*** many thanks to Garry Whyte for this race report ***
This unexpected journey commenced last September when I noticed that a planned trip back to Glasgow coincided with the Strathclyde Triathlon that doubled up as the Scottish Championships and a qualifying race for the Euro Championships. I had a pretty successful day and secured the 3rd spot in the 35-39 AG however as my age on 31 Dec 2013 would be 40, I would be racing in the 40-44 AG.
Alanya then suddenly became my “A” race for the season, putting all Iron distance aspirations on the backburner for a year. I sat down with my coach, Nick Tipper way back in October and planned how to deliver me to the start line in the best possible shape given my “time and ability” limiters.
Roll on to June, with a disciplined lead up training program duly delivered and mostly executed and it was time to pack up and ship out to the south coast of Turkey.
I was very lucky to be sponsored for this adventure by my company, National Oilwell Varco, who assisted me financially with the travel arrangements and accommodation as well as the compulsory GB trisuit. With this in mind, I went for an all-inclusive package administered through Nirvana Europe.
My experience with Pegasus Airlines (Budget Turkish outfit) was extremely positive. My bike box was checked in for $50 which I knew was going to be the charge in advance, and the lovely Helga even upgraded me to an emergency (extra legroom) seat due to my gangly frame. My flight departed 1hour adrift of the scheduled 0330 time and I tried to get some shut eye en-route to Istanbul.
Another issueless flight and I arrived at Antalya airport and had an emotional RV with my bike. Nirvana were immediately on hand to meet me and take me to my transport for the final journey to the team GB hotel in Alanya.
Arrived at hotel, straight to the room to build the bike. Met the team GB Managers who were super helpful, then proceeded to hit the sack.
Team Whyte arrived from Scotland in the early hours, but I didn’t have time to meet them, that would wait. I had a more pressing appointment with a team gathering and swim on the course at 0800. Roll on my first experience of Team GB testosterone. The swim was a “my knob is bigger than yours” affair with the aim to clearly to show off how good swimmers everyone was…this knocked my confidence no end, as I was dropped like o-grade French after about 50 meters. Funny after reading Didge’s report, I too felt some relief to see a friendly face, it was good to see her and we had a quick chat and wished each other the best of British and Irish. Didge was hyper and nervous..a great sign of things to come!!
The day before the race there was a “Parade of Nations” where everyone marched through Alanya town. It did feel quite patriotic with all the Union Flags and bunting on display. My dad, true to form insisted on wearing his Scotland Cap though!
The taper for this race was executed exactly as prescribed by Nick, and I really felt fresh and “ready” to race. He had delivered me to the start line in good order, both mentally and physically. It was now up to me to deliver and hopefully not let myself, my team or my coach down.
4am awoke and took a nice long shower. After this a quick 10mins on the rumble roller ensured that the legs were awake and “alive”. If I was asked what is the best bit of triathlon gear I own, I would have to say it’s the roller. Breakfast consisted of some bread and jam, avoiding dairy produce.
0720, Male 40-44 were called down to the pontoon to line up. The swim was one 1500m lap with a water start, holding onto the jetty. At this point, for the first time in a few days, the nerves disappeared, replaced by adrenalin and aggression.
Gun goes.BANG.mad blast by everyone to get away. Arms and legs everywhere. I know the non-wetsuit swim is going to be my weakness but I am prepared for this. I kept calm and found someone to draft, I have practiced with Nick and my TRIbe teammates swim drafting and this worked. I found a pair of feet and followed them pretty much all the way with no sighting dramas. Did I get into a comfort zone on these feet? Could I/should I have pushed harder on the swim?
I had my parents counting the amount of “green caps” exiting the water before me and the shout I got when running up the beach was that I was around 20th. Middle of the pack..Game on. This was not as bad as i thought. My swim time was 27mins which, given the lead group were out in approximately 23 minutes gives an indication of the high level of competition and where I was found seriously wanting!
T1. A very fast T1 (if you don’t practice transition, why don’t you practice transition?) got me out on the bike. The reason I am mentioning T1 is because I almost made one of the most stupid errors around (ask Mr J Brownlee) I did my flying mount onto my bike right on the line…not over the line and the Turkish Referee put up his red flag. I admit to shouting something at him, actually it was more of a plead, but I didn’t hang around to find out if I had a penalty. I would check later when I pass the penalty box.
Bike: Okay, I have trained specifically over the last few months for this moment. This was the time I could turn this race around. All my AG had race numbers ranging from 1201 to 1250 so it was very easy to identify the competition. My plan was clear. Bury myself, hit FTP or above, roll the dice and smash everyone I could. The course was a 4 lap affair with one dead turn. Pan flat but the surface was awful in parts. During my course recce I was very concerned about the surface and found it difficult to hold down power, but on race day the aggression came out and I rattled my way through the course. I was passing my competition one by one and knew I was in the top 10, I didn’t realize I was biking myself into bronze medal position. The rules on penalties are such that it is the athlete’s responsibility to stop and take the 2min penalty. My race number would be displayed on a whiteboard next to the penalty box. The organisers had unwittingly placed the whiteboard in the direct sunlight and the numbers were written in faded blue pen, so at 40KPH I couldn’t make out if 1234 was there. I made a note that on my last lap I would slow down and check prior to heading into transition. I had convinced myself that I was going to get a 2min penalty and in hindsight this had made me angry and I took it out on my pedals. I was overjoyed when I slowed down at the penalty box, where by coincidence my family were gathered and wondered what on earth I was doing, and there was no numbers at all on the whiteboard. Result. I exited the course and headed into transition thinking I was maybe in the top 10. My bike split was just over 55mins. Thank you coach for those horrendous sessions. The weeks of being that Lone Ranger out on Al Qudra paid off. Nutrition wise, I had one bottle of Gatorade on the bike and I took one GU gel at around 20K. I also did not carry any spare tub/tubes and rode with a clincher on the front and a tub disc on the rear..a bit odd but there you go!
Run: Another quick transition saw me out onto the run course, which is a 4 lap affair with a 400m climb on each lap. I came out of transition and felt bloody good. The legs were turning over and I was hitting 3:45pace with ease. I carried a roctane gel in my suit which I planned to take around 5K for a boost. I came to the 400m climb which was approximately 1K into the race and really put in an effort for the duration of the ascent. This put my HR well into the red and I started wheezing and found it difficult to breath, which I usually get at the start of a triathlon run leg. Thankfully, I had a short decline to recover and my breathing regulated again.
It was during the second lap when I was overtaken (the only time I recall being overtaken on the run course) by a guy I met in transition. I met him because he was racked next to me and therefore in my AG Damn..that is me into 11th place I thought. I have practiced run “racing” and when he overtook me, I reacted and went on his heels in-case he had red lined to try and drop me. It soon became clear though that this guy was too strong and was pulling away. The 4 laps passed very quickly and I kept the pace up all the way and was passing many other athletes. Before I knew it I was at the finish chute and heard my name being announced as “40-44 AG 4th place to Garry Whyte of Great Britain” Run time 38m. The guy who took me on the run had secured the bronze medal.
Summary and AG race position after each discipline:
Swim:20th Fastest swim, 20th Position overall
Bike: 1st Fastest bike, 3rd Position overall
Run: 3rd Fastest run, 4th Position overall
Overall time, 2h01m59s.
I am overjoyed to have achieved this time, but I always look at 4th as the “almost” position. I gave the 3 athletes above me 3-5 minutes on the swim. That is ridiculous at this level and something I need to address. My positives are aplenty though. In a stacked field, I biked from 20th position to 3rd, really put everything into the bike and still managed a decent run, although I wish I would have tried harder to stick with Mr Bronze medal when he passed me.
My next race is the Scottish middle distance (half IM) championships at Aberfeldy in Aug 17th, so ill cut the beers back here in Turkey, rest for a few days then start the training again in earnest.
Big thanks to my ever suffering wife Claire, who is my inspiration in life. Whenever I am hurting during a race or a training session, I think of her having a bad day with MS and my “pain” seems completely irrelevant. Thanks also to Tipps for the brilliant coaching and mentoring. Also a big shout to my fellow teammates in TRIbe racing team, who are a magnificent and very talented group of triathletes, brutal pisstakers and great and loyal friends. Thanks also to Ian and Roy at TriDubai for opening up triathlon to more people in Dubai and welcoming all groups and individuals to join their sessions. I have and will continue to really enjoy the Saturday sea swim sessions, maybe one day i'll make it into the fastest group ;-))
Yours in Tri