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Aarschot Triathlon – last test race

Here is a race report on the last real test event. 5 weeks out from this year’s A-race, it would provide just the right amount of time for recovery, a final focussed training block, and a proper taper.

Aarschot would be the perfect final check before the New Forest Middle Distance Tri (NFMDT). It was sort of a shorter version of a similarly challenging course. Also a lake swim, it would turn out to be at least the same distance. The hilly bike and run courses would result in similar average speeds. At 2-60-15, the distance was a nice step-up from the standard distances to the half distance next month.

16 July – race day

Thinking about that day, it feels like it went by like a train. Bringing my family along had probably something to do with it. That’s okay, though. And most things fell right into place.

Swim exit

The lake swim began with a running start on the beach. It was kind of a 3 lap course with an Australian exit between laps (i.e. a short run onto dry land before diving back in). I don’t mind this type of swim. The Ironman Frankfurt swim had an Australian exit too. It gives you a clearer view of where you are in the field and how many athletes are near you. This time, I ran those 30-ish meters to close small gaps with athletes just in front of me. That, and a decent swimming day by my standards, lead to a good swim. I got out in 38:58 for what appeared to be a long 2 K (around 2300 m, according to other Strava users). After the swim-bike transition (T1), I was in 64th position overall.

I was looking forward to the bike. I was particularly curious for the course. I hadn’t had the chance to check it out beforehand. Luckily, we had to do it 3 times. My intention was to explore lap 1, confirm the difficulties in my mind on lap 2, and go hard on lap 3. I was glad I had installed a 28-cassette on my rear wheel for the steepest hills (the chainrings are 52-39). It allowed me to spin up most inclines at a cadence of 80-90 rpm. On the flats, I’m usually in the 100-105 range. I always have been a spinner rather than a grinder. After a solid bike performance, posting negative splits, I ran out of T2 in 42nd position.

Pushing hard on the cobbled incline

The run was also 3 laps and just as challenging as the bike course. Early on in every lap, we had to conquer 2 short, but very steep hills. Right away, I figured, I better walk up the steepest parts, because that would be almost as fast as running, while much less tiring. Also, I wanted to make the last lap count. It turned out to be a wise plan. In the last bike lap and for most of the run, I was never very far from another guy I know who lives in my area. Going into the final lap, we were even running side by side for a while. But then, ever so slightly, I managed to pull away. On those steep climbs, I walked, but less than in the other laps, determined to make a move and pull further away. I also knew I was faster downhill. The risk with this walking strategy is losing momentum. It is important to realize that this is a mental thing. Be aware of this and stay focussed on moving forward at the fastest pace possible.

I was able to hold pace and finish strong, crossing the line in 3:39:41. By estimation, I paced the 3 run laps fairly evenly, running every one of them in 23 minutes something. A huge open blister under my right foot didn’t hold me back either.

It seems like my training strategy after Bruges Tri has worked. My aim was to strengthen the swim and run. It resulted in a faster swim than I had even hoped for, and a solid run without fading, as opposed to the previous races. And this despite the much longer and harder run course! Me happy! Me confident for NFMDT!

Next up, everything I ate and drank on race day, from breakie to late-night snack.

3 thoughts on “Aarschot Triathlon – last test race

  1. Davey says:

    Sterke wedstrijd! Tegen New Forest zit het helemaal goed!

    1. admin says:

      Merci! Het was jouw dagje niet, anders hadden we zeker met 3 gevochten voor die verre ereplaats 🙂

      1. Dries says:

        Tof om te lezen, was inderdaad leuk om te strijden tegen bekenden

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