Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Puhajarve 1/2 IM 08/08/09

It was during the Lanzarote IM 2009 that Paul and myself decided to take part in the Puhajarve Triathlon in Estonia. Actually it was before we had completed the IM, we were feeling brave.

The race is organised by triple IM champion Ain-Alar Juhanson, who had a stand at the IM expo. Ain is a really nice guy and we had met him the year previously in Probike and Paul had bought his Scott Plasma from him too. We signed up and well forgot about it until we came home from Lanzarote. 

On returning home we checked out the website to see the profile of the course, ohhhh, looked like a mini Lanzarote, hilly bike and hilly run, nerves were kicking in and it was 8 weeks away and we were feeling very lethargic since the IM. About a week before the race we were informed the long hill was getting a bit longer, lovely.....

We flew over on the 7th, and were collected by Andreas in Riga. Puhajarve is equi-distant from Riga and Tallin, so it worked out better for us to fly to and from Riga. The race started at 11 on the 8th so traveling on the Friday the 7th, we felt we would be rested before the race.

We took the option to stay in the Puhajarve Spa Hotel, right on transition, it was perfect and so cheap. The swim is in the Puhajarve lake (Holy lake), the bike is a 3 lap, 31km loop, and the run beside the lake a mix of path, trail, road and hills. T1 and T2 were set up on the tennis courts and it was all very IM style, warm up, T1 and T2 bags, very well organised. A perfect setting for a race.

Race day:
There was no rush as the race started at 11 and honestly everyone seemed so relaxed, very much a friendly atmosphere. Temperature mid 20's. 

I had a bit of a set back the night before putting my bike together, the ergostem system on the Look 496, crap system by the way, has a grooved washer (shimmy) that holds the handle bars in place, well it was broke in three, probably happened when I crashed a few weeks, yet was not noticed when I sent it in for repair. Anyway enough moaning, I didn't have a spare so had to piece it together and tighten the bolt as hard as I could to keep the shattered pieces in place for the race. What a start.....

Bikes were racked and warm up, T1 and T2 bags deposited. Then it was off to the swim start, 2 loops of 950m, with a 10m in and out after the first loop. Quick warmup complete, Whistle blew and off we went. 
No hassle in the lake which was great, not much bumping or slaps at all. I settled into a nice rhythm and got onto someone's feet and just concentrated on form. 1st lap 16 mins, quick run and into the water again, same again for me, back onto someone's feet and around again, 17 mins this time. Happy with that, didn't feel like I expended too much energy at all.

The race was so well organised, picked up my T1 bag and off to change. Onto the bike and off.

The bike was tough, 1st lap was about getting to know the course to see for laps 2 and 3 where to go hard and where to ease up, well that was the plan.

I eneded up just going as hard as I could for it all. It was a really undulating course with a couple of steep climbs to begin so HR remained high for a while. I didn't think I was riding that well and expected Moley to fly passed me, end of lap 1, no sign of him, lap 2, no sign of him, lap 3, no sign of him. Maybe I was going alright after all. I didn't have my Garmin as it froze just before the race so was using my run monitor. I averaged 32.4km/hr for the bike, 93km, 2.50hr. Into T2, collected my bag on with the runners, visor, gels and off I went. Plan for this was to consume gels and run an even pace. I find it really hard in long distance races to maintain food consumption right to the end. By the time the run comes along I just don't want to eat. I aimed for 4 gels and a pack of power shots.

I started the run well found my pace, 4.50-5.00 min/km, went to the first turn around (2km out) and then expected to meet Moley on the way back. The lead athlete passed me in the first 5 mins, in the opposite direction, 10km ahead of me, lovely!!!, Also saw Stefan (IM Florida 2007 winner), Ain and Moley on the way back, he was going well but cramping a bit. I knew the feeling, pushed the bike a bit too hard I think. The run was a mix of footpath, trail and road and it was very hilly 2 laps. But it was so enjoyable. I kept to the plan and had all my gels and powerbar shots. I really noticed the difference with 5km to go. 
My pace stayed the same yet I was passing some people. This really encouraged me and with 2km to go I push on as hard as I could to the finish. As you came around the last bend, you had a 60m run on the grass between barriers to the finish which was on a stage. All the flags of the nations competing were along the final straight also, which was a nice touch.

After the race there was plenty of food and refreshments. There was even a tub to get into and soak!!!! I couldn't resist. I finished the run in 1.49hr and my total time was 5.20hr. I was thrilled. It was a tough course, one which I wanted to stop on numerous occasions.

Would I recommend this race to others. Most definitely. It was extremely well organised and loads of little nice touches like the national flags, the warm-up, T1 and T2 bags, great race t-shirts, stunning venue, quiet roads, fun atmosphere, great food on and off the course. Also, we were collected from and brought back to the airport all part of the entry fee, which was 95 euro.

Mark it down in your diary 07/08/10, Puhajarve Triathlon. 

Not to be missed. 

Ain wears WTC beenie Ain & Stefan wear WTC gear

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