12 months ago, I raced my first middle distance triathlon at Challenge Peguera-Mallorca and learnt a load of lessons about racing that distance. Things like nutrition and pacing became more important than just putting together a good swim-bike-run. It was tough to say the least.
Since that race 12 months ago, I’ve had niggles, raced another 70.3, trained more specifically for 70.3, invested in a time trial bike and learnt how to fuel myself for this style of racing. It’s been turbulent and unsettling at times but it’s what has made me love triathlon and what I am able to do even more than ever.
My build up to Challenge Peguera-Mallorca had been good, swimming and riding was going really well, racking up the miles. Running was a little bit less on the consistent side with a niggling Achilles but from around 7-8 weeks out I was able to get a good consistent block of running. Running some of my longest runs certainly gave me confidence but there is definitely still lots of room to grow from my 3 runs a week.
The morning of the race I felt content and calm with a fire in my belly to get out there and race. Complete trust in my fitness and pacing, I would only have to focus on nutrition and technical aspects of my form. Two peanut butter and jam sandwiches, a biscuit bar and two bottles of electrolyte water later, it was time to line up and listen to Pirates of the Caribbean at the start. Silence fell. Klaxon sounded. We charged into the choppy swell of the Balearic Sea.
I had a great start, out and clear of the majority of the field still dolphin diving and wading their way out. Throughout the swim, spotting the buoys was challenging for the best part. I often spent my time visualising and semi-guessing that I was swimming in the right direction, back sighting to the beach and other buoys I had passed. A kick-ass body surf onto the beach got me a 5-10 second gap on a couple of guys that missed the wave! I exited the water in 2nd, up the heavy sandy beach and through T1.
Challenge Mallorca has the most spectacular bike course; plenty of hills, fast sweeping descents, and fast flat sections. Something for everyone, one could say. I was out pretty much on my own for the majority of the first lap going through the halfway point in 1 hour 13 minutes and backing that up to finish the bike in 2 hours 29 minutes. Admittedly, the wind did pick up on the second lap but regardless, I was pleased with my pacing across the laps.
Through T2 and out onto the run, I was feeling good but the heat of the sun was growing lap by lap. I worked hard to hold on to pace and use the aid stations to focus on running too. The aid stations were most useful with ice cold water-filled sponges we could grab and cool down.
By this point, I knew my nutrition was going well. I wasn’t cramping, bonking or bloated, all things I had experienced in the past with some interesting nutrition tactics.
I crossed the line in 4:29:50, around 16 minutes faster than last year, 3rd in my Age Group, 12th Age Grouper overall, and 40th overall including pros and qualification for the Challenge Championship 2020. I was pretty pleased with my result and hard work. This was definitely a really good personal step closer to my pro licence.
Now it's time to rest and relax with a bit of an end-of-season break before getting back to work and preparing for 2020. Big thanks to everyone who has supported me this year!
About the author: Harrison Rolls-King is a competitive triathlete and Sundried ambassador.