Another of our prolific triathletes, Nick Isherwood, has been racing hard for the past few weeks and his hard work paid off with a personal best…

 

7th August 2013

Chorley 4.4m Trail Race

My first formal season with a running club has been great with Horwich RMI Harriers. I have met some very talented runners and enthusiastic coaches and it has become apparent to me just how strong this club is in the Northern region as races have gone on. As part of the Central Lancashire Grand Prix series (road and trail), this was race 6/10 with the 8 best performances counting toward my individual club ranking for the season. A short but sharp race on a summers evening in undulating Astley park was very well attended with entries only open to club attached runners guaranteeing a strong field. After going off a little too hard in my traditional style, I found myself hanging on for 70th/273 in a time of 27.43.

11th August 2013

Bispham 10k Road Race

Building on the previous Tuesday evening’s race, I wanted to get some longer pace work in ahead of my key Triathlon event the following weekend. So, arriving in not so sunny Bispham, I was lined up on the promenade in a force 8 gale with 172 other nutters in vests and shorts. Going through the first mile in 5:50 probably wasn’t my wisest move but I felt ok and ploughed through the crazy winds to finish 49th in a time of 40:04. I was disappointed not to dip into the low 39’s but most peoples’ times on the previous year’s event were down due to the conditions so it had at least served as a good workout. To make sure however, I ran the course again as a warm down to bring my mileage up and use it as my last long run before a week’s taper.

18th August 2013

UK Ultimate Ironman 70.3 Triathlon

It takes a lot of preparation to have your swim, bike and run all on top form, be injury and illness free and have all your equipment in perfect working order all on the same big day.

My meticulous planning had only been ruined on the illness front with a wheezy cold almost certainly from last week’s scantily clad run along Bispham sea front, but it wasn’t going to stop me competing. So, with a new venue at Dearnford Lake, Whitchurch,  and course layout I had spent most of Saturday fiddling with kit, racking my bike, taking vitamins and checking the course out in the car with 2 fellow competitors who I regularly train with.

After orientation and registration it was back to the hotel for some nutrition and an early night. 5am, and the nerves got me out of bed to cram the food down before the short drive back to the swim start. Slipping into my new neoprene, the athletes parade was soon underway and I spotted my wife and little boy who had just made it down to the venue for the race start. After the usual start line banter it was time to get serious. Treading water and waving at the new heli-cam buzzing overhead, we waited for the horn. The water turned white as 290 (half and full distance) athletes kicked out towards the first turn buoy. The swim was difficult due to clumps of weed that had grown out of control and some wayward elbows and feet in the main pack, but I was pleased to reach the Australian exit in 16 mins with a quick run past the crowds and a dive back in for the second lap of the lake.

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33 mins and I was clear of the swim, but was then greeted with the unwelcome sight of one of my mates in T1 ahead of me. A rapid transition saw me out on the bike ahead of him as he faffed with his socks, where I then tried to settle into a rhythm. It took 5 miles or so before my HR allowed me to really put the hammer down, low and aero with the legs like pistons, but spotting both my mates chasing 400 mtrs down encouraged me to hold the biggest gear I could for as long as I could. I rode very aggressively but knew I had to keep some in the tank for the run. Despite the draft busters being out on the course, I was snorting fire at a guy who hung on to my wheel for over 10 miles but could do nothing about him other than zig zagging but this would only lose me more time and concentration so decided to keep to my own pace. This aside, I managed to hold the gap to my  mates for the whole 56 miles and after catching many of the faster swimmers I jumped off the bike in a time of 2hrs 33 mins with enough in the legs to run ok.

Zooming through T2 I began the twisty half marathon to the finish. I knew then that barring the wheels coming off, I could increase that lead from my mates but more importantly take more places back. Middle and long distance triathlon runs really are a test but this course was slow due to many tight turns and difficult to maintain pace. My legs really were hurting now, but I was still managing to hold a respectable pace. After 9 miles in I caught the lead woman and knew that I was now in a reasonable chance of a sub 5 hour finish.

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The last 2 miles reminded me of Ironman UK, and as the lactic increased the pace slowly dropped. My emergency gel came out (the one you don’t want to eat) and it was all or nothing by that time. I was either going to be sick and spark out, or pick it up all the way to the end. Fortunately, the caffeine increase carb absorption and I trotted in to the finishing chute to superb cheers, music and DJ comments with a cracking 4hrs 52 mins on the clock. I was 1 of only 26 to go under 5 hours on the day, and secured 20th position/250 in the 70.3 race, 6th in AG category. A pleasing result in respectable company and a PB for middle distance. My mates came through at 5:03 and 5:52, to my usual jibes of “did you stop for a brew?”

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