Sundried ambassador Matt Leeman gives us a race report of the tough and challenging Outlaw Iron Distance Triathlon.
When my coach and I first decided I was going to race two full distance triathlons in two weeks, I was intimidated to say the least! But I have great trust in my coach and we have been at work getting myself into the best possible shape going into these two races. I won the first race which was the Bastion triathlon at Hever Castle and immediately got to work on my recovery ready to go again in a short space of time.
At first, I seemed to recover quite well and felt good pretty quickly, but as I got back into a more substantial training load I began to feel tired, not the ideal feeling going into a full iron distance triathlon. However, when you're racing at an elite level you have to make the most of the race season, get your head down, trust in the training you've done and get the job done on race day.
As soon as the gun went off for the swim I felt relaxed and controlled. Others were around me for the first few meters but soon dropped off the pace, which is always a good boost! I exited the water in first place with no idea of the time as I was just focused on getting myself ready and out on the bike as soon as possible. As I emerged from the changing tent I heard the race commentator announce I had completed the swim in 46:38, taking the swim course record. This gave me a massive buzz as I set off on the 180km bike.
My coach had given me a talk the day before the race and instructed me to start the bike conservatively and allow the strong bikers to catch me then let the bike race begin! There was a group of three of us changing positions until about half way through the bike, then the lead biker broke away. I pushed on to limit the time lost along with second place but once we had hit 100km I lost second and was in third position. This is when the race became very tough. I was riding out of my ability in an effort to stay at the very front of the race and now found myself in no man's land. Triathlon is an individual sport, therefore you have to be mentally tough to dig in and keep going, even when you feel like just pulling over to the side of a road and lying down on a hay bale (a genuine thought I had as I passed a farm). But the feeling of giving up and not doing all the hard work and sacrifice justice would stick with me a lot longer than a few hours of pain. I kept pushing on and got off the bike in third place.
Second to swimming, running is my next favoured discipline. But after all that exertion, running a marathon is still a daunting prospect. The run course at the Outlaw takes in laps of the rowing lake followed by a more or less out and back loop along the Trent river into the city of Nottingham. I broke the marathon down into more manageable chunks in my head and paced myself accordingly. I was in third place and knew I would be happy with a podium finish. As I was running along one of the straight sections of the river I saw an athlete sitting on the side of the course and thought it was the second place runner, as I got closer I found out I was correct and they had pulled out of the race. This meant I was in second and so I kept pushing as I knew there was a strong runner behind me. Eventually, I was caught with around 10km to go putting me back down to third place. I was able to hold this position and finish in a time of 8 hours and 54 minutes.
All the times I felt like giving in and said no, was fully the right decision. I had managed to hit the podium and perform at two big races in two weeks. Taking a long standing course record in the swim and a personal best improvement of 37 minutes in the process. Very happy to be in the sub 9-hour club!