Challenge Henley-On-Thames 2012

Swim: 1:25:48
T1: 4:21
Bike: 6:01:36
T2: 4:33
Run: 3:51:47
Total: 11:28:07

Swim

The race started exactly on schedule at 6:30 am.  It was warmer than last year, but the river still felt cold.  I started on the far right, near the bank where the flow would be less.  We set of up stream, against the flow for 1.9k then turn and head back to where we started for the second half. My swim went reletivly smoothly.  I did get squeezed at one point when a swimmer on each side of me came towards me.  I just held back a bit and let them get out of my way.  I exited the water in 1:25:48 (last year 1:48:59, so great improvement)

T1

A quick transition, well a quick 4 minutes for me.  I removed my wetsuit  chucked on my cycling shirt over my wet trisuit and stuffed the pockets with 2 inner tubes a multi tool kit and 4 bananas.

Bike

The bike is an out and back T shape route completed 3 times.  My legs felt a little heavy in the quads still from Thursdays 12 hour bike race.  I was expecting this so not to bothered by it and was encouraged by my fast swim.  It felt quite quiet on the road for the first lap, but then we were joined by the 1/2 distance race, which started a little later.  I needed a pee at one point and managed to do it without stopping, which I had been training to do, but only when it was raining. Towards the end it went quiet again and the mind starts wondering if you have done too many laps, are the last one out on the road etc.  The out and back helps put this to bed though as you see other competitors that are behind you as you make the turns. There are 2 hills to speak of on the course.  they are both a long slog up then a very fast decent.  Which I managed to scare myself on once when my concentration wandered and i took a corner a little too close to the verge.  Also I frequently had to shout 'on your right' as people drifted across the narrow road as I flew past them down the hills. I am slow going up and fast going down. The bike was completed in 6:01:36.  17 minutes slower than the previous year.

T2

Another 4 minutes.  Bike shirt off. Cap on and off I went.

Run

So far I had taken 7 hours and 36 minutes.  I planned a 4 hour marathon; 4 laps of 10k at 1 hour each.  I attempted this last year and hit the wall at around the 20k mark. This time however I managed to fight my head deamons better and managed to keep running.  I walked through the aid stations, just to make sure I could drink ok, but everything else was done running.  The first lap took 50 minutes and I started to get excited about breaking the 12 hours.  I managed to stop myself running to fast and completed the second lap in 1 hour. It dawned on me that if I could keep this pace up 11:30 was a possible target.  The third lap was hard my knees were hurting and other parts of my legs that I don't recall now.  I started talking to myself.  things like 'I do this for pain, you won't stop me now'. 'if you shut up and let me finish this then you wont be hurting anymore.''you can do it, why walk?'  I kept running.  The third lap took an hour.  I now had 1 hour to do the last lap.  I knew my time from last year was 12:28  so I started to think of 11:28 rather than 11:30.  I finished in 11:28:07 almost an hour faster than last year (it turns out my memory isn't so good as I did it in 12:21:36 the previous year and not 12:28 something.)

This was a great race and motivator for me.  I overcame my doubts on the run and pushed through where before I may of settled for what I had done and walked. The pain was in the head, not the body. Why the head lies to stop us completing things is beyond me, but learning it can be ignored or overcome was a great lesson.

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