Aaron Buchan

Race report Songkla 2023

SPRINT 750/20K/5KM: Overcoming Challenges and Achieving Victory

Embarking on a journey from Phuket to Songkla, a drive that took me nearly seven hours, was a testament to my determination. Just five months prior, I had experienced a debilitating accident that left me with persistent neck issues, a nagging reminder of the disc injury I endured. However, surrendering to these challenges was never an option for me. Instead, I chose to persevere, pushing my limits through rigorous training and unwavering dedication. Training had been a struggle, particularly the running aspect, which seemed to exacerbate the tension in my neck muscles, leaving me feeling drained and occasionally dizzy.

Upon my arrival in Songkla, I spent the evening catching up with a friend and indulging in a delicious dinner before retiring early. The next morning, I rose before the sun for a pre-race training session that consisted of a refreshing swim along the race course and an easy ride on the same terrain. During the week leading up to the race, I encountered issues with the pedal thread on my crank, which required rethreading. To my dismay, the issue resurfaced during my ride, revealing that my pedal extenders were fitted with the wrong thread. I had been using these extenders for the past six years, but there was no other choice than to remove them, forcing me to ride in an unfamiliar position with altered mechanics.

Race Day finally arrived, and conditions couldn’t have been more favorable – calm waters, no wind, no rain, and cool temperatures. I followed my usual warm-up routine, but I couldn’t help but feel a tad apprehensive about the run portion of the race, given that I had only been able to manage 20-30 kilometers of running per week in my training. I performed a brief pre-swim warm-up and positioned myself at the start line.

As the starting gun fired, one young athlete shot ahead like a rocket, setting an intense pace. I had to keep up, and after a series of duck dives and dolphin kicks, I managed to secure the lead. Yet, I wasn’t eager to be in front; I preferred conserving energy and drafting behind someone. At the first turn, I slipped in behind two young competitors for a smoother swim, taking it easy and relaxing.

Exiting the water and making my way to the transition area, I faced a daunting run. The first 5 kilometers on the bike were challenging, as my shorter pedals caused my inner quads to burn. I opted not to push too hard, maintaining an average speed of 37 kilometers per hour, which was less than satisfactory. Still, I held onto my first position.

As I transitioned from the bike to the run, I was aware of the target on my back. My lead made me a prime contender, but I had no intention of competing with the young guns. Age and fatigue had caught up with me. I began the run with a comfortable 4:15 pace, but in the final kilometer, I was overtaken by another runner with lightning speed, clocking sub-4-minute miles. I chose not to engage in a sprint finish, accepting my age and exhaustion gracefully. However, in the last 700-800 meters, my long-time rival decided to make his move, and I had to dig deep, pushing myself to run at a pace of under 4 minutes per kilometer, ultimately crossing the finish line as the 1st in my age group and 2nd overall.

I extend my heartfelt thanks to Core Nutrition for their unwavering support and the Z-coaching crew for their invaluable training guidance. My journey continues, with the next race taking place this weekend in Phuket.

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