Sunday, 13 June 2010

Third race of the year

What: Bedford Traktors Tri 
Where: Bedford, Bedfordshire, UK
Organiser: Galeforce Events
Course details:
Distance: Swim 400m (Pool), Cycle 25km (Road), Run 5km (Tarmac path around park)
Closed Roads: No
Marshaling: Marshals at every major turn and junction. Sign-posts at every turn.
Facilities: Toilets/changing/showers in leisure centre, lockers, café, warm up swim area, tri shop, massage (not free)
Technical: Chip timing. Mats at swim out, bike out, bike in, finish
Freebies: T-Shirt (pretty reasonable), 2 chocolate bars, juice box, bananas and water at finish

This would be the third time I was going to tackle this course, one which I actually quite like.  I was doing it to support my Dad, it was his first triathlon last year and he had a score to settle after pulling out in the autumn version of this race. I just wanted to get around in a time that didn’t put me to shame.  I’ve been a bit lazy since I got back from Barcelona. I’ve only averaged 4 hours of training a week if you include my commute to work. Cue some frantic swim sessions during the week to check I could still swim short distances quickly, bizarrely all the LSD swimming has improved my short swims too. Nice healthy dinner of fish and chips (oven cooked at home) earlish night and up at 5am.  Packed the bikes into the car and off to registration at 6:15.  Registered, got marked up, got a free t-shirt (possibly even wearable in public) and back to the car to get the kit ready.  Racked my bike then started to have a panic over which glasses to wear.  It was cloudy and spitting with rain. Sunglasses? Or high contrast glasses? Cloud not so thick so thought I’d go with the sunglasses. Met a few people in transition and had a chat, finding out that there were road works on a blind corner on part of the bike route. With traffic lights. That wasn’t to be a problem though as they explained in the race brief they had put a marshal there to take numbers and stopped time.  Cue more rain and a swift decision to change glasses before transition closed.  The end of the race brief signalled time to head into the pool and to the hidden toilets to tend to the pre-race AD before there was much of a que.  After a couple of trips and an Imodium I was confident I had done a better job than BP and there would be no environmental disaster. Headed outside to turn my Garmin on and then poolside to collect my chip and warm up.

The format for the swim is number order start about every 15s so had a chance to talk to the lady in front of me, who I assured that I wasn’t swimming that well so would be unlikely to catch her up.  Then my turn came to swim.  The swim was pretty uneventful really I kept my distance from the person in front, but made over 66m on the person behind.  I hit the halfway point on 3min 11s and finished pretty much bang on my estimate of 6m 40s.  One of the nice things about this tri is that they left you use the steps to climb out the pool. Out the door and into transition. Glasses on, number on, hat on, umm, shoes! Shoes on, bike, and off to the mount line. Hopped on the bike passed a couple of people in the car park then out onto the road.

Having told the nice lady in front of me that the swim is my strongest discipline and she would no doubt take chunks out of me on the bike and run (she looked pretty fit) I passed her within the first 200m and never saw her till after I had finished. I soon found that I’d done the straps on my shoes up wrong and the right one was catching on the teeth of the chainring, so had to slow down, undo the strap a bit and put the end on the Velcro. Was still flying along though and got lucky at the first set of traffic lights.  Thought I was going to get stopped as there was a car waiting on the other part of the junction, but they stayed green for me. I nailed it through the next village and up the hill. Short break on the flat than powered on again down onto the end of the bypass and into the next village. Check of the watch and a little maths suggested I was averaging over 30 km/h. Sweet. Along the rolling country lanes and got overtaken for the first time, I had been three up at that point. But my carbon-trick-bike-and-pointy-hat guy was always going to be faster than me so now shame there.  Then to the traffic lights, I could see they were red coming up to first corner, but then saw a fluorescent vest bobbing up and down in front of them. It was the marshall doing star jumps to get them to change, which they did. Thanks given to the obviously dedicated marshals as I passed. Round the corner, slow, left handed, accelerate, slow, left hander. Quick drink before tackling the hill. Two more carbon trick bikes passed me on the way up then settle in for the short, sharp, seat of the pants descent into an almost blind T junction. Nice flat ride on the tri bars before the last major hill. One more fast guy passed me before the descent, where I overtook him and another slow rider, settle down on the tri bars again and the last 5K back to transition.  Little bit of cat and mouse with the fast guy on the way back before the dismount line, where he decided to stop before the line and get off. Having taken his feet out of his shoes. What was the point. Quick trip through transition and onto the run course.

As I exit transition there is my dad doing his third lap, give some encouragement and power off. Next up was one of my Dad’s friends, ask him how many laps he’s done (he beat me in the Autumn one, so I had a score to settle there) and get “one” as the reply, hmm, could be close.  Then an uneventful run.  I have to say I felt pretty strong on it though, although the kids doing the aquathon took some of humility. Didn’t get chicked by a little girl though, so can retain some male pride. Final lap and put everything I had into the last 500m, quick glance at the watch and I was flying. Up the finish chute and get a mention over the PA “James from Bridgtown” over the line and remember to stop my watch.

Look at the history and see 1:17:30, less 5 seconds for the early start, 1:17:25 unofficial. 3 minutes 39 seconds faster than last year, and a 21 minute 5K. Awesome. Great event, great organiser (I do like their events, done 4 tri’s with them and all have been great) and well marshalled.

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