Tuesday, 14 June 2011

....... and down came the rain!!

Apparently it's Summer and the news last week was all about how the UK had had it's driest Spring ever and was heading for a Summer of drought. Yet while all this news was being broadcast it was damn cold, blowing gales and mostly throwing it down with rain. Im not sure where the droughts are supposed to be, but here it's been more like March than June.

The awful weather had given me just the excuse I needed to put in a really poor week of training ahead of the Burnham-on-Sea Sprint Triathlon. I even bailed out of my traditional 80mile bike ride to Burnham the day before the race because I feared the cold, wind and rain of Exmoor. I opted for a safer 36mile plod to Puffin Billy and back instead.
Come the morning of the race the weather was just as predicted - bloody awful!!! The first waves had the worst of it, they were off at 6am and not only had the monsoon conditions but the early morning cold too. As a lot of these were the slower/fun athletes I really felt for them as I was sat in the warm, dry caravan eating breakfast while they were struggling round.

I made my way down to the pool and I really wasn't feeling it, had I been at home the night before I'd have seriously considered not bothering to travel at all, but I was already there so it had to be done.
I racked the Focus, leaving helmet and run shoes in a position where they at least wouldn't fill with water. Outside of the weather the bike was going to be interesting because last week I decided to remove all the spacers from below my tri-bars hence lowering them by two inches. My seatpost also keeps slipping every time I ride the bike, even with 'special' carbon seatpost grease and a properly torqued clamp I'm never at the same height finishing a ride as I was at the start. Add to this the weather, the potential flooded roads and the winds battering my front 808 wheel it was all set to be a 'fun' 12 miles.

I had an approximate start time of 9:40 alongside my clubmate Phill who once again was looking to kick my butt on the bike. He'd got revenge on his mind after I smashed (for me) the bike course at Taunton taking him for over 2mins. We sat on poolside chatting with all the other 'quick'(??) swimmers and finally it was out turn. We were started a lane at a time when one became free, there were 4 to a lane and we started at 10 second intervals. This format seems to work quite well, so long as everyone has put accurate times down.

Phill's lane went off, then another lane was called before finally it was my turn. There were only two of us left, there was only two in our lane, we were the final starters in the race. This turned out to be a good thing as Rich, the poor lad sharing my lane had found himself there due to a clerical error and his swim time was over 2mins slower than mine. It worked out fine though because although I overtook him three times we managed to get through the swim without ever getting in each others way. It was as good a solo swim as I could have expected, although I'm sure a bit of company and some pressure would have helped me swim faster.

I was only 2mins into my 500m swim when I noticed Phill had already got out. I knew straight away that the chances were I wouldn't see him again until the Finish.
I exited the water, grabbed my number belt and glasses and ran out of the pool into T1 in 7:07 alongside someone from the previous wave. As normal I then got dropped in transition as I messed about putting my shoes on rather than doing the ITU style running leap of faith mount while my shoes were attached to my bike. I was soon into my rhythm though and re-passed the cheeky beggar before starting my charge around the course.

It's funny how race mode affects you once the mist comes down. I remember only really getting held up in traffic once, I remember spending lots of time in the middle of the road avoiding huge puddles of standing water, I remember the awful headwind in the last 3 miles, I can't actually remember whether it was still raining or not though. I'm sure it must have been as it didn't seem to stop all day, but suddenly, when here is a number on your back, you ignore little things like weather and just focus on getting round the course as fast as possible while staying in one piece.
When I hit T2 Phill's bike was back and he was long gone. I grabbed my trainers out of the carrier bag they were in and struggled to put them on while all around me shouted (friendly) abuse. I'd hit T2 with a cyclist I'd caught, but once again left behind him (I really must practice these) and he took off like a scalded rat, just before the beach though I caught him and ran past. Time to get into my zone and get moving.
The out leg of the run was fine other than the sand being extreemely soggy, but even though I hit the sand dune onto the golf course at a good pace and my Garmin recorded the first mile at 5:47. Sweet!! I cruised around the trail section watching my footing, taking special care on the well soaked and slippery wooden bridges and trying to conserve a little energy for the return along the beach where I knew the headwind would be evil. As I climed the dune back onto the beach my Garmin registered mile 2 at 6:09, better than I expected. The last 1.3miles was simply torture! My legs started tying up as soon as I hit the wind so I tried to stay upright and focus on my form. Then from nowhere, just as I was struggling the most, somebody came flying past me. "Where the hell did he come from?". I felt real deflated as he simply ran away from me. Then I had a word with myself!! I was the last to start, so I'd obviously passed him somewhere before, he had to have started in an earlier wave so I didn't actually need to finish ahead of him to beat him! With that I got myself back into gear and started an attempt to chase him down. He was tiring and must have looked over his shoulder for me at least 5 times, I was feeling strong again and working hard. I was gaining, but by so little it was hardly worth it. The Finish Line was too close and I wouldn't keep this pace up much longer anyway. I crossed the line around 20 secs behind him.
The wait for the results began and it wasn't long before we found out the pass on the beach had been terminal and had cost me the win, 2nd place was going to have to do. In an added bonus Phill kept his ever improving season going with a fine 3rd place finish. I've no idea how the Timing Company managed to get my finish time a full 30secs slower then I made it on my watch, but then they are the same company that totally screwed up the Taunton results (from which I'm 'still' awaiting my winners cheque) so I guess I should just be grateful they got me on the results at all.

Next up is 'hopefully' a solid week of training followed by the Goldcoast Aquathlon on Saturday. That'll be all about having a bit of fun and getting in my first Open Water Swim of the season. Brrrrr. Better go and dust off my wetsuit!


Austin said...

Nice work dude. The laziness pays off as usual.
Youd probably have won if youd cycled the 80 miles to the race. ;)

yaagTRI said...

you should name and shame the timing company ;)