Where to begin....
So this weekend was a set of eton supersprints held at Dorney Lake, near Eton in Berkshire. A great venue for a PB (apparently). The lake is a purpose built rowing lake, so it's not pretty but it is practical. A nice rectangle of water (about 2k long) in a nice part of Berkshire surrounded by trees and green fields. This place is used for World Champ rowing and I think is where the rowing may be held in the 2012 Olympics. The course is a straight forward 400m swim off the start pontoons, doing three sides of a rectangle, the bike 4 laps around the lake and the run 2 loops up and down part of the side of the lake. So no hills - which is great but also not so great as there's no where when you can free wheel down a hill!!! ;o)
Well I didn't do much training last week as I had a busy one at work and knew I was racing ( unlike Lisa who did LOTS the couple of days prior to her Oly - hat off to you Lis!). As I blogged on Friday I was wing woman to Angel on Saturday at the same race event I was doing on Sunday (it's so popular they offer two days!). It was great supporting Angel and great insight to the venue, the set up and the overall atmosphere. Unfortunately for the Saturday racers the wind was really really blowing. So the water was a little choppy and the bike was great down one side with it blowing you along a bit but a real head-on nightmare up the other side. Angel had a great race, although I can't say much for the camerawoman......
The one to the right she's in (with Eduardo the bike), maybe she was going just too fast as the one to the left is the next photo!!! LOL! I doubt I'll be taking up sport photography in the near future!
I think Angel enjoyed her race, well she smiled most of the way around anyhow. She finished strongly and came in sub 1hr 30 - BRILLIANT and only her second tri, first one she did being in Lanzarote last month.
After she finished I did my own race prep in the retail tent and got some great gear for a fiver each (BARGAIN). As Angel needed feeding we headed to a local pub where I consumed a great big burger with cheese and caramlised onion topping, with chilli fries. Nothing like lugging a few extra calories around for the race on Sunday ;o) Final bit of race prep saw me baby sitting (something I never do), for my neighbours. Great idea for a quiet night in, until I realised when they said they'd be home at midnight they really meant 1:30am... so I was a bit tired getting up Sunday... which brings me to;
Having seen the manic queues for registration the day before I thought I'd head down to arrive 2 hours before my heat. To find no queue at all! So got registered and settled down in front of the ice cream van (without being tempted I may add), to chill out in the sunshine. The wind had dropped, the air was clean and it was heating up. Waited for my Tri club buddy Leane and her personal Tri-Sherpa ;o) "superman" Dan. When they got there Dan did his best to keep us both relatively calm - poor him not easy with two flustered females ;o) So, 30mins before our wave we decided to don the wet suit to the waist and then move to the transition area. All v secure and we even had numbered slots to rack up to. And this is when my first mini-disaster happened. Somehow - I don't know how - I managed to pull my zip faster clean off my wetsuit. I'm sure my face was a real picture with my wetsuit open at the back with the zipper pull in my hand (lesson 1 - don't do this again)!! EK! Leanne tried to fix it but couldn't, luckily Dan (hence the superman) was close to hand and spent a few mins fiddling before being my saviour and getting me zipped up! PHEW! So I donned my orange hat (you have a different colour depending on your wave) and acclimatised my feet, hand and face before taking the plunge. Brrrrrrrrr!
The start and swim;
So about 40 of us 34-39ers were bobbing around doing a few strokes to get warmed up (I'm on the left side of the photo with the blue on my back)..... and then the starter arrived, and proceeded to accidentally drop the starter horn into the water! So a bit of an extra briefing and the rather damp sounding horn went off and we were OFF! EXCITING! Got straight into some sort of rhythm and headed for the giant bouy about 150m away. It wasn't as bad as I expected, started off slightly to one side which may of helped. Did get overtaken by someone at some point before the first bouy who I swear had propellers for feet - blimey they were moving fast - maybe her nickname was flipper or something. Got to the first buoy having gone flat out and thought two things (1) Blimey there's not that many people ahead of me, what on earth is happening and (2) I've got a long way to go yet, better stop being so excited!!.... Next 100m off to the next giant yellow buoy and everything still felt good. Turned there and got into the slip stream of two people who were swimming next to each other ahead of me. Spotting the exit wasn't so easy but I made it... in one piece... I got up (wobbled slightly) and hit the lap button of my HRM... all I say is I thought I saw a 7 as the minute time and thought "that can't have been right".
So I legged it into T1. Lesson two and three happened here. Got wetsuit off f-a-s-t :o), tried to get a top on (has my epipen in it in case I get stung whilst riding/ running) - the top was a real bother (lesson here, get 2 * epipens, attach one to bike and carry for run). So the top was a hassle. But still got shoes on, hat on, glasses on and grabbed my bike and legged it to the end of transition. Where... DOH... saw someone running out with me with THEIR RACE NUMBER ON!! Which I didn't! Yes I managed to not get my race belt out of my bag before the race so didn't even see it to put it on. What an idiot. Momentarily contemplated doing my bike without the number but decided not to run the risk of a DQ, so launched my bike onto the nearest empty rack and ran back to my kit where a bag kit explosion insued as a searched for the belt! Grabbed it, caught back up with my bike and off I went. Lesson - make sure you get your race belt out!
Boring! After the excitment of the swim and T1 it took me one lap of the lake to get my breath and back in "control". 4 laps of a flat lake is not the most inspirational, particularly when lots of your age group are overtaking. Still I tried to be consistent and not blow up too badly. I concentrated on trying to keep a steady cadence between 80-90rpm whilst getting some carbo/ electrolyte drink in. It was after the second lap that I thought to myself "you know I may be in for not only a pb here but also that season goal". It was during the third lap I vowed to get a new bladeless saddle (everything was numb by Lap 4!).... So I kept on going, and thought "if I can only get into T2 at around the 55min mark I may stand a chance of that goal."
Smooth. Although I do wish I could do one of those swishy dismounts those other people seem to do. Me, well I was just relieved I got the same foot unclipped that I tried to put down. Phew, no sideways falling for me (this time)! Ran back to my slot, racked my bike had a good change into my trainers - those elasticated laces are a blessing and off I ran.
The good thing about the run is that it was a up and back, up and back thing which meant you were always running with people around you (despite the photo!). It was also near the finish so there was an atmosphere for some of it. Leaving T2 I thought I was going to cramp in the front compartments of both lower legs - never had that before. But as it was I was concentrating on not being sick so I think that took my mind off it ;o). Relaxed as much as I can do in the run and just did what I could til the end!
No no not the newspaper type - here are my race times (splits according to my watch!), I know you've been wanting them;
Bike: 44:59 (11:16, 10:59, 11:35, 11:08)
"Fan Fare" ..... Total time 1:23:06 !!! So I achieved a PB AND one of my season goals...
I am so pleased. I don't have a clue where that swim time came from but I'll take it! I know I can improve T1 and I can improve my bike (just need to get on it more often). I had ouddles of fun! I finished with a smile :o)
So thanks to Dan the superman for the photos! A great race and PB for Leanne too, despite the nerves - so a good day was had by all!
No longer a "novice".....