I always find that races are somewhat of an inconvenience to my training.
My 2019 racing, so far, has turned out to be a comedy of kit & gadgetry errors. Which is a shame as the training had been going very well prior to the races.
Well, I have been somewhat embarrassingly avoiding 5k running for a while. I will blame that on training for HIMs. But the reality is that 5k races hurt, my motivation to push myself hard was lacking and I’m a bit of a wimp sometimes.
However, I got some MOJO for Christmas and Q1.2019 has seen my motivation return to sensible levels.
To cut a long story short, I racked up recently at my local parkrun pumped full of beetroot juice and ready to take on all-comers. I felt pretty awesome before the race and the conditions were good enough but not perfect with some minimal muddiness. That’s where the problem started.
I was using the parkrun as a test for a duathlon two weeks later and part of that test was to see if some of my ancient gear still fitted me and ‘worked’. My running shorts had developed a hole on the inner thigh from rubbing against my bike seat whilst doing duathlon bricks and my favourite pair of racing flats broke down at the heel during training. They were sort-of usable but once I put them inside my pyro platforms in training I knew they easily could fall apart and I didn’t want that to happen during a race. So they went in the bin with some sadness along with all the memories of my self-imagined glory-days.
I don’t like my reserve pair of racing flats, they are New Balance RC5000 (link to fellrnr review and image below) and haven’t been used that much. Which is obvious if you’ve seen them as they weigh about 10g because they are made with cling film. Anyway, during my 5K they half fell apart after the first kilometre as I left a trail of various bits of sole in my wake. In hindsight, I think it was the ‘mud’ that somewhat sucked the lower 1mm sole layer off. (They went in the bin later that day too) – edit: I just bought another pair today off ebay #sigh
I had also been tinkering with my STRYD+Garmin 935 combination the week before the parkrun. I’d (incorrectly) got it into my head that accuracy might be increased by disabling the STRYD auto-configuration. There is an on-watch setting that makes some GNSS-based adjustment of STRYD’s calculations. Other than that I had perfectly set up my STRYD to be the source of pace/distance and I had also studiously set my upper and lower pace limits on the 935 in the absence of being able to do the same thing with running power
When executing the race all felt super good and I relatively easily kept within the pace limits I had set myself and it looked like I was hitting the target time on every 1km autolap.
With the finish line in sight, I sprinted past someone I knew and giggled excitedly. However, on pressing the stopwatch, I was 25 seconds slower than I had hoped for in a best-case scenario. << Insert your own rude word here >>.
That explains why it felt like I was going slower than the watch said…because I was.
I later found out that my performance was still an age-graded PB on this course for me. Ta Da. So I was happy with that in one sense. But that ‘sense’ must be that I really haven’t been doing so well over the last few years. The super annoying things were that I could definitely have knocked off at least 10 seconds and maybe 15 or more seconds had the bloomin’ pace been correct on the 935. Grrr.
This was another comedy of errors.
The duathlon was a GB Age Group qualifier and I fully intended to get a placed qualification i.e. not a rolldown. This, sort of, means ‘a medal’ except there are no medals. Plus I’m going up an age group so my actual position in the qualification places is complex to explain. So I won’t.
Race day was windy and I was undecided on my choice of bike but in the end, I did opt for my relatively heavy TT bike at 5 am on race day. Mainly because I couldn’t be bothered to swap various bits of kits over.
The problem with my pyro platforms that I used is that they catch on the sensor ‘hub’ of my Favero Assioma pedals. The solution to using both simultaneously is based around the use of a hacksaw. But, again, I couldn’t be bothered to do that so I just used some standard dura-ace pedals under the Pyros and thought I’d be alright without a power meter, reasoning that it was a short race and I would just ‘go for it’…like in the good-old, pre-gadget days.
The other problem with pyro platforms is that you can’t wear a footpod and comfortably use them So STRYD was relegated to the drawer for a week and I cranked the 935 up to GPS+GALILEO for measuring my running pace, as the race day course was open with good GNSS reception so I did have faith in a reasonable level of accuracy being delivered.
I did stick my Humon Hex on my thigh but more out of interest than anything else.
During the week I had practised T1/T2 with the TT bike and the pyros. Part of the pyro usage relies on elastic bands to the rear skewer and to the front mech to hold the pyros horizontally. I must have practice 10x T1+T2. Every practice was great, culminating in a race-pace final effort. Awesome stuff and my 3rd reserve pair of racing flats held up very nicely.
Fast forward to race day and here is the litany of what went wrong.
- My 3rd reserve pair of shoes (Nike, grrrr) seemed to be responsible for an aggravated Achilles after 1km. Limping a race is not fun. I lost about 30 seconds compared to my target pace. Grrr
- I lost a bit of time in T1 as I couldn’t fasten my helmet (negating most of the time benefit of the pyro platforms). Grrr
- When pedalling The elastic bands would not break for about 1k. Grrrr
- I had started my Wahoo before the race as I knew I wouldn’t be able to turn it on when leaving T1. When I start it and move out of range for a while, it never picks up the sensors (HR) as I come back into range and requires that I press the on/off button twice to pair up again. My hands were too cold, so I didn’t even try.
- Apart from that, I did a good bike leg 😉
- My T2 was probably one of the fastest on the day as I breezed through narrowly avoiding someone who fell over at the dismount line after being unable to unclip.
- I forgot to press the lap button on leaving T1, consequently the Hex recorded no data. Hex requires a CIQ data field and there is no data field in either of the transition ‘sport’ profiles.
- The last run leg was a good time. Well. It was a good time for a hop.
I congratulated someone I knew on beating me by a time margin that I’m too embarrassed to mention here and went straight home for a nice cup of coffee and a sleep. I probably will get a roll down qualification. I’ve not checked if I met the criteria. Luckily this was only a B race.