Race review, Harrison Rolls-King
12 months ago in October 2017, I decided that 2018 would be the year I would start my transition up to middle distance (70.3) racing and Challenge Peguera Mallorca would be the place to do it. Some could ask, why go long? Or even why go long when you’re only 21 years old, isn’t that something you do when you hit your 30’s?! For me it was a pretty simple decision to make. Simple things like loving my draft legal tri bars a little too much as a 11-12-year-old tri star athlete; having a keen interest in long course racing from a young age, following Kona. I enjoy training/racing and being able to sit on a constant intensity both in training and racing.
I travelled out 5 days before race day with my dad and two of the best training mates I could have ever hoped for, Jake and Chloe. These guys have been there in the weeks I haven’t been able to run due to planta fasciitis and the long heavy training weeks when I’m so tired that I can’t even get my words out in the right order. However, including the challenges I have faced over the last 9 months, I have loved every minute of training for Ch. Mallorca with Jake, Chloe and the rest of the ever-supportive short course squad at Team Bodyworks.
Typical forecast for this time of year in Mallorca is around 24-28ºC. I am not one that can typically cope well with the heat. Doing the main bulk of my training throughout the very warm British summer and being a little lucky with the late September weather, I only really needed a few hot garage training sessions to fully acclimatise.
The day after we touched down, we headed out for a ride of the bike course. I think it’s fair to say, the bike course is not only a little challenging with some climbs and technical sections but equally fast. The stunning climbs through the mountains (yes, we saw some mountain goats as well!) and the fast, flat straights made perfect for any athlete to put the hammer down and make their moves. Exciting racing for sure! The bike course wasn’t the only natural beauty on this Spanish course. The swim, set in a lush crystal clear sandy bay. Buzzing with fish and lined with the odd beach bar, where I think many athletes would be hitting up post-race drinks!
When it came to the day before the race, it was time to get my ducks in a row. Sort out the new version of transition of using bags, packing all my nutrition for the race. A simple change from the ITU style racing but a slight change regardless. Once packed and racked, it was time for dinner! Chicken and mushroom risotto was on the menu for tonight! Packed full of both carbs and protein for a long day of racing ahead.
Soon enough, race day was here. I woke to my 06:15 alarm call, still in the dark of the early morning but by light the racing reality of my first 70.3 was here and I was ready. I checked over my transition area and started my normal warm up routine. For the first time this season I felt properly nervous. Absolutely bricking it! I was delving into the unknown, a race twice as long as anything I had raced before. Before long I found myself on the start line. The nerves had gone, standing there felt normal and calm. The horn sounded and the adrenaline started pumping as we charged into the waves of the Spanish sea. I was one of the first to hit the water and start my dolphin dives in the long stretch of shallow waters. It was a solid 900m to the first turn buoy and sighting was a bit of a challenge. I caught 3-4 of the female Pros by the half way point in the swim. They had set off 4 minutes ahead of us and made for a useful mental target! Swimming a lot of the course on my own I exited the water alongside the 2nd placed fellow AG’er. Looking back at the water, I was pleased with the time I had put into others.
I moved through the first transition swiftly and was soon out on to the bike course. Coming from an ITU style racing background definitely helped in transition gaining further time on others still in the water. Out on to the 2 lap, 90km bike course I got in to my rhythm and worked away. In training I am the type of person that loves to swim/bike/run even splits, the more even the better. The first lap was really good on the bike felt good and focused on hitting my Heart rate and fuelling markers the best that I could. On the second lap of the bike, the wind had picked up, but I remained relaxed and stuck to my race plan. Back in to transition for the final time my legs felt fresher than I thought they would and I had no stiffness in my back or legs. I got on to my pace, very excited about how things were going and well I was feeling. So excited in fact, I forgot to eat anything in the first 10km of the run! I was making my way through the field off the bike making up time on the monster bikers. So, from around kilometre 16 it felt like I was dragging my bike box and suitcase around the final lap of the run. My heart rate was getting lower along with my blood pressure as my hands and lips were going tingly. I was rapidly grabbing everything I could at aid stations; Coke, Red bull, energy bars, gels, isotonic drink and a banana! By the time I had gone through three aid stations in 4km, I was starting to feel a lot better and was able to pick things up a little in the final kilometre.
In situations like this, the finish line could not have come soon enough. Never have I gone from feeling so good to a death shuffle so quickly. You see it and hear it every year when you watch Kona; “Nutrition is the fourth Discipline”. However, although the majority of my race went really well (apart from the pear-shaped ending) and I am buzzing to get in to winter training and work on my plans to race more middle distance over the next few years. Likewise, having hung on for 6th in age group in Ch. Mallorca I happened to qualify for the Challenge Championship 2019. While this will be a good focus for 2019, I will also be going after my pro race license for 70.3 competition.
Finally, just would like to say a big thank you to everyone who’s supported me in many different ways this year; Yonda, The Tri Store, Blade Printing, Luke Gardner, Team Bodyworks and my family and friends.
Any questions on my first experience of 70.3 racing contact me on my Twitter: @HRK_Triathlete