What: Bedford Autumn Sprint
Where: Bedford, Bedfordshire, UK
Organiser: Galeforce Events
Course details: http://www.galeforce-events.com/
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: Clip on light for cycling, Crunchie bar, Haribo, juice box, and water at finish
So my third attempt at this event, and my 5th time on the course (did the summer one in '09 and '10). Spraining my ankle 3 weeks ago kind of dashed my hopes from a month ago of completely smashing this event. Having 'raced' Ringwood 2 weeks ago I knew if I survived the swim without undoing my rehab then I should be able to finish the event. There is also the small matter of the weather. It was absolutley gorgeous, more summer like than autumnal.
So morning of the event, Dr Jibbenstein Sr had packed his transition box the night before, so I had fewer questions this time around as I ate my breakfast. Got to the event and registered, no t-shirt this time around, but a cycle helmet light instead. Far more useful in my opinion, I have enough DIY t-shirts now. Then it was time to rack, I chose the second row as usual (this will be important later...) and proceeded to set up a little over halfway down. Dr J Sr set up beside me then asked why I had chosen this spot. I explained and got asked the same 'because it is next to you'. Right. Race briefing time then a few trips to the facilities as AD had come to visit. Sat and watched people starting, the start the slowest first and set people off at 10s intervals. There were obviously a few newbies, one guy needed a 90s rest after 2 lengths, and there was even a DHOL :O Eventually SR started and I went off to get ready, 10 minutes later I headed out to see him off onto the bike before going poolside for my start. Thinking I had ages as I was 150 places after dad was a mistake, as I walked down the line looking for the numbers either side of me I realised I would be starting in a couple of minutes. Damn mum wasn't there and I wanted a photo of the BCTTT swim hat being used in anger, would she realise I had started?
So the swim. Normally the part I fear least, today the part I feared most. Was 7 minutes a bit optimistic for 400m when I intended to do it as fc pull? Some guy with a low number pushed in front. WTF? then I got my 10s call, off I went, it felt far to easy. Within 2 lengths (66m) I had caught the guy in front, tapping his feet. He gave me a dirty look and carried on as we changed lanes. Damn. Saw a gap with 10m left of the 3rd length and pulled hard to get the overtake. Manged it and obvioulsy made my point as he let a few people through. Next length I get my feet tapped and let a guy through. Turned out to be a good choice. I hung onto his feet for the next 8 lengths. Getting out of the water in 7 minutes dead. How about that. Turns out mum had noticed I wasn't in the line, looked in the pool and saw a 'yellow hat with stars on it' and realised it was me. Well they are hibiscus leaves mum, but the BCTTT swim hats are obviously a good investment.
T1, umm slow is one word for it. Not wanting to run too hard barefoot with no ankle support I took it easy. Then it too ages to get socks and support on. Little tip for anyone putting an ankle support on after a swim. Put talc'd socks on first. It is so much easier. Out of T1, 1.21 by my watch, slightly quicker in the official results (slower swim officially). Fumbled around trying to clip in then off out onto the roads.
The bike was where it was all at for me in this race. The one leg that I could do at a vomit inducing effort level and not destroy my ankle. Fairly flat to start with and was holding about 30km/h reeling in a few people along the way. First hill and I got a few more people, and apparently had a little rest looking at my HR, got chicked (does it count if you've already overtaken them?), some out of saddle efforts and stayed in the big ring. Then the nice little descent down onto the bypass. Unchicked myself in the process and then rode hard on the flatish section into Radwell took 3 or 4 more scalps on the hill up into Radwell then itno Felmersham. A couple of sharp left turns and onto the hardest hill, the one up to Pavenham. Got dropped by a guy on a TT bike, but he was a bit of a t**t and couldn't hold the pace, so tucked in front of me, I didn't have the extra reserves to make the overtake again so had to drop back. Few more scalps going up that hill then a small peloton of pointy hat wizards came through at the top on to the slightly technical descent into Pavenham. Started breaking coming into the tee junction to have some guy wizz past me. He was lucky there was no traffic, it's a blind junction and no way he could have stopped if needed. I knew I was onto a good thing with this bike leg so carried on working hard. I was absolutley loving it. I was reeling people in left right and centre, taking people back on the hills too. 3 weeks of bike focus have paid off. Back into Bedford and into T2. 44:55 for the 24.5km on the bike, an average speed of over 20mph, I think an aero wheel upgrade is justified for next season now. HR is also quite interesting. Managed to average 157 with a max of 167, much higher than I can normally get. Something has happened to me since IM it seems.
T2, where it all went wrong for me. So run into T2 and go down the third row. Where's my towel and shoes? Where is dad's bike? Oh, they are over there. I'M IN THE THIRD ROW. B*******. Dip the racking and get Maddy under. Re rack and change over. Then nothingness. Complete memory blank as to what I need to change. Eventually snapped out of it and got on with the run. 1:13 for T2. Not pretty, about 20-30s slower than normal.
The run. Started off quite easy, concious of not destroying my ankle given the Minehead weekend coming, but at the same time knew I couldn't be that far behind J Sr, on a 2.5 lap run there are opportunites to get the overtake in... SO ended up just slowly ramping the speed. 2 weeks of not running was taking it's toll though. Legs were actually fine, but god was it busting my lungs. 4:19 first km, then the running off the bike hit me in the second k as I put in a 4:24. Regained composure and a 4:13. Senior can't be that far ahead now. Finishing the 4th km and I spot him on the cut through for the half lap, he's only a k ahead. Ankle is holding so turn the screw a little more. 4:16 for that km and into the final K. Feeling good and a sub 21 run is on the cards. 4 min/km pace now, finishing straight coming up, breathing is killing me, haven't got a sprint finish in me so cross the line in 20:33 after 4.8km by the Garmin. 1:15:01 by my timing.
I had been hoping I'd broken 1:15 given my self timing, but seems the official results put me at 1:15:01 as well so it is not to be this season. Really over the moon about the result though 1:15:01 is a PB by 2:24 over my PB from June '10, with good gains on the bike (2:53 better), and actually a new run PB too by 27s. losess were in the swim, with my slowest yet and in T1&2. Given I couldn't kick properly in the swim & took T1 easy the losses here aren't too bad. My T2 performance was a bit shocking. No excuses for the racking mistake or the mental block. The official results also make interesting reading, apparently I managed 52nd overall out of 300 starters, and 4/15 in my age group, only a minute and a half from a podium place in AG. An improvement over last season, and a far cry from my days of always being the last to finish. The most interesting thing for geeky me though is actually in the HR data.
I've always seemingly had a low max HR, I rarely see it above 160 even when doing hard run intervals, and it never seems to get about 167 in run races either. My min HR has improved a lot, and is probably down around the 43/44 mark at the moment. But in this race I averaged 157 on the bike, and averaged 162 on the run. The maxes were higher at 167 and 172 respectively. The run data is pretty good too as it shows a steady ramp. Something has changed in me after IM. Maybe I am seeing that physiological adaptation everyone always writes about following IM. Whatever it is I don't want to waste it. 3 years of triathlon and I'm still finding things I love about it. What a way to finish the season, I can't wait for April and the start of the 2012 season now.