(but apparently writing stuff didn't, so here it is all in one go)
I had two more racing outings after the Erewash Triathlon. The first was the Severn Bridge Half Marathon at the end of August - my first half marathon and in fact my first standalone running race since I was at school. I'd set a target time of two hours, and I finished in... 2:00:11. Curses. Aside from that frustration, it was quite satisfying to tick off the distance, which had been one of my goals for the year. I'm finding the race itself quite difficult to write about, which is partly why this post is so delayed. Basically I started running, then ran, and ran, and ran some more. Somewhere in the middle there was a big hill. Running with thousands of other people on closed roads is quite a nice experience. Towards the end it got really, really hard, especially trying to keep the pace up coming back over the bridge to the finish knowing that the time would be close. I think it was probably harder than the Blithfield Triathlon, even though that was almost three hours long. I definitely felt like I'd earned the (proper chunky) finishers medal.
Next up, just a week later, was the Ilfracombe Triathlon. A long way from home, but local to the in-laws, and we needed to be down there the following weekend for a wedding. I could have raced the Derby City Triathlon (my first one last year) on that weekend instead, which would have been a useful measure of my improvement over 12 months, but the North Devon event sounded considerably more interesting - and so it turned out to be. By way of illustration, here's a list of 'firsts' which I racked up during the race:
- Riding from home to the start/transition area in the morning.
- A sea swim.
- A beach start to the swim.
- Having to climb two flights of steps to get from the swim into T1.
- Using the small chainring in a triathlon (for the first twenty minutes of the bike leg, and another 10 minutes or so by the end).
- Having to wait at a set of temporary traffic lights in the middle of nowhere (although the organisers had a marshall there and did a good job of crediting people their time back).
- Having to filter through car traffic on the run course.
- Having to climb and descend a flight of steps during the run leg.
- Walking a stretch of the run leg (up an endless series of switchbacks on the coast path).
- Having to negotiate a kissing gate during the run.
It was good fun, although my performance was somewhat 'mixed'. After making a reasonable job of the beach start my swim lost all sense of urgency, and I went backward through the field during the swim itself and the climb up to T1. These exertions left me feeling fairly rough as I got out onto the bike and went straight into 5km of climbing, and it felt like I was still going backwards - probably the low point was getting passed by someone on a hybrid. With hindsight, I think my pace was actually fairly sensible, because I went back past a lot of people on the rolling middle section of the course, and up the series of steep climbs towards the end as they ran out of steam. The run was just brutal, but I think my pace was OK.
Back home a few weeks later, I did the 50 mile version of the Cycle Derby Autumn Sportive with some current and former work colleagues. Fairly leisurely ride overall due to mixed abilities (although the climbs are still really hard no matter what you've been doing over the rest of the course) and a really nice morning out once the sun had taken the early morning chill off.
The sportive marked the end of the season as far as sporting events went, leaving the rest of the year to actually spend some weekends at home (I didn't do that many races, but given holidays, stag dos, weddings, and other shenanigans we had about three 'empty' weekends from mid-April through to the end of September). It also gave me chance to try and figure out some training routines that fit around work and family.
I finally bought some new running shoes, which are Extremely Blue, although nearly 100 miles later I'm still not entirely sure I like them. Somewhere along the line I also realised I've actually started to enjoy running, rather than viewing it as a necessary evil of triathlon. I feel like I've made some decent progress since the Severn Bridge race, which bodes well for 2016.
I also had a bit of an end-of-year splurge which saw me acquire a TT bike from a friend and then shortly after add a power meter, enabling me to combine cycling and extreme nerding into one activity.
I wrote down the following sports-based goals at the start of 2015:
- 6 sprint-distance triathlons
- 1 standard/Olympic distance triathlon
- At least 1 open water triathlon
- Swim 1900m (half-ironman distance) in open water
- Cycle 180km (full-ironman distance)
- Do two 160km sportives
- Run a half marathon
I racked up the seven triathlons as planned, three open water including one sea swim. In training I did several open-water swims of more than 1900m, including a couple up around the 3800m full ironman distance. As above, I finished my first half marathon, and have since done the distance again in a training run. On the cycling front, I did one 160km sportive, and given how horrible the weather was and that I did ride about another 20km getting to and from the start, I'm counting it as doing the 180km ride, even though it was spread over about 12 hours. The second 160km sportive just didn't fit into the calendar anywhere, but overall I'm pretty pleased with how the year went.