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European Long Dist Tri - 21 Aug 2011

European Long Dist Tri - 21 Aug 2011

 A fabulous Finnish finish

If you had told me 3 years ago that I would be on the start line  of the European Long Distance Triathlon Championships wearing a GBR tri-suit I would have told you that you may have overdosed on performance enhancing but brain befuddling "supplements". But there I was, feeling something of an imposter, amongst Europe's finest age group and pro athletes, pondering quite how deep the "deep water" start was going to be and if someone was suddenly going to let me know my selection was an unfortunate clerical oversight.

 

When I was offered a place on the team in February (you get a "Congratulations you have been selected e-mail") I looked up the weather in Tampere, Finland, where the race was to be held. -20c by day didn't look great and the 160cm of ice on the lake seemed to suggest skating drills should replace swimming ones.

 

Luckily there was no ice to break as the starter ordered us into the water. Whilst the balmy water temperature (19.6c) was comforting, the thought of a 4km out and back swim was rather scary to a landlubber like myself. When the team GBR race recce took place the team manager pointed out into the far distance beyond the horizon line.. "and somewhere out there is the turn buoy". Luckily my customary swim start tactics left me with plenty of feet (well all of them actually) to follow. I managed to find some kind of rhythm and sensed I was heading in the right kind of direction. This was confirmed as the leading age group ladies caught up and swam over the top of me.

 

Whilst the woman on top wearing rubber water play fantasy may be some people's idea of fun I didn't take too well to this assault. My survival instincts must have kicked in and I swallowed several gallons of Finland's finest lake water to act as ballast and enable me to remain submerged whilst the girls tap danced on my head.

 

I must have swum round the buoy at some stage as I could see the footbridge near the Olympic Stadium HQ where transition was. With great relief I hauled myself unglamorously out of the water happy to be alive and not experiencing the dreaded cramps that have reduced me to tears in the past. I was further uplifted by the cheers of support from team Wintergold (Daisy, Daniel, Alice and her parents had all come out too).

 

The bike leg was a confusing 6 lap effort that included lots of well marshalled roads, a section of motorway and a scalextric style cross over where you went from being on the left side of the road to the right with on-coming riders doing the opposite.

 

I was making quite good progress but couldn't push too hard or drink as my stomach was complaining about the small pond ingested during my encounter with the fast ladies. By lap 3 this pond was trying to make a bid for freedom sometimes up, sometimes down and sometimes both. Not wanting to break the strict ETU rules on revealing various bits of anatomy and not wanting to soil my new trisuit I skidded (no, not that kind of skid) to a halt outside the stadium. "Where's the loo?" I shouted at the congregated mass of spectators and officials. Various shrugs and looks of confusion suggested that my lack of Finnish ("missa on vessa", if you ever need to know) and coherency made me look rather

 

I decided to head into the stadium and search the myriad of corridors for the room I was increasingly desperate to locate. The combination of shiny floors and cycling cleats is not good. Add in a dose of panic and the dramatic backflip with double twist was inevitable. Picking myself from the floor I spied the facilities required and some 7 minutes later I emerged from the stygian gloom to remount my bike several kilos lighter. The next 3 laps were more comfortable in spite of the rising wind and the continuing game of Russian roulette at Scalextric corner.

 

Going into T2 it was lovely to hear "Go Daddy go" as the Wintergold cheerleaders made their presence heard. A leisurely transition (not forgetting a handful of chocolate éclairs for comfort and energy) and it was off on the scenic 4 lap lakeside run. It was quickly apparent that I had forgotten to pack my running legs so I settled into a 7'50 mile plod and cheered the other GBR athletes as we crossed paths (but not in the Scalextric manner of the bike course thankfully). The pro athletes were simply amazing and were already approaching the last of their 20 miles at a pace I could only dream of.

 

Every lap the family fan club gave me a boost as I tried to keep the numbers of people passing me level with the numbers of people I passed. A helpful Finnish age grouper swapped an éclair for details of the (totally unmarked and off course) loos. The slightly lighter load meant I picked up to a heady 7'49 mile pace and rewarded his kindness by overtaking him with a mile to go.

 

It was a really special to finish (and not in last place as I had feared) in an Olympic stadium in front of your own family.

 

A lovely holiday followed where I could spend some quality time with them and not my wetsuit. The lakes and sea were fabulous as were the Spy Museum and the Viking Feast. A better post race celebration would have been hard to find.

 

So for any of you dreaming of wearing GBR on your front I say keep on trying and keep on training - eventually you will be so old that you will get there!

 

Event details:

4k swim, 125k bike, 20.5k run

Drinks - 900ml High 5 and 3000ml lake water

Food - 3 High 5 gels and 4 eclairs

Fans - 5

Blisters - 0

 

Training details

3 key sessions a week for 18 weeks

 

Result details

Time 6.53.01 (1.09 swim, 2.00 T1, 3.13 bike, 1.30 T2, 2.28 run)

6th in age group

2nd Brit over 45 (would have been first without unfortunate loo incident)

61st overall including pros and all age groups

 

Number of medals I would have won in other age groups = Bronze 25-29, Gold under 20, Silver 50-54, Gold 55-59 (if only I were older or younger!)

 

 

Author:   Loz Wintergold

Bala Standard Tri Wales - 11th Sept 2011

Bala Standard Tri Wales - 11th Sept 2011

Hi guys 
  
After a 5 hour drive I arrived at registration on Saturday in the pouring hard rain and wind!!! Welcome to Wales!!! Once i had registered i thought i would check out the swim course. Standing looking at this huge expanse of water, which resembled the Atlantic Ocean with white horses everywhere, i asked the guy next to me " where is the lake we will be swimming in?" He looked at me and laughed and said, "that's it there!" Oh shit, i thought let's hope the weather changes by tomorrow!!! Well it did!

Sunday morning arrived and the weather had changed, but for the worse, more rain and stronger winds!!! At  09.30hrs i watched the first wave go off and within a few minutes people were being pulled out of the water, very encouraging!!!! The next few waves were the same as swimmers were struggling against the elements!! Now it was time for my wave, with my heart in my boots, well in my feet, i made my way down the slippery slope and into the freezing cold water!! The first 750 metres was going to be out against the wind and some guy stood next to me said," you will need to swim fast otherwise you will make no headway". "Thanks mate", I said, " but i don't do fast swimming!" "Oh well, best of luck then", he said. By now the wind was so strong the waves looked like the side of houses and you could hardly see the marker buoys and i was bloody freezing!! 10.00hrs and  the hooter goes and we are off. Trying to get into some sort of rhythm i found almost impossible due to the waves, every time i tried to sight i was smacked in the face with what i saw was a huge wall of water!! Eventually after what felt like hours i made it to what i thought was the turnround buoy, only to be told by one of the rescue boats that it wasn't!!! I had to dig really deep at this point as i was feeling very cold and i knew i was struggling. From somewhere i found the self motivation to crack on and eventually i reached the REAL turnround bouy!!! I thought the 750 metre swim back was going to be easier with the wind behind but i found i was still struggling against the elements! After what felt like hours i could see the finish of the swim and remembered that we had been warned of the very rocky approach to the slipway. Suddenly a very friendly arm pulled me up out of the water and said " well done mate", i then managed a sort of run into T1 and was cheered on by the crowd and i heard the race commentator say i had taken 52 mins but i had done it!!!! I then had problems getting my wet suit off as i was so cold but at least the rain had stopped. After about 6 mins i was ready to leave transition. The bike leg was an undulating out and back course, on closed roads, and the first 12.5 miles was against the wind which was so strong that it was like cycling against a brick wall!!! By the time i had got to the turnround point i had overhauled several riders and on the return leg was able to make up more ground with the wind behind me. Arriving in T2 i decided to shed my thin long sleeve top i had put on for the bike as the sun, yes the SUN, was breaking through the clouds!!After 1min 35secs in T2 i was off on the run which was a 10k out and back undulating course on closed roads and, although the first half was against the still strong wind, i managed to overtake a few more and eventually crossed the finish line!!!

My Results:

 

SWIM: 1500m

52 mins 1 sec

T1

6 mins 16 secs

Bike: 40K

1 hr 20 mins 14 secs

T2

1 min 35 secs

Run: 10K

55 mins 9 secs

 

 

Overall time:

3 hrs 15 mins 17 secs

 

                              

Overall position: 461st out of 492 finishers [47 failed to finish and 28 of those were pulled out of the water!!]

Overall male position:                   374th

Age group position [over 60's]:   7th

 

I was trying to qualify to represent GB next year but due to the adverse weather conditions, which really affected my swim, i failed!!! But I have entered next year's race, so hopefully the weather won't be any worse and maybe I might JUST qualify for 2013 !!!!!

          

One consolation i suppose if I survived THAT SWIM I can at least call myself a swimmer!!!

 

 

Author: Del Hastings

 

   

Bar Race Birdman Swim 1000m - 14th Aug

After entering on the day and looking out at the grey choppy sea and grey sky I was thinking 'hmmm is this a good idea' I had also had the thought of doing the 2km swim rather than the 1km , but stuck to the 1km as it was the BAR event... I'm very glad I did.... There were surprisingly few club members present, although I know a some people were off marshalling for Olympic preparation events. In fact there weren't that many people entered at all...a lot of DNS maybe because of the weather.

So it was left to Colin, Andrew, Jules and me to share out the points.. Jules being very happy she was guaranteed 10 points and wanting to know how much of the swim she actually had to do to get them!

I wasn't at last year's event which I had heard a lot about; especially the strong current against you on the return leg and the choppy waves making it a lot lot harder than it should have been. So I was mentally prepared for a struggle on the way back. The start was a run into the waves and out to a buoy before turning round it and West. I dived in a bit early as after a quite a few strokes I noticed Jules was still bounding through the waves beside me! I must learn that dolphin diving technique for going through waves...anyway I got behind Colin and drafted him to the buoy , everything ok so far and then round the buoy and I had no idea where Colin was anymore. There are more important things on my mind, such as the waves being a lot bigger than they looked like from the shore. I found the out leg really hard, with the waves picking me up and throwing me down... at one point I was feeling quite sea sick due to the swell and the amount of water I was swallowing. So I stopped bilateral and just breathed on the one side which was better as I took on less water. At one point a wave just left my arms flailing out of the water and just left me static trying to spot anyone else above the waves to see where to go.

 

At this point I was still thinking that the return leg was going to be worse. I hadn't yet worked out the current was going the other way from last year. My joy at not having entered the 2km was lost in a struggle to survive the waves. Finally I spotted the turn around buoy and headed back and everything became a lot easier! The waves were now carrying me along with them and I really started to shift, a wonderful feeling after the battle outwards! So I regained my form and chased down a swimmer ahead and suddenly there was the finish. Navigating round the groynes I sprinted up the beach with encouragement from Colin to run... once a triathlete always a triathlete! He later told me I overtook 3 people from the water edge to the finish line :) thats 2 more than I did in the swim.

 

So all 4 of us finished and I think we all found it a struggle, I know Jules and Andrew did, Colin maybe less as he came in 8th overall! The times were surprisingly fast, at least I think mine is ...last time I swam a 1km sea swim it was 18 mins and that was one direction with the current, this time it was 15 mins which I find hard to believe given the battle outwards but I assume they got it right! 

 

So the 1,2,3 of MTSC men was Colin (8th), Trevor(20th) and Andrew(25th) and Jules(34th) was 1st woman :)

 

Writing this now I'm tempted to say it was a great swim , its amazing what the human mind is capable of forgetting, as really I found it pretty hellish. Halfway through I was seriously thinking I might not be able to finish the event if the return leg was going to be the same or worse as the outwards leg. Thank you for letting me forget how bad it was... bring on the next one!

 

 

http://www.rawenergypursuits.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Birdman-Swim-Provisional-Results-2011.pdf

 

 

Author: Trev Moore

Cow Man British Half Ironman Championships - 3 July 2011

Cow Man British Half Ironman Championships - 3 July 2011

It was only a training event and I had been feeling a bit poorly for the last week so it took a bit of cajoling to make me put the bike and wetsuit into the car as we went to see my folks in London. An enjoyable and late evening did little to enhance my enthusiasm as the alarm went off at 4am. Knowing that this was probably my best chance to test my equipment and body before my "A" race (the European Long Distance Championships) I reluctantly ate some toast and marmalade as I made my way along the M25 and M1 to a gravel pit in Milton Keynes.

 

Arriving at the venue I sensed that this is one well organised event and at a venue more attractive than I had anticipated. There was plenty of parking and plenty of loos. Massage tents, sponsor signs and transition areas were well marked out. Best of all were the giant (at least 20 feet high!) inflatable runner and cyclist that signal the way out of transition.

 

As the sun started to warm the air the first wave of 350 were under way. Being either a lady or an old git meant I had an extra 30 mins to decide what excuses I had either not to start or pack early on. Failing to think of anything I joined the 350 other athletes in my wave to waddle through the goose poo to the start area. The starter waited until I was facing the wrong way clearing my goggles to sound the start hooter. The water was surprisingly warm and unsurprisingly busy. I do not enjoy mass starts and took my customary place near the back and way off course. This would not usually have been a problem but the dry weather meant that my belly grounded several times and I had a bit of a tussle with some reeds.

 

Transition was a lame affair and poor Steve would be turning in his grave were he not alive and kicking. The bike course was a mix of delightful single carriageway and slightly less pleasant (but quite quick) dual carriageway. There were 2 and a ½ undulating laps were I managed to overhaul most of the fast swimmers.

 

Making sure I took a handful of chocolate éclairs - my current favourite energy source - I exited transition in an equally poor fashion to be astounded by the fact I could run. I mean proper running and not the Ironman plod I had been expecting. The run course was 4 laps of a mostly off road circuit with a couple of hills. Had I known it I was in Gold medal position coming off the bike (for my age group) but I am not sure I could have matched the 1.25 the eventual winner managed. I am also not sure if the accidental filling extraction hindered or helped me but I have made a note to go for something less toffee based next time. Still I was delighted with the 1.30 I did.

 

Through the finish area I found plenty of fruit, energy gels and water. By now it had become quite hot so I joined an increasing number of overcooked competitors in the lake to reflect on a great morning out.

 

It is a pity the other 2 Mid-Sussex crew did not make it as this is a super half. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to do a well organised but not overly challenging event.

 

Final score:

British Championship Bronze medal in age group

44th overall (out of 700ish)

4.35.07

Winner 4.04.57

 

 

A Finnish finish - proving I made it to the end in the European Long Course Championships in Finland and was 6th in age group. I would have won gold with my time in several of the younger age groups and all of the older ones! A full report to follow.

 

?Author: Lawrence Wintergold

 

Swimming Lake Windermere 3rd Sept 2011

Swimming Lake Windermere 3rd Sept 2011

Having developed a passion for open air swimming at Tooting Bec Lido and trained with many swimmers whilst they prepared for long distance events, one big swim had been on their 'rite of passage' - Lake Windermere.  A stretching 10.5 miles in England's longest lake..not to mention the cold factor.  I felt that this was a step up from my Channel relay (2007) - I wasn't to be disappointed.

So training began in earnest with Mid Sussex Marlins.  I upped my usual twice weekly sessions to three at Easter and started sea swimming in mid-May.  The first outing was an 80 minute session in 12 degree water and waves the size of houses.  I knew from then on it would be a tough training regime.  Other swims followed - Shoreham to Brighton (8km), various 5km races, several circular Brighton swims, a 7km session at Pells Pool and a 9.2km session at Tooting Bec Lido.  In August I also started to catch a 5.30am ride up to Tooting Bec to increase my weekday outdoor mileage.  I was starting to get fit!

Race day loomed and I had a mild coronary trying to gather my crew together to row me up the lake - my thanks to many of you who volunteered.  Steve Mac and Tim Creswell signed up with an evening curry to discuss strategy and tactics.  I'm not sure what Steve thought when he asked about my feeding strategy..in honesty I didn't have one!  Thank god Steve knows what he's talking about on sports nutrition matters.

 

So we convened at Euston station before a 4 hour journey took us to the Lake District, our hotel (for blind people!) checked into and off to Bowness for the last supper.  Not sure if the calming Peroni was a good idea but the lasagne was perfect.  Lights out was midnight and I started hearing the rain fall outside at about 4am.  I knew the weather was going to be grim the next day.

 

We convened for breakfast at 6.45am (with a group of very fit looking Irish swimmers) before a taxi to the start line.  Our driver pointed out a few landmarks along the way as the rain teamed down.  We registered, cleverly borrowing some safety gear I'd forgotten from some Windermere veterans, before crews, then swimmers were briefed.  Our old wooden rowing boat was loaded and I made my way to the start recognising a good few people from other swims I'd done...and triathlons!

 

The water was certainly brisk when I lowered myself in from the jetty (16°c) and within 90 seconds the gun went off.  It was 9.25am and we were swimming.  I could see a lead group make quick progress and we rendezvoused with our crews after about ½ a mile.  The rain was coming down and I could see Steve and Tim in their waterproofs.  The 15 mph wind was pushing the boats along quickly and it was a job keeping up with them (or rather them slowing down for me!).  My stroke felt strong and the cold wasn't a noticeable factor.

 

It was shame I couldn't see the mountain tops but I was gradually eating up the shoreline, even starting to recognise a few milestones.  The first feed stop saw my diet of an energy gel, lucozade sport and the odd banana whilst treading water beside the boat - this was tough and I often drifted off.  I fed every 30 minutes and by the end I could hit Steve or Tim with my bottle and empty gel from 10 yards!  After 2 hours I'd reached a childhood landmark and knew I was 6km into the swim.  My stroke still felt good.  The boys were getting damper by the minute and they took turns rowing and feeding me, with Steve urging me to up my stroke...little did he know I was going at the max and couldn't change pace even if a shark had been on my tail!

 

The fun really started at 3 hours.  I knew I was only midway and by this stage Steve had started feeding me 500ml of double strength carbohydrate drink and the odd chocolate roll.  Luckily it was made with warm water as when I stopped I was noticeably shivering.  We picked some choice places to stop - directly in front on the incoming Hawkshead ferry and beside a large, extremely cold stream that was running in to the lake.  The cold was getting to my crew's brains too!

 

The scenery along the length of Windermere is very picturesque.  I had hoped to see the peaks and steep valley sides, watch people on the lake in sailing boats and shirt-sleeves.  All I got was low cloud, incessant rain, moderate wind, a few marshals in ribs and empty water.   It wasn't the prettiest day but we did swim through some lovely water - the group of islands we navigated through, superb clarity of water, some short weedy sections, flat water & wavey water, times when I contoured the shore and saw the bottom.

 

So I ate into the miles and was starting to feel that I would make it.  Truthfully I never had any doubt that I wouldn't but by 4.5 hours I was getting bored and apparently a little blue on the lips/chin and shoulders (didn't feel it though).  I was getting 30 minute reports on how far to go from the marshals who seemed to pay us quite a few visits and at 5.5 hours I could finally see the finish - maybe 8-10 small white houses.  The finish line was near but by now my stroke was feeling a lot more "deconstructed" - it was as though I was swimming catch-up drill and was sitting low in the water. The only thing I knew would correct this was to go hard, so for the next 45 mins I did up my stroke and power.  I had a good line into the finish and, although it did feel as though I swam my slowest single kilometre ever, I could see the jetty and finish. 

 

Suddenly I looked right and saw an umbrella-wielding figure sat on a deckchair on the jetty - she blew a loud blast on her whistle and I was done.  I had reached Waterhead/Ambleside in 6 hours 32 mins and swam the 10.5 miles (17km) from Fell Foot in south Windermere.  I swam 25m to the shore and took a final celebratory pee in the lake.  I staggered over to the admin tent to shelter from the continuing rain and let Steve and Tim get me dressed.  I knew I would be cold and had to warm up fast so we went into the next door pub before I had hot water and hot chocolate.  Once they'd put down their well-earned pints I gave Steve and Tim a huge hug and spoke to Michelle to tell her I'd made it.   Chips, pasties, rum/coke and fine red wine were to follow!

It's only when you stop that you get the chance to rationalise everything.  I'd spent 4 months in training to swim England's longest lake in Speedos.  As I sat in the pub warming up the tears in my eyes were a reflection of the effort a huge team had put in to get me to the finish - my family, the swimming clubs at Haywards Heath and Tooting, the tri club, hardy swimmers I keep in touch with, people I met at events who gave me advice.  Everybody helped and I thank all of them.          

 

Some stat-o type facts:  I consumed 4198 calories but expended 6000+ calories during the swim - probably around 10,000 throughout the day.  I never moved my googles once throughout the swim because they never steamed up.  The winner took 3 hours 50 mins, which was 3 minutes outside the record.  28 swimmers started, 26 finished.  And finally, the only time it stopped raining on the day was when we arrived at the station to go home..

 

Author: Mat Record