The Outlaw Half, is a middle distance triathlon/ half Ironman distance in Nottingham. For me, the Outlaw Half is a race in preparation for a race – later this Summer I’m racing the full Ironman distance in Mont Tremblant.
A few years ago, a Half Ironman was a terrifying thought… Approaching it for only the second time in my life, and as a “training race” rather than “focus race”, felt strange. When I trained for the Zell em See Half, it was my sole focus for the year… I put all my effort into training and being as ready as I’d ever be to get through the race and perform to my best ability.
This year, I don’t necessarily feel like I put that same amount of focus into my training. I’ve been training don’t get me wrong, but I’ve been doing so with a stressful job that involves a lot of travel and overtime, and with social plans not always taking the backseat. So training isn’t my sole focus… and when training isn’t my sole focus, I don’t feel as confident in myself ahead of a race.
I wasn’t nervous, but I wasn’t confident either… I knew I could get around the course, but I didn’t know how fast… or if I’d be faster than my race in Zell am See. It didn’t help that I was ill for about three weeks leading up to the race either, so though I knew I wanted to approach the race as a fighter, I was also just happy to treat it as a solid block of training and just saying to myself “let’s see what happens”. My mind was all over the place ahead of it all. I figured either way, my competitive self would take over day-of, and that’s pretty much exactly what happened.
Overall, super happy with my race… I felt smarter than the last time I raced this distance, I was comfortable on the TT bike, I learned A LOT in almost every stage of the race, and it was a good kick in the butt to make training a focus for the next 12 weeks so that when Ironman Mont Tremblant comes around, I am excited to race and ready to see what happens!
It was also amazing being able to share this with someone. Jodie and I signed up together, started together and cheered each other on when we crossed paths on the course. It helps a lot seeing a familiar face on the course! I’m glad that Mont Tremblant will be similar as I’ll be racing with Brenna, Alistar and Dan.
Total time: 5:47:03
Age group rank: 12/35
Gender rank: 53/332
THE SWIM — 1.9K — 39:33
Plan: Feel the water, have a fight and find feet to draft on. Go out hard and hang on.
What actually happened: I panicked again. Ugh. I knew the start of the swim would be hard and uncomfortable and exactly opposite to what your instincts are telling you to do. I re-read all my blog posts about the swim and got myself prepared for ignoring those instincts and pushing through. But in reality, I haven’t actually experienced a hectic swim start in over a year. I didn’t get in cold water more than once ahead the race and I didn’t get into any murky open water ahead of racing at all.
At the start, I went for it. I was ready to execute the plan. Tried to get on some feet and push myself like I know I can now. I’ve been swimming twice a week since January and feeling stronger and stronger in the water. I know I can swim. But the race sets off, and immediately you can’t see a thing, people are all over the place splashing and kicking and the cold water takes your breath away. All of this combined = Allison panicking and having to do breast stroke for a while while she contemplate’s quitting. Eventually the panic subsided and I got back into front crawl. But I didn’t fight for a fast time, I just swam.
I was really bummed after the swim. Massive confidence hit and reality check… clearly I need to put myself in these uncomfortable positions more so I deal with them better on race day.
THE BIKE — 90K — 3:06:48
Plan: Push it for the first 20 mins even though heart rate is high. Find someone to follow and pace it for you. Ride at 130/140 heart rate.
What actually happened: Gave one, “I’m feeling sorry for myself” look to Dan in the crowd… now shake it off. Forget about the swim, it’s done. Get going on the bike and execute.
My heart rate was high throughout. Average HR was 155 for the full 90km course. But other than HR, I found someone to follow on the bike as per the plan. We did a little cat and mouse because we approached hills differently… But I felt smart on the bike. I let people who were grinding up the hills pass me. Which goes against my competitiveness, but I just kept telling myself: catch them on a decent, flat or on the run. The race isn’t won at the top of a hill.
The bike course was rough… The roads were really bumpy and frustrating. I was good on the TT bars for most of it, but by the end you realize how tense you’ve been… My hands gripping really hard and my shoulders really stiff. Anytime I took a break from the TT position I told myself I had to do something else productive, so I’d take a bite of a gel or drink some water before getting back on the bars again.
Where I messed up on the bike was really in transition… I heard some women saying it was cold enough for another layer. I hate being cold. so I tossed on my jacket but left it unzipped and flapping around which was silly. It got too warm for it as well so I had to stop, take it off and tuck it into my water bottle holder.
Nutrition was Ok, I planned to eat half a cliff bar every hour so I had something solid on the bike. And take a gel every half hour. It was too much, and I started feeling full so I switched it up to take part of a gel every 20 minutes. And in the end, I drank two water bottles out on the course. By the time I got back, it was HOT.
THE RUN — 21K — 1:55:55
Plan: Get off the bike, don’t look at pace or HR. Run off feel and maintaining the fastest possible pace you can for 21 kms.
What actually happened: I was prepared for my legs to be in knots after the bike and getting mentally prepared for an extremely painful 21kms. This is what I remember from Zell am See… Pure pain as soon as you get off the bike. This time, I didn’t have that! My legs felt good and I was STOKED. Maybe too stoked… I started the run with a strong pace which proceeded to dwindle consistently as the race went on.
I was going strong for the first 7-8ks, the middle 10k’s were grim… I was hot and my legs were starting to go. I had some cramping and also had to pee really bad, which was annoying… I should be dehydrated! I’ve never had to pee during a race so I didn’t know what to do… I ended up peeing a little bit for like 5k’s… it was random. I probably should have just pulled to the side and done the deed. Pulled myself together for the final 3k’s of the race – still had some cramping in my hamstrings but pushed through it… goes to show how much is mental.
All in all – a great event. Nottingham is easy to get to so the convenience is a huge factor to why I loved this race. No bike bags, airports or trains. The race was well organised with a great atmosphere. The bike course was rough, so that was the only downside.
Everything is held at the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham. There was quite a bit of traffic in the morning to get parked, so if you are close enough to the race course I’d recommend cycling in (You register the day before, but rack your bikes morning of). We stayed at The Gamston Lock Lodge by Marston’s Inns which was perfect. Pub right there for dinner and only 3k’s away from transition area.
Oh, and it was pretty great to come back from the race and have Dad and Jan visiting from home. Sunday Roast? Yes please!