Aberfeldy Middle Distance Triathlon 2018 – Scottish Middle distance Championships
Post date: Sep 18, 2018 10:09:08 PM
By Dom Sharkey
19th August 2018
With my main target of Edinburgh 70.3 this year being a disappointment due to illness I was keen to still use the Half Ironman endurance training I had been doing all year, so looked to Aberfeldy as my next ‘A’ race. A few niggles in the build up again, and an existential -crisis-type breakdown of my swimming technique in the weeks prior to the race meant that preparation wasn’t perfect, but in the final 2 weeks things started to click again, and I was generally more relaxed on the whole with this race than Edinburgh.
Race day came with heavy rain, single figure temperatures and pretty poor visibility. So several questions which I didn’t worry about at Edinburgh such as “How many layers do I need to wear?” and “Is my helmet visor transparent enough?” were concerns.
Setting up transition on race morning involved a lot more careful wrapping of items in several layers of plastic bag than average, and we were all soaked through before even stepping foot in the loch. The swim course was one triangular lap, meaning the buoys seemed quite far away from the start line – being such a grey day meant that it was pretty difficult to see the buoys even just standing at the shore side, never mind when trying to frantically sight in between strokes and through all the splashing and failing arms ahead of me. So I started off quite conservatively in the swim and just followed the pack. Approaching the first buoy I could see the pack going quite wide to the right around it, so I kept in the straight tight line on the left of the course and seemed to merge with a lot of swimmers who had been ahead of me but swum wide. Finding myself in this faster moving pack I was able to get a good draft for much of the rest of the swim, and was feeling really comfortable. From about halfway I thought I could push on and get ahead of this pack now, but decided it would probably take more energy than it was worth to try to get around and in front of the pack, for marginal time gain, so I contented myself to sit on the feet and enjoy a bit more energy saving in the draft zone. Out of the water in just about bang on 35 minutes for 2km, and feeling quite fresh, was a decent result.
Things didn’t get much drier on the bike – I managed to get a cycling top over my tri-suit, but couldn’t get my arm warmers on as they and I were soaking, so just bit the bullet and went with the short sleeves hoping I wouldn’t come to regret that decision. The first few kilometres were very cold, and I was struggling with water sticking to my visor making vision quite difficult. I was very close to chucking the visor at this point, but eventually managed to squeeze a finger in front my face to give it a wipe.
Quite soon the big climb of Schiehallion approached which required a bit of careful pacing in order to not blow up within 20km. I managed to move up through the field passing quite a few riders on the climb, but lost a few places on the descent as I was still quite keen to make it to work the next day, taking things quite carefully on some tricky corners. After the climb and descent it was a lap around Loch Rannoch on perfectly flat, smooth tarmac with no traffic. I loved this section of the bike course as it just flowed so nicely and was really quick. I merged with 3 other riders at this point and we wordlessly organised a working train (adhering to the 10m drafting rules of course). The roads were so smooth and the speed quite high that I actually felt the significant draft even 10m behind the rider in front for the first time ever, so we all benefitted a good bit from taking turns in this manner.
The coalition was broken however, once we reached the climb back out of the valley back over Schiehallion the way we had descended in. One guy shot on ahead, and the other two drifted away behind me so I climbed and descended back into the town on my own. By this time the rain had stopped and things were warming up a little, so was looking quite pleasant for the run. I reached T2 after 2 hours 41 minutes on the bike which I was really pleased with considering the climbing involved, and the conditions – my only mistake I feel on the bike was forgetting to drink and take on as many gels as I had planned to, which might have had something to do with the run performance that was to follow.
The run was 3 laps of a sort of T-shaped course within the grounds of Taymouth Castle – this meant quite a few dead turns on the out-and-back arms of the T, but it did wind its way through some quite nice looking scenery so was not completely unpleasant.
Started the run very well – probably too well in hindsight – at about 4:10/km, and completed the first of the 3 laps in about 30 minutes, on for a sub 1:30 half marathon time which I would have been ecstatic with. Unfortunately I began to fade a little in the second half, and my pace dropped off to about 5:00/km for the final lap. Looking back I think the lack of fuelling on the bike might have contributed somewhat to this, and I lost a number of places throughout the run. Reaching the finishing chute on my final lap I spotted the clock above the gantry saying the time 11:59:45 – taking longer than it should have(my physical and mental state being what it was by this point) I calculated that from a 7am start that would mean if I got under before midday then I’d break the 5 hour mark which had been a rough target for me to begin with – and surely these things never start on time so I’d have a bit of extra lee way too?? Sprinting to cross the line exactly as it turned to 12:00:00 I thought I must be there, but on seeing my overall time I was 53 seconds short…
But a 1:39 half marathon at the end of a tough day on only my second Middle distance Triathlon was still quite satisfying, and about 20 minutes faster than my Edinburgh run time which is a significant step in the right direction!
Finished 14th Senior Male, 24th Overall.
Swim 35:09 Bike 2:41:57 Run 1:39:12 Finish 5:00:53