Race report from this weekend, lifted from my post on BCTTT.com for those that may have already read it.
Where: Bedford Embankment
Organiser: Galeforce Events
Distance(s): Swim 1500m/Bike 40km/Run 10K
Marshalling: Guys to pull you out the river. Marshals at every turn. Policeman at the one right hand turn to stop traffic
Facilities: Portaloos. Free parking 5 min walk from transition.Chip Timed. Refreshment van. 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.
Freebies: Swim hat. Fleece top. Chocolate bar. Granola Bar. Juice box. Water.
Did this race last year and mostly enjoyed it - the only crap bit was all the weed in the river, but that wasn't the organisers fault. This year it wasn't a big ETU qualifier so the number of entires was much smaller. Not really a bad thing. Transition was the same size with fewer racks, still had all the facilites, closed the road along the embankment and had a policeman to stop traffic on the righthand turn. The bike course was a little different, it was actually the course that they had meant to use last year but had to change at the last minute due to road works. This race for me was going to be an interesting test of fitness. Although in my usual style I got a bit carried away with a work fitness challenge and it took a terirble swim set on tuesday and Wednesdays hard run before I realised I was sailing a bit close to the wind on my rest week, so went sailing instead of swimming on Thursday and had a lazy Friday and Saturday.
Saturday morning and I was up nice and early, before the 0530 alarm I set in fact. As is usual with going back home to race I'd have the usual support team, mum to hold the bags and dad to ask the same questions as every tri before as I'm trying to focus (he was doing the supersprint and seems to stress over these things) and take pictures of the finish. After registering and getting my chip, which had been threaded the wrong way through the velcro strap it was time to rack. Unnumbered racking so I picked a nice spot on the first row where the hedge starts/finishes for visual reference. Hook my bike onto the racking by the brake levers as there was no way the saddle was going to fit under the rack. At this point some officious BTF ref walks past and informs me everyone else is racking by the seatpost. Maybe I looked like a newbie, although my Challenge Barcelona transition bag full of kit should have indicated I wasn't, but I felt a bit miffed by the tone of the comment and the 'Okay' I got in reply when I explained that my bike never fits under the rack. Why is is it something for the race official to comment on? Anyawy after racking it was time to stand around and make the obligatory couple of trips to the porta potty to ensure I was as close to racing weight as possible. It was getting warm so had to start taking layers off or I never make it into my wetsuit. Time to suit up came as Dr J sr. set off on the mini tri and got help with the zip and handed a bag of luggage over to mum. Wave 3 went and it was time to get in the water. Made sure I was early in to have maximum time to acclimatise. After some warm up strokes I lined up at the front on the right side, should give me inside line to the first mark. Not sensible on an upstream clockwise loop, but should give clearest water off the line. Had a little chat with the guy next to me asking whether I was a good swimmer, 'I'm okay' , 'So what time for 1500?', 'Err maybe 24-25 minutes, not very quick this week'. 'Oh so we have a modest triathlete here then, I start behind you then and try and draft you for the first few metres'.
Well the gun went shortly after and I tried to boost of the line pretty quick so I didn't get swum over, sighted on the first mark and after 50m eased off. Quick check around and I was one of the leaders. About 400m in I could see one guy about 20m ahead and a pack of 3 a few metres to my left. My Idea of getting to the left bank for slack water had backfired as I swam towards the middle of the river. Got on the feet of the pack and tried to settle in. Calmed my stroke and worked on the catch Sibs taught us, but I just couldn't settle as they seemed to be slowing so I went out front. I was now leading the chase group (male waves were split by projected swim time apparently) By the turn (maybe 800m in) I had a 2m lead on the pack that was stringing out and was about 20m back from the leader still, but knew I didn't have it in me to bridge the gap. Soon I was swimming through the back of the wave in front and sighting into the sun. Then with about 20m to go I saw a yellow hat as I took a breath. B****** the toe touchs weren't imaginary, must have been someone drafting off me Of course he know had the energy to blast past me as he swam me in towards the wall. Feck, just accept it. Swimming inside my limits though I had no dizziness exiting and had overtook him after 10m of run into transition and got the top half of my wetsuit off inside 20. May have been a bit leasurely in transition. 2 minutes by my watch from swim exit to bike mount, with ~230m of running, no clusters though.
Out onto the bike, down the embankment, left, round the roundabout, over the bridge and on the way out of Bedford. 2.5k in and some fecker wants to use the pedestrian crossing. Cue the first stop Then out through a few roundabout and around 'New Cardington' - the new estate that caused the route change last year. They have installed a wonderful set of traffic lights that ignore cyclists so I had to slow down to run the red light (we were told it was allowed at this set, but at our own risk) then onto a nice quick stretch of road before the first hill, a slow lead in to a 50m over 1km hill. Dropped down and ran it a nice high cadence, then out over the other side and the downhill. A nice 7km stretch of high average speed before the turn back at Shefford and my idiot moment, when I thought I could overtake a cyclist before the left hander, but ended up riding the white line through a left then a right as I was comitted to the overtake, thankfully with now traffic Then another nice quick stretch where I was riding well before the roundabout where I had to stop for two cars Once through there it was on to the right hander where the policeman stopped the traffic for me and off for the second incline of the ride. I picked up my future draft buddy at this point, I say buddy in the loosest sense of the word here. He saw a TT'r though and decided to follow him up/down the hill. I manged to work my way back to him after the TT'r dropped him and then he latched onto me. I could see his shadow behind me and it was fecking annoying. Onto to the turn and he thanked the marshal. We were so close together I didn't feel the need. Then a stretch on the busy road back where he must of sat <2m from my back wheel the whole 2k. As I slowed for the roundabout he got past but was then stopped by the cyclists using the pedestrain crossing, another fecking red light Anyway I got off the lights first and he decided to latch onto the guys overtaking that hadn't been stopped, thank christ. Back into T2 after a 1:16 bike. I fluffed the dismount. Slowed down and got off too early, oh well. Into T1 and a nice changeover.
Out onto the run and I was running very strong, no jelly legs at all. I thought I could do a good run, I was disappointed with the bike when I got off it. Frankly I didn't work hard enough and the goal I'd set of sub 2:30 as I set off on the bike was very unlikely now, bordering on the impossible. Of course with Mum, Dad and some other people they knew watching I set off on the run way too fast, running at well over my 5K pace, once past them though I eased off and got into a nice rhythm. Around the banks of the river back towards the finish, cup of water, and a sub 15 minute first lap round again and I was running fairly conservately at around 80% HRmax back around and sub 30 minute for 2/3rds of the run, still with plenty in the tank for a strong finish Last lap it started falling to pieces. By the time I got to the bridge for the run back my stitch had turned into full on abdominal cramp. Still I dug deep and went for it, putting in a nice sprint finish to do the run in under 45 minutes
Total time: 02:31:16 (47/141)
Swim: 27:14 (29/141)
T1: 01:18 (48/141)
Bike: 01:16:55 (71/141)
T2: 01:09 (93/141)
Run: 44:39 (51/141)
Overall pretty pleased. Some good improvemnts over last year, 1km/h faster on the bike (32.2 vs 31.2), 1:42 saved on the run. Swim was rubbish. 1 minute slower than last year, I'm hoping that is because I was out on my own and not swimming in the pack like last year, other possibility is the river is a little stronger this year.