Awesome race report from James at the Immortal Sprint Triathlon:
- My first triathlon of the season is here!
After Madrid, I was in search of a good result to bring some confidence back. I'd had a couple of really solid weeks training thanks to Blair Davies. The last 3 weeks have shown me that coaching is about so much more than just session-setting. Blair sets great training, absolutely, but the mental and emotional direction and support is worth just as much, if not more sometimes, and I’m fast discovering the importance of having someone in your corner who is totally backing you.
A block of training followed a lower volume week in the lead up to this race. I did a 10m TT on my brand spanking new Boardman on Wednesday evening at the DB Max Castle Combe TT series. I’ve never done a TT before but been told umpteen times not to go out too hard. So I didn't. I went off at 25mph and squeezed a little harder through each of the 5 laps and was pleased to see I negative split each of them to finish in 23:03 and about 25.9mph. And I hadn't emptied the tank. Cracking.
The Immortal Sprint+ race is local to me, set in the beautiful landscapes of the National Trust property Stourhead, Wiltshire. The format was 900m / 38km / 8km - a little random, but a great warm up and with a field of 180, enough to pose a challenge but in a chilled environment.
Starting at 5pm, I spent the day doing as little as possible. I'm normally on my feet busying myself but I made a conscious effort to sit and do nothing. We arrived at 3:30 and the team (consisting of Kerry, 3 kids, Mum and Dad, and Kerry's mum - quite the entourage!) chilled while I registered and racked my bike.
The lake at Stourhead is as picturesque as it is weedy! Regardless, after a couple of minutes warm up, the hooter sounded and off we went. I pushed hard for 100m and found clear water heading towards the first buoy. I felt good and found a nice rhythm, plus a couple of feet to draft. I thought I was in the second group, but ended up exiting the water in 5th - fantastic! The run to T1 was a good 500m uphill and I passed 3 on the way, reaching my bike in 2nd. A smooth T1 I was out on the road about 10 seconds behind 1st.
I faffed around getting my feet in for 30 seconds or so - more flying-mount practice needed - but once they were secure, I had my sights on the lead and overtook 1st place after about 1 mile. As this was a hilly course, I chose to not focus on my speed and rather decided to go on feel and give it the beans. That was my only pre-race tactic: crank those pedals as hard as I can, don't even think about having to run afterwards, just go for it.
It worked, I felt great and no one appeared in my line of sight when I looked back. I backed off just a tad for the last 500m while taking my feet out ready for T2. Rolling into T2 with awesome support and no other bikes in transition was magic. Kerry running alongside confirming I was in 1st was epic (I was sure there must be someone ahead).
Another swift T2 and off onto the 8km run. Gradually uphill at ~2% for 4km, then downhill for 3km before a final kick up to the finish, it wasn't a fast course. I laboured the first couple of k and looked behind a couple of times, slightly expecting someone to appear. They didn't. Lesson learnt: don't look behind. It ruins stride and, had I seen someone, I'd have been mentally shot.
I settled into the run and by the time the trail headed downhill I was hitting a decent pace. 2km to go and I turned back into the estate, still no-one behind me. 1km to go and a spectator said "you’re ages ahead". Of course, I couldn't trust this stranger feeding me what could be false information, so I cracked on up the final climb!
I looked back for the final time and knew I'd won. I couldn't believe it. Under the arch and up towards the mansion that lords over the estate to the finish line. The support was fantastic and my crew were utterly amazing. Smiles and hugs all round, they made me feel like I’d won the Olympics!
Stepping onto the middle step of the podium was the perfect end.
I'd beaten 2nd by over 5 minutes and felt great throughout. I hadn't stuffed myself on the run and discovered that I can push hard on the bike without losing too much run form.
A big high five, man hug and slap on the back to Blair Davies. He's a super-professional coach and definitely brings the results, but more than that he's a really good guy! Kerry, as ever, the rock by my side – I love our team!
Ok, enough now...it was only a little triathlon, I didn't win Kona.
Massive thanks to HUUB Design for the epic goody bag. Check out this dry bag - I've used it lots already this week and it's ideal for everyday training. Immortal Sport put on a really great event, and there was a Half Ironman the following day too. The course was well marked with signs and plenty of friendly marshalls - a really great setup. I'll be back next year for sure! Check out their races here: www.immortalsport.com.