Challenge Henley on Thames

Challenge Henley on Thames
3.8k Swim, 180 bike, 42.2 run

5th PRO

8:44:37 (52:18; 4:52:37, 2:55:24)

Apologies for the very late race report here… things were hectic returning to work, I was putting in 10/11 hour days covering operations in Perth Western Australia during Sept/Oct. I’m not long back in Aberdeen re-adjusting to the Scottish winter, short dark days and the dreaded jet lag… still it’s nice to sleep in your own bed again.

After returning to work back in January and a complete 4 month break from physical exercise I put together a training programme around my 8:30-5:30 work hours (& frequent over time & weekend calls).
It was a pretty simple programme – I cycled to work a couple of times (using power cranks) and trained maybe 3 or 4 evenings after work for 1-4 hrs (sometimes double sessions) and over loaded my weekend with my bigger bike miles.
It wasn’t ideal with less sleep & recovery time compared to full time athletes but I worked with what time I had to play with.
– Train Smart, Train Hard and hopefully Race smart… Simple.

I had built up to Challenge Henley over summer and raced some open Triathlons races in Scotland which I won & started to feel good form again by the end of June.
But sometimes things don’t go to plan and I tore my soleus twice through summer, the second time 12 days out from the Henley race just as I began my taper… :(

Sometimes you just have to work with what you have & I have to thank Ron & Carol at Aberdeen Sports Therapy and Emma at Riverside Chiropractor in getting me to the start line in the best possible shape I could ask for.

My swim training was sharp after re-joining the Silver City Blues Masters squad and my biking was strong, I was weighing about 65/66 kg (not my lightest but a good punching weight), my only question mark was the run. With a grade 1 adhesion tear in my left calf, it would mend but time was against me. I had to rest my run legs until race day & hopefully they will play game.
The training was banked; I just had keep things ticking over until race day.

The Race:

Henley on Thames is home to many World Class rowers and a stunning little town in the English countryside, it resembled my riverside images of Wind in the Willows to which the book was based.

The swim began at the Business Centre at a chilly 16C. I didn’t get a great start but I was for most in a small group of 3 about 20-30 seconds behind Stephen who lead from the bang. On the way back there was no canoe to guide our group & we veered off course on at least 2 occasions and we came pretty close to three 8-man squads powering by in their rowing boats…
We lost quite a bit of time to the leader but in any case I came out the water in 3rd position wearing the new HUUB Archimedes wetsuit.

The 180 km cycle then followed but not before performing a rookie error… I ran right by my transition bag forgetting which end it was placed – pretty embarrassing when your wearing bib No.2!

Onto round 2, the longest part of the day a cycle around the Chiltern Hills, with about 2000 meters of climbing in the three lap bike course.With no bike sponsor support this season I was offered the chance to test a set of Smart Enve 8.9 wheels from Joe Beer.I did my research liked the wind tunnel data and my my upgraded 2011 Blue Triad SL kitted with Rotor cranks & Q-Rings. I have to say they felt light, stiff,  responsive & gave the feeling that i was riding a disc wheel… certainly sounded like I was, no wonder they are nick named the Zipp Killers.

I was for most in 2nd place in the first lap with 1 in tow and about 3-4 mins behind the leader, that was until about 75 km, not long into the second lap I was caught by a group of 5 or 6 pulled by the strong German Kaiser.

For the rest of the bike it would stay relatively unchanged with a large pace group with only Kaiser, Jaimeson & myself making any concerted effort to push at the front & keep a fair drafting distance.
With no mobile referees regulating on the final lap I was concerned and how fresh some of the others could be before run & so I tried to split the group heading up the aptly named Pishill for the last time.
I broke away but unfortunately I was alone & was soon sucked back before the final turn around for home.
Nutritionally I ate as I planned – 2 gels an hour & a snikers bar at half way.. Yum…

The marathon was a foot pounding 4 loop run circuit through Henley Town centre and riverside on tarmac, gravel & grass.
Entering T2 the main group was about 1 min behind Stephen and I began spirit heartened knowing I was in a great position to podium & only 1 min from leading the race…
I was running well in my ON racers but reality hit home soon after at about 2-3 kms in. My legs slowly filling with lead and I slipped back to 5th position.
I hit a real low patch nearing the end of the first loop where my tender calf tightened and felt as though it was going to pack in… I popped some salt tablets & it stayed in check. I plodded through good and bad spells managing it as best I could through the marathon & made the finishing chute. I finished with a 2:55 marathon split – A pretty swift run carrying an injury you may say but the run was short… it was 3hr + marathon I reckon.

Congratulations to the deserved winner Stephen and 2nd placed Joe.

Thanks to my sponsor supporters to which I could not of performed without your help & encouragement:
Carol & Ron at Aberdeen Sports Therapy, Emma at Riverside Physiotherapy, Zerod & Compressport tri racing gear, PowerBar & Neovite Nutrition, HUUB wetsuits, ON Running, Zoggs goggles and greeper laces.


Online Photos:

Race Video: Challenge Henley On Thames 2012 Race Montage

See you in 2013

Scotty  😉