Where: Ringwood Leisure Centre, Ringwood
When: Sunday 15th April
Course details: Pool swim, 1 lap bike course, figure 8 run course (tarmac)
Marshalling: Plenty where required, and some woman in a pink hoodie
Facilities: Leisure centre, car parking, food van
Freebies: Technical tee
The run up to this race was not my OCD prepared self. I was overtrained and fatigued by Wednesday, not even managing 8 minute miles on my evening run, and it took some serious self-control to not do Parkrun on Saturday morning. Allied with the fact I can’t eat fish for 2 weeks before my annual heavy metal test, so my pre-race meal had to be changed from fish and chips. Thought I’d try Jerk chicken and sweet potato French fries. Except I didn’t have any Jerk seasoning, so I made my own. Turns out I put a tad too much chilli powder in out. A little more spicy than planned! I’d also left getting my gear ready until after dinner. All was going well, except I couldn’t find my race bike computer. I was sure it was on one of the bookcases I’d moved during the day. So I spent an hour turning the flat upside trying to find it. After I gave up I went to get my transition bag. Turns out it was in the bottom of it from the last race of 2011. D’oh! Eventually I went to bed, having changed my alarm 3 times.
Morning came and was all going pretty well, fed, watered, car packed and set off on schedule. Then I stopped paying attention and stayed on the Millbrook road passed the turning for the M271. No worries I thought, I’ll just carry on and get on at a different junction. Possibly the longest detour ever, it would have been quicker to go back. I arrived to find some woman in a pink hoodie directing traffic, eventually she recognised me ;-) Managed to make it in time though. It was fecking freezing though, registered and made it back to the car to sort my kit out. Sat in the car sorting my numbers out then got the bike ready. Mark (M005) popped over and said hi, then asked about extra layers. Yep I was going to put them on, it might be a good idea to go home and get them. Then I headed off to rack my kit. By the time I’d made it to transition I’d lost the feeling in my fingers. Not good. The thermometer on the bike computer was steadily dropping towards 2°C. I was going to get soaking wet then go for a bike ride in this. Sanity check? I laid my kit, happy I had everything ready, and then headed back to the car to warm up again. Bumped into Ade and said hi, then found my way into the leisure centre. Watched Mark exit and out onto the bike, then did the same for Ade before standing around warming up. Had a little chat with a woman who I had run behind for most of the September version.
Made it poolside to find I was sharing a lane with a guy that had been in my lane the April before, so we had a chat about Ironman’s again, this time what they were like. The moment came and we were off. I was number 2 in the lane, so set off and tried to catch the feet of the guy in front to make life a little easier. Went through 100m in 1:24, 200m in 2:58 (why can’t I swim like that at Masters?) then lost track of times. Took the lead for 100m then had to drop back. Then the float and it was 24 lengths done. Out the water and lap the Garmin, 9m32. That puts me bang on with my optimistic 9:30 prediction, and 2s better than last year.
T1 was a bit of a farce. Mostly because of my planned attempt to dress for an artic expedition. Mark was just coming in off the bike so shouted some pleasantries, well I think they were. Cycle jersey went on eventually, long sleeves and wet arms don’t like each other. Socks just weren’t happening; too many stones and towel wasn’t drying feet, so abandoned that idea. Bike shoes on, then get the Belgian booties on (comedy 1 legged standing). Number, helmet, glasses, long fingered gloves. After what felt like 5 minutes I was ready to head out for the bike, through a now empty transition. Turns out it was on 2m31, still 23s slower than last year.
Out on the bike and I was absolutely flying. The roads were empty, and I knew there was a tail wind, but I was averaging over 34 kph during the first 5k. Uneventful first 10k down to Burton, then the turn east. It was sheltered to start, but the effect of the wind was noticeable. I saw someone ahead and the chase was on. Turns out it was the nice lady I’d spoken to earlier, who’d paced me last time. Up a little hill into Bransgore then what should have been a lovely downhill through the open plains of the New Forest and up into Burley. Thing was, the open plains allowed the full effect of the nasty cross/headwind. I was going down that nice slope at the speeds I’d been doing on the flat earlier. Grrr. Into Burley and I had to slow for some 4x4 owner out getting a paper or something. A bit of rolling countryside and in a nasty gust leaves got blown onto the road. Somehow my wheel picked one up and jammed it between my brakes and the rim. At first I thought I’d blown a tyre, but then realised for the amount of noise the tyres hadn’t deflated. I tried to carry on but it was far too annoying. No way I was going to put my fingers near a moving wheel so I had to stop at the crest of a hill to clear it. That done an I was on to a nice downhill to the A35 before the turn up through Bolderwood, and the hilly. Realised my legs were wrecked on the hills as I got chicked. Then out onto the plains into the wind again for a bit, then a turn west and the wind was more of a cross tail and I could hold a little more speed. Except now the Wiggle riders were causing havoc. Riding 2/3 abreast on single track roads with no respect for oncoming riders. Then one idiot taking a drink and weaving from one shoulder of the road to another. Back into the trees and the uber fats guys from the last wave were coming through now. One Navy guy wanted the whole road to overtake, forcing me to use to crappy road surface at the side. Still managed to average 37 kph for the penultimate 5k. Last 5k and overtook someone getting his feet out, nearly missed the right turn in the process. Some encouragement from Cheryl as I came in and bike done in 1h29m52, 1m11 slower than last year, but that hides the fact there was an average headwind this time, and my estimated power was actually up by 10% this year at 263W
T2 was the opposite farce. Taking my Artic kit off and getting socks then run shoes on. Apparently it took me 1m45, only a second slower than last year. Out onto the run.
Other than avoiding all the Wiggle riders pretty uneventful. No jelly legs at first, but about a mile in my calves felt all wobbly. Never had that before. I got chicked once, but got the woman that had chicked me on the bike back. A couple of guys passed me towards the end, but I had pulled about 10 places back by the time I entered the finally couple of Km. I knew it was a short course so I could see I was on for a 40 minute run, well almost. I picked the pace up and crossed the line in 2:23:58 (official), with a 40m17 run split so 3m03 quicker than last year on the run, for a PB by 1m27s.
Overall very happy with my performance. Training has been a little poor since the turbo lunacy, so to PB is pretty good. The nice thing was that the bike and run paces were “comfortably uncomfortable” it would be a little rash to actually believe I could hold them for twice that distance. I’m not far of managing it though. If the weather is right. That’s going to stand me in good stead for Swashbuckler in 4 weeks time I hope, a sub 5 isn’t beyond the realms of possibility I think. I need to work on the bike though. I need to correct my lack of hill strength, and I could do with some more run speed. Time to get back on the Sufferfest’s now my hand is good enough to ride. Oh, and start working the hills (or what we have for hills around here) on the bike.