Review of my race at Outlaw Full Triathlon in Nottinghamshire on Half on Sunday 26th July 2015
Outlaw Triathlon in Nottinghamshire was my main race of 2015. It comprised a 3.8k swim, 180k bike and a 42.2k run (ironman distance). I previously raced this event in 2013 and, being new to triathlon at that time, I had made several mistakes in training and racing. I felt like I had to come back to give this race another crack.
At the start of the year, I had set myself a target of finishing Outlaw in under 10:30, which would be more than an hour faster than I achieved here in 2013 (11:36:22 finish time). Training had gone fairly well in the build-up to this race. Before starting a 2-week taper, I had averaged just under 15 hours training per week over the 10 previous weeks. This included a really encouraging result at Outlaw Half (4:34:38) 8 weeks before Outlaw race-day. My result at Outlaw Half indicated that sub-10:30 was achievable if I did a decent job of pacing. Unfortunately my 2-week taper before Outlaw was interrupted and I had missed a few sessions as a result, but it’s better to be a little under-trained than over-trained, right?
Swim (Time: 58:58 – 26th Individual)
Based on my training times, I thought that I would complete the 3,800m swim in around an hour. Standing on the edge of the water 15 minutes before the 6am start time, the sunrise beyond the far end of the 2,000m long lake was stunning. All 1,250 of us were then ushered into the water for the mass start.
I didn’t have a great start, getting biffed up a few times in the first 150m from flailing arms of those swimming around me. It then started to thin out around me and I found some feet and stuck to them. The swim course at Outlaw is straightforward; 1850m up the rowing lake to a large orange buoy, 100m across the rowing lake to a large orange buoy and another 1850m back down the rowing lake, with further intermediate buoys to assist navigation.
I was happy to emerge from the water in 59 minutes. After the swim, it was a quick trip through the transition change tent before I grabbed my bike and then headed out onto the cycle course.
Bike (Time: 5:14:31 – 21st Individual)
My heart rate on the bike was initially high (around 185bpm) so I took the first 10-15 minutes of the bike relatively easy to let my heart rate drop. Perhaps I had pushed the swim a little too hard. Overall, I was targeting a normalised power of around 215W (just under 70% of my FTP) which I thought would result in a time of between 5:05 and 5:20 for me on the Outlaw bike course.
The cycle course comprised three loops, all to the east of Nottingham (south loop, then north loop, then south loop again). The course was relatively flat with some undulations but only one small hill of note so led itself to some fairly quick bike times. One Step Beyond (the event organisers) do a fantastic job of marking any road hazards / potholes with orange spray paint before the event and there are feed / drink stations approximately every 25k to grab any additional supplies.
From 80km I started to need to pee. I tried to do this whilst cycling, but with no success (this is a skill I have yet to learn) . At 100km, I gave up trying and stopped at a portaloo by one of the feed stations for what seemed like an age to fully relieve myself.
For the first four hours on the bike course the weather was cool but pleasant and then the rain arrived as accurately forecast for the last hour of my ride. The last 4km of the bike route used a very small private road which unfortunately is the only realistic way to get back to the venue. There are some speed humps (for which the organisers construct concrete ramps beforehand to make them less severe) and a cattle grid to negotiate in this section, but nothing too tricky.
I finished the ride with a normalised power of 207W and an average power of 199W (variability index, VI = 1.04 so my pacing was ok but with room for improvement). My power was therefore slightly down on my pre-race target of 215W normalised power, but I was mindful of keeping myself as fresh as possible for the run.
Into the second transition (T2) and the volunteers took my bike at the dismount line. It was then another trip through the change tent in T2 before embarking on the run.
Run (Time: 3:47:11 – 90th Individual)
The run comprised four laps of the rowing lake and two out-and-back sections along the River Trent to the Victoria Embankment in Nottingham. I was targetting a sub-4 marathon and planned to run at 5:10-5:20/km and walk every feed station to get some calories down and help keep control of my pace. I felt good for the first kilometers of the run and had to consciously dial back my pace.
The rain was torrential throughout the marathon, but I personally preferred this to Outlaw 2013 when it had been 30°C and I had really suffered. Despite the rain on this occasion, the support was absolutely superb from family, spectators and the hundreds of volunteers that make this race such a great event.
My left shin was twinging at points during the run and then my quads and hamstrings began to cramp during the final 10km but I tried to push through. My running pace had dropped slightly towards the end of the run but I managed to pick it up slightly for the last kilometer. With Lydia shouting “SPRINT, SPRINT!!”, I attempted probably the most pathetic sprint finish in history to gain a place in the finish chute and become “an Outlaw”.
Final Thoughts (Finishing Time: 10:07:40 – 24th / 975 Starters and 5th in M30-34 AG)
After the race, a good selection of hot food is provided along with a massage and lashings of Erdinger Alkoholfrei. The Outlaw and Outlaw Half events are by far the best organised that I’ve done to-date and I’ll probably be back in 2016 for at least the half.
Overall, I was really happy with my time. It’s not every day that you knock 89 minutes off a PB so huge thanks my girlfriend Lydia and my family for their support throughout a very long day and also to the Wimbledon Windmilers triathlon coaches for their guidance.
A few weeks after the race, I got a few seconds of fame when my hobbling “sprint finish” was shown on the Channel 4 highlights of the race (screenshot below).