Over the weekend of 12-13th May, the Roth Journal crew gathered in Peterborough for a half iron distance triathlon, the Monster Mojo. It is their test race before the real event in seven weeks. The Mysterious Wave gave us a blow by blow account of the weekend, including the race and the crew’s very creditable times and places.
Wave: There was lots of excitement as the team gathered on the eve of the Monster Mojo half-iron distance triathlon, our first real test of race readiness for Roth.
The Cooper tribe and Mark arrived early, to allow plenty of time for bike fettling and kit faffing, before setting out for a short, easy test ride and run – all resplendent in new custom-made tri-suits which left little to the imagination. They were in danger of bursting open in several key areas, and as a result, the youngsters attracted admiring glances from passing females.
We met up with Ella and Beth, who Ric and I met at a Mallorca training camp earlier in the year. Beth and her partner Paul were also racing the Mojo. Ella was entered for the Olympic distance Mojito.
Ric busied himself changing wheels, adjusting brakes and making sure his offspring had all their kit sorted, bottles filled, and nutrition prepared. I was impressed with his dedication; it’s hard enough getting yourself organised for a race, never mind having to worry about two others… particularly when they are mortal enemies (on the race course, at least). Richard Dawkins maintains there is really no such thing as altruism. Surely this is the ultimate sacrifice.
Off to the Pizza Parlour in Peterborough: good pasta fuel but when we clocked the size of the portions we immediately ordered reinforcements in the form of a 36” pizza to share.
Simon arrives later, fresh from his future brother-in-law’s stag do. Poor chap. He had restricted himself to a couple of pints on a night out in Swansea. I can’t think of anything worse than being sober on a stag night in Swansea. In fact, I can think of few things worse than being in Swansea.
There was lots of chat about the weather, which was forecast to be 10-11 degrees C and raining all morning. In true triathlete fashion, we check our weather apps every half hour to see if it has improved… or we look at different apps, to see if they are more optimistic. “Focus on controlling the controllables” is one of the best pieces of advice I have ever had, but we continued to focus on the uncontrollable.
Early to bed and lights out at 2200. As always, the night before a race, I lie awake for what seems like hours. Ric’s robust snoring doesn’t help matters. But it’s OK; I got my own back when I eventually did fall asleep.
Alarm at 04:45 and time to force food into a body that’s not really interested. Strong coffee gets the body and brain working and ready to do battle.
Bikes racked, wetsuits on, the team assembles for the race briefing at 06:45, and chatters all the way through it, not really listening. This would perhaps prove to be a mistake for at least one of us…
Into the water at 06:55; a toasty 18 degrees C after last weekend’s hot spell. The hooter sounds bang on time and we’re off.
There was lots of chat earlier about swimming together in a group; I nodded in compliance, but knew I’d be doing my own thing, running my own race, not worrying about anyone else, as I always do. I remind myself that triathlon is a time trial across 3 disciplines; who does the fastest swim, bike or run is irrelevant.
The swim is uneventful, and I am incredulous as I look at my watch on exiting the water to see that I have completed the 1900 metres in 32 minutes – that’s a PB by a mile! Of course, I don’t have my glasses on, and I later learn that it was a far more credible 35 minutes. George and I arrive in transition together and he leaves about 10 seconds before me. That’s the last I’ll see of him, I thought… and anyone else, possibly.
The bike course turns out to be a lot harder than it looked on paper. Heavy, bumpy road surfaces, with no real climbs but lumps and bumps enough to disrupt momentum, and a block headwind for the first half of the loop that feels much stronger than the 10 mph advertised by our many weather apps. My legs are not feeling good and no matter how hard I try I can’t get my power output to the prescribed level and so resign myself to another average result. Just (another) one of those days; I’m not surprised to find that the 82km bike leg has taken me nearly 6 minutes longer than the 2:30 I need for a shot at my sub-5 hour target time.
Having struggled on the bike, I’m not looking forward to the run, but I set off at a much faster pace than I should. I pass Ric who has slowed to a run walk, to protect his ailing Achilles, on his second lap. By now I am desperate for a pee. I considered relieving myself on the bike but thought better of pissing all over the magnificent Black Beauty. So I stop halfway round the first lap rather than try and execute on the run as I have done once in the past. It requires incredible control to override all the wiring in your brain that stops you from pissing your pants and you inevitably end up with at least one very soggy running shoe. Mid-flow, I hear a cheery “Hi, Wave”, as Mark sails past…bugger! My over-enthusiastic starting pace eventually slows to something more maintainable and I surprise myself by holding a steady pace to the finish, posting a 1:36 for the 20 km run.
I’m not surprised to see most of the team already at the finish line. But my watch is showing 4:50, so I’m pleased that I managed a good shift on the run and beat my 5 hour target. It dawns on me that Simon has yet to finish… I’m quietly pleased that I’m not last.
It turns out that Simon has, in fact, been adopted by Ric and therefore has borrowed one of his bikes. A very sleek (and obviously expensive) Cervelo. Which would have been a big advantage if he had only had the correct cleats on his shoes to fit the Cervelo’s pedals. And if that wasn’t enough of a problem, Simon, the geography graduate, also had a navigational (or maybe counting), error and added an additional 22 km lap to his bike leg. Everyone was of course very sympathetic and understanding. No jokes at all were made at his expense…
George took the honours and was 17th overall with a cracking 4:35 and all (that completed the prescribed course) finished within 18 minutes of one another. A successful day for the team with George, Jack and Mark finishing 1st, 2nd and 4th in the 25-29 age group and yours truly also winning his age group. Ric tried to claim that he was “...21.5 mph average on the bike... later corrected to 22.5... and therefore… blah, blah, blah…”, but no-one was listening. Beth not only won her age group but also won £75 for finishing 3rd overall in the women’s race.
As expected, Si was the fastest swimmer, closely followed by Jack, 3 minutes ahead of George and the bunch. Ric had the fastest bike time and Jack managed to pull another minute ahead of George on the bike. But, unsurprisingly, it all came down to the run and Jack’s 4 minute lead off the bike wasn’t enough. George had already gained a minute on Jack in transition and his tasty 1:29 run split was more than enough to get him across the line first. It would be interesting to know what words were exchanged, (if, indeed either of them was capable of speaking), as George cruised past his brother on the run…
All in all a successful weekend and a good early indication of form, but still plenty of time for the team to analyse what went wrong and how to fix it.
In the spirit of sober assessment, lessons we learned from the Monster Mojo:
· Don’t worry about the weather – it turned out fine.
· George learned to pay attention to the road signs to avoid unnecessary 360 degree revolutions on round roundabouts – that 15 seconds could have been crucial.
· Ric learned (for the third time in consecutive events – is that a fineable offence?), that his very expensive aero bottles, containing his scientifically calculated race nutrition cocktail, are very prone to jumping out of his very expensive aero bottle cages attached to his very expensive aero frame, leaving him with no fuel.
· Jack learned that his little brother is not only a faster runner but also much quicker in transition. Plenty to work on.
· Mark learned that he had the fastest transition of the day with a lightning 47 second T2, but was still 4 seconds behind George’s total transition time of 2 minutes 50 seconds.
· Wave learned that there is life in the old dog yet and that a poor bike split doesn’t necessarily mean the race is over.
· As for Simon… well, too many to mention, but he would do well to follow that old military adage of the seven Ps – Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
· Oh, and over post-race beers, our friend Ella learned (rather too late), that it was a mistake to engage Ric in a conversation about the technicalities of marginal gains. Fortunately for her, I spotted her eyes glazing over and came to the rescue before rigor mortis set in.