Graham was racing in the Age Group waves:
As for the race, it was supposed to be the weekend where were heading back to South Wales to do the Xterra Wales but that, sadly, got cancelled so I opted to enter Blenheim. The last time that I did this race was in 2008 so I was really looking forward to this race. I didn’t back off the training prior to it either. The only issue was that my Wave wasn’t due to start until 14:55 on Sunday.
We woke up normal time on Sunday & had a leisurely morning which included an easy 30min mountain bike ride in Moors Valley with Coach 2 which was lovely & quiet & with the morning sun shining, it made a good start to the day. We then had a leisurely drive up to Blenheim & the first thing to sort out on arrival was to get my wrist band changed because they gave me someone else’s. Once that was sorted we then had to pay to get Coach 2 into the site (I wasn’t too happy about after having paid out £118 to enter the race!!!).
The transition setting is always stunning here with the red carpet throughout transition, in front of the Palace. I set everything up & went off to check the Ins & outs & then wandered off to the swim start.
This was a lake swim & they were telling everyone that the temperature was 20 deg C which we couldn’t quite believe because 2 weeks ago I was swimming in 12 deg C, but once I’d jumped into the lake it did feel quite warm. I lined myself up on the far side, away from the masses because I had decided to take the straight route to the far buoy & not the banana shaped route. The swim went reasonably well.
Now for the difficult part – to get to T1 you had to run up a steep hill to get to transition.
Once in, I had a good transition & headed off onto the three lap 20K bike ride. I decided to take my road bike because of the steep descents & tight turns. I found it easier to control than my time-trial bike. There were about 3 speed-demons who overtook me but most of the time I was just overtaking people, which was sometimes a bit nerve-racking because you never knew what they were going to when you were going by them, so I gave them all a big shout “On Your Right” & most of them complied.
Three laps done so into T2 for another good transition. No cold hands or feet this time, just breathing a little bit heavier than normal. I then headed out onto the two lap 5.4K run, over the dreaded bridge which always takes it out of my legs, but once I got going everything was flowing quite nicely. I had good support from Coach 2 on lap 2 when she managed to run with me for about 10mtrs but as the wind & rain was coming down quite heavily at this time she stopped & went back to the cover of the trees. I still had another 2K to go so I wasn’t able to join her, no matter how tempting it was, but just got on with the job in hand. I actually managed to have quite a decent sprint finish, for me anyway.
I really enjoyed this race as it was a good atmosphere, very laid back & extremely pleasant surroundings. I was very pleased with my result as well, which always helps.
My splits are as follows:
Swim – 12:28
T1 – 3:40 (this includes the long run up from lakeside)
Bike – 34:46
T2 – 1:36
Run – 24:52
Overall Time – 1:17:20
Overall Position – 66th out of 4736 & 2nd in my age group (out of 337)
My first elite race this year.
The setting was definitely the grandest I’ve ever raced in, and with the morning sunshine gleaming over Blenheim Palace it was pretty beautiful.
On arrival we were informed that the swim was non-wetsuit, which for me wasn’t a problem. The water temperature was 20 degrees, and it felt pretty comfortable on entering the lake. I had a good start to my swim, managing to stick within a group, coming out in about 10-11th position.
On exiting T1 I quickly got into a small bike pack with fellow RAF triathlete Lucy Nell and another good cyclist, Lucy Farquhar. We worked together to catch the two bike groups in front of us, and became a larger pack of 8. I felt strong up the hills, and was generally pleased with how my bike leg went.
On starting the run my legs felt pretty heavy and I couldn’t get my cadence up as high as I wanted to. The run was a 5.4km consisting of 2 laps and was quite hilly/undulating. I was pleased to cross the finish line of the women’s elite race in 13th position, as sprints aren’t my strong suit.
I’m now looking forward to racing the next two weekends; in Leeds at the British Championships, and in Kitzbuhel at the European AG Champs.