Review of my race at Outlaw Half on Sunday 31st May 2015
Outlaw Half Triathlon is a 1.9k swim, 90k bike and 21.1k run (half-ironman distance triathlon) through the countryside of Nottinghamshire.
Ahead of the race, I had averaged 13.5 hours per week training for the 8 training weeks prior to the race (i.e. 9 weeks to 1 week out from race day). I’d run London Marathon 5 weeks previously, but hadn’t trained to race the marathon to my full ability as my aim was to experience the London Marathon rather than post a good time. I only tapered for 1-week for Outlaw Half as my main target race was Outlaw Full, 8 weeks later.
I went into this race with the opinion that I could finish with a time around 4:40 – 4:45 hours on a good day. The pre-race forecast of heavy rain and wind didn’t bode well for hitting this target time.
Swim (Time: 27:46 – 11th Individual)
The race start was in four waves, comprising around 250 to 300 competitors in each wave, with 10-minute intervals between waves. Each wave comprised several age groups and I started in the third wave (with everyone else in the M30-34 age group.
I was targeting a similar swim time to my 2014 race here, so around 28-29 minutes.
The klaxon went off and our wave started. Initially, I was following feet in a small group with around five other competitors. After a couple of minutes, I realised that we were swimming at a pace that I would’ve struggled to hold so I set into my own rhythm and let the rest of the group pull away.
The rest of the swim passed without major incident; I felt like I paced it well and swam relatively straight. From around half way through the swim, I began to pass competitors from earlier waves, so this required a little dodging but wasn’t an issue.
I finished the swim in 27:46 (6th out of those who started in my swim wave). Reviewing the results post-race, there was a large gap of over 2 minutes until the next person in my wave, so I’m glad that I didn’t cruise the swim waiting for the next person to draft from. Even without much of a draft, I was 30 seconds faster on the swim than I was here in 2014.
In the first transition (T1), I lost a little time (perhaps a minute) running further than I needed to as the entrance and exit of transition were at the same side of the transition area (the entrance and exit are normally at opposite sides or corners). Lesson learnt to check this pre-race next time!
Bike (Time: 2:26:50 – 5th Individual)
Pre-race, I was targeting a power (265W) which I believed would put me in the 2:20-2:30 hour range for the bike at Outlaw Half; I anticipated that 2:25 hours would’ve been possible if dry. Unfortunately the weather was far from dry, with wet and windy conditions throughout most of the ride.
For the first 45 minutes, my heart rate remained above 170bpm from the swim as I started to push on the bike. On reflection, perhaps I should have taken the bike easier for the first few kilometres to enable my heart rate to drop a little before pushing.
The first hour of the bike was very quick; the strong tail-wind meant that I was cycling over 40kph for most of the first hour of cycling.
At around 25km into the bike, I started to notice something clogged up in my bike rear derailleur. It wasn’t preventing me from riding but the rattling became increasingly frustrating. At the top of Oxton Hill (the only gradient of-note on the course), I stopped to try to remove the road debris. After around a minute of fiddling around with numb fingers, I gave up, very aware of the time and places that I was losing. I just had to hope that the issue wouldn’t get any worse…
The second half of the bike course felt more challenging as the changes in direction of the course meant that more often than not I was cycling significantly slower into a headwind. The rain continued unabated.
The last 3k of bike course at the Outlaw Triathlon races is slow due to the course which routes through a very small, private road to return the competitors to Holme Pierrpont and the second transition (T2). This small road has speed humps (the worst humps are temporary concreted by the race organisers to reduce their severity) and a poor quality road surface in places. No dramas for me through this final section of the bike course and I was back in transition.
For anyone interested, I finished the ride with 251W normalised power and 242W average power (variability index, VI=1.04). The wet and windy weather may have contributed to me struggling to hit my pre-race power target of 265W (approximately 85% FTP) without feeling like I was pushing too hard. I also had a high heartrate after the swim which may also have been a factor in me struggling to hit my pre-race power target.
Run (Time: 1:35:24 – 61st Individual)
A quick trip through T2 to deposit my bike and helmet and pop on my running shoes and I was out onto the run course. The run course was two laps, each out-and-back along the River Trent and around the rowing lake. I was targeting around 1 hour 40 minutes for the half marathon so had planned to start running at 4:45 min/km.
I felt fantastic at the start of the run, chatting with a competitor from an earlier start wave who was running a similar pace. As a result, I had almost ignored that I’d clocked 4:10-4:15/km for the opening two kilometres. I wisely decided to slow to 4:25-4:35 min/km and settled into a rhythm, consuming a gel and some liquid at every other feed station.
At half-way, the pain really began to kick-in. Everything started to hurt, but no specific area hurt too much (it was just general fatigue) so I kept pushing as much as I could with only 10km left to run. Coming into the last 5km, I realised that my half marathon time would be around 1:35 hrs which helped mentally and I only slowed slightly to 4:35-4:45 min/km. My heartrate had steadily risen throughout the run from 165bpm at the start and peaking at 185bpm towards the end.
The finish line finally came and I finished in just under 4:35 hours overall.
Final Thoughts (Finishing Time: 4:34:38 – 12th/1,093 Starters and 4th in M30-34 AG)
After chatting to a couple of other finishers, I went to the massage tent for a post-race rub-down (free for all competitors). Being one of the first there, the massage volunteer kindly gave me around 20 minutes of attention. The organisers of the Outlaw Triathlon races (One Step Beyond) also provide a great selection of savoury warm food, which really hit the spot after several hours of sweet gels and drinks.
I was absolutely delighted with my finishing time and position, especially considering the wet and windy conditions which probably impacted my bike speed a little. I still lose places on the run and that’s something that I’ll try to address in the future. Overall, this race result felt like a huge breakthrough.