Here’s my take on a tough day at the office.
Race Entry – I don’t like long nervous build-ups hence I tend to enter events rather late – It works for me and helps to reduce (not by much) the usual have I trained enough or not scenario.
Preparation – A trip to Wales for the weekend and cycling in Majorca soon help you to re-calibrate the difference between a rolling course with a couple of hills and some steep climbs. The usual pre-race reccie is also a necessity just to mentally prepare you for what you might face.
Race-day – Its always good to travel with someone, then you can compare race-day nerves, stories of how little sleep you have both had and also chat about fashion, sorry – what clothing you might wear that day. It also helps to ensure you have got everything with you and that you don’t need to take the long embarrassing walk back to the car because you have forgot your sandals !!(Thanks for the lift Ross)
Racking – Did the usual checking of markers, where the entry/exit points are and also whose got the biggest disk, fanciest bike and then where are all the normal people hanging out. Left an assortment of clothing by the bike to ensure if I was cold I could slip on gloves or jacket if needed – splashed talcum over everything then placed box at the side which is now becoming more compulsory (which I agree with).
Swim – Popped my head in the water to ensure it wasn’t too cold – felt ok but came out like some sort of swamp monster due to the green stuff (Still waiting on lab results to determine if it was alive). Anyway – positioned myself on the 30-34 mins area and then set-off – Pretty uneventful swim, lots of single stroke siting to the first buoy to help navigate the rest of the field, settled into a good rhythm to buoy 2 before being blinded by the sun on the way back in and trying to ensure I didn’t hit the rocks at the side which would have been off-course.
T1 – Left the swim around 14:30 thinking I really enjoyed that – Why wasn’t it two laps as it wasn’t that cold !! Quick decision taken in T1 to not put jacket on, socks, tri-belt and helmet on and away I went.
Bike – It was a rolling route but I knew what was coming and where the hills were – As mentioned by others drafting is not legal but with the short swim it was almost impossible to not be caught in a group at some stage. This may have helped when I posted a 2h42 bike which surprised me, however, life has a way of evening things out
T2 – If anyone would like to know how NOT to dismount I’m your man – Rather than slip my feet out my shoes on entry to the car park I left my shoes in, unclipped one side then for some reason tried to put my other foot down without unclipping – oohh’s, aaahh’s and a couple of oh my god’s as I hit the floor with a carbon bike spinning in the air (well not quite but you get my drift).
A severely dented ego, caring marshal and massive applause at the dummy on the carpet and I quickly scarpered through to transition and out on the run after gulping some drink.
Run – This is where life kicks you back in the nadgers. Mile 1 – Pain threshold breached (cramp) through to Mile 12.9 pain threshold still breached. Sometimes a run/walk scenario will get you through and today I had to settle for this – not the best run time but I made it. I think I got my nutrition wrong – I took drink and salt tablets but clearly not enough nutrition on during the bike. Lesson learned and at this moment lesson still being learnt as I cramp up every time I raise a leg up a step !!!
Mental toughness – Around mile 2 the ETC tent was a welcome site – the support was great and you can see the enthusiasm for you to finish, their hooters nearly got shoved somewhere the sun don’t shine but you knew they were behind you pushing you every step of the way. At mile 3 I visited a very dark, cramp filled place – took my race belt off and walked back 10 yards, however, I then thought about the following:
1 – You cant wear the nice t-shirt if you don’t finish the race
2 – I can’t let Michelle and Payton down
3 – The race is not another 10 miles it’s just lots of small trips to feed stations
4 – You are being a knob – man up and stop feeling sorry for yourself
An interesting mix of thoughts but they all worked for me. As Pete mentioned – the body can do amazing things if you put your mind to it.
So I turned around, put my belt back on and carried on…….to the end !!
Hence I finished – I managed to pass 3 blokes in the last 100m with a final push, however one of them I spotted finishing an hour later so he was just on his first lap the poor sod !!
Looked up and posted just under 5h 11 mins – not a bad attempt given the awful run/walk leg and lots of stretching that I had done on the run.
The support was fantastic – almost as good as the bacon bap at the end.
Well done to everyone else that took part in a challenging race.