Friday, June 29, 2007

Belated race report!

It's a few days of not much activity since my race last Sunday.... and I must confess before I begin my race report to having a rather large hangover!!! BAD KAREN! You see year end is now pretty much done and extra long and stressful work days are almost over (for 3 months). So last night a little band of us merry (quite literally) men, hit the champagne. Not that there's much to celebrate mind as we're all convinced a redundancy announcement is around the corner. Still it's all pretty much done now, all I need to do is recover in time for tomorrow's race!!!

OK - I shall begin my recap of last Sunday's sprint tri ... what fun!

Race Prep:
The day before the race, Saturday, I had intended to get out on Biancha for a quick spin in the rain as the forecast was for rain on Sunday too. Having removed her from the turbo trainer, I noticed what I thought was a buckled front wheel.. to be relieved that it wasn't but, was in fact a flatty! Lucky I intended to do the ride on Sat then as that would have put me in a spin if I'd only found it Sunday morning. So I ended up exchanging my ride for innertube change and race prep.

Managed to break my previous innertube change time of 30mins by a staggering 10mins - small puncture, no idea where from. So whacked a brand new tube in and all was well. Next stage for Bianca was "operation velcro"!!! I set about attaching some industrial strength velcro to the tube that does from the handle bars down to the pedals. Why I hear you ask?! Well all part of my cunning epipen solution (see previous race report - have to carry the pen with me, more favourable to death). So wrapped the epipen in a little sandwich water proof bag thing, brown taped it then stuck the other side of the velcro. Idea being I velcro the pen to the bike. Humm.

Then I hit upon another cunning velcro idea and attached some of the velcro to a gel bar to see if that would stick to the bike too!

Next I got really, really carried away and, as I couldn't get my cateye wireless bike thing to mount on the front anymore (due to the aerobars), I velcroed that to the bike too! Yes at this point I was getting a bit carried away.

Not to finish there, my final bit of pre-race velcro saw me attempting to glue some less heavy-weight velcro to the back of my tri suit so I could stick the same Epipen to the small of my back for the run! Alas the so called "will stick any material" glue failed to work - so I actually sewed (yes sew) a strip on!

All that was left was to have a nice good sleep and healthy breakfast in the morning.

Race Day:
Yep - woke up to rain as predicted. Well it has been the wettest June on record so I guess that was to be expected. A little nervous, got everything packed up - including some extra carrier bags to cover my shoes in transition! All packed up and happily fed I went off to the race venue (a mere 3miles from my front door!). Passed by quite a lot of racers already out on the bike course and inevitably both my excitement and nervousness grew! Got to the race with far too much time on my hands, registered, recced transition, the swimming pool and then called my parents to give them the low down as they had agreed to come on and cheer!

The swimming pool had quite a good viewing gallery, so I settled in there a bit only to get more nervous. At one stage I looked at my HRM to see it was already at 109! Now given my relaxing HR is about 45 you can see I was, by now, almost giddy with excitement! So I took myself away from the pool to calm down a bit!

I have to say, whilst waiting around, I just loved absorbing that atmosphere. There were LOTS of people doing their first tri at this event, with about 260 entrants. Some people were asking questions like "where do I get changed after the swim". Now I'm not scorning those comments, far from it, as every single person who asked such was supported and not laughed at - and every single person had the same look of nervous anticipation that I was feeling. We all have to begin somewhere and it was great being at a race where there were so many people doing a tri for the first time. The complete opposite type of event to the one I watched at Windsor the weekend before which has thousands of competitors, lots of retail tents and 100m *50m transition area!! Whilst hanging around I did overhear one comment about the "muddy" run - I wish I had paid more attention to that comment!!

The Swim (200m):
I joined the queue about 10mins before my alloted time and got chatting to a couple of the people. The girl I ended up sharing a swim lane with was doing her first tri and I bumped into someone I recognised from a club cross country run in the winter. As I got near the front of the queue I saw Mum and Dad, so I obviously showed off my curves in my new club tri suit!!! They are not the most flattering of pieces so Dad did the inevitable and snapped a couple of piccies!! The swim was only 200m which meant I could probably just about be able to count my laps without losing count! We were asked to start 2 to a lane to keep the queue moving and I was off! Pretty smooth 8 laps, forgot to beep my beeper but know it was 3:57 when I exited the pool to a round of applause from everyone waiting... no, not that I was anyone special, we clapped everyone getting out!

Well despite the slippery grass and pouring rain I found T1 pretty smooth. No need to put on the bike top with the epipen in as it was already attached to my trusty stead. So scrapped the dirt off my feet on my towel, donned my socks, shoes and helmet and grabbed the bike. Certainly no need for the sunglasses today!

The Bike (16.5k):
Rain rain rain. Before the race I'd never been on Biancha in the rain so that was a first. After mounting at the transition exit I had to take emergency avoidance procedures as a car reversed out of a parking space right onto the route in front of me. I mean not that it was completely obvious what was going on. The guy driving didn't even look. Still avoided the rear ok and off I went. I got overtaken just before the first roundabout, but after that no one caught me and I even managed to get a few scalps myself, which is generally unheard off. "Operation Velcro" seemed to be doing ok, although I was a bit worried about the cateye ... and my worrying proved correct when, no more then a mile from my house it fell off!!! "Blast" I thought, "I hope it's bounced, I'll pick it up later". So that didn't work then, although I can happily report both the gel and epipen stayed firmly attached, success! The other couple of experiments were (a) aero bars and (b) aero-bottle. Now I did actually manage to go aero a few times, even in the rain. Managed not to steer into any cars or bushes so generally view this as a first successful outing on them. Can't say the same for the bottle though. Not only did it rattle a lot (the roads are not smooth), but on one rather large pothole the yellow thingy that keeps the liquid from splashing over your face, jumped clean out of the bottle. Obviously I wasn't going to stop to pick it up so spent the next 15mins or so wearing my carbo drink all over my face. Luckily I did find this really rather amusing at the time! Besides it was raining so I just licked any juices flowing down myself, not quite isotonic any longer but you gotta get what you can!!!

Overall the route was well signposted but had 11 (yes ELEVEN) roundabouts to negotiate as well as about another half dozen turns and several speed bumps! Not the most conducive course for getting into any type of rhythm, but it was good for some interval training ;o) and had some short straight bits where I could experiment with the aerobars.

Managed to get back towards transition without hitting any wayward cars in the car park and I think my Dad even managed to snap a picture!

Really smooth :o) Changed shoes pronto, swapped bike hat for running cap and off I went. By the way did I say it was still raining?

The Run (5k):
The run route started off through a bit of a forest which was lovely. I came on the 1k marker pretty quickly, not sure how I managed that so felt really quite good. Came across a few puddles and a bit of mud - oh if I only had known then what awaited ahead I would have worn my off roaders! About half way through the run I got to a slightly muddier patch, I duly past by the next marshals and commented to them how relieved I was that that muddy bit was over, to which the reply came "ah you ain't see that bit there ahead of you yet"... a hill... a muddy hill... oh a really muddy hill - what can you do - well go for it of course. It was at this point I wanted my off roaders and laces in my shoes rather then elastic. Yep I ran like forest gump up that there hill only to leave a shoe behind in the middle of it. Yuk! Had no choice but to retrieve it and squelch my muddy foot into the shoe - very funny. At least I was still retaining a sense of humour in the rain (still) and mud. Mum and Dad were waiting in the rain for me at the end - they did well to last the distance :o)

The splits were close to what I thought, swim time includes T1 and bike includes T2;
Swim 05:59 (45/261)
Bike 37:23 (96/261)
Run 25:55 (166/261)
TOTAL 1:09:17 (113/261)

Overall position; 113th from 261 competitors, 18th from 104 females and 10th from 73 female vets.

Overall feeling; Really positive about the race given lack of training in the last month

Overall experiments;
  • velcro the bike - good for gel and epipen, terminal for cateye (I have recovered parts of it which I did find smashed to smithereens, a definate road kill)
  • velcro the trisuit - worked for the epipen :o)
  • going aero - good
  • drinking aero - ok until the yellow mesh jumped ship!
  • wearing your carbo drink - only to be recommended in the rain
Not long until the next event - about 14hours to be precise. I'm glad to say that my hangover is now receding (I have had a 4 hour break from when I started this blog til the end - in fact I watched Oceans 13, much better then Oceans 12).

The idea of tomorrow is just to complete the race as a training session. This will be the longest swim, bike, run I've done and just want the confidence that I can go the distance as London is only 5 weeks away!!!

Have a great weekend. Oh yes and it is still raining, and the forecast for tomorrow's race.. yep - more rain. :oD


  1. Hey! Velcro Girl! Have some sympathy for your adoring fans! OMG! You are such a hoot. I haven't laughed that much in ages!! I can't believe your bike computer then the top to your bottle decided to ditch you in the race. Bummer!!! But you know what? You kicked its arse! Despite the worse possible race conditions. I can't believe you are having the wettest June ever an we are so dry we have to call the fire department when we pass gas :-) And shame on you for drinking yourself into a hangover. That is something I would do ;-) Good luck on you race tomorrow! Don't keep us waiting so long this time. K?

  2. Jules3:39 pm

    Wonderful race report Karen. You'd make a natural Pirate with all those race day experiments. What did you try out for the first time in the Timex? Velcro wetsuit? Hope you had a fab race!