Cotswold Classic Middle Distance Triathlon

Matt was using  this as a build up into his main race of Ironman Wales:

I had entered the Cotswold 113 race in June along with several training buddies, but ended up pulling out of this one due to injury and swapping it for the Classic in August, which is the same event repeated 1.9km swim, 53.5 mile bike and 13.1 mile run.  The organiser has deliberated extended the bike course to 56 miles but prefers the current course and says it is within tolerances for a middle distance race.

I came 3rd in last year’s 113 but had been injured and not done a lot of running recently so expectations were not huge.  This was a training exercise for my A race IM Wales in 2 weeks time.

 

This race is about an hour from where I live so I drive up on the Saturday afternoon to collect the race pack and number returning at 04:30 on Sunday in order to get parked and the bike racked prior to the 06:30 start.  Its actually a wave start with 5 waves and you can select your wave if desired so I opted for wave 2 the same one I started in last year, which seemed to work for me.

I was looking around at the start trying to work out the swim course and it was described in the briefing notes as an M shape which was similar to last year.  However once my wave started the first bit was as expected but I couldn’t work out where we were heading until we were right into the corner of Lake 32 through some trees.  It was shallow in places but this swim seemed to be a strange route to me and definitely diferent to the previous year.  We would swim between trees again later using the full dimensions of the lake.  My goggles kept misting up and I’m not the fastest swimmer so I sat on a competitors feet who had overtaken me and followed them for the next kilometer or so catching the wave in front towards the end of the swim and they had a 10 minute head start which bodes well.

Once out of the swim which was comfortable but not spectacular (31:18) it is a fast bike course where the only issues of concern are competitors coming the other way along some very narrow lanes.  That aside its head down, (looking ahead obviously) on the bars and go for it.  I knew last year I’d averaged quite a quick split so I was trying for something similar.  I thought I’d gone hard on the bike but the time wasn’t as quick as I had hoped (or thought) but I averaged 22.5mph which was pretty good for me.  Its 2 laps around some local villages near to the lakes with one short sharp hill on each lap.  It was an enjoyable bike constantly overtaking people with only one person in black full NFTO bike kit overtaking me.  I did see a bit of drafting going on which sometimes made it hard work overtaking a train of 5 or 6 athletes in one long line.  I am always conscious not to draft and would rather spend an age leading a line of athletes than sitting in.  This is just my preference, I know if I chose to sit on someone’s wheel I’d be the one getting a penalty!

 

Once back into transition from the bike it was out onto the run.  I planned to take this fairly easily as I wanted to save the legs for Wales in 2 weeks time but with it being predominantly off road for the 3 lap course, this would help.  Pre race I thought I’d go hard for 10-12k and cruise the 2nd half of the run.  Anyhow I racked my bike and departed transition making a couple of schoolboy mistakes. Firstly I left the Garmin on the bike and secondly I ran off wearing cycle gloves.  I realised just out of transition and considered going back but thought ‘this is a race’ forget it and get on.  This is what the training race is for!!  I stuffed my gloves into my tri shorts and ran with no timings.  I hate not having a run watch but it made it quite easy in truth.  I was overtaking other runners for the entire run with one guy coming past me as I started my final lap as he departed transition for his first.  I kept him in sight and passed him later on that lap.  I thought I had slowed up considerably on the final few kms, I didn’t feel I was working hard at all but was pleased at the finish to have recorded a 1:23 half slightly slower than last year but I felt good.  This shows my RPEometer is useless!!

 

8th place overall in 4 hours 14 minutes only a couple of minutes slower than last year but it did seem that the field was higher quality compared to last year’s June event with lots of GB Age Group kit and coach/sponsored kit on show.

 

A good day at the office in the sunshine with no injury issues, so I felt ready for the A race at Tenby.