My First Half Distance race
Normally I would start a race report by waffling on about myself, this time I owe my family and friends a massive thank you for getting up at 4am and standing in the rain for the best part of the day, having the best support at a race really does help and it wouldn’t be the same without you all, thanks.
For anyone who isn’t aware of what the Outlaw Half is or consists of, it is a Middle Distance Triathlon consisting of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and a half marathon, most people refer to this distance as a Half Ironman but as Ironman is a brand, I don’t think One Step Beyond Promotions would appreciate promoting another company with there own events the Outlaw Triathlons.
I entered this race on the back of seeing the Full Outlaw Triathlon on tv, i got the impression of it being a well organised event which had all the characteristics of a big race which normally come with a big price tag for entry, this race was half the price but writing this post race I can confirm it was everything I’d hoped for.
Saturday consisted of a pre race bike/run session in the morning before traveling the 2.5 hour journey from Bolton to Nottingham, after a large dinner it was time for the race brief, being a short course racer I’m not used to such an official pre race brief but apart from the normal daft questions it was useful for key information about the routes and event.
All week the talk on social media was all about how bad the weather was going to be, I’m one for thinking positive and believed it would be ok on the day, this was looking promising going off Saturday’s glorious sunshine but as predicted we got up at 3:45am race morning and was greeted by lots of wind and rain.
Surprisingly after little sleep due to drunken idiots thinking playing with the hotel fire extinguishers is good fun with music beating down the corridors I felt excited and ready to race.
I arrived at the venue and with 1500 people down for racing I was expecting to be quing getting into transition which I wasn’t looking forward to in the grim weather conditions but i was well prepared in my Champion System Repel Jacket. Credit to the organisers there was know que and I was set up with my trainers floating in a puddle and bike set up for a sharp transition.
Swim – 1900m (1.2 mile)
I was in wave 2 which set off 10 minutes after the first wave of 4, I had flicked through the start list and highlighted the key athletes I considered being competitive for the prizes, I was unfortunate that 90% of these was in the first wave so unless I could bridge a 10 minute gap I was unlikely to be involved with head to head racing with these guys. In my wave I was aware that last years winner and course record holder Paul Hawkins was there, I have trained with Paul so know what he’s about and had an inkling about what condition he was in, I predicted him going hard on the swim which I utilised by getting into his draft and saving some energy for the rest of the race, after some hard work in the initial 400m there was Me, Paul and another athlete who created a large gap in our wave and was catching some of the slower swimmers in the first wave, we took an inside line to avoid nevigating our way through hundreds of silver cap swimmers, this was going great with 400m to go and was feeling very comfy and relaxed at the pace until I was stopped dead in my tracks…….
The event was held at holme pierrepont watersports centre which is a man made rowing lake 2km in length, being a rowing lake it has small buoys to separate the lanes for racing the full length of the lake, these came in very useful for navigating in a straight line until one somehow got looped around my ankle and lassoed me, I had no choice but to untangle myself and quickly get going again, I have been doing a lot of pace work in training so I knew what I had left for the swim and quickly caught the front 2 swimmers back up, there was something not right with my ankle, I had my wetsuit leg filling up with water and I couldn’t tell if I had a big cut on my ankle or if it was my timing chip hanging off, I had thought my wetsuit had ripped but it had just folded up therefore letting water up my leg.
Out of the water and into T1 i had to reattach my timing chip after struggling to get my wetsuit off, this cost me time compared to my usual transitions and the 2 swimmers who I was with got an early jump on the bike leaving me to pace myself through the remaining athletes from the first wave.
Bike – 90k (56 mile)
This was my first time using power to pace the bike so I went into the race with a pre planned strategy which I stuck to throughout the 56 mile route, there was times which I questioned my pace as in the first 20 mile I was overtaking a lot of athletes who looked very experienced but I felt I was racing within myself so kept it rolling.
Base Bike & Club Roost Wheels
After approximately 26 mile there was a feed station at which I collected a fresh bottle of carb drink, there was another feed station at 38 mile and I used this to disgard of my 3 empty gels rappers, it was from this point I didn’t see anyone for the remainder of the ride so I realised I had gone through most of the first wave athletes and was unsure how many was out front.
Run – half marathon (13.1 mile)
As this was my first middle distance race I was only guessing what my predicted pace would be off a 56 mile, my pre plan was to ease into the first few miles and then attempt to pick the pace up.
Video – HERE
As I still wasn’t aware of time gaps or positions I came out of T2 onto the run and felt great, I heard shouts of support from various places and this really does help. I set off running and my Garmin read 6min mile pace, my target pace was 6:15 so I was well under this but felt at ease with it so my next 5 miles read as 6:02, 6:01, 6:01, 5:59, 6:07, my next 2 miles slowed slightly due to a strong head wind but I was still moving freely and feeling good.
Into the second loop and I had seen the gaps of the guys in front and was aware I was closing in on a good position, I could see Paul Savage a few hundred meters ahead and I knew if I could maintain his pace then I’d end up with a good run split and even pacing. As I started the second lap, a good friend Rodger Wilkins had made the trip over to come and support me and one of his coached athletes Wendy who had a strong race finishing 6th in her age group, Rodger and my partner Kel had been following the live tracker and had sensed that I was unaware of my exact situation and shouted across to me “you are closer than you think”, this was basically to help me keep believing and keep pushing to chase down the time gap.
Onto the soggy trail part of the run route and I was still hitting good mile splits and confident I could hold the pace for the remaining 6 miles, I went through 10 mile in 1:01.00 and swollowed my last gel for the day.
Coming down the final mile which was the toughest section, along the lake and against the wind, I could see the pocket rocket Suzie Richards who was the clear winner in the women’s race, I used her as a target to keep me pushing hard and although she wasn’t aware, I was having a mini race with myself to get through the finish before she went past for her final loop, “I won Suzie” 😜 (see video)
Finishing Video – click HERE
I crossed the finish line to be announced as 1st in my age group but was still unaware of my overall position, I don’t like racing this way and in such a big event it is strange to not have an elite wave to create a exciting race for the athlete and also the spectators to enjoy.
Once through the finishing tent I was greeted by my family and friends to be told the live tracker has me down as 4th with one of them being a team, this meant 3rd place and I was happy to make the podium 6 out of 6 so far this season.
looking back at the race there is nothing I would do different tactically wise in the circumstance I was in, I do believe If I was in the first wave where the racing was happening then I had it in me to win this race.
I gained a lot of experience doing the outlaw half and the things I have learnt will help me towards being the champion in future races.
1900m swim – 24:52
56 mile bike – 2:29 (ave 23mph)
13.1 mile run – 1:21 (ave 6:11min/mile)
I had great fun racing the Outlaw Half, thanks to One Step Beyond for there efforts of putting on such an event, hopefully next year there will be a wave where it can be a proper race.
Well done to Karl Alexander and Ian Turner for completing the podium
Big thanks goes out to my team ChampionSystem/VCUK, I really did need all my sponsored kit for this race.
Club Roost Wheels
Mark Lomax Chartered Accountants