Tej Thaker Age Group Blog: make your mistakes work for you

6th July 2017

So we’re half way through the season, I’ve got few races under the belt, earned some cycling tan lines (which the missus isn’t a fan of) and I’m loving it.

On results, it hasn’t been fantastic, but I’m getting faster and learning from every race & training session.

Shockingly, The Donald offers some worthy advice: “Make your mistakes work for you by learning from them.”

First race of 2017: Windsor duathlon at Dorney Lake

Duathlons are a brilliant way to start the year; they provide you with the opportunity to satisfy that itch you have to get out racing and, importantly, put your winter training to the test ahead of the tri season. Dorney is a great and fast course. It’s flat, not technical and you can always guarantee a great atmosphere, albeit cold & quiet with strong headwinds on the bike this time. What doesn’t kill you…

On the first run of the first race, you’re raring to go and it’s incredibly easy to set out too hard, so it’s a mental game as much as physical. I paced myself well, with the first and second run within 1 minute of each other, to finish 16th.

In preparation for the next duathlon, during a sprint training session in Hyde Park, I pushed a little too hard.

I had the same feeling I had 2 years ago when I tore my calf, coincidently, during the same Windsor duathlon.

If there’s one thing I’m good at, its ruining my season just as it starts. 3yrs a champion.

Reluctantly, but sensibly, I put training on hold and pulled out of the race after being told by a sports doctor I had most likely torn the same muscle. This could put me out for the season, so to be sure I went for a few scans. Alas, no tear. Well, that was a lot of worrying for nothing, onto some physio, and back into training.

The result was relatively minimal. I had lost a few weeks training and only missed one race, but could now get back to this gruelling hobby.

My first full triathlon in over 18 months was back to Dorney Lake for the Nuffield Health Eton Sprints weekender. It sounds like a festival, and with the atmosphere created by competitors, supporters, pets, food stalls & music, it wasn’t far off. Suns out, embarrassing non-existence-guns out.

Racing in the non-drafting wave, my fitness had suffered with a few weeks off, but I took away as much as I could from the race (not referring to the Erdinger).

Lesson 1: if you get a puncture, the best time to get it is on the dismount into T2. Nailed it.

Lesson 2: I need to work on holding power during the bike leg, it’s definitely my weakest of the disciplines.

Summary: on yer bike son.

Next was Blenheim Palace, which again is an absolutely stunning venue, and worth getting up before the crack of dawn to get to.

Despite stopping 3 times during the swim to adjust my water-filled goggles, nearly coming off my bike, and stitching on the last km of the run it was a good race and again I could again take away some valuable lessons.

My bike leg was stronger than the last race, my calf survived and I felt stronger. Particularly strong, I should add, when an unexpected crowd of Japanese tourists started shouting “Go Go Go, Yes Yes Yes” on turning the corner of one of the Palace entrances to see thousands of triathletes. I’d struggle to tell you which party was more excited.

The Nuffield Health Royal Windsor Triathlon was my latest, but earliest race.

Up at 3:30am for a 6:04am kick off, the sun was shining, and I was pumped up on the drive down.

I’d been doing my homework and focusing on power-specific bike sessions for the last 2 weeks, so this would be a good test.

After attacking the swim to hit a pb, I went on to a quick transition to exit T1 in 12th.

Here we go, time to tear apart this bike course. Remember how I was pumped up on the drive down here? Well, my tyre was less so; 50 metres into the bike leg…puncture! I just had it replaced by a mechanic, so to say I was shocked would be an understatement.

I was consoled by a local builder as I strolled down back to the bike mount point and down the long walk to transition, passing competitors who were on their way to the swim start for the later waves.

Considering the effort up leading up to this race and a fantasticstart with a swim pb, like my tyre, I was deflated.

Quick 5 minute sulk in transition, then ready to absolutely hammer it out on the run. (of course I waited for athletes to get in from the bike. It would’ve looked dodgy had I gone out for the run just 10 minutes after leaving T1 and broken the tape to win the race in a course record).

I left it all out on the run course to finish shattered. Mission accomplished.

To sum it up, it hasn’t been a fantastic start to the season, but with over 2 years of injuries and illnesses, I feel great to be back racing.

With each race/mistake/weakness, I’ve taken away key lessons and have put them into practice straight away to see results.

Here’s to the next half of the season, with more lessons to train and race smarter and faster.

I’m pumped (oh wait, that brings back bad memories).