It was a lovely day for a personal best….
There are so many things to consider for this race that I expect I’ll still be changing, tweaking and hopefully improving things in twenty years time when I hope to have a quarter of a century of races under my belt. From my first attempt in 2009 I’ve been hooked by this race but have never given it enough respect, as endurance stuff on a mountain bike has always took precedent.
This year was to be different. I’d planned my schedule so that any long distance stuff on the mountain bike was out of the way by mid August and then September was reserved for 3 Peaks specific training. Would this be enough? Who knows, but it was more focus than I had given the race before. My previous best time was 3hrs and 41 minutes and I knew I could do better. The target was an elite time of sub 3:30.
By the day of the race, I had done more running over the last year than I’ve ever done (but still not a lot!), I had improved my times on 3 peaks specific training rides, I had built up a new cyclocross bike that had good brakes (a Kinesis Pro 6) and I included more duathlon training in the build up and even raced a duathlon a week before the race. I was ready. The weather forecast was perfect, I had full support on route from the family and more than ever I was looking forward to the challenge.
I don’t think you can race this event hard and get the whole way around without a mishap or a problem. However, my race was nearly hassle free. No punctures, no other bike mechanicals, no loss of energy, support was perfect and the bike was awesome. I fell off a couple of times coming off Ingleborough, but most people do with the inappropriate tyres you have to ride to suit the rest of the course. Sometimes I was held up by other riders when I wanted to go faster, but unless you’re at the front then that’s going to happen. I had cramp towards the end but I doubt there is any drink out there that could stop cramp at the end of the 3 Peaks.
My new’ focus’ for the race had worked and I smashed my previous personal best time, however crossing the line and being handed my time slip I was disappointed. I’d finished in 3 hrs 31 minutes and 39 seconds, so I’d just missed out on an elite time. This shouldn’t really have bothered me, but it did. I was convinced I would do it and my Garmin all the way round was telling me I was on target. To miss out by a small margin is so frustrating.
Pic Courtesy of Alan Dorrington
However, after a hug from the family, a plate of chips, a piece of chocolate cake and a beer, I realised that smashing my PB was a fantastic achievement even though the numbers weren’t what I wanted to see. It goes without saying that I’ll be back next year and I WILL get an elite time.
So after a day of analysing my time and splits and everyone else’s times, I know what I need to do. It’s all about Ingleborough. Even though I ascended and descended Ingleborough the quickest I have ever done, I was still minutes behind the people who finished ahead of me. From Cold Cotes to the finish, my time was as quick as a lot of people who had finished higher than me, which should not be unexpected as I am an endurance racer! My running training had helped a lot and I even managed a shuffle rather than a walk at the top of Pen-y-Ghent, which I had never done before.
So next year’s focus is starting to take shape. Improve my position on the start line so I don’t have 200 people in front of me (don’t ask!!), improve my power so I’m at the front when we hit Gill Garth, more running up steep hills and improve my descending on bumpy, grassy downhills.
Thanks to Jaqs and Ciara for the fantastic support, Team JMC, Kinesis Bikes UK for the bike, Lezyne and Use Exposure for bike stuff.