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Outlaw X 2020 - Ruth Astle

by Cheryl Fox on September 28, 2020

I had actually signed up to Outlaw X in 2019 as I was keen to do one of the Outlaw events having heard such good feedback on them. However post my crash at the end of July it seemed more sensible to focus on recovery as opposed to fitting more races in before Kona. So I was excited to get the chance to race there this year, and against a stellar British field because of the PTO putting some prize money up for the event.

I was pretty nervous before the race - I wanted to see where I am versus some of the best British ladies, which I haven’t had the opportunity to do much this year with limited racing. However I also know that Ironman is what I am better at rather than the shorter distances.

The night before the race we were told the swim would be shortened due to the air temperature. This was a bit of a relief as I had been quite chilly going for a spin earlier, and wasn’t keen to repeat the freezing experience of Hever in 2018! Also with my swim still being a big weakness a shortened swim is always going to help me at the moment!

Race morning - up bright and early for porridge and tea, before driving down to transition for final prep. It was still pretty windy so I was glad we had been able to cable tie the bikes to the racks overnight, but I was a bit worried about it blowing off whilst we swam. Hydration and nutrition on the bike and kit all laid out it was time to get the wetsuit on and prepare for the cold swim!

We all walked down to the lake and it felt relatively normal being able to hang out with the other ladies pre race. There was the usual jokes and giggles and it helped relax me! Then it was time to put the goggles on and get ready for the run and dive into the cold lake. Being one of the last ladies to set off meant I got to watch everyone else run and dive in which was quite funny! As soon as I hit the water the cold was a shock! It was about 13 degrees so pretty cold. The swim was alright and I survived which is the main thing!

It was a long run up to T1 which was actually good as a chance to warm up. Getting into T1 I could see my bike had fallen off and been put back as the elastic bands had come off my shoes. I put my gilet on (didn’t want to get as cold as I did in Helvellyn), and ran out to the mount line. I didn’t trust my ability to try and mount with my shoes not level so propped the bike up to put my shoes on before mounting. Lots of faffing and more time wasted! Finally out onto the bike and without any power I was aiming for around 160bpm hr to ensure I was pushing reasonably hard but not too hard! I soon discovered that where the bike had fallen all my hydration at the back had trickled out so I only had my front bottle. This also wasn’t working well so I had about 200ml of fluid for the whole bike! Thankfully I had a couple of Maurten gels so I got some calories in.

It was a lonely bike, with a few age group men passing but going too quickly for me to hang on. I found the bike tough, it was really windy and exposed, and quite draggy, so it never felt like you got any free speed. I was given some time splits so knew I wasn’t losing too much time which was encouraging, but I wasn’t making any inroads either!

Finally got back to transition and I was looking forward to getting out on the run. I was excited to see where my run form is given I’ve had a good consistent block of running. The first lap of the run I struggled a bit, the first section was a bit uphill and into the wind, and my legs weren’t feeling great at that point. However into the second lap and one of my friends James came flying past which gave me a bit of encouragement to get going more. My legs had also warmed up a bit and I felt much better. I thought I was just running to get a pb rather than any kind of position, but coming towards the last 500m my coach Will told me that Lucy Hall was only 45 seconds in front. I didn’t think too much to it but thought I should just push as hard as possible in case. As I got closer I realised she must have started about 40 seconds in front of me so pushed on even more to try and nab that 4th position. I wasn’t sure if I had done enough but knew I had at least given it everything.

Shortly after it was confirmed I had just napped that 4th position which I was pretty chuffed about.

Overall I think it was a good reflection of where I’m at over that distance and compared to some of the best 70.3 athletes. It has given fuel for the fire for the winter training and really enjoyed being able to race again!