Left Friday evening, managing to get out of work for 4.20pm and get on the road. Or should that be car park.... yes folks.... I dared to head towards the M25 on a Friday evening. Leanne had a similar plan to me and it turned out we were about a quarter of a mile apart as we crawled around the M25.... I thought we had enough time to get there, register and rack before the Friday evening cut off at 8pm..... that was until we got on the M25... some two hours and 45miles later we RV'd at a Starbucks for tactical break and so we could go the rest of the way in convoy... Anyways we left and rejoined a traffic queue - when we finally hit the A1M, TomTom was telling me we'd be arriving at 7.56pm.... a quick discussion over the mobiles ensued... and we floored it!! We may have broken the speed limit ever so slightly but we made up some time and cruised into the venue with 15mins to spare. No probs!
So we registered and racked the bikes... no numbers on the rack for the bike due to the rain leaving the rack stickers not sticking.... so we got told which line and then just got on with placing the bikes where we liked... so we headed up towards the bike in/out to make things easier for transition the next day (and besides it must have been the right place as that's where the other bikes were!!)
We were lucky enough to sniff out some food at the venue and so we got a belly full of pasta... as they rain continued to pour we went our seperate ways as Leanne headed off to find Dan (who had an epic trip himself getting back to Blighty from Norway!)... and I headed off into the countryside to find my B&B, functional little pub in a village called Branston (a good sign given I am a fan of Branston pickle).
Transition was only open from 5am to 6am so no point getting up too early, although my race time was 0710 so woke about 4ish and ate to make sure it all went down prior to the swim (unlike the HIM earlier in the year when I was burping up a nice bready jam taste throughout!). Got to T-zero at about 5:15 and started getting my kit out. Decided to put the shoes on the bike and just my towel out. I left my bike kit in one small bag and run kit in another - it was still raining and the forecast was .. for rain...
About 5:30ish Leanne showed up looking like a bunny caught in the headlights!
Having got things as sorted as it was going to get, staring at the bike some more, looking at other people's set up, staring blankly some more... we both finally decided there was nothing else to do but grab our wetsuits and join the queue for the porta-loo.
AND this is my biggest complaint about the race. There were nearly a 1000 competitors and guess what... 7 portaloos in total! OMG! The queues were huge and let's just say those loos got a bashing. There was no where near enough for the competitors and certainly not enough for the travelling supporters. What's worse there were no stops at all at any point on the race. None in transition, none on the bike, none on the run. I personally don't think this is a good idea for us mere novices. It wouldn't have been as bad if there had been some kind of thing to hide behind if you got caught short on the run, but let's just say the run was all very exposed - and you really would have been yourself if you had needed to go.
OK I won't go on - think you get the drift. It was a poor bit of organisation.
So - we left transition and headed towards a loo-queue... there were people absolutely legging it trying to get into transition before the 6am close... talk about cutting it fine. Couldn't believe it - really the organisers were screaming over the PA to get in and people were flying down the road to try and get in. Not sure what caused so many people to be so late - maybe something on the road? Or just bad planning (I think the later as all those late appeared to be men!! LOL!)
Still now it wasn't raining which was a good thing! We looked at the queue and decided we'd be better off listening to the race briefing and queuing again after the first waves started! Which was as good as plan as any.
Finally got to the stage when we needed to squeeze into the wetsuits. Heats were going off every 10mins with all the ladies going off last so we managed to watch a bit from the waters edge.. .and that's when the nerves really set in... I really thought Leanne was going to cry and one stage - but a bit of toilet humour soon sorted that out and relaxed her abit!!
Leanne looking nice and calm in that picture - looks like I was needing the loo!!...Oh obvioulsy we're past the panic stage and on to the pre-race madness
OK - getting into my own beat now as we got into the water/ weeds......Finally Leanne lost it too - deciding to do her own still of "YMCA" in the water for a warm up!And then the hooter went!!
Two laps were asked for. Despite the fact us girlies were the last heat there were still PLENTY of weeds near the start zone. The first 50m felt like I was battling some sort of weird swim weighlifting device they were that bad! Finally got through the green arms in one piece and headed into a the waves - it was then I realised why we weren't doing a single lap, the reservoir was big enough to easily do a single lap (with much to spare), but it was that big there was quite a bit of chop on the water... so headed to the first boy and sharpe turn to the left headed back into shettled water. It was at this point (approx 300m in) that I thought ... WHY?.. kinda normal for a triathlon!! ... and then I thought... where are the rest of the people! For some wierd few moments I couldn't even see anyone else - wierd! Still found them all eventually, I must have had one of my mad swimming moments going my own way! LOL! Still found some other female white cappers turned the next boy and headed for the boat - around which was the swim exit. Made it out, around the shoreline and back in again now finding my rhythm. Didn't push the swim and actually quite enjoyed it.
Pretty happy with my time, less then the HIM earlier in the year, mat time 0:37:52 which means I probably cracked the swim nearer 37:30. Which I'm really happy with :o)
Off I legged it towards T1
Nothing much to report here. I had no plans doing it quickly just being steady, after all there was 56miles ahead. Decided to put the windstopper jacket on which I think was a good call. Also popped my Garmin on, although not sure I actually like having a watch on my wrist in races... humm.... it's a good thing but also not so good.
Still: T1 = 00:03:38
Not going to win any awards with that but I really wasn't bothered about my transitions for this race!
And so I headed out onto the bike - thankfully the rain was staying away (well it may have drizzled but compared to what had come down the day before that was acceptable).
The bike course is pretty good. It was a two laper with each lap not being too technical although there were a couple of hairy descents (with nasty side winds on the day... yikes) and three significant climbs (and a couple of cheeky ones) per lap.
I downloaded this from the official photographer which gives a flavour for one of the "ripples"
As you can see this was also on a main road. Most of the course were on very busy 'A' roads, the majority of drivers were good but there was the odd lunatic trying to end someone's day (or life) early.
I found for the first lap of the bike I was mainly thinking about how much I needed the loo! Everytime I got down on my tri-bars it just made me think of it even more. So spent the second half of the bike eyeing up potential stop off points for lap two! The first half of the lap contains the climbs so it feels like you're going slow or at least behind maybe where you expect to be time ways. Luckily when we recc'd the route the other week we had kind of sussed that out so I didn't feel under any pressure about the slow time after the ripple as I knew it would come back on the back straight of the course! The first lap I was kinda having fun (despite the obvious distraction!) and actually hit the transition turn out for lap 2 in about 1hr 32... much much quicker then I thought I'd be going. Still I felt fine so ploughed off to the second lap.
Got to the ripple for the seconf time only to find me getting held up by cars! They were held up by cyclists at the top and hadn't thought to pull out a bit so you could get past on the inside (despite the obvious fact there was a race going on).... also managed to take a pit stop in a farmers field for a break of nature! It was turning on to the second half of the course that I saw an accident had happened ahead of me. It was a bit of a bad sight - at least one cyclist down. The race marshalls were there and waving us to cross to the other side of the road. I choose not to look (as they were kind of indicating not too) and decided that was the best course of action. Felt a bit bad for not stopping but there wouldn't have been anything I could have done, and there were marshalls there (and a ambulance came past me the other way moments later). Turns out the cyclist (who was competing) got hit by a bus, who evidently didn't realise they had done anything (I assume) and drove off. I can only hope that the cyclist recovers - I know it was bad and I know they went to hospital. I said the roads were busy. This sort of dampened down things really.
Eventually came around to the entrance into Rutland water for the last few hundred metres to T2.... It was at this point I got a bit carried away (I was so excited about having finished the bike) and went for a flying dismount.... Of course this would usually have been fine, but perhaps not after 56miles! LOL... I hardly managed to get my leg over (my bike!) and almost took the marshall out on the dismount line!
Bike: 03:07:57 for the 81.5k... VERY happy with that. Average 26kph/ 16mph (I was thinking 25kph would be good), and that includes the hills and pitstop. Felt good too.
Obviously Dan and some of the other support crew were having a tough time waiting for us;T2
Again no records here, concentrated on getting my feet dry, some brufen gel on the dodgey foot and some vasaline on my toes. Also had a very nice chat to one of the marshalls who was hanging around transition to make sure everyone had their helmets on until they had racked their bikes!
T2 = 00:03:54
I left T2 with the nice marshall saying "just take the first half easy".. yeah like I would be able to do anything else?!?
Oh it started soooo sweetly. First just as I was heading out my great friends Hellen and Ben and their two boys just turned up to give me a big shout of encouragement! That WAS FAB! My split times for the first 3k were all good, I didn't feel like I was pushing it at all but I was going really quite quick (for me! LOL).. covered the first 3k (2 miles) in 17min 15s... and then I don't know what happened really. Maybe I just got a bit scared I was going so well? But I slowed (quickly.. ie the next k was s-l-o-w). The best way to describe the run (other then flat but very blustery) was a slog! I did get something wrong...I thought they had coke on the course! BUT NO! Water or high5.... humpf... so that didn't help my mental attitude either. There were still plenty of people on the course which was good but they all had at least one "band" if not two... yes you got a "band" at the turn around point. Boy that first 5k I was soooooo jealous of those people coming the other way with one or even two bands.. .but still I eventually got mine, which did put a smile on my face - all I needed to do was see if I could bribe someone to give me a second ;o)... no takers so had to slog it out around the course again!
On the way back to start/ finish (second 5+k) I think I was quite dispondant and certainly probably walked on that part more then any other, although my split for that wasn't the slowest! When I hit the turn to head back out again there were lots of people shouting encouragement so that did gee me up a bit. Fought my way through the wind to the turn around "band" place, and surprisingly managed to do my 4th 5k faster then the previous one! Obviously I was at the jubilant stage, knowing I was going to be a finisher!!
I passed Leanne a few times on the run - I'm sure she was looking fresher and fresher everytime I saw her! Certainly she was having a good fun day out on here first HIM distance race!
I was about 500m from home and one small hill to climb.. which I couldn't face... when this lady yelled at me to finish - I looked at her rather forlorn and said I wasn't sure I could muster up the sloop... and you know what.... I did, purely because she yelled at me all the way up it! I owe that lady something (I think! LOL).
Coming around the finishing shoot I saw Hellen at the side with her elder son, Kit up by the rail! I ran past collecting a high five on the way and finished with a big fat juicy grin!
Run Time: 2:15:20... disappointing but acceptable!
On reflection I realised I only took on about 1 litre (which is approx 33fl oz) on the bike - so I'm pretty sure dehydration had an effect on the run. You live and learn!
I finished... I am a Vitruvian:
All in all I enjoyed the race. I was disappointed with the run. The organisation could have been better when it came to facilities and the bike course was a little hairy. Overall I'd probably do the event again though as the people are what make it!
This is Leanne and I with Kit - my number one fan! Proudly wearing our finishers t-shirt!
All that remained was to pack the bikes up and head up... and that's when the heavens really did open. The monsoon-esk rain we had been promised arrived, thankfully for Leanne and I a good hour after we'd finished!