Where: Bedford Embankment
Organiser: Galeforce Events
Course details: Instructions
Distance: Swim 1500m (OW- River) Bike 41.5km, Run 10K (Pavement)
Marshalling: Excellent, Guys to pull you out the river, marshals at every turn, police at major junctions to stop traffic
Facilities: Portaloos, Free parking 5 min walk from transition, Numbered Racking, Chip Timed, Large burger van, 2 water stations on each of 3 laps, Tri store
Technical: Swim upstream and back downstream in river, bike out into local countryside on 1 lap course with roads of good quality, 3 lap run around the river. Race was a qualifying event for ETU 2011 OD Championships
Freebies: Swim hat. T-shirt. Chocolate bar/crisps/seed & fruit mix, Juice box. Water.
So the day started early with a 5am alarm call, seemed far too early to be honest but that's life. Luckily having registered yesterday there was no need to arrive there that early, especially with numbered racking. So arrived about 6:30, got racked and laid all the gear out before eyeing up the river again to see where the buoys were. My dad was off in the second wave, after the paratriathlete, and I was off in the 10th and last wave. At this point pre-race AD started to happen, luckily mum was on hand with some Imodium, couple of tabs then off to the portaloos to empty the system. Luckily I managed to get finished just before the race brief and headed back into transition and spotted Dad struggling into his wetsuit, sorted him out then listened to the brief. Spotted CCS and said high after the brief then went to be the good son and cheer dad on. After he left on the bike (he was doing the mini) I got suited up and joined the queue for the aquaruck.
At the 5 min warning we were allowed into the water, I got in and promptly found out they might have spent a week clearing weed out, but hadn't got this far. It was horrible. Bit of doggy paddle got me to the line after acclimatising and then it was time for the countdown. Given the number of people wearing GBR trisuits there was no way I was going to start at the front, so I started at the back On the outside of the pack but mid-river. I think this was one of the best decisions I made. I managed to get 'clear' water as I skirted the guys in front, but wasn't going anywhere fast as the weed was so thick. Soon the water cleared at bit and I went from feet to feet until I was leading a chase pack. About 150m from the turn buoy I saw the lead pack on their way back, not bad going. Then I started to catch some tail enders from the previous pack. 180 turn at the buoy and back down river. With about 500m to go the weed made a re-emergence. This time it was horrible, I almost beached a one point. Then perhaps one of my worst swim experiences ever. I managed to swim into a patch of loose weed that covered my face just as I turned to breathe. I now have a good idea what waterboarding feels like, I just couldn't get any air in through it, I'd spill all my secrets after a few rounds of that! Weed off, air in, focus, there is the bridge, not far to go. Some guy started hitting my feet. $%^&. Few hard kicks soon sorted him out. By this point i'd caught more tail enders from different waves and was feeling good. Got pulled onto the platform then out the water by the marshals. Wetsuit off shoulders and into transition.
Swim 26:00, given the weed which must be worth 2+ minutes I'm very happy with that.
T1 was OK, apart from my right calf cramping, then at bike mount my left calf cramped.
Off on the bike and within the first km I'd seen a guy come off his bike pretty badly, just did the u-turn on a roundabout then heard grating carbon, looked right and saw a guy wheels against the curb, his bike started going over and he was hurtling towards a lamppost. There was nothing I could have done so shouted to the marshals 150m down the road as I past. Apparently he was spotted heading back to transition looking rather dejected 10 minutes later. The bike was pretty uneventful really. Had periods of great speed, others I was the wrong side of my desired average. I thought it was really well marshalled with police at every right turn stopping traffic, and one in a busy roundabout to do the same on the way back, closed roads aren't really needed with a service like that. I thought I was burning through my fluids at bit quickly in the first half, but that was probably to help digest the 10 portions of veg I'd gotten in the swim. I went through the 40km mark in 1:15, if they hadn't need to lengthen the course then it would have been and awesome race. About a km out from transition I caught sight of the paratriathlete on his handbike. A sight that was actually quite inspirational, and I got to the dismount line at the same time as him.
Bike 41.8 km in 1:19:54, averaging 31.4 km/h with a good cadence. Really happy with that.
T2 was pretty damn good, managed just over a minute to rack bike, take shoes/helmet off, socks on shoes on and run 100m.
The run was, well, hard. After and hour and 45 minutes of swimming and cycling at the rate I was going it was going to hurt. No jelly legs thankfully, but almost instantly I couldn't breathe out properly. I must have sounded terrible, everyone was cheering me on though. They could obviously see the pain in my face. A glance at the Garmin and I could see I was going strong though, bashing out 4:50 km's pretty consistently, my heart rate was just bordering on my predicted lactate threshold for the whole of the run, which goes some way to explaining it. The 3 lap run was a killer though. I was only buoyed up by the fact that I was overtaking as many people as were overtaking me. With about a km to go I hit a brick wall. My heart rate went through the roof and my speed fell away. Damn. I new the gel would have only repeated, but maybe I should have at least tried to take it. Time to dig deep. JFDI! Turned the last but one corner and the finish chute was in sight, thank god, picked up the pace. I now sounded like a tractor, but what the hell. Crossed the line in a time of 2:35:40.
An awesome run of 46:21. Only a minute slower than my standalone 10K PB. I really can't fault that. But I paid for it, I could hardly stand at the end, luckily mum and dad were nearby and I got some water from then rather than join the queue for a small cup. But F me my legs were hurting.
Still, an excellent race. Nearly 5 minutes better than my best case scenario before they extended the bike course.