What a great local race run by Portsmouth triathletes. There is a short course 4km run/24km bike/ 4km run, and a long course 4km run/ 40km bike/ 8km run. I always opt for the short course as it’s early in season so it’s a nice one to push yourself hard and also since I lost the movement in my ankle a few years ago I’m not meant to push running hard, so this is the only real time I push it to the limits. I have previously raced this 3 times and each time I’ve always hit 1hr 10 mins for the short course.

As this event is early part of the season (2nd April) you always pray that it will be nice weather, it usually works out to be nice every other year so we were due to have a wet and windy, however it was great weather with the sun shining! First win of the day!!

It’s the first time racing in the ITRI colours which caused a stir in a very good way, bright orange like I’ve been tangoed! You’ll see some pictures below and see just how much it stands out. I used a Champion System speed suit which was extremely comfortable, my partner Gemma wore the tri suit, everyone said they could see us for miles!

The long course started a little late due to the kids races being so popular beforehand earlier in the morning. It is always good to get them into fitness at a young age and also to get them used to racing. Portsmouth Triathletes so a fantastic job encouraging the kids and it was smiles all round from what I could see.

I had my normal breakfast and felt ready to go! I also drank a bottle of electrolytes from Precision Hydration I use these tabs as they have a very high salt/magnesium balance (see my blog on sweating) as I discovered at the end of last season that I sweat an extremely high amount of salt per litre of water. So all fuelled up I hit the start line, see the photo, you can’t miss the orange speed suit!

The first lap of the run (4km) felt great, I was averaging 181 heart rate, exactly where I wanted to be, it took me in at 15.02 mins and averaging 6.21 per mile. Feeling good after a quick transition it was out on the bike! After the first bend it was clear that there was a fair old wind for the morning, this always tempts you to push harder, but I’ve been using a power meter now for around 18 months which has really helped me with my pacing, in the past it has been a typical Phil tactic to go as hard as I can and deal with things later, basically suffering a lot with lost pace! I knew my FTP (Functional Threshold Power) is 329, so I ensured I didn’t go over this, anymore power and the legs would suffer either later on the bike or the second run. Using the power meter as the main focus and keeping my power between 300-329 watts (wind dependant) made my 6 laps of the course come in at very consistent times (5.58-6.10 per lap) which again I’m very happy with. The bike was fast and I felt strong, its great racing your bike on a course that has loops of 4km as you see everyone else is suffering in the wind too, or enjoying the odd tailwind!

Transition into the 2nd run went very well too, although I did get lucky. As I took my feet out of my shoes while still on the bike and rested them on top, my right shoe got caught on the floor right in front of a small crowd! The bike went up but luckily for me in a straight line rather than to one side this meant the back wheel left the ground and I fell towards the front of the bike, but a second later it was back to normal and into transition!

The second run went well to, keeping a good pace, slower than the first run but still good for me, my heart rate still at just under 180 I felt I was comfortably pushing myself. I knew not to go any faster (a mistake often made in the past) and I was only over taken by one athlete, my client Dave who effortlessly ran past at what must have been a sub 6 min mile, he got me about 100 meters from the last turn! It was then through to the finish line knowing I didn’t have much more to go pace wise but felt great otherwise!

Little did I know Dave had pipped me to winning our age group! However I’m very happy with the race, 10 secs faster on the first run to last year, 15 secs faster on the bike, and 5 secs faster on the run, I was aiming to go sub 1hr 10 mins and got there with 1 hr 9mins 45secs on what I personally thought was more windy day than last year! My Partner and Team mate Gem also managed to shave 4 mins off her time, finishing at 1hr 22min 34 sec and scooped 1st place in her age group and 6th Female overall. Not bad for someone who has only been racing a year.

Roll on 2018! I really encourage you to enter this race. Portsmouth Triathletes are a lovely bunch of people who organise a well-run race, with suitability civil start time. The course is beautifully smooth with no cars to worry about. I encourage all my clients to enter, it is perfect for those first timers and if your more experienced a chance to race your fastest!