Louella O'Herlihy - Outlaw Triathlon 2021

Outlaw Triathlon – 3.8k Swim | 180k Bike | 42k Run

11 hours 2 minutes

My focus for this race was trying to nail nutrition in the lead up to the race as well as during the race. For this I had Nutrition Coaching Co help as well as incredible race day support from XMiles.

In training, I practiced using my nutrition and tried to make it as ‘clean’ as possible so that I could mitigate gut issues during the race. Once I settled on what I could stomach (pun intended) for an endurance race of up to 12 hours it was time to work out my energy requirements.

We had settled on trying out 60g carb/hour. This amounts to quite a lot – so it needs careful planning –

  • Where will it all fit when on the bike and run?
  • What am I going to eat on race morning – bearing in mind staying at a B&B and getting up at 3.30am so I need to be able to make it from what’s provided in the room – a kettle!
  • What will I eat from breakfast until I start the swim at 5.53am?
  • What will I eat after the swim while in T1 and getting ready to go out on the bike?
  • Can I fit my (quite large) energy bars into my (quite small) on-bike storage?
  • What goes into the ‘Bike Special Needs’ bag, and how far is this into the bike to know how to maximise on making that stop worthwhile?
  • Do I rely on my own gels for the run or use on-course nutrition?
  • How do I carry all my fuel on the run?
  • & then there’s hydration to think of too!

So, this was ‘race day’ taken care of…

Mountain Fuel

  • Morning Fuel x3
  • Sports Jelly Orange x9
  • Sports Jelly Cola x3
  • Recovery Fuel x2

 Torq

  • Explore Flapjack Orange Ginger Cake x3

Veloforte

  • Di Bosco bar x1
  • Ciocco x1
  • Classico x1

 Precision hydration

  • 1000 x1
  • 500 x1

In addition to this, I had some carb drink to top me up. In total I had planned to consume 3,600 calories during the race – that’s some picnic… so taste fatigue definitely needs to be considered! As my Garmin watch told me I’d expended 5,807 calories that day I’d say that was pretty bang on.

Pre-race I had had my bike serviced at Rockets & Rascals Poole as the last thing you want is to have a mechanical during the bike leg – and during 112 miles there are several opportunities for this to happen. I also had support from fellow Zoom Tri Club Bournemouth member Tim Flower who had decided to be my “carrying donkey” and driver so that these stresses were taken away from me. He also did a great job commentating on my Insta so that was fun to relive the race after too! Having this support really did make a difference and I’m very grateful for it.

Saturday 24th July – National Water Sports Centre, Nottingham

So, having gotten up to Nottingham last night it was now time to get to the venue, register, pick up the transition bags, fill them with what I needed for each leg of the race: swim to bike; bike to run and post-race, then rack the bike. The transition area was huge! This would add extra time on to transitions which can impact on overall time. This was also a chance to see the swim course… and realise how long of a swim 3.8k is – yikes! It was an out and back! Gulp.

Outlaw Triathlon

The fun part of registering and racking is you get to check out lots of amazing looking bikes and catch up with many friends that you haven’t seen in a while – usually one of your last races! The “Triathlon family” is amazing though, you can pick up where you left off so easily and everyone is so supportive and welcoming. Then it was back to the B&B, do some self- acupuncture (I am an acupuncturist as my day job!), last minute stretching and rehab, plait the hair into ‘Battle Braids’, eat and generally rest up. Then a text from my coach, Perry Agass, checking to see if I knew what I was doing in the race and my reply “I’m just going as hard as I can aren’t I – bury self on the bike and see what that does to my run?” to which I got a thumbs up and a message to be brave. This Saturday night also coinciding with the first night people could go out clubbing made it a rather loud night with the B&B being Central Nottingham, but managed some sleep and when getting up at 3:30am I could see people waiting at the bus stop outside just going home from their night out.

Race Day – Sunday 25th July

Last checks in transition plus adding fuel and drink to the bike. Last toilet stops, get the wetsuit on then walk down to the holding pen waiting for the swim start. Nervous chatter to people around you, then walk round to the pontoon. The pro men and women set off (slightly delayed) then the blue hats and then my group in yellow hats. I did a shallow dive off the pontoon and set off in the murky lake water. Bing the Olympic rowing lake the course is easy – straight up, across at the top then straight back down. I’m usually pretty good at over-swimming due to poor sighting, but this time only swam 49m off course and had a chip time of 1.19.52. As I was taking anything under 1 hour 20 I was happy with this start. Now into T1, eat, change, go!

Louella O'Herlihy

Apparently my bike was clocked (potentially due to my ‘understated’ colour scheme!) by one of the professional photographers @thatcameraman on Saturday as he was meant to be documenting a specific race team. He caught up with me en route on the bike and got some great shots for me. The bike was where I was ‘burying myself’ so I really wanted to push throughout the 180k. In my head I wanted to see how close to 2 hours 30 I could get for the first 90k. Unfortunately my recurrent back pain started to kick in within the first half hour so this didn’t bode well. I had some pain killers with me but was a bit reluctant to take them, but necessity won over in the end. I had a stretch of really bad pain where I had to stand to pedal for a while to let my back settle and I got to 90k at 2 hours 38. I then gritted my teeth and kept on going to see how close I could get to my goal of 5.15 for the bike, and luckily after 3 hours I learned how to ride the wave of pain. This was a new revelation to me and I remember smiling that “every day is a school day” at the time!

I came in at the end of the bike in 5 hours and 23 minutes for 180.31km, the last 5 of which are on evil gravel with potholes and speed bumps as you lead into the back of the private estate before hitting the boating lake again, and was pleased to dismount without falling over!! It was then a run with the bike back to where it needed racking, run to the tent to get my bike-run bag and change into fresh socks and trainers. I decided to stop at the WC for a quick comfort break then made my way out onto the run course.

Louella O'Herlihy

The atmosphere was amazing! You had to pass the finish line twice and the crowds there were cheering on those that would soon be finishing. Seeing the top end of the field already on their 2nd lap was amazing, especially as they looked so fast and light on their feet. The sun came out for a bit so after my WC stop I didn’t put the race suit back up as this wastes time. After nearly 20km of running like that I was finally told by a marshal that I needed to put the top back up… as the sun was going behind clouds at this stage I didn’t mind too much.

What has never happened to me before is to be called out by the commentators on each lap past the finish that here was Louella O’Herlihy, 2019 ITU World Champion in Long Course (which I am but I’ve never been at a race where they realised that!).

My goal had been to try to get under 4 hours for the marathon and I think my nutrition was on point. I had all my gels in my handheld soft flask (quite heavy and would not do this again) so I was sipping on there every 10 mins or so, then grabbing water as I walked through the aid stations. Unfortunately, I also had to stop once to deal with my laces which were too tight on my ankle and hurting the bunion too and for the loo again. I wasn’t aware of my overall time or I would not have done the loo stops as I came into the finish in 11:02:00.

8th female overall (out of 185) in a field including 3 pros, and won my age category of F50-54 by 32 minutes. I certainly believe that spending time working out the nutrition really benefitted me and I thank XMiles again for supporting me in this race! 

Post event

I tried to down some protein recovery shake but wasn’t in the mood. Instead, I had the free fish and chips that were on offer to athletes (or burger) then stopped on the way home for some Cadbury’s chocolate, crisps and thai noodles – ever the athlete!

I then made sure I had my protein shake before bed and first thing in the morning. Kept on hydrating throughout as my mouth felt like the bottom of a bird cage by mid run and felt like it was taking ages to get back to normal.


About the Author
LOUELLA O'HERLIHY
XMiles Ambassador

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