Over the Whit bank holiday weekend I completed the Outlaw middle distance triathlon. This was to be my third time racing this distance but my goals were still very much to ‘complete’ rather than ‘compete’ for an AG win. The half has been going for 4 years and following very good reviews I signed up as soon as entries opened. This was a good job as I later found out that the event had sold out in 60 seconds! Taking place at The National Watersports Centre in Nottingham we were to swim in the regatta lake, bike in the Nottinghamshire countryside then do a two lap, spectator friendly run along the river Trent and around the regatta lake.
The race briefing took place on Saturday then after a chilly night on the campsite over the road, my alarm went off whilst it was still dark outside. Normal pre-race rituals followed and at 06:40 the claxon went off for the start of my wave. The organisers had been forced to move the swim further up the regatta lake due to the presence of blue-green algae by the normal swim entry and exit points. This didn’t make any difference to the swim itself though, as it was still a single, rectangular shaped swim, with the swim exit now by the main centre buildings
meaning that there was a short run to transition. With around 250 people in each wave the field soon thinned out (they all swam away from me) leaving me to do my own thing. I didn’t have any dramas and made it out of the water in 41:20, taking just over 12 minutes off of my previous pb at that distance. Thank you Helen, Sean and Dan, it seems like some of what you have been telling me for the past three years is slowly sinking in!
I had done a recce of the bike route around six weeks ago so knew what was in store for me, a fast and flat course, but was hoping the wind didn’t pick up due to a number of open sections. With a noticeable chill in the air I rode in my tri suit but also had a set of arm warmers that I had swum in as well, to help keep me warm. Starting with a single lap around the regatta lake to get settled also gave a chance for spectators to see us on the bike, before heading out onto the Nottinghamshire roads. The organisers had arranged for a large number of closed roads, segregated lanes & priority for cyclists at many junctions so there was very little to slow riders down. Remembering previous experiences when I had struggled in the second half of the bike and advice from others (thanks Mike A!), I knew I had to keep my effort on the bike feeling really easy. This was fine, apart from the fact it felt like I had a constant stream of cyclists coming past me, I consoled myself with the assumption that it was due to their bikes costing more than mine, not that they had done more training than me. There were two aid stations, both well stocked with water, High5, gels and other bits and bobs and they were evenly spaced on the course. When I stopped to use a porta-loo, my bike was held by a marshal and a fresh bottle of High5 was in my bottle cage by the time I came out. The second half of the ride was particularly good, on nice country roads making for good riding.
Due to my slow and steady approach on the bike I had lost 153 places but once out on the run my legs felt good so knew it was time to start making up some time! After a slightly too over enthusiastic start to my run I settled down to a pace I thought I could hold for the half marathon and set out to tick the miles off. The route first took us out along the river Trent, before doing a dead turn, back the way we came,
then around the regatta lake, before doing the same again. With 11 aid stations on the run course you were never far from one and whilst turning down Jaffa cakes at mile 10 may have been sensible, it was slightly painful! Through this I felt good and all of a sudden I was passing lots of people who had gone past me on the bike! As the run is two laps, you have to pass the finish line before you start your second lap.
Going past here around the five hour mark, it felt like I was running away from the party, as whilst people who had done their second lap got to go left down the finish chute, I stayed right and set off on my second lap. Inevitably the second lap felt tougher, but my legs remained willing and despite a bit of a slow down on the last section of the regatta lake, I thought I could be on for a sub 2 hour half marathon. Approaching the centre buildings I had 1min 30sec left to go so knew I had to kick hard, a sprint down the red carpet and I had finished the half marathon in 1:59:56 (a 19 minute ½ Iron run pb) and a total time of 6hrs 9min and 54sec, so taking 35 minutes off of my previous pb.
Post race was the normal medals, T-Shirt, food and that rubbish alcohol free beer, but we were well looked after, as we had been all weekend.
All told, it was a great race and a race that I would certain recommend and would pay to do again. I guess I can also now say I’m 1/3 of the way through my Outlaw experience for 2016, as I will be back there in July for the long course race!