This last (extended) weekend was all a bit manic. It actually started on Wednesday evening when I finished work for the week and included two 40th birthdays, two races, two big meals out and almost 7hrs of training!
First up was the long suffering girlfriend Shelly's 40th birthday on Wednesday and in true loving boyfriend style I got home from work just in time to head across the road to Chivenor and race(???) a Duathlon. Ok, it's not 'really' a race it's more of a training session and with this being the first one and the weather potentially being awful there wasn't the biggest attendance - I even took my old old race bike for a rare outing. The evening went well and the rain held off nicely although the wind was immense and I even popped to Squires for a takeaway on the way home. See, I really know how to treat a lady!!!
Ok, the main reason I got away with disappearing for most of Shelly's 40th birthday was because from then we were heading back up to Wolves for a family visiting session where we'd be out on both Friday and Saturday night scoffing huge Birthday meals. I guess it was still just a little cheeky of me though, good job I'm so cute eh!!
Thursday morning was a big muddle of stuff as we slowly got things sorted ahead of the 3hr drive to Wolves. I'm always amazed how we can pack more stuff for a weekend with the family than we will for two weeks in Hawaii this October. The plan was to drive out to Bristol and ride the rest of the way home, a good way to combine the big travel with a solid long bike ride. The weather was evil though and as we approached Bristol it was almost pitch black and lashing it down with rain. I've never pretended to be a hardened cyclist and it doesn't take much for me to bottle out, hence the bike stayed where it was in the back of the car!! (I made slight amends later with a 14mile run instead).
On Friday I managed to sneak in a lumpy 3hr ride which took in Cosford, Shifnal, Ironbridge, Wenlock (the town, not the weird Olympic Mascot) and Bridgenorth. There wasn't a great deal in the legs after the previous night's run and if I'm honest it felt like a bit of a slog-fest, but I got it done and even managed to come back via the Hermitage in Bridgenorth - a hill I used to despise!
Friday evening we headed out for a joint birthday meal at The Bell at Trysull. It was not only Shelly's 40th birthday on Wednesday but (my sister) Shell's 40th on Sunday too (far too many Michelle's around!!) so a good nosh up was in order!
The Bell is a place we used to frequent WAY back in my youth and actually the place I met Shelly, although if you think I booked it because I'm an old soppy romantic you really don't know me very well! It's changed a whole lot since we used to go there and it was full of young hoodlums almost constantly watching the unedited version of Alice Cooper - Poison for some breasticle action - Yes, of course I mean me!!
Now The Bell is a proper Good Food establishment and very good it was too. Fully recommended and I expect it won't be the last time we go in when we're in town. My parents came with us and they've already been back since.
On Saturday I burned off some calories with another two hours on the bike while Shelly went for a walk over at Himley Hall with my Mother and Rosie Pup. It gave her a good opportunity to try out her new birthday camera and for Rosie to run around like a lunatic for the first time since her injury scare. I think all three of them enjoyed it, especially Rosie as shown by Shelly's pics.
After the daily stuff Saturday evening involved another monster Birthday meal out with Shelly, this time with all of her family. We went out to Cosmo, Bentley Bridge and wowzers is there some food there. The 'eat until you burst' Asian buffet style food is awesome and the desert section even better. I thought they were going to have to wheel me out of there I ate so much, I was properly fit to burst. All good prep for Sunday then ............ did I mention I was racing?
Wombourne Sprint Triathlon
This one was all down to my Sis, I hold her entirely responsible. BCT my old Tri Club from the days before the move to Devon have organised this event for many many years. As this year it fell on Shell's 40th she was doing it and as soon as I told her we were coming up she started nagging me to enter. The race was full though and much as I enjoy racing it's not my style to try to blag entries - it is hers though and sure enough on Monday I had a text message from one of the organisers basically saying "I hear you're coming up, you might as well race then". So I did!! Well it'd be rude not to :-D
So I rocked up on Sunday morning still full to the brim with Cosmo food and ready to rock. First up though were supporting duties as the little Sister raced sporting bib number 40 on her 40th birthday. Soon it was time to dig the bike out of the car and have some fun. Shelly has waited a long time to see her Christmas present of a Disc Cover in action, I was dubious about it having never ridden it before and with it being rather windy out - it was fine though
With everything racked and ready it was soon time to start......... There was confusion with my (late) entry with my race details not having reached poolside (or the results service, or the presentation - I missed out on a cheque!!) but after a bit of juggling I was away and swimming for the first time in a month. Thankfully the swim was only 400m because the time out of the water really told on my arms and they tired a lot quicker than normal, I was only 10-15secs slower than normal though and I'll take that gladly.
The run to T1 and with me being such a pain jessie I mince my way across the gravel on the carpark no doubt looking like I'm running on shards of glass. Once at my bike however the helmet was on and I was soon out on the road where I messed around trying to get my feet in my shoes like a total amateur - nothing new there then. I had to slow as I approached the traffic lights shortly after the start but not enough to make me stop, then I caught local boy Chris (who had to stop) climbing away from them. I know Chris is a damn fine cyclist and was surprised when I found him holding me up, so I passed him! The pass didn't last long however and as soon as we hit a slight climb he came past again. I made it my target to keep him in my sights which was easy on the flats/descents, but every time we had to go uphill he'd pull away from me a little more.
On the Bridgnorth Road the gap grew a bit more than I wanted but there was a big descent down to the traffic island where we had to turn left. I leathered it down the hill and the gap started closing rapidly, then disaster as the three cars that were between us had to stop at the island and the 2nd of those cars pinned himself right against the kerb forcing me to come to a dead stop. I wasn't happy and Chris was gone, I didn't see him again. I chugged on regardless hoping that maybe he'd tire a little or maybe his effort would have taken the sting out of his run legs, then as I approached the traffic lights near the finish disaster struck again as I crossed them and there was a queue of cars stuck behind some slower cyclists and there was nothing I could do but sit back and go at their pace losing even more time (I haven't got the ego to risk killing myself passing them for a few seconds).
T2 was pretty straightforward except for struggling a little to put on my Zoot 'slippers' which seems odd considering their whole design allows for a fast transition. Then I was off out on the run, the section where I could do some damage - except that it isn't!!
In the distant past my run was my strength, I'd always jump off the bike way down the field and run through to a decent Finish position. Now it seems that my run is my weakness as once again I felt heavy legged, slow and cumbersome, a feeling I've had in all to many races over the last few years. I guess all this Ironman training does little for my 5k speed.
I charged out of T2 with my target being Chris but without having any idea where he was or how much he'd taken out of my in that 2nd half of the bike. The run was out and back along an old railway track, it's nice and flat but the recent awful weather had made it's sand based surface pretty damn wet and muddy with huge puddles across it. I picked off the group of lads that had hit T2 ahead of me fairly early on but I didn't exactly breeze past them as I would have in the past, it was all a bit of a struggle.Then I saw Adam (the winner) running towards me like a steam train and I could tell the speed difference between us was huge.
The first mile passed in 5:55 which was actually quite comforting because it didn't feel that quick, I also knew that I was going to slow as the distance climbed because my legs were really not enjoying themselves.
Approaching the turnaround I saw Chris and worked out he'd got just over a minute on me, I'd taken nothing out of him and maybe even lost time. This wasn't good............ and so it proved as I progressively slowed through the next couple of miles to lost another minute rather than gain one.
The conclusion - Well, for all my efforts I managed to finish 5th overall and 2nd V40 although nobody knows because I'm down in the results as A.N.OTHER with no timing splits either. My Garmin gave me 6:47/30:15/19:08 although that's with T1/T2 mixed in somewhere. Because I'm down as an anonymous nobody it also meant that I missed out on the prize for 2nd V40 which is slightly Grrrrr worthy.
Other than that I discovered that having a month out of the water affects my swim slightly (but not a lot), my biking is obviously a lot stronger than I give it credit for (and stronger than a recent TT suggests) although I still can't ride uphill and my running......... well, my running is just slack and in need of sharpening up.
Having said all that, especially about the swimming, I need to remember that I'm training for an Ironman not a Sprint Tri and I had got almost 7hrs of training in my legs from the previous 3 days (+ a Cosmo feast).
I've worked out that although I'm perfectly happy to train through every race (but one) that I do this season I'll still bitch and moan like a trooper if those races don't go perfectly. That's all part of the fun though :-D