Isoman Race Report

or to be more exact, Isoman swim only race report.

Why only the swim? Why not the whole triathlon? Me and my beautiful wife had both entered the triathlon. I was doing the full race and my wife just the quarter distance, although the quarter still had a 1.75 mile swim, so not an easy race. We arrived at the race venue on the Friday and had a look around the lake. All good. We had a look at some of the run route. Again all good. We still had an hour before registration opened so we decided the drive one lap of the bike course. The lap was approx 15 miles, I would have to do it four times and my wife just the once.

We set off in the car and the bike route immediately took us onto a dual carriageway, and turned left onto another dual carriageway. Worrying, but not too bad. The next few miles were kind of industrial until we popped out onto another dual carriageway, uphill, busy, with a left filter lane to negotiate. The photos below were from the race the following day.

The route turned off the dual carriageway and headed into the countryside along some very pleasant roads, before once again throwing you straight out onto the dual carriageway. Back at the venue neither of us were happy about the cycle route, so after a chat with the race director we dropped down to swim only entrants. Back in the 90’s the Bournemouth Olympic Distance Triathlon used to be mainly on dual carriageways, but one lane was coned off and the race was early on a Sunday morning. I would have been on the bike at Isoman from 11 to 1-ish, on a Saturday. Far too busy to be safe.

The race director apologised but said that there wasn’t a lot they could do in Redditch, as there was so many busy roads. Maybe don’t hold the race in Redditch!

The morning of the race was far more relaxed as we didn’t need to rack bikes or set up transition. Instead we ambled to the swim start and waited for the off. The full race/swim was off at 7am and Helen would be off at 10.30. As I was only doing the swim I decided the make it a bit tougher by going without my wetsuit.

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There were only three of us without wetsuits. As we waited in the water for the gun to go off I spotted TC, the numpty, arriving late and rushing into the water after the start. At least I wouldn’t be last out of the water I thought with a smile. The water temperature was fine without my wetsuit and I was soon into a nice rhythm. The long swim involved eight laps and I planned to stop for a drink at the end of laps two and four. It was a lot harder than I expected and was glad that I had a couple of gels with my water bottle.

At the end of lap five I was feeling tired, but I spotted Helen next to the feed station which gave me a boost. Lap seven was really tough and I seriously considered stopping, especially when faster swimmers from the half or quarter overtook me like I wasn’t moving. Half a banana and a drink and I knew that I could manage one last lap.

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I dragged myself out of the water in a time of 4 hours and 34 minutes. Not last. My longest swim both time and distance, and my longest swim by a very long way without a wetsuit. It also appeared that each lap was a bit long, as most people took longer than expected and recorded more, so it was probably nearer to 7 and a half miles instead of the advertised 7.

Originally I had planned to head back to the car, get changed and faff about for a bit before seeing Helen finish her swim, but I had taken so long she finished only a few minutes after I did. My beautiful wife was well pleased, it had also been her longest open water swim and she had enjoyed every minute of it, except for losing sight of a buoy one time and having to swim a bit extra.

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In the heat I was very pleased not to be doing the whole triathlon. In previous years the winner has taken just over nine hours, this year only the winner went under 12 hours. We were finished and back at Helen’s brother’s house by 1pm and Helen had enough energy to go for a short bike ride while I had a sleep. The swim only event meant that we could enjoy the weekend and go out with the outlaws for a posh pub meal, so it all worked out in the end.

 

Isoman is almost here

Two days away in fact, and I am quite nervous. It’s a funny distance race which I’ve blogged about before (here). 7 mile swim, 61 mile bike and then a marathon. I’ve swam over 100 miles so far this year, which is more than I’ve ever done in a full year, although my longest swim has been 7km, not 7 miles, and I didn’t look too good at the end.

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Cycling should be OK, although I don’t have a Tri-bike any more, or even clip on tri bars. I’m not too worried as I know from experience that getting aero after a 7 mile swim is hard, as my neck, back, shoulders and arms will all be tired from the swim.

As for the marathon, I’ve done one half marathon this year, which was slow and painful, and I’ve been plagued by an injured calf muscle, so we’ll see how it goes. I don’t want to pull out, but I don’t want to injury myself for the rest of the year.

Race clothing? Last weekend I went out cycling wearing my tri-suit, which felt very strange. It does look good though.

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My shoulders did get a little burnt from the sun, as they are generally never exposed. The forecast is high 20’s and very little shade on the bike or run. Therefore, I made an emergency purchase of some tri-shorts from Wiggle. I’ll wear these for the whole race, but put on a cycling top for the bike leg, and a T-shirt for the run. I went for a steady 3km run in my new shorts this morning and they feel good, and match my running shoes, which is nice.

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I don’t have a time in mind for finishing, although sub 11 hours would be nice. Here’s hoping it all goes well.

Races for 2018

It’s that time of year when people enter races, unless it’s Ironman, which you’ll have entered months ago. I’ve been busily using my debit card and have entered a plethora of races for 2018. First up is a trail race.

Grizedale Half Marathon – 4th February

I’ve not done a ‘real’ running race for a few years, and it could well be over ten years since I last did a half marathon, except for on Strava. I’m not totally running fit, but it should be nice to run somewhere different and not worry about my pace as I’ll be quite happy to sneak in under 2 hours.

No Excuses Sportive – 25th march

The name ‘no excuses’ is because this particular sportive is free. You sign up and pay your £40 entry fee, but if you finish it then you get your money back, which sounds good to me. The start and finish is in Carlisle and heads out to the coast, an area that I’ve not cycled before, which makes it even better.

Isoman – 30th June

This is my big race of the year, and it is bonkers. The idea is that each discipline is given equal time, so using a complicated formula based on world records, the organisers have come up with a ‘game changer’ of a triathlon. The full race, which I’m doing involves a 7 mile swim, 61 mile bike and then a full marathon. I’m fairly sure that the swim puts most people off. There are also half and quarter distances available, although the quarter still has a 1.75 mile swim. The entry fee was also a fraction of Ironman, which is another bonus.

Hurly Burly 10km Swim – 30th September

To finish the year I’ve entered an open water swim in North Wales. Set in Barmouth, the swim starts off the beach and then heads upstream, although with the tide the organisers state that this could easily be the fastest 10km in the country.

As we head into the year I might enter a few more races, but for now, these are the ones that I’m concentrating on. Say ‘Hi’ if you’re at any of them, I’m the one with the beard.