This race was my first outing over the half iron man distance of 1900m swim, 90km bike and 21km run. So I was a wee bit daunted and not sure how to pace it or how to manage my nutrition.
The reason why I was here was because my mate John talked me into it the year before. He couldn’t recommend it high enough - racing over a stunning course, taking in the best of Highland Perthshire including Schiehallion and Loch Rannoch.
Preparation for the race was not fantastic after breaking my arm in June and missing a few weeks of training. But I got a 3 weeks of solid training before the race with the help of Blair Davies Coaching aka ‘Supercoach’ and I was ready to go.
Below is a photo of me and my mates the day before the race after our swim recce. Photo bomb by a duck.
Left to right - Alan Taylor, Ian Orme, John Soutar and David Horne
John attempting to place a swim cap on Alan’s head using only water and gravity. It worked.
Unfortunately the swim was cut short to 750m because of the combined low water temperatures of 12 degrees C and low ambient air temperatures of 8 degrees C. Safety is obviously paramount, but I was upset that we couldn’t swim the full distance.
We were set off in 3 waves: (1) Juniors and Seniors, (2) Vets and (3) Supervets, with only 3 minutes between each wave.
To the surprise, mainly, of my wife, I exited the swim in 3rd place slightly down on Francesco Polignano and Andy Turnbull. I felt good on the swim and probably could have opened up a bigger gap behind me if the swim had been longer. I even managed to catch and overtake a fair few of the swimmers in the first wave.
Me far left.
The bike course is spectacular, after a short cycle out of T1 at Kenmore there is a long climb for 10km approx. followed by a technical descent into Loch Rannoch, once around the loch, to climb back up, then down into T2 in Aberfeldy.
Up the first climb, I felt that I was going well and overtaking the back markers from wave 1. My speed around the loch was averaging over 40km/h for sustained periods. It felt like I was in a sprint or standard race.
On the bike I had a water bottle on the handle bars full of carb drink, a second bottle on the bike frame with 6 gel bars and some energy shots in my cycling jacket. I took a couple of gulps of carb drink every 5 to10 mins and a slurp of gel or a shot every 15 mins. It seemed to work ok, although on the final 5km into Aberfeldy I started feeling a bit tired. The time on the bike went by quickly, perhaps because I was concentrating on working hard. I had no idea what my position was in the race.
Heading off on the bike
Coming into T2 in Aberfeldy, the support was amazing and the organisation was slick. My bike was taken from me and my bag with running gear handed to me. I was tired. I’d never felt this tired in T2 before. I struggled to get my cycling top off and my running shoes on. I tottered out of transition. The support was amazing. My glutes and legs seemed tight.
This year, the run was an accurate half marathon course, with a new section at the start, which comprised of a cruel climb out of T2. The course is an out and back undulating run following the River Tay out of Aberfeldy and because of the undulating nature of the course it’s difficult to get into a rhythm.
The run was hard. To get through it I tried to ‘manage my mind’ and find a nice pace and rhythm to my running. I found I had to eliminate any negative thoughts or feelings that I had and forget about the long distance ahead. The first 7km was tough. It didn’t feel like I was running, more shuffling along. But speaking to people afterwards they said I looked OK. When I got to the 10km mark my legs suddenly turned up, where had they been, and I started moving along nicely and picking off a few runners, including some guys in my age group category.
I crossed the finishing line in 4.32.09. The crowd was amazing; cow bells ringing and high fives from the kids. The volunteers around the course were super-friendly and supportive. A fantastic event!
I’d like to thank the following for their continued support - Blair Davies Coaching http://blairdavies.wpengine.com, Elivar http://elivar.com, Reactivhttp://www.reactivbodycare.com and Stript Snackshttp://www.striptsnacks.com for you help and support.
And of course special thanks to Jane my wife and James my son for supporting and cheering me on.
Swim - 12:12
T1 - 2:58
Bike - 2:44:51
T2 - 1:37
Run - 1:30:32
22nd Overall / 400
7th in Veteran Age Group Category
Some other photos from the weekend.