Elliott Cole Update: 4th July Steelman Triathlon

Dorney Lake in Eton is renowned for being windy on the calmest of days but Sunday 4th July were without doubt the windiest conditions I’ve ever raced in.

Sunday 4th July saw the annual Human Race Steelman Triathlon take place at the Olympic rowing facility in Eton with 700 athletes entered for the event.

On a normal day an Olympic distance race around the picturesque setting of Dorney Lake is something to look forward to given the flat course but with conditions not looking favourable for the bike it was going to be a tough day!

The gun went off at 1.35pm to let the Under 30 Age Group athletes and final Age Group of the day out onto the 2 lap 1500m swim course in Dorney Lake’s rowing facility. The swim started well with the usual rugby scrum at the start with the 100+ athletes jostling to find some clear water but nothing out of the ordinary. Approaching the first turnaround buoy I was holding on to the back of the first group of swimmers and feeling good, I then made a small mistake by sitting too closely to the feet of the swimmer in front to try and keep in their wake but instead ended up following their swim line which happened to take a Zig Zag approach towards the next turn around buoy costing both of us a bit of time. Realising that this was the case I moved over and into clear water for the next of the 750m loops. The next loop went as planned and I exited the water in 00:30:04, a way down on my swim PB but keeping with the second group out of the water right the way through T1.

Honing my transitions in training seems to have paid dividends as I flew through T1 in 00:01:11 and headed out onto the 8 lap 40km bike course.

The bike course was visually very windy and I knew from mounting the bike that it was going to be a difficult ride. The wind had increased since the start of the swim and there was a very strong head wind on the way up alongside the lake as well as a side wind as you headed back down the other side of the lake on the turn.

With both a head wind and cross wind there was only a 200m-250m stretch of each of the 5km laps that was calm and they were the turn points at the rowing clubhouse and the other side of the lake.

The first lap was a leg finder and I pushed on with the intension of keeping my head down in the aero position at all times to create minimal resistance and cut through the wind as best I could. It was clear through the number of athletes pulling up completely or sitting out of the aero bars that this was going to be difficult though given the increased pedalling effort it was taking to cut through the wind and after laps 4, 5 and 6 this was becoming increasingly difficult and massively fatiguing.

Spurred on by the number of athletes I was passing lap by lap and recognising some of the faces from my Age Group who exited the swim ahead of me I knew I was making really good ground through the field and kept my head together to finish the 40km bike leg in 01:13:04, 8 minutes slower than my usual 40km bike pace but great considering the windy conditions.

Coming into T2 I wasn’t sure how my legs were going to be getting off the bike due to the extra effort it took to complete the course but I flew through T2 in 00:00:45 (the 9th fastest T2 transition of all 700 athletes entered) and headed out onto the 10km run.

The run at Dorney Lake is always interesting as it is a straight 1.25km run up alongside the lake, a dead turn followed by another 1.25km run back towards the rowing clubhouse with athletes running shoulder to shoulder on the straight out and back course. With this in mind it’s easy to over think the run as you recognise other competitors from your Age Group either ahead or behind you and you can easily over think the run.

Completing the run at Dorney I always keep myself to myself keeping my head high and think about nothing else apart from my stride and looking straight ahead, not to the side where the other competitors are running.

The first lap was a little more difficult than usual given the extra intensity of the bike and my pace was hovering between 3 ½ – 3 ¾ minute km, on par with my usual 10km pace but physically more draining than usual. I was again making huge ground over other competitors though which gave me a huge boost but I could feel it was going to be a tough run.

I completed the first 5km in 18 minutes, on target to hit my usual 10km pace but then the wheels fell off my wagon. I was really struggling to keep pace and the thought did cross my mind that like many other athletes I may not get round. A quick look to the right to gauge where I was over other athletes in my Age Group I’d spotted earlier on in the run showed just how much time I had made up though and that was all I needed to keep a steady 4 minute km pace for the remaining 5km completing the 10km in 00:40:04.

My finishing time was 02:25:34, 9th in my Age Group of 100 and 38th overall out of the 700 athletes entered. Another strong top 10 finish and by far the most mentally draining race I’ve completed in my career.

My goal for the next 2 weeks is to complete some really structured brick training sessions with the aim of completing both the Dextro Energy Hyde Park Triathlon in late July and the London Triathlon in early August in less than 2 hours 15 minutes.

For a full results breakdown visit http://www.racetimingsystems.com/public/results.aspx?raceid=1204

Next Race – Sunday 25th July – Dextro Energy Hyde Park Triathlon

About the Author

Hi, I'm Tom Burkinshaw, I co-produce the Maximise Your Potential Podcast and Website and my goal is to help as many people as possible be successful in life, careers and business, by offering free coaching and mentoring through a series of unique interviews from inspiring people who all display exceptional self-belief, mental toughness and desire to achieve. Thank you for taking the time to visit Maximise Your Potential!