Two weeks after a 20 minute personal best time in Fuzhou and with one weekend missed training due to a conference speaking engagement, I was not in the tip top shape I hoped but reckoned that the base training and a good mid-week bike sprint would put me in reasonable shape. I was not sure about my run as I had not done any fast runs before the race.
Altitude: Almost 1700m in the desert
Climate: Extremely dry, your lips crack up immediately after touching down in JiayuGuan Airport.
Temperature: Mid 20s with the sun very harsh when it came out.
On the day:
Luckily the weather stayed cool and cloudy with only a few strong wind gushes on the run. In fact, my hands were cold on the run. So conditions were perfect for me.
Took a light breakfast around 6am, two boiled eggs with 2 buns and two bowls of congee like soup. No coffee. Then one hour before, took a protein shake. 30mins before took two caffeine pills and a gel. Sipped some water.
Myself and Chris had done a practice swim the day before and although the water was predicted to be very cold, it was bearable. I swam in a single swimming hat and didn’t feel cold. The water took a bit of getting used in as the thinner oxygen made it more difficult to breathe. It was a wet-suit swim with the water temperature around 16C. This is good for me as I am comfortable swimming in a wet-suit and the extra 10% speed you get.
The field was smaller in this race perhaps around 50 or 60, Start along a pontoon with a clockwise 750m loop. I started well and importantly got into calm water where I could swim by myself. I saw Zennon and Dan Qi sprint off into the distance and tried to settle into a rhythm. It took around 300m to get calm and smooth. I then found two swimmers just ahead and for a rare occasion, I could more or less stay with them as a guide and sometimes draft. We finished the first loop together, got out of the water, sprinted across the pontoon and dived in for the second lap which felt good. We passed a few of the slower swimmers and came through almost together out of the water for the 50m run to Transition 1.
Time: 26 mins 4 secs
T1: Swim to Bike
I saw Zennon in T1 but as I was stripping off the wet suit and getting my socks on lost track of when he left. Smooth transition although it seemed to take a long time. Time: 1 min 55secs
40 km course arranged around 6 laps on a flat windy course with a few technical turns. Only one sharp U turn. One slight incline which become more noticeablely harder after the 3rd lap.
I was hoping my bike would hold together. My back shifter was loose and was not sure how to put it in place. Eventually borrowed some tape from Kellit and taped it more securely to the aero bars, and it held well during the race. Also, the day before I was having trouble with my shifting and had to adjust the front derailleur. Not being a mechanic or having a clue about such things made it more difficult. I got on Google and checked out a page to get a few tips and then trial-and-errored my way to aligned the front derailleur until the the chain went smoothly and could shift. In the race, the gears held up.
I enjoyed the bike and only Chris passed me on the fourth lap. I held a good pace and took the corners at pace and smoothly. With my watch I was able to check my times through each lap, so avoiding the mis-counting stress in Fuzhou. I wanted to average 11 mins per lap and was under that the whole time. Nutrition worked out well. Went through one bottle of water, one bottle of sports drink with two tabs of electrolytes (with caffeine). Took two gels on the bike on the start of the second and on the fifth lap. Ate them slowly instead of the usual one gulp. Didn’t have any of the digestion issues from Fuzhou.
As the course had lots of bends it was hard to see who was ahead. I finished strong and came into transition in 64 minutes 42 secs. Average speed approx. 37kmh. Chris did an average of 41kmh completing the bike course in around 58 mins., Smoking!
T2: Bike to Run
Was surprised to see Zennon in T2 as I had not seen him ahead of me at any time on the bike. Had a fairly quick change, although I dropped my gel as I was going out. Actually I glad I did as I couldn’t stomach much on the run. We came out with two other Chinese athletes who quickly powered ahead. Time in transition 1min 20 secs.
I wanted to start strong and get into a rhythm. The sun threatened to come out but instead we were treated to strong wind gushes on parts of the course. I was glad that I could race in my white Craft compression top and RocketScience shorts without having to change – the benefit of the wet suit – as it prevent chafing on the swim and sun burn on the bike and run. I overtook Zennon in the first hundred meters and steadily moved away during the run. I got into a fairly good pace and was happy that there were enough water stations to sponge cold water on my hat and neck. I tried to drink water in the first couple of stations but got sharp stomach pains. So after that either took a small mouthful or just spat it out. Wonder if the water was real bottled water or tap water. First lap was completed in 22-23 minutes and on the second lap started to pass runners on their first lap. One strong runner overtook me and set a good pace but did not pull away. I used him as a pacer and eventually caught him as I was going into the finishing chute. Sprinted the last couple hundred meters.
Time: 45 mins 28 secs
Overall time: 2 hours 19 mins 29 secs – a personal best by around 3 minutes. came in fifth overall. Position in age group second.
I was very happy with this race again as I put in a good effort and was competitive in all three disciplines. The weather was very dry and I felt bronchial after the race and had to take a couple of hits on the inhaler. It may have been from the exertion or from the altitude.
Enjoyed travelling with the Shanghai team and there was good spirit and camaraderie. Also we got to meet some of the professionals and learn from them. Next race is in Anting, Shanghai. It will be nice to do a home race.