The Immortal Sprint

The reason for entering this race (1) to acclimatise to cold open water swimming (race scenario), although I have done two sea swims & (2) to see if I could double up by racing on the Saturday & doing my usual bike / run on the Sunday to get ready for the coming weekend double header that is called The Savage (The Slateman).

The race started at 5pm & I have never done a race that late in the day before so I had to try to get my food consumption right, which consisted with a normal breakfast, followed by a Ginsters Cornish Pasty mid-morning (other brands are also available!!), then at around 2pm this was followed by a bit of pasta & new potatoes which was lovingly cooked up by Coach 2.  We arrived at Stourhead Estate around 3pm & as we had plenty of time before the race we did a reccie of the bike course then after that we also found that we had plenty of time to have a little look around, register then go & rack my bike.  The weather was bright & sunny but when you were in the wind, boy was it blowing a hoolie.

We wandered off to the swim start which was down a very steep hill but what goes down had to go back up!!  Also, while the race briefing was going, there was a wedding party having their photos taken on the start pontoon with all of the wetsuited triathletes as their backdrop (shame they didn’t turn around & get the monument on the other side of the lake instead!!).  Also, the race pack advised to have shoes or flip flops with you at the lake in order to get back to T1.

The swim was situated in a lovely location and it was a one lap 900mtr swim going clockwise in direction (it didn’t seem like 900mtrs though).  There were a couple of issues in the swim with the first one being after about 50mtrs the lake seemed to get freezing cold.  What with the fast start & that, it quite literally took my breath away so I had to take a couple of seconds to re-gather myself before heading off again.  The other issue was heading towards the pontoon, I managed to get a kick in the right eye & that hurt.

Having made an executive decision before the swim start to remove my wetsuit by the lakeside rather than run up to T1 with it still on, I got out of the swim for a swift decant of the said suit.  The only issue with this was, where I had left my shoes before the swim, no-one was around then but when I got out of the swim, all of the spectators had gathered around the shoes so I had a little hunt for them in-between everyone’s feet.  Once out of the suit & put the running shoes on, it was a good ½ mile run, up the steep hill & into T1 to collect my bike.  During my run I spotted some with no shoes, some with wetsuits still fully on, some half down, a few blokes had stripped right down to their speedos too (Coach 2).

Into T1 & had a quick transition because the wetsuit was already off so I managed to overtake a few people in transition.  The bike was a one lap 18 mile very hilly course, but as you know, I like them like that.  I managed to do a little bit of overtaking in the first few miles, then the first scary bit of the ride was down a steep descent at 43.2mph, got caught by a side-wind coming from the left from an open field.  A couple of uber bikers overtook me on the flatter section of the course but then the rest of the course was very lonely for me – just up & down all the time until the descent back into T2.  At the bottom of the descent I had to do a right turn under an arch, only to be confronted by a spectator who was standing in the middle of the road so had to take evasive action to the left in order not to collide with him so took to the grass.

Into T2 for another swift transition then headed off on the one lap 4.5 mile run which consisted of grassland, road & gravel tracks with the first 2 miles all being uphill (just a gentle drag really).  I got to the first marshal while being overtaken & the marshal asked me if I was alright (I didn’t think that I looked that bad).  Once at the top of the hill we headed off-road & descended a Kitzbuhel style slope only to be overtaken again by a man with very long legs.  I couldn’t keep up with him.  I struggled a little bit in the mid-section with the nature of the ups & downs & all being off-road.  I eventually got back onto the road section which eventually ended up back at the lake & my initial thought was I’ve got to run up that bloody hill again, but this time it was even further, past transition & up to the main house to cross the finish line think that this was one hell of a sprint race.  Coach 2 did comment after the race that I looked as bad as I did after an Ironman so in my eyes I reckon I tried quite hard on this one.

My splits are as follows:

Swim – 14:36 (18th)

T1 – 5:07 (29th)

Bike – 56:27 (13th)

T2 – 0:45 (10th)

Run – 34:17 (31st)

Overall time – 1:51:13 & 14th overall out of 200 competitors & 2nd in my age group

The story continues.  We eventually got home at around 9:30pm & by the time we had sorted everything out we got to bed at around 10:45pm to be up at 7am for the second part of my Monster Weekend Training.  This consisted of a 2hr bike ride around the New Forest followed by a 10K run which Coach 2 helped me with by coming out on her bike.  For the first 5K the legs seemed to be holding out OK but the second 5K, things weren’t so quick but I still ran 50mins so I’m hoping that for the weekend of 20/21 May, everything will go to plan.