In my final preparations towards Brighton Marathon I entered the Welwyn Half Marathon based at Gosling Sports Park, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.
The race conditions were perfect for the race that was partially on an offroad path. The route for the race is a gently undulating mixture of a residential setting and a rural taking in the villages of Hertingfordbury, Birch Green and Cole Green plus a 4 mile section along the traffic free Cole Green Way pathway. The race started and finished on Gosling Running Track.
The objective of the race was to get some quick training miles before the marathon and maybe add a few miles at the end. However, as the race got underway after 3 miles I realised that I had an opportunity for a podium place. As the race developed I got into an easy pace and managed to break away from the group of runners viaing for 3rd position. Towards the 7 mile I was joined by another runner(Antonio Maraia) and we ran together until mile 10. Then the pace began to get quicker as we raced for the podium pace. I decided to wait and follow and see what he had to offer and with 2 miles to go I decided to push for home. With an incline towards the end of the race I used this to put in a hard effort and as we got to a mile to go I was again on my own. I kept the pace in the last mile and ended with a slight sprint towards the end to end in a time of 1:20:09.
This was my first run as a fairlands valley spartan and the third place was an added bonus.
After 5 years of racing for Team Trisports it was a time for a new challenge. I made many friends at the club and was sad once I made my decision to leave.
So why leave ? My choice was made as I wanted to run the herts midweek 10k series over the summer and wanted to train with a group of runners that would push my limits.
Why 10k Series ? This was a great opportunity to get some regular high intensity runs in the week. I wanted to achieve this but running for a second claim team, however, due to the consutitipn I was unable to compete for multiple clubs.
Where now ? I decided to join Fairlands Valley Spartans as this was my local running club in Stevenage. I’ve been made very welcome at the club and had the benefit of some friends and past team mates who were already at the club.
What about Swimming ? Open water is still on my mind but I have joined a swim club and train with a masters group (Monday, Thus (50m), Fri, Sun) at Stevenage Swimming Club as secretary of the club I get to see the development of the club at close quarters.
So now to the future ? My aims this season are my A races. These are Brighton Marathon and Ironman Germany (Frankfurt).
My A race for 2014 was Ironman UK, Bolton. I decided on the following race gear
- Huub Wetsuit
- Planet X Time Trial Bike with Bontrager Wheels
- 2 Piece trisuit (2XU)
After doing a reccie of the course in June I decided on the venue of Holiday Inn Haydock. The venue was fantastic and the hotel staff were very friendly to the guest and setup breakfast for the morning of the race. I personally would like to thank for the staff for the warm welcome we had. The venue was very close to the race start and this helped with initial race setup. On raceday the drive to the parking is only 15 mins and we left the car in the supermarket.
Pre Race Learnings
- The bag drops are in t1 and t2. (I thought they’d transport everything for T1 – doh).
- Not many toilets…
I got racked and bike ready and headed for the toilet at 5:00am. Now I didn’t realise I’d be queuing for 40 mins. Once in the transition I was at the back and realised I’d be at the back of the race. I finally got into the water when the anthems started to play and I tried to make my way as quickly as possible to the start.
The hooter went and I had to force my way past the bodies. I finally got into clear water on the return leg of the first lap and got into a nice groove as I exited the first lap I glanced at my watch and noticed 31mins. I just thought another easy lap and maybe not too much time lost. So finally got the lap done and past my training partner (this confirmed my bad start). I finally got out in around 64mins and thought that’s a little slow but let’s get on with it.
T1 was easy and I simply grabbed my stuff put on my socks and cycle shoes and my nutrition for my back pockets. I was amazed on how slow some atheletes are in a long distance race. This is an area to pickup a lot of time.
The bike course was very busy and I simply had a number in my head (180). I locked into the number and rolled around the course. A mistake I made was my gearing and the 52-25 left me with no gears on a few climbs and climbed unseated. I eat throughout and used my salt tablets as after Lanza training camp I realised how much salt I would lose. Something I didn’t consider was the need to stop for a water break on the bike twice and I was surprised on my first an hour into the race. I also twigged that based on my power I would be over my calculation of 6hrs – you kept that quiet (Coach Cox). So based on this I thought about the 11hr target. Throughout the bike I felt quite easy and noticed my power averaging around 185 and falling down to 180.
I came into t2 and grabbed my bag and sat down. I changed my socks as wanted a clean pair and felt a little pain in my left foot. Think it might have been caused by my dismount.
I left t2 and walked the first 30 seconds and then started into my run. My first mile was around 8min/m and was happy I had no calf pain but still a sharp pain in the left foot on the side. I simply tuned into forgetting the pain and followed a runner. I then realised I was running at 7:30 m/m for a few miles and quickly eased back again. Then I was on the main course and the roads were perfect for running. The course proved a little tricky and I experienced pains on the inside of both legs (both groin) and something I’ve never experienced. I remember an athelete on lanza had walked the hills and I followed this advice on the 2/3rd passes on the hill out of Bolton. I then got back into my running speed and thought I was on for Sub 11. Then the body started to fail around mile 17 when I started to cramp in my usual left hamstring (must be a weakness under stress as same leg as Outlaw Half). I then walked a while and carried on a trot to get 2 quick gels. The last 8 miles was walk / run and the last mile was bliss.
Overall I am pleased to have finished the race although my body is not best pleased with me(today)with aching back pain / quads. I think as suggested that maybe I should have had a little more focus on my long runs. My swim is probably never going to improve much more. On my bike considering where I was on the camp I’m very happy with the improvements.
Was very relived to see my week off and I’m off to Majorca in August for 2 weeks so will get in some bikes and runs.
Steffan Ford Ironman UK 2014