1053 Craig Jordan, SCT

1053 Jordan, Craig GBR (Scottish)
Position in AG M45‐49: 17 // Finish Time: 5:25:49
Swim: 00:45:10 // T1: 5:02 // Bike: 02:45:17 // T2: 2:05 // Run: 01:48:17

Coach’s remarks: Everyone loves Jordo’s reports. Another nice read in another far flung destination.

Long airport stopover in Taipei so here’s the full race report for anyone interested, a bit more balanced report now I’m over my drama queen moment and what actually wasn’t too bad a race. Some interesting lessons learnt in this race at the end that I’m keen to take advantage of in future. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger……. Now I’m going to take some time off and follow my other hobby of baking cakes for a week or two 😉

Background. I went into this race with a goal of 5:00-5:15 finish time and try to get a top top 10 result. As usual the unknown element was going to the be the bike, the course was a little technical and there promised to be strong winds on race day with disk wheels being banned for this reason. In the 6 week block just before this race I had done Vegas 70.3, Sri Lanka Marathon, Amsterdam Half Marathon, Bungalows tri and the Crowie Camp so I know there was a risk of being fatigued during the race but I was happy to go with this and planned a rest following the race anyway.

Swim. The swim was a 2 lap course and the pros went off first completing their first lap and starting the second before a single mass start of 1300 people into the water. Macca was the class athlete of the field and didn’t disappoint coming to the end of the first lap in the lead. He got up and stopped about 30m-40m for the shore and we were all wondering what he was doing. The swell was abot 1.5m metres with breakers the same size crashing in from the 30m-40m mark, what Macca was doing was waiting for the next wave and rode it in superbly, it really was a master class in water craft and got everyone cheering. He must have covered the final distance in less than 10 seconds, it was awesome. The athlete in second place did the same, the guy in third tried and failed, we all had a good laugh at his expense.

When Macca entered the water for the second lap he had about a 45 second lead and stood waiting on the second guy just messing around. This showed the 2 sides of Macca for me, the amazing athlete and also the arrogant sod playing with the field. Yes you’re the class act mate and we all know it so just get on with the race instead of being a knob end and disrespecting the opposition who are going 100%.

Anyway after the entertainment it was our turn to get in the water. In all previous 70.3’s I have done there have been wave starts meaning normally 200-250 competitors at one time, this time we had the whole field going off at once. My usual tactic is to get a good central position in the second or third row and fight it out for the first couple of hundred metres until we can get some clear water. This tactic was a complete disaster this time. Six times as many people means six times as much fighting and bodies strewn across the place, this was just scary.

I actually got off to a decent start fighting through the first 2 waves then diving straight into a rhythm only to have my ankles grabbed and be pulled back. From there it deteriorated into a real fight all the way. Imagine getting off a packed commuter train onto a narrow platform and everyone fighting for the exit only with no rules, you can kick, punch, pull, shove and stomp on whoever you like to get passed, that was exactly what it was like. A couple of times I would get a rhythm going for a few strokes then someone in front of you would either switch to breast stroke or simply stop forcing you to stop in turn or try to swim around them. In doing this you would be charged over by dozens of other swimmers and shoved under the water. Two or three times I sighted a patch of clear water and headed for that but as soon as you arrived you realised half a dozen other people had the same idea and it just became another fight. It was both mentally and physically exhausting. If I have described other races as brutal in the swim before they were honestly nothing compared to this experience.

A couple of days before I headed out to Taiwan I had done a 37 minute 2km PB in the pool so was hoping for a 35-36min swim in the race, no chance of that happening. I got out the first lap on 23 minutes and was happy just to be alive. The second lap was more like a normal 70.3 swim with a few minor skirmishes but by that time I think we had all had enough. When I eventually dragged myself out the water after 43 minutes I was finished but so was everyone else around me by the looks of it, there was no running to transition with this group and some of them actually sat on the beach to get their breath back, we were all just hauling ourselves absolutely exhausted out the water. It was a horrible swim and lesson I’ll never forget, in mass starts get the hell away to the side as far as you can go unless you are an animal swimmer like coach!

Bike. I walked the entire transition from swim to bike. My legs were finished and mentally my race was already blown. From hoping to be away and on the bike by 40 minutes I mounted just over 50 minutes to tackle the first kilometre which was a steep hill and felt dead. That set the tone for the next 16km and bikes were flying passed me right, left and centre. I had nothing in my legs and was suffering from a combination of the swim, too much racing lately and poor flight timings leaving me a bit jet lagged and fatigued before the race even begun. I kept telling myself my legs would come to me after a few kilometres but at 10km I began to think they never would and actually contemplated stopping when we passed the event hotel around 35km and just calling it a day. Most of the first 15km were uphill and at that point we hit the longest and steepest section of the course which was a 2km climb to scenic view and turnaround point. The course was 2 loops so we would do this climb again. On this first loop at this point I went from bad to worse and was being passed by middle aged Japanese ladies and child sized bikes and I think I mentally hit my low point. As there was no other option I just kept going as best I could to the top and started to head back down. Then, as if by magic and after 17km my legs finally started to come to and for the first time in the day I felt strong. From that point right through to the end of the bike ride I wasn’t passed by anyone else except on the short but sharp climbs but then I always got those places back. On the flats and downhills all the Dead Dogs and TT’s in training were paying off and despite a technical course, horrible bumpy road conditions in places and winds up to 30km-40km per hour I managed to set a decent pace although had stopped watching my Garmin by then so had no idea what time I was actually on.

The race was very well organised and no complaints except a minor incident on the bike mid way through the first lap. I was on a smooth fast downhill section I guess doing around 40k when I heard a siren behind me and a scooter passed with Macca’s daughter on it. I turned to the guy beside me and said “Macca’s on the way through”. As he went through I reckoned he wasn’t going that fast, maybe only 5km and hour more than me. He was miles ahead of the field and obviously not giving it full beans but still flying compared to the field. I was feeling good myself at this point and passing large groups on the road so decided to accelerate and get behind him for as long as I could and let him tow me along. I was sitting about 9m back when the asshole marshal in the car started yelling at me to get back. Now I could understand if I was on his wheel and swerving over the road but I was perfectly legal just using his speed to my advantage and asked the guy what the problem was, his answer was “That’s Macca”. “I know”, I said, “its Macca, not ******* God, he’s racing and I’m racing and I’m legal.” At that point he actually got the car to cut across me and actually reached out to push me across the road into a group we were passing. As I said, total knob end and when I spoke to some other guys after the race he was doing the same all day.

The rest of the bike went pretty well though and I was quite pleased with progress. The course was technical, windy and had 2 climbs of any note, one around 800m and the other around 1.5km. As it was a 2 loop race we hit these climbs twice each plus the initial 1km climb out of transition. Each time we hit a hill I fell back a bit, I think that wa simply the tiredness in my legs form all the racing etc but on the flats and downhills I was flying along quite happily. The wind was a problem on some of the faster sections as it was a blustery cross wind and kept the wheel twitching, this caused a couple of fairly bad crashes but fortunately I missed this. The road surface was also very lumpy and variable so you had to be awake the whole time.

The first time I checked my watch was about 10km from transition and I realised with a 1:40m half marathon I could still be on for a 5:15 time which really surprised me and cheered me up no end. With the disaster in the swim and the poor (although obviously not as slow as I had thought) for 17km I thought I would be miles outside my time. The other bonus is when I reached transition my legs were feeling good and I was ready to run. I was in and out in just over a minute eager to be off and chase down my target time.

Run. In previous races I have taken Gu about every 45 minutes but in this race I had decided to take it every 30 minutes, I’m not sure if it was the positive impact of this but I certainly felt up for the run. My pre race target was 1:38-1:40. The plan was to do the first 10km on 4:40/km pace and take it home from there. The first 9km were basically uphill then a big drop down onto the coast road where the final 11km were flat with minor undulation.

From the start I was running well, no triathlete shuffle thankfully. The first kilometre was the same big hill we had cycled up and I hit the 1km mark at 4:50, I was happy with that. From that point we hit a slight downhill section to recover then hit flatter section with a few gentle climbs around 500m but nothing too taxing. On the uphill sections I was doing around 4:50’s and on the flats 4:30’s and was amazed how quickly I was flying passed people. In fact no one passed me on the whole run even after my calf pinged.

In the half marathon I break the race down into 3 x 7km chunks. The first 7km is about establishing my plan, the next 7km is focussing and keeping strong then the last 7km is toughing it out and going as fast as I can. As I hit the 7km mark I checked my watch and was 15 seconds off my 4:40 pace plan, just as I was congratulating myself for my control (I wanted to run faster but held back so I didn’t blow…..ha!) my calf just pinged. This was exactly the same problem that wrecked the start of the year for me. At the end of last year and start of this year I was running with Newtons on and always suffered calf problems. Since February I avoided using them and underwent a programme of physio and stretching for the full summer. Just last month I decided to give the Newtons a try again on short runs but almost immediately my calf starting tightening up again. Stupidly I wore them at the last Bungalows race and hammered the 5km and since then my calf hasn’t been 100%. I wasn’t running in the Newtons as I was sure they would give me a problem so went with my K-Swiss shoes which as fast as super comfortable but my calf went none-the-less. I know some folks will disagree with me (Ed) but for me Newtons aren’t for everyone. Sure I run fast in them but it’s not worth the price I pay with injuries and maybe it’s my own fault because I don’t give myself time to adjust before running fast in them but shoes that you need to acclimatise to are just pants IMHO and my experiment with Newtons is well and truly over and they will be consigned to the dustbin of my sporting past, I run fast enough without them thanks.

I spent 4 minutes at the side of the road trying to stretch out and decide what to do next and frustratingly had to watch people I’d gone easily overtaken minutes earlier go passed me again. I decided to run to the next aid station and take it from there, if it was too painful I’d throw in the towel but if it was bearable I’d go on. The aid station was about a kilometre up the road so I half walked half limped on and gradually the muscle started to ease although was still painful as hell. At the aid station they had ice and a kind of spray ralgex so I spent another couple of minutes massing and icing my leg before deciding to set off again (yes I know this could well have been a stupid decision). After a further kilometre or two the endorphins started to kick in and along with the ice and ralgex type spray it became a bit more bearable and was like running with a severe cramp but that’s only pain and you can block that out. My race was compromised by this point though and I was down to running 5:00-5:10 per kilometre which pissed me off no end. Amazingly though once I got going I was still passing loads of people but not at the rate I would have wanted or should have been. The magic point for me was 14km, if I could get that far then I knew I could keep going to the finish. Fortunately the route was reasonably flat now (the uphills were causing the most pain) so I just got my head down and kept counting down the kilometres. I stopped at a couple of further aid stations for the ice\ralgex treatment and that kept me going through to the end but my 1:40 aim was well and truly out the window.

I finally crossed the line in 1:48m with a finishing time of 5:25 and 17th in AG. Not a bad result but should have been a lot better. This is the first race I’ve done were I really feel there is unfinished business and would like to go back one day and do what I’m capable of on this course. There have been other races were I’ve not performed as well as I would have liked but none that have annoyed me as much as my mistakes in this race as the errors were basically down to me and bad judgement. One of the things I like about this sport though is you are always learning and so long as you take the lessons learnt into future races then you will improve.

Lessons took into this race from other races were:

  1. Do the run with socks on – I know this takes time but the races I have down without socks have just destroyed my feet and cost me time and pain. 20 seconds to put socks on is a worthwhile investment IMHO especially if the run is not on good clean road surfaces
  2. Nutrition – enough said after blowing in Austria
  3. Bike set up – it has taken me a few races but I’m happy with my bike set up although I probably had my tire pressure too high for such a rough and bumpy surface

Lessons learnt from this race include:

  1. Most importantly in a super mass start get the hell away from front centre to the side. It may be a few metres further to swim but so worthwhile doing and a mistake I definitely won’t be making again. I can forgive myself this error a little as it was down to lack of experience but it still cost me around 10 minutes in the swim but put me in a bad mental place and exhausted me like I couldn’t imagine for the start of the bike.
  2. Bin my Newtons, they simply aren’t for me – this was just stupidity going back to them in the first place, I kick myself hard for this one and again cost me at least 10 minutes.
  3. Just because you feel bad doesn’t mean you are going slow. I haven’t looked at the data yet but I guess I wasn’t as slow on the bike at the start as I imagined and judging by the way people were blowing up later on in the bike course maybe a lot of people went out too hard.
  4. Try not to do long haul overnight flights 2 days before a race although in this case I couldn’t really avoid it due to lack of holidays and the race being on a Saturday.
  5. Give myself time to rest and recover properly. 50 may be the new 30 as far as socio-economics go but late 40’s is still late 40’s when it comes to pushing your physical boundaries

Editor’s note: The previous report…

Just a brief race report but in short I’m pissed off with the race:

Swim – I simply got my head kicked in here.  It was a mass start of 1300 people (the most I’ve done before is waves around 250, this was 6 times the number and 6 times worse).  I got myself badly positioned and it was a disaster for the whole first lap getting kicked, pushed and punched at every turn, it was impossible to get any sort of rythm.  It got better on the second lap but I’ve never come out a swim so mentally and physically exhausted.

Bike – first 20km was awful and I thought about getting off but eventually my legs came back to me and I ended up with a decent ride on  a medium tough course and felt pretty strong getting off for the run.

Run – the run started ok, I was aiming for 1:38-1:40 which despite the awful swim would bring me in around 5:15 which was my outside time.  I got to 7km and everything was going great, I was almost exactly on time for a 1:38 and feeling every bit as good as I had in Amsterdam picking of loads of runners when my calf snapped.  The last Bungalows race I ran in my Newtons for the first time Since my calf problems earlier this year and since then my right calf has not quite been 100%.  My Newtons are getting canned, they are not for me they just cause me injuries and I’m pissed off with them big time so if anyone wants a pair of size 43 Sir Isaacs let me know.  There was nothing I could do except either pack in or psu on as best I could.  In the end I ran 1:48 but really frustrated with that.

I finished 17 in my AG but between the swim and my calf I reckon I blew about 20 minutes so will be interesting to see where I could have been positioned.  Another lesson though is I’ve done too much the last few weeks (no surprise there then!) with Vegas, a marathon, a half marathon, a fast Bunglaows race and the Crowie Camp all in 6 weeks so it’s time to admit I need to take some proper time off to rest and recover and think about whether or not I do Thailand now.

Editors note: Craig did go on to do Thailand (Ironman 70.3 Asia Pacific World Championship in Phuket)

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