A glorious sunny day started at 5:15am in my own bed. For once
the triathlon I was to attempt was within 35mins of my own house.
My resident triathlon widow/driver for the day headed for the
shower and I headed for the coffee and my oaty based
Prior preparation and planning had paid off for once, and though
the use of a tri-kit check list developed on my I-pad following
bitter experience, the car had been loaded the previous day and all
items ticked off. It still didn't stop my pre-race butterflies
worrying, but it helped to not do a headless chicken impression on
the morning of the race.
The final pre race necessity was completed in the luxury of a
non chemical environment and we were off in the car. We promptly
became stuck behind the slowest driver in Wiltshire with an
unbelievable amount of oncoming traffic preventing an overtake. At
that point my butterflies started developing an unhealthy desire to
possess and use automatic weapons.
Eventually we got into Bath and headed up the hill to the
university. It took about 2mins to drive up the hill at 30mph - I
sat contemplating a similar journey scheduled for about 2hrs time
to be completed by bicycle, whilst my butterflies further developed
an interesting Anglo Saxon vocabulary.
We arrived at the car park to the oh so familiar "pssst" sound
of bike tyres being checked - another race season had started and
it made me smile.
The car next to us produced a mountain bike accompanied by a
beginner triathlete who admitted the bike was her sons, and whilst
it had sort-of road tyres, she had not checked them and had never
trained on hills. For the uninitiated, the CoB triathlon has
1,005ft of accent in its 23km bike course...
In a fit of decency I pumped her tyres up from 20 to 55psi (max
on the tyre wall said 60), and we tried to encourage her to great
things. At least I was unlikely to be last now.
Registration was completed, and our labels were a very
professional set of bike and helmet stickers from sportstiks.com
that included a "supporting 116" sticker for my triathlon widow.
She declined to wear it, and I offered her the "bag label" sticker
instead - and got "that look".
Bike racking followed, all organised and signposted, and we
headed into the Olympic size pool for race briefing. The briefing
was good with some humour to keep you awake. One memorable moment
was when the race director confirmed that in the pool there would
be no diving, bombing, or petting! On the bike briefing, we were
told aero bars were prohibited for one of the downhill sections
because of a sharp left at the bottom, but I rarely eat chocolate
when riding, so ignored that advice.
We were split into groups of 8 for the swim and each group of 8
were given a lane to swim clockwise around until the magic 8 x 50m
lengths were complete. Thankfully I was scheduled to be in lane 1
so would have a ladder to get in and out with - those in the middle
lanes would have to clamber out over a foot tall diving plinth.
My start time came, the whistle blew, and off I went. I overtook
the swimmer in front of me at the end of the first 50m, and at the
end of the second 50m I felt a tap as someone wanted to pass me. I
let him by at the end of the length, and he promptly went 10m and
pulled up completely out of air as he had gone out too hard. Two
lengths and two casualties - I am invincible!
One very slow swim later (9+ mins) and I am out and running to
T1. All goes well and I am off down the road overtaking a lot of
racers as I go. The course is well marshalled and I am working hard
to keep the speed up and feeling cocky. The first decent (450ft)
cures me of that - it is fearsome. I am doing 30mph and being
passed by riders doing 40mph+ but I cannot take my hand off the
rear brake as we twist and turn down the hill. At the bottom
revenge comes my way as I power up the hill overtaking all the
40mph brigade and a few more for good measure.
Smile for the cameras, around the roundabout, and back the way
we came. Down the non aero hill and up the other side overtaking
others like the god amongst men I feel I must be. Back towards T2
and they sneak in a final hill I hadn't noticed on the way out
which saps your legs just when you need them for running.
T2 goes well, and I perform the triathlete shuffle on shaky legs
as I headed through run-out.
Ah yes, the run...
Now if on dating websites curvy=fat, then in triathlon "flat and
on good ground" translates as steep accents through soft and
occasionally mud filled woodland paths.
I took about a mile before I got into my stride, but once there
I felt good and covered the ground well. At the 4km mark I realised
it was on for a PB if I got my finger out, and I pushed on. At 100m
to go I turned the corner to be faced with a 3m tall ridge we had
to run up and across before the finish line would come into
Final dash to the line aiming for the photographer, and across
we go with a new PB of 1:21:43 and I finished in the top third for
Tea and medals followed with the usual post race bragging with
my fellow athletes.
In summary it was a tough sprint race with good marshalling that
I would recommend as a warm up for the Dambuster - if only because
of the bike course. I even have a new favourite mug from my goody