Having been out on my new carbon Felt bike only half a dozen times due to the wet summer of course I didn’t feel fully prepared for this race but was interested to be competing on closed roads at a local event, it was also a Club championship race so points at stake !
6:15am alarm start was acceptable to this queen of lay-in’s, I managed to consume porridge and a banana that was probably a little too green washed down with a huge mug of tea, then I was awake enough to get out the door, sensibly I packed the car the night before. Mentally going through each discipline – had I got all my kit? did I need anything else? will I get parked near the event? have I got enough gels and drinks? Relax all is good. The sun is out, the roads are dry and its warm enough not to need a jacket or t-shirt on the bike.
Arriving on Cumberland road in just over 45 minute I managed to park up less than half a mile form transition – love free Sunday parking in cities. I wheeled my bike along with race rucksack on my back enjoying the quietness of the city. I even passed a city centre camping & caravan site – a new one on me.
Numbered racking on grass adjacent to the harbour where we would be swimming was all set up and transition was live as racing began at 7am. I dropped my bike off and had a coffee with three club mates. Unfortunately one was fished out of the harbour after a panic attack, they’re fine and annoyed with themselves for lack of open water training this season.
Back into transition to get organised I was talking to my neighbour Jo who had just popped over from Toronto, Canada for the weekend to race, as you do!
All waves were going off on the dot so I walked with Kirsty to assemble for our briefing and reassuring her she would be fine. We found out that there was no chance to warm up or acclimatise for the swim, it was drop off the pontoon, line up then….the airhorn sounded and we were off spot on 9:36am with 66 females off to tackle the standard/Olympic distance triathlon.
The swim was the full washing machine effect, I was up in the top 10 swimmers and we squeezed 4 a breast around the first buoy. Battling down the back straight we were still jostling for clear water, tagging toes and facing away from fists at the last moment. Then we started to spread out across the M shaped course. The water was colder than the lakes at only 15c but really quite clear, in fact a lot clearer than London docks. 29 minutes later I was out of the water and running the 200m along the harbour side into transition.
T1 was not quick! I tripped on my own towel, got my socks all twisted up, tried to put my helmet on but where I tried my hair in a mini ponytail it was in the way – I still have a sore spot there this morning.
The bike route was 4 laps, it was advertised as pancake flat, but with the potholes which were well highlighted in orange spray paint it was a little more waffles like in places. Cycling along the north side of the Avon gorge on the A4 it was scenic and offered great views of the Clifton suspension bridge. There was a gradual climb to the extremely tight hairpin bend turn around point, then a small downhill section but whichever way we cycled there seemed to be a headwind. Many other competitors commented on the unexpected swirling wind factor so wasn’t me looking for excuses! Just within the hour and a half time averaging 17mph.
T2 was a little more planned and organised, a longer run over grass and abandoned wetsuits back to my rack position.
The run was along the south side of the river Avon along a trail, this was a lot muddier than expected and adding to the gel I poured on my legs during the bike ride I now had mud. I felt comfortable throughout the run and kept a steady pace, I even passed a couple of girls – unheard of for me on the run! Although I was passed in the last 1km by two other girls I had nothing left in my legs to kick for a sprint finish. Maybe that 14 miles run on Wednesday had an affect. Anyway still managed to keep under the hour for the 10k run, equal to my road race time last weekend J Maybe I just need a swim & ride to warm up for my runs, or maybe I just stick with triathlons.
Crossing the line as the clocks LED’s flipped over to the three hour mark, I was pleased with my performance overall on a true standard distance course. In fact I think the bike section was a couple of miles longer. When I go back next year – as I plan to because I really enjoyed the race, I will look for more clear water and less pack swimming, sort out my bike helmet and socks for T1, hopefully get many more cycling miles done in training and maybe not do a long run in the week before.
The organisation, marshals and supporters throughout were great. The high viz army were at every twist and turn, along the straights, in and out of transition and of course the finish. A great goody bag, even with womens fit t-shirts and the Crunchie was heaven, I saved it for my finish.
I really loved the race, not just because I got my highest age group placing, I was looking for a top ten finish this year and got 3rd. My only disappointment was that prizes were for 1st and 2nd places and so I’ll have to go one better next year to get my first triathlon prize.
Home and a lovely hot bubble bath, food and a ginger beer. Decided easiest way to deal with my mucky running shoes and dock water wetsuit was to drop them in the bath with me ! Then more food – fresh wood oven pizza. I was so hungry, then bed..zzzzz…..