saturday afternoon with the weather wet, cool and windy.  I had to meet up with Christian Hafner pretty quickly, so we could check in our bikes at fühlinger see.  I cycled over and met him outside his hotel next to T2 and we went to the start.  After picking up my start numbers and chip, I checked my bike it in the absolutely torrential rain, not good for the bike, or the roads the morning after.

On the morning of the race I had a breakfast of croissants and bread after getting up at 4:20am. I slept surprisingly well!  There was a shuttle bus from town to the start (it wasn't very full when I got on – see below), I got the 05:20 bus and was at the start in good time.

The mass start time was 7:05 and at about 6:50 I was in my wetsuit and ready to go, the water temperature was pretty nice and comfortable.  The countdown started, and we were off!  The swim is in a rowing lake, with lane markers that are one metre underwater, perfect for staying on course!  I found the line after about 200m and stuck to it like glue!   I was pretty tentative in the swim, as I have never swum 3.8km before, so I kept it steady and ticked off the 250m markers as they came and went.  I had a peeing plan, which was to do breaststroke near the end to allow me to pee, then start to crawl again.  In Hannover I wasn't able to pee whilst crawling, so this seemed like a way to save a toilet stop early on the bike.  I was surprised after 1k that I could crawl and pee at the same time!  Soon enough I was at the turn, I looked at my watch and it showed 37:11, not bad, not great.  There were no lane markers on the way back, so I stayed near a group and pretty uneventfully got to the end, with an empty bladder too!  My end time was 1:16:xx, about what I expected, but not a dream time.

I ran through T1 and found my bike.  Everything went smoothly until I realised that my cycling glasses weren't there.  It isn't too important, but not ideal either.  I started cycling, hoping to hold about 220w for the ride, except that my fxxking piece of sh!t power meter from 4iiii decided not to work, today of all days.  It is the ONLY reason I bought the power meter, so they will be getting a nice email from me.  I quickly decided that 140bpm heart rate would have to suffice, so I set off.  The first 15km are into Köln, then there are 3 loops of just over 55km.  The start was a bit chilly, but I settled into a rhythm, with a slight tail wind.  The turn around in Köln was quite technical and cost a bit of time, then on the way out the head wind was more noticeable.  I was riding behind someone who had passed me, a comfortable 12m behind him when a motorbike ref came to me and said I needed to watch out as I was borderline drafting… I really don't think I was!  The next 60km or so went well, but after 100km my ass, that I had forgotten to butter up, was hurting quite a lot.  Even worse were my triceps, they were agony every time I moved in aero-position.  The road surface wasn't very good either, so every bump hurt 2 body parts a lot!  With my average speed dropping, the last loop out of Köln against a strong wind was pretty bad, I had to sit up due to my arms, so survival was the name of the game.  I was behind someone again a bit later having caught them, I sat in again well back, when a ref came again and gave the guy in front of me a black card i.e. a 5 minute penalty.  He was at least 6 metres behind, not exactly on the wheel of the guy in front.  The ref then came to me and said I was borderline, I said I would be careful.  The ref came past again 5 mins later, when I was well clear of everyone, and again 5 mins later, giving me the thumbs up!

The last part of the ride after T1 was filled with middle distance riders.  I was trying to be careful to stay well away from slipstreams, but the roads were now very full.  I had to brake a few times, and had no more issues getting to the end, though I saw some real packs of riders in the other direction.

Now I hadn't peed since the swim, so knew that I had to go in T2.  I got in after riding 186.5km according to my garmin, and after nearly 7 hours total time, well behind goal schedule.  After a quick change, I went straight to the portaloo, sorted out everything, and set off on the run.  I knew that it was going to be bad, but after 1km I looked any my purposely slow pace was 4:30/km, far too fast.  I tried to slow, but failed!  I decided that I should make hay whilst the sun was shining, so carried on.  Soon enough my pace drifted to 4:45, 5:00, 5:15 and slower.  After 10km I was slowing and getting worried, there was still 32km to go, and who knows how low my pace would fall, maybe I would have to walk the rest! That'd take 6 hours!  I kept on plodding, walking to get drinks at almost everyone of the very frequent drink stations.  My pace was still slowing, but the rate of slowing was falling, I seemed able to hold faster than 6m/km even though I was feeling awful.  The 2nd loop was like purgatory, the 1st loop took 1:12, the 2nd 1:25, pretty much 1 min per km slower.  On the last lap at least I knew that I was on the home straight, after getting over the bridge I looked and saw that a 60 minute 10km would get me an 11h finish time, but I also knew that it wouldn't happen.  I kept plodding, not really feeling any worse than after 20km.  I started to think that my pace was near irrelevant, as with 7km to go, even running at 7mins/km instead of 6 would cost me pretty much nothing.  I won't lie, beating Jochen's time from last year was a goal, but with 5km to go, I knew that was a shoe-in.  With 3.5km to go, I saw Katja making the turn for the half marathon, I shouted for her to come back for a kiss, then sent her on her way, I knew I couldn't even nearly keep pace.

After the spiral staircase and slight uphill over the bridge, I knew it was all over bar the shouting.  I enjoyed the last 500m, fist pumping and just so happy that it was over!  I got over the line in just under 11:07.

After the race I felt a bit sore, my knees were hurting, my triceps were incredibly painful and I was very tired, but generally I felt better than I had feared I would!  Even though I didn't break 11h, as was my goal, I am putting it down as goal achieved, especially as I would have broken 11h if the bike hadn't been extended by 6.5km!

I am not sure that I will be rushing to do my next ironman.  Something that I thought about during the run was that I struggle to run well off the bike.  That obviously is made worse after longer bikes, with longer runs to follow. Until that problem is solved, I don't think Ironmans should be my main concern!  I will definitely (quote me on that) NOT do a long distance in 2016, who knows what 2017 and onwards will bring, but it isn't a dream of mine to do a second ironman!

So that's that. Project 2015 is over.  It has been a long hard year. I really think that a not extremely hot ironman in late July would have been about perfect for me.  I think I over-cooked it a little at the end, and stated to lose fitness and the will to train, just as I should have been ready to go.  That also corresponded to me not doing my weekly updates, that was partially due to work getting really busy, but also due to constant tiredness and the stress of needing to get out to train all the time.  I think my need to hit my weekly goals might actually have been a bad thing, I would cycle an extra few hours when I was exhausted, instead of resting and getting in more quality.  The next updates will be my next races, let's see how I feel after a bit of rest and recuperation time..

Race Report – Vereinsmeisterschaft

I haven't been keeping up with the week by week updates for the last few weeks, I've been tired, tapering and busy at work. I will try to get my numbers in so that I have a tally of how much I have done before Köln.

1 week out from Köln was the club championships.  It starts in Nieder-Olm with a 300m pool swim, then a ride to Gau-Bischofsheim, it was 16.5km last year, then a pretty tough 4km run to end it.  Last year I was ill with low iron/HGB so was way below my best.  I did a 57:xx then, but this year I was hoping for a sub 50 time, though that seemed tough.  The winner last year did about 45 mins.

I got there in good time, had a bit of a chat with the guys I know from the league team and was in good spirits.  I watched one of the other non-TCEC starts, it was pretty slow going, the fastest swimmer swam 5:50, with most way slower.  Our start time was 8:50 and at 8:50 there was no sign of an imminent start, until they shouted, LOS!  The swim is a bit chaotic as there are no divides, not lanes, and everyone swimming out and backs trying not to hit each other!  I seemed fairly mid-pack.  I went out too hard and after 50m had to remind myself that it was 300m!  I got out of the pool and stopped the watch at 5:10, faster than expected.

I ran down to my bike and had a decent transition.  It was crowded at the start of the bike, and I passed a few people.  My hamstrings and shoulders were feeling tight, maybe a result of 9 days off the bike!  I caught a group, well 3 people, who were very clearly pack riding.  I decided to hang off the back of them until the hill in Selzen, when I would try to get past without them hanging on.  I managed that, but soon enough on the flats and downhills they got back to me.  I was riding a bit out of aero as my shoulders weren't happy.  I pretty much managed to stay near those guys until the end.  I noticed the route was a bit different this year, it was 1km longer as it cut right earlier than last year.

After getting my feet out of the shoes far too early, I got to T2.  I had a very quick change into my shoes, and set off.  I was surprised to leave Heiko behind at the start of the run, but maybe I over-cooked it of the first hills.  Last year I saw the winner Konstantin coming back down the first hill as I was going up it, this year I was a lot further along the course, which was a positive!  I'm not sure he has to worry for next year though.  The run was fairly uneventful.  It was hot and sunny, my HR was sky high and I kept an ok tempo round the course.  It measured 3.8km at the end, and I ran a 15:55, ok for a hard and hot course.

So after a long wait, I heard my result was 51:30 or so.  I was reasonably placed in the club, but 1 minute faster would have been 4th.  I managed to shred my feet in only 16 mins in my new Zoots, I will have to try tightening them and wearing socks, otherwise they will be out of the rotation!

All in all it was pretty good.  I am a little worried about the bike, so I will get out 2-3 times this week for a spin to keep loose.  My run and swim were good enough, especially if the weather is as predicted next week, i.e. cool and cloudy.

I might try a final post before Köln, but if not, see you on the other side!

Merzig City Triathlon – RTV 2. Landesliga – Race Report

This was my 2nd league outing of the year, another sprint distance race.  Merzig is in Saarland, about 180km from Mainz, so I was getting a lift from a team mate Heiko.  The alarm went off at 5am, a nice start to the weekend!  I decided to go without the wheel cover as I didn't know if it would be ok on the back of the car, no problem though.

We got there nice and early at just after 8am ready for the 10am masters start, and the 10:45 league start.  It was pretty cool for once, with a little bit of rain beforehand, but not enough to really wet the course.  Christoph, Heiko and me went for a loop of the run course before the start, it was pretty interesting, some on trail, hairpins, steep short sections, looked good to me!  We watched the masters start the swim in the Saar, they swam against the current for about 400m, then turned back and swam 350m with the current.  The water was pretty warm at 22 degrees.

I had taken my new Zoot running shoes with me, even though they aren't may favourite shoes, they are quick in transition at least.  I was also debuting my Giro Advantage aero helmet, I was a little worried about this, as it can be a bit tricky to get on, but I need to try it out before Köln, and this was the perfect opportunity to do it without looking like too much of a cock!

The race started at exactly 10:45am and my left half of my goggles were full of water after exactly 4 seconds!  It was very uncomfortable to start with, but I breathed unilaterally so that it wasn't too bad.  I was in a group and there was quite a bit of contact for the first 200m, then I started moving forward though the group and then off the front.  It all seem to be going ok, sighting wasn't too easy with one eye, but I found my way and made the turn.  I cleverly swam straight into the 2nd buoy, before heading back with the current.  I really felt like it was a decent swim, so was very disappointed to see 15:30 on the clock when I got out.

I ran through to transition, Heiko was still there but about to leave, I quickly got ready and was on my way with only minor shoe difficulties.  I even managed to mount quite decently, clicking in first attempt, in the right gear too!  It's a shame that wasn't the case for the guy just ahead of me who did a 'flying mount' and falling dismount.  The exit was very narrow, so I couldn't easily get around him, so that cost me a few seconds waiting for him to recompose himself.  I soon got my head down and got a head of speed going.  At the first turn I saw that Heiko was about 30 seconds ahead of me, I thought I could catch him, and if I wanted to finish ahead of him i would need a little gap on the run.  After the turn we went against the wind, someone overtook me, but hit the wind and slowed quite a bit.  I sat behind for a short rest, then someone else overtook.  This guy couldn't even actually get past us both, he got just ahead of me on my left, before running out of steam in the wind.  I decided that just before the 2nd turn, I would go for it, so that they wouldn't be able to hang on with the wind behind us reducing the slipstream advantage they would get.  It worked well, I saw Heiko just ahead of me and I left the two riders behind on a fast stretch of road.  I soon came up on Heiko's back wheel and went straight past, I didn't put in a kick, as he is a team mate, but I don't think he followed for long.  The rest of the ride was quite uneventful, I managed to get my feet out just before the transition and was really fast, for me, in T2.

I started out on the run knowing Heiko was probably about 1min behind and Christoph was well ahead.  I knew that Heiko was in marathon training so he could catch me, so I just went for it from the start.  It's strange with 2 leagues competing at the same time, the 1st league has some seriously fast people in it, and they sometimes overtake me like I am standing still.  Generally I run quite well for our league though, and I overtook quite a few people too.  I knew the route already, having run it earlier, and my legs felt fine, so it was a decent enough run for me.  The first lap always seems the worst to me, but after that they tick away quite quickly, they should too at only 1.66km per lap!  I kept looking around for Heiko, but couldn't see him, half way round the last lap I could see 30m behind m and he wasn't there, so I finally could stop worrying about being last in our team!  Heiko was the fastest for the 2nd team in Zell earlier this year, so it wouldn't have been a disgrace to be behind him, but better to be ahead I reckon!

I looked at my watch, hoping to see 1:05 or so.  I was very disappointed to finish in 1:10.  It seems that the course was slow somehow, the cycle was 750m long, and the run a bit technical, but still…
As the 2nd team only had 3 members, instead of the 4 that score league points, or the full team of 5, we needed to all do well to pick up decent points, and we did that with Heiko coming in 16th out of 46, me 13th and Christoph 9th.

Race Report – Erich Fill Triathlon

I found out about an olympic distance triathlon in Taunusstein a while back, and decided to give it a go.  It's not a real olympic distance as the swim is only 1000m (in a pool) but the cycle is pretty hilly, so it looked like a good training event.

I met up with Jochen this morning at 7:30 to head over to Taunusstein, we got there in good time and could check in and watch the jederman race and the sprint start before the olympic started.  I had forgotten my HR monitor, so don't have any HR data for the day, a travesty I know, but what can I do.  Jochen started at 9:30, so I watched his swim, a not great 22:20.  Then I got into the water.  There was a bit of discussion in our lane about who wanted to swim at what pace, it turned out that only me and 1 other thought we would go sub-20 mins, so I took the lead.  I was hoping to swim 18mins or less, and having started and leaving the other 5 in my lane behind, I felt like it could happen.  The swim went by quite quickly and easily, and I jumped out to see an 18:34 time, a bit disappointing but no nightmare, 3:45 ahead of Jochen.

My transition was decent, I found my bike easily and got my stuff on easily enough.  I went sockless and didn't try a fancy flying mount, so it was all standard.  I started passing people pretty quickly on the bike route, especially as it went uphill from the start.  The other TCEC guy there – Jörg Zech – was a better swimmer than me but I caught him near the end of the first climb.  Someone came past me like a train on a short sprint hill, I thought that he was either awesome, or an idiot, I passed him a few mins later and didn't see him again, so I will let you decide which he was!  My recce from last week paid dividends a couple of times when going around corners leading into steep climbs, I could get into gear in advance and have a good flying start.

There is a really steep hill which was tough, I reckon at least 15% for a few hundred metres, but I got over it in my bottom gear at 400w, then overtook a few more people, 1 of whom had passed me on the downhill when I was busy messing up the corners.  It started to get a bit quiet on the bike, I was riding really well and after passing a girl and a guy on the last big climb, I didn't see anyone else, so I started to think I could possibly be in 1st place.  I got over the last hill and kept the pace up on the slight downhills that followed, right at the end I managed to undo my shoes and get my feet out for a faster dismount, though not yet flying.  I put my bike on the rack but couldn't see my shoes.  I was a bit confused until I noticed that some cock had put his towel over my running shoes, what a dickhead, I wish I had thrown his shoes away in retrospect, but I didn't.

I headed out on the run.  I had seen that there were 2 bikes already racked, and no one entered transition while I was there, so I seemed in a solid 3rd place in my start group.  I was worried about my run as I haven't been running enough, so I feared a 42m+ 10km run and was also a little worried that the girl I had passed would be really fast on the run, but I started off well.  I asked the helpers how many were ahead of me, 2, disappointing.  The course is 4 laps, the first half is against the wind and goes a little uphill, the 2nd half is with the wind and downhill.  I liked that route as it is hard work followed by an easy rest downhill.  My GPS said that I was running 4:05/km after the first lap, I thought that would naturally fall to slower than 4:10/km.  After 2 laps my pace was actually faster, but I was also disappointed to see that my time was 18mins, so the course was way shorter than advertised.  The last 2 laps went by pretty uneventfully, no one passed me, I lapped or double lapped lots of people but didn't catch either of the 2 ahead of me that were for position.  Lots of people were saying to me that I looked like tit was very easy, I had to say something like, "it doesn't feel it!" but actually it wasn't the hardest run ever. My pace actually increased on each lap, and to be honest, I could have gone much longer at that pace on that course.

I ended at 36mins, pretty happy with my day, even if it was only an 8.9km run.  My swim wasn't perfect but decent, my bike was good and my run stronger than feared too.  My time was 2:05:11, about 5mins40 ahead of Jochen, meaning he lost almost all of it on the swim!  I was 5th overall, with decent gaps to the top few, the winner did 1:58:28, swimming 1 min faster, cycling 6 mins faster than me and running a few seconds slower than me. My Swim was 25th, Bike 5th and Run 3rd from the 57 entrants, lots to do still on the swim.  I need to swim 16 mins to get a top 5 swim time.

I got my medal for 3rd in my age group and went home happy, but not too exhausted.  No races now until 16. August, so the next 2 weekends will be big training weekends, I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing anymore!

Next up Merzig City Triathlon Sprint.

Race Report – Worms Nibelungen Triathlon

I made my debut for TCEC yesterday in the 2. Landesliga.  The event was the Nibelungen sprint triathlon in Worms, 750m swimming, 22km cycling and 5km running.  It had been cold most of the week and stormy, so I had expected that it would be wetsuit legal.

Troubles even getting there

Jochen picked my up at 8am, he was going to Lampertheim sprint triathlon, which is quite close to Worms, so I joined him and would cycle the last part.  Obviously the roads were closed between Lampertheim and Worms, so my 10k cycle became an 18k cycle, but no harm done, my start time wasn’t until midday anyway.  I found the TCEC tent and the organisers had no idea who I was, I guess that’s what happens when you never go to team swim or run training!  Karl-Heinz seemed to be in charge and was a really nice and friendly guy, he gave me a TCEC polo shirt, told me where to put my transition stuff and explained a bit about how it will all work (there are 2 separate transition zones and they take your bike in T2, you don’t have to park your bike).


I rolled over to the swim start area with the masters team as they were starting at 11am, even though it was barely 10am.  I got my bike checked in, but ended up sitting doing nothing for nearly 2h, except for watching the Masters start and finish their swim.  They had worn wetsuits… Christian Hafner was in the masters team, another nice guy, I spent most of my time before and after the race talking with him.  He had done a 1:26 last year and was hoping to get below 1:20 this year with a bit more experience and training behind him.  About half an hour before the start we were told that it was not wetsuit legal, some rubbish about the youth teams swimming with us and that means we can’t wear wetsuits…  It was cold, so that wasn’t ideal.

No wetsuits allowed

We started on the dot at midday.  I settled into my swim pretty quickly.  I gave up a few places in the manic start, but soon started catching people and overtaking.  It was a one loop swim and it was over pretty quickly.  I saw 12:13:59 as I stepped out of the water, so a 14min swim, ok not not spectacular.  I got to my bike and a team mate was already there, another – Christoph, arrived immediately after me.  My transition wasn’t great but ok and I left just behind Christoph and a bit behind Tim (the guy who was already there).

Technical Bike

On the cycle I found pretty quickly that I was about the same pace as Christoph, so I tucked in 10m behind him. We passed quite a few people, including Tim.  The course was quite technical with lots of right angle or more turns.  Otherwise it was flat and fast and there were always people around me.  I wanted to pass Christoph for a while, but as the route was narrow, I couldn’t.  Eventually I managed it, apparently annoying him in doing so, he came back past me a few seconds later.  The cycle ended pretty quickly and I was soon in T2.

Although we had been told that they would take our bikes from us, they didn’t, and apparently we should have just known that we should hang them on the rack at the side…  After a few seconds lost there, I ran to my shoes.  I was number 231 but couldn’t find where my place was.  It is obviously mainly my fault for not making a mental note earlier, but as I ran back and forth along the rows, I was getting frustrated.  It must have lost a minute there.  I hadn’t got my watch set to run, but looked and saw it was just after 12:48, so I could expect a 1:08 end time with an ok run.

Strava Bike File

Hot Running

It was hot and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky for the run.  I set off and soon saw that I wasn’t the slowest!  Only one overtook me near the start, whereas I passed a few.  It was 2×2.5km, but the first loop seemed to last for ages!  There was a TCECer was behind me and that the 2 ahead of me (Christoph and Max) were long gone.  I ran ok, but seem to be lacking my top gear, same as all of my other races recently.  I got overtaken by the TCECer behind me (Stephan Jung), and ran in to finish in 1:07:37.  It was  pretty decent overall, though my transitions were rubbish and my run could and should be better.
.After 3.5km with Stephan closing in on my

So that’s the end of the Nibelungen Triathlon and my 5 weekends in a row of racing. I am glad that it is over to be honest, now I can get back to training!  I still plan to do Merzig Sprint on August 15th and the club championship 1 week before Köln.  A Taunusstein Olympic distance is also my list on the 26th of July too, though the 550m of climbing over 40km cycle route seems tough!

10 weeks to go!

Race Report – Wasserstadt Half Iron Distance Triathlon – With Photos!

On Saturday was my first Triathlon of the season, and a not-insignificant one at that.  I did Wasserstadt Half Distance Triathlon in 2014 as my first ever triathlon, or at least my first ever when I had trained at least a little bit!  I did it in 5:09 last year and didn't enjoy it too much, but this year I was back and on better form, hoping to smash through 5h and maybe even get down to 4:45.

I travelled to Hannover on Saturday and couldn't check in the bike, so just signed in.  There wasn't too much more to do except get my pasta and head off.  On Sunday the start time was 11:30, so I got up at 8am and ate breakfast at the hotel.  It was good to know that I could eat plenty as it was a late start, so I drank plenty of coffee, ate lots of muesli and toast and felt good about the prep.  Me and Jochen checked our bikes in just before 10am and I was making sure I had everything where it should be.  It was wetsuit legal, even after a few hot days in a row, which was definitely good news!

Soon enough I was ready, I went for the trisuit under the wetsuit, with my HR monitor already on underneath.  I got into the water and took my place near the front on the side, hoping to find a group.  We started and this year was much more aggressive than last.  I got hit a few times and crowded out by people swimming on either side of me even more often.  After maybe 400m I had settled into a group but I think I meandered off course to the left quite a lot.  I re-adjusted but was soon off the course to the right!  Not ideal sighting!  The turn came quite quickly and on the return part I just kept the coast about 10m from me and swam pretty straight.  I swam almost alone, which for speed isn't perfect, but it let me concentrate on my stroke and not have any bother of being hit.  I was happy enough that the swim was over, I couldn't see a clock so didn't know my time, but I guessed faster than last year.

On the ramp up to transition my goggles fell off.  I didn't realise until someone shouted, but in the moment I decided it wasn't worth going back for, so I left them behind, and need new ones now!  I wasn't speedy through transition, but got everything done and was on my way on the bike route.  I noticed an immediate clicking of my not well enough held together disc cover, but it wasn't a hindrance, just an annoying click.  I settled into my rhythm quite quickly, but someone came past me early, so I decided to try to go with them.  I could stay with them and on my wattage plan (266w NP) but I messed up a corner after a few KM letting them open up a gap, I decided not to bridge it as I was pushing a little too much anyway.  That was the only person who passed me on the bike and didn't get re-passed.

I had decided to move my aerodrink to next to the stem of my bike, so my Garmin had to be moved further away to accommodate.  I hadn't tested this set up and was duly punished when my wrist kept switching off the Garmin.  It happened about 5 times over the ride, it was very aggravating!  I still got all of the data at the end, but it was unneeded stress.  My aerodrink was also wonky all day (see photos!)  It also wasn't a big problem, but annoyed me.. I tried to fix it but it would just slant in the other direction, so I gave up on it.

After the first bike loop I looked at the time and saw 12:57, I had expected about a 35min swim, 4 min transition and 50 min ride, so 12:59, but 2 minutes faster was very good news.  My power showed as 278w after the first loop, so I decided to back off a little.  The next loop was uneventful, I thought it was about 48min and a bit easier than the first, so all good.  Last year I didn't drink much, this year I drank the 800ml aerodrink, then my 700ml bottle, then 2 refill bottle, so 2.9L which seems reasonable to me.  I had 400Kcal per bottle for the first 2 and the one more energy drink and a water, so maybe 1100Kcal total.  I didn't use any gels, but I didn't think I needed to, they were there in case anyway!

The final loop was a bit more eventful.  I caught some big guy, who promptly sped up, so I stuck behind him.  Soon enough he slowed and I overtook, only for him to pass again.  I was a bit confused when he passed me as I thought it was someone from the later group, until I recognised his ass when he got ahead again!  Within a km or 2 I passed him again and didn't see him again.  On the 'climb' I caught a group who had been close in front for a while.  I decided to sit in 10m back and take the last 10km easy.  I thought 30 seconds or so lost here could save minutes on the run, so I span in nice and easily, even having plenty of freewheeling on the downhills!

The run transition was easy, though someone next to me got a yellow card for some reason.  I was soon enough on the run course, already aware than I needed to pee, but there were no toilets in sight.  I told myself that I should go slow.  I had 1:55 left to break 5h, so that should be no issue.  I wanted to start at 4:30/km pace, but as I slowly trot along I saw 3:55 on my watch… SLOW DOWN!  I did slow, though the poor km markers don't help with pacing.  The first marker was after 1.38km on my GPS, so my pace was either 4:05 on my GPS or 5:45 according to the marker, very useful.  I trusted the GPS and continued my easy pace, thinking that it would be great if I could keep up this pace at this effort, whilst also fearing the last 5km in the heat after a long day.  I seemed to be passing more than I was passed by, and my pace dropped to 4:15/km which was great.  I got the 1st band after 6km or so and finished the first loop after 10.5km feeling very strong.  I did however have some business to see to, i.e. a toilet stop.

I hadn't seen a single toilet on the loop, except for at the very start.  I had decided that I would use that one, except it was occupado…  I waited about 5 seconds not sure what to do, before deciding that I had to go on and nature would be my friend!  I managed about 2km, before some thick bushed seemed like the way to go.  All done in about 40 seconds, and I could comfortable run it the last 8km or so.  I had seen that Jochen was maybe 4 mins behind me at the turn around, and I was slowing and had my toilet break, so I was worried that he would catch me.  I kept plodding though and after 20km there was a little switchback where I could see he wasn't in sight so was more than 100m behind me, I was very relieved!  I didn't sprint it in, I didn't feel the need to, I took off my cap and sunglasses, and hoped for some good photos!  I was in at 4:15pm so about 4:45 finish time.  My chest was feeling very tight and I didn't feel too healthy, but 30 mins or so later I was back to being ok.  Jochen came in 8 minutes after me, having apparently slowed by more than me.

Swim 34:30
Cycle 2:27:52
Run: 1:37:10
End time – 4:45:23

I am really happy with that. A 24 min PB!  I think there is time to be taken in each discipline, with the run being the one I could push more.  I also saw afterwards that I under did the bike:
Loop 1 : 268w 47:52 154bpm
Loop 2 : 261w 48:59 148bpm
Loop 3 : 243w 49:41 144bpm
So just by holding my planned wattage I would have been about 2 mins faster on the bike, though the last loop was also 260w average until I hung with the group and did the last 10km at 217w!

Confidence is high now, but work needs to be done before the long distance, time is on my side though 🙂

Race Report – Bike and Run Köln – Team Sprint

This isn't going to be a long race report, but it was a race, so there is a report!

This was my second year of doing Bike and Run Köln in the team event.  We cycle 42km then run 10km, there are four in a team and the clock stops after the 3rd person crosses the line.  Last year we were pretty good, but I struggled to keep up on the bike, and was the 3rd fastest runner, making it a hard day for me!  This year I fancied that I would be able to run much faster and hopefully ride better too, though that was less certain.

Dimi doesn't run too much and has been actively telling us that he won't be able to keep up on the run for a while now.  He is a strong cyclist though, so we were dropping hints that he could put in more work on the bike so that we are fresher on the run!  Christian was our best cyclist and best runner last year, but he told me that he hasn't run at all since January, so he wouldn't be strong on the run.  Jochen is an all-rounder, if he was our weak link, we would be doing ok!

Last year we went out of the blocks like a bunch of idiots, only to have to slow down gradually over the 42km, this year in slightly damp, but not wet weather, we started off quite controlled, much better.  We were pushing about 40km/h which was the same as last year, with the speed gradually increasing.  Last year my pulls were short and I was really struggling to stay on the back of our train, this year it felt 100 times easier, I could push the pace and get back on a really rest.  After 3 loops surprisingly Dimi started to struggle, he wasn't coming through to take his pulls very strongly, then he would fall of the back after the corners, I shouted for him to take shorter pulls, and he skipped a few too, and we continued on at about the same pace.  After 4.5 of the 5 loops, he couldn't keep up anymore, and me, Jochen and Christian pushed on for the last 4km or so.  We didn't want to break up on the ride, but as Dimi had said he wouldn't run fast, it seemed a waste to wait for him on the bike.

We got into transition and I was incredibly slow.  I don't know why exactly but the others were ready before I had my first shoe on!  I was shouting for them to run as I felt confident that I could catch up, but they waited not sure if we had to leave transition together or not.  After about 500m, it was clear that Christian's lack of run training was going to make him our number 3 for the day.  He wasn't slow, but in comparison to last year, he didn't have his edge.  One team had passed us on the bike (we had passed 2) and after about 3km another team came past us.  There was nothing we could do about it, it was more a matter of getting to the end now!  I noticed that the team that overtook us was pushing one of their runners, I offered to do the same with Christian, which I then did for 6km.  It was new experience for me and quite hard work!  It means you have to work harder and you can't swing one arm, quite a strange feeling.  The next 2 loops of 3.3km went by and we ran in a respectable 44min or so 10km.  That was about 2 mins slower than last year, but our bike was about 1 min faster, so we were 1 minute slower overall.  Unfortunately there were 3 real triathlon teams in the race this year, and they were all minutes ahead of us, so we were 4th.  I'm not sure that we could have been top 3 on our best day…

Dimi came in a few minutes later and we enjoyed our well earned alcohol free beers and cake!

I think a big difference this year was that me, Christian and Jochen all had tri-bars on our bikes, with me and Jochen having TT bikes.  Dimi is a strong rider, but without the tri-bars, he was giving himself extra work to do, which caught up with him.  I know that next time we climb a steep hill, he'll still be racing off up the road!  It was a shame that Christian hadn't trained for the run, but he has a new job and where he lives now isn't great for running.  I would have like to see what I could have done, I had the feeling I could have gone sub40, maybe even more.  It isn't too important anyway, it was a great brick workout and I'd be keen to do the solo version next year if we can't get the team back together.