Monday, August 31, 2015

National Triathlon Relays.

How to write about a day that involved so many other people?  Well, in truth I daren't and don't have the time.  There were 6 teams at the Sheffield Tri club camp - each with 4 members.  I was teamed up with H (the organiser of the teams), Matt and Andrew - all competent athletes in their own right but everyone was out to have fun and get some exercise.

Of all of us, two didn't know what was going on - neither did some of the other team mates so that made it awkward sometimes and a few mistakes were made but not important ones as we discovered that the day went slower than one might have expected.

Having set some stuff down in camp, I foolishly went to rack in transition and was told that I was not welcome until the 1st and 2nd athletes in my team had gone out to ride.  As someone who usually has transition tidily set up in good time for the start of the race, I was disgruntled and headed back to my club base to moan about how hard this all was for someone with ODC (obsessive disordered compulsion!).

I was scolded by Nancy who reminded me it was supposed to be fun and had to continue reminding me all day that my normal ways were wrong.  I had images of having to run down wet steps in my wetsuit to rack my bike but Nancy reminded me I had over an hour to get out of the wetsuit and rack my bike.  It all began to make sense but I still spent a lot of the day checking that I had everything and feeling that it could be better.

The time came for me and all the other "C" athletes to head over to the swim or at least, we went down to the hill beside the lake to see what it was all about, see how it played out.  Of course, we were watching the front-runner athletes handing over to their team mates so they were all fast and competent people.  They ran into the water and dived lithely into their stroke, cutting through the water...

and we all thought, that's me, that's what I'll be like, that's what I'll do.

Down at the water front, I struggled into my wetsuit, hopping over the crossing point as I got one leg into my wetsuit and then the other.

My team mate zipped me in and I jiggled around uncomfortably.  I have never gotten dressed so quickly in a race before.  The two other people from Sheffield teams - John and Nicola, stood with me and waved frantically as our people came out.  I took my elastic band off Matt and barged my way through the sea of athletes behind, all waiting for their person to approach.

I ran headlong onto the slipway and down into the water but rather than dive lithely in, I tripped over a rock and did a belly flop, getting water up my nose in the process.  After a few strokes of doggy paddle and then breast stroke, I found enough rhythm to start crawl and enjoyed passing a lot of people.  This is the one discipline where I actually went faster than Matt - the reason: he can run a sub-20 minute 5k and I can't.

I rolled around both buoys on the inside of around 6 people each and, avoiding the swimming washing machine (a man who threatened to drown, punch or kick all who got too close), made short shift of the final straight.  My person, Andrew Marsden was front-centre, waiting to take my elastic band.

It was a pleasant walk back to Camp Sheffield Tri.  Now I was starting to understand the "fun" part and relieved it wasn't a normal race as, for the first time ever, my team mate managed to zip my tri suit into my wetsuit zip so it took me about 10 minutes to get it off.  In a real race I would've been spitting feathers.

In the hour I had to kill before my bike ride I finally got out of my wetsuit, chatted, ate something and then decided I was too paranoid to wait for the first person to come back before I went down to transition, in case they decided to stay down there and watch the racing. All the c-team members got together and we joined the queue of people waiting to get in. The team numbers were called out as people left and we were allowed one-in-one-out. Things got a bit heated but generally everyone was calm.  If I had any regrets with this event it's that it was difficult to watch the racing and encourage team mates. Once you were in transition the atmosphere was electric but away from there I felt a bit cheated. The security on transition seemed pointless since poor Red Dragon bike spent most of the day unsupervised by the tri club camp, with only one rack spot per team in the transition area.

I removed my helmet as part of the deal seemed to be only putting on the lid after you had your band (batton) but gloves and shoes and socks were already on.

I had the opportunity to see Nancy and Matt (my guy) go through then Nancy passed a second time as I watched for Matt coming in on his final lap.

I managed to elbow my way to the front and catch his eye.

I had a fast jump on the bike but then struggled to get my feet clipped in. Once I had got going I realised I should have warmed up a little, at least moved my legs a bit before starting to ride and I felt the ligaments over my left knee start to tighten before I got into my pedal stroke.  At least the tail wind on the downhill helped and I started to move easier.

I didn't notice any progress on the bike because I was concentrating on blitzing it. As I came down the hill the second time I was passed by the lead team and the associated motorbike.

Not wishing to get 'done' for drafting I pulled out to pass behind with the leader and the motorbike who slowed down. I didn't want to draft the motorcycle either so pulled back in and got a bit stuck really. At which point the motorcycle pulled up alongside for a word. Fortunately it was, 'go on love, give it some stick!' and he dropped back to let me past the slower riders before resuming his cover for the leader.

On lap 3 I was just getting into it and rather than switch it down a gear for the short shallow climb I just dug a little deeper and popped out of the top in oxygen debt. I quickly recovered though and rocketed through the last lap, weaving my way around all the people taking their shoes off on the bike (why?). I did a running dismount before temporarily racking my bike and passing the band to Andrew Marsden to go go go!  All of the people who had removed their feet from their shoes wondered why they had done so as they were now waiting for their bikes, barefoot.

My bike was returned to me by a friendly marshal and I set off back to camp base to try and recover some sense of legs for the final run in an hours time.

There was definitely more stretching and recovery in this transition. A certain amount of lying under trees or in the sun with my legs in the air but I soon got used to the idea that I had dried out and I was ready for a run.
Matt was very calm in transition, waiting for his turn. Me, I had lost all sense of time so when Andrew Marsden came in off his bike ride I was chomping at the bit to get down to the run, forgetting we still had half hour of Helen running next before it was Matt and then me.

Matt eventually admitted he was waiting for Helen to run by and then realised that because her run started at the bike transition she wouldn't actually run past us at all.

Once Matt set off, I couldn't resist. TSK had arrived so we set off to sit in the shade of a tree and wait for him to pass us on his lap. After 20 minutes I stood with 30 others waiting for my man to come in.

This was a good place as we all had a great view of runners coming in. I took my place and legged it like the proverbial bat. The first hillock slowed me a bit but I recovered and picked up speed again along the boathouse. The rise up the footpath was hard but I dug fell-deep and let go on the little descent to the lake side although I could hear someone haring up alongside me. Just to put them off I stayed on the off camber grass slope as long as I could, preferring the grass to tarmac. She was stuck on my left where it was steeper. She was there for some time before I relented and then the flat struck me in the face like a frying pan and I let her pass me. To my surprise, I stuck with her and to my greater surprise when I checked my watch we were doing 8 mph. My usual fast pace is 7.4.

I stuck with her around 3/4 of the way along the long straight, constantly checking my watch to see if she dropped below 7.5mph. As she faded through my "max speed" I attacked and ran the direct headwind along the top of the lake on my own. She couldn't go with me.

The tail wind down the 2km finishing straight was imperceptible compared to the roasting, blazing heat of the 11am sun and after 750m of it I had, myself slowed down to 7mph then I saw TSK. I think I slowed down more but then gave myself a talking to and by the time I could see the finish I was back up at 8mph.  I had done the equivalent of a 48 minute 10km pace and my fastest 5k run ever.

Andrew grabbed the batton with strict instructions from me not to let the team from Cambridge pass him back.  He didn't and in the end, my lovely Rivelin team number 80 were 115th of 195 finishers.
My results were:

Swim 500m - 09:57 - 120/792
Bike - 15km - 26:00 - 460/792
Run - 5km - 24:18 - 552/792

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