Monday, August 30, 2010

Little Woody 2010 Race Report

So when I suggested this race to the gang several months ago (after all and being completely selfish it fitted well with my revised "Challenge" schedule) I got one reaction from Jules "err sorry it doesn't fit with my plans" (yeah right....)... and from Anita hysterical laughter followed by "you've got to be kidding!? The course is ridiculous" (followed by more laughter).. , humm "wimp" I thought. Fearless to the end Leanne did step up to the mark but not her husband Dan who claimed work as an excuse (pah I say!).... Anyway, on reflection perhaps I should have listened to Anita slightly more and not believed the course website that "The Bike course is best described as undulating to hilly but its not extreme.  Taking in the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley this bike route is both scenic and testing."...hummm

ANYWAYS.... on to the report.

Couple of days before the race we all got an email saying the swim venue had to change due to some lethal algea or other - so the new venue was to the the interestingly named "National Dive Centre". A quick check on google maps gave the first inkling that it was a large gravel pit, with ahem potentially big sides.

Getting to the race briefing I bumped into Rose, who was a coach from my Beginners Tri camp a few years back from La Santa... she asked if I had seen the swim venue yet... "err.. no..". to which she said "I hope you have some spare shoes cos you'll need them"... hummmm... Registration and race briefing done Leanne and I headed to the pit to find out for ourselves..... 

We headed down the revised bike route which we'd take up to race HQ the next day... dusk was falling, it started to drizzle and this is what we found;

View down to the lake from T1

Little Woody was to be this guys FIRST ever triathlon. He was a little bemused!...
Leanne was not too pleased but did bag herself a nice spot on the rack (they weren't numbered)
Leanne thought she'd take a look what the road out from the lake to T1 was like... talk about action shot!
... and the bottom of the same road just got steeper (grapple hooks anyone)
I have found this picture from the web - the cars in the front are where T1 was and the "roadway" to the left was the swim exit... ha ha ha..

Another stolen web picture - the ladders to the left was how you got out the swim... oh HOW I LAUGHED!

So yes - we'd need shoes. Fortunately as I was heading out to work Friday morning with all my gear in the car at the very last minute I remember those fateful words from the email "you may consider having shoes at the swim exit, they will be allowed".... so I grabbed a pair of old trainers... just in case.. how lucky was that (Leanne had to make do with her beach wear pink flip flops!!)

OK OK so preamble over already!!

OK so this was a training race (is that an oxymoron, or maybe just moronic).... anyways... having blown myself up the weekend before I was warned that I would feel "tired" during the event, so approached the "race" more mentally as if it were training. Looking to learn "stuff" for the big one!

Jumped in and was surprised to find the lake slightly warmer then anticipated. Now when I saw "warm" I mean less cold really as it was pretty darn cool. Flapped around a bit then found myself a bit too near the front but it was too late as the bloke kinda said "Ready! Go!".. and the normal mayhem of 250+ people all swimming in the same direction commenced. Surprisingly got into my stroke quite quickly and soon found myself in a nice rhythm heading directly for a buoy... oh.. so directly I swan into the first one (there were some floating around in the middle of the route just for amusement I think)... managed to avoid at the last minute only to find myself heading directly towards a pair of pink buoys.. humm with someone tight on my right and left I had to decide if I was going to veer left or go for the center of the two.... Last minute I slipped right so the person next to me slipped left perfect synchronisation!! We came together the other side. Before long the field started to lengthen out and I found myself swimming along quite comfortably. Could have swam harder/ faster at the start but this wasn't a race remember... it was training... ahem... strangely (for me) I found during the end of the first and into the second lap I was overtaking people (yeah and amazing all at the same time)... some peeps came back at me during the last 300 or so metres but I wasn't in any worry about that. This was my training race after all so I didn't care for them :)

Turning the last buoy I spotted my ladder of choice - a guy in front selected the same but I didn't really have to wait more then a millisecond to launch myself up the ladder. Thought the swim felt short and this was confirmed with an exit (of the ladder) time of 29:30, I reckon for a 1.1 mile swim. I legged it to my cunningly placed shoes and ripped my wetsuit off - as best I could with numb hands, toes and buttocks... seems the lake was a bit cooler then it had felt.

Still with wetsuit over my shoulders I got caught up in the adrenalin rush and began to leg it up the "slope"... got as far as the concrete bit (ieLOL... so I took to a slow trundle and made my way to T1.

Mat time (and hence official swim time ...............) 0:32:33

Yeah - happy with that (and queue a little happy dance)

Was a bit of phaffery, decided to put on socks (as I will in Barcelona) and not elastic band my shoes (given the terrain this was not the place to run any part bare foot!! LOL)... I managed to put my Asthma spray in the pocket which got shredded in my bike crash in Barcelona in May. So it promptly fell out which I only noticed when I was already underway on the bike. Lesson here - attach the spray to the bike!!

.. time for T1 a rather tardy 0:02:33 but hey I wasn't racing ;)

So the real entertainment was about kick in... straight out the swim it was left left and up up up... The first hour I looked to contain my effort and make sure that I started getting food in (remember this is a practice for the big one.... If I keep saying that I'll convince myself right?!)... A few peeps came past me in the first hour (which is nothing new) but not many beyond that (which is new!).... I got up to race HQ and onto the loop in about an hour. Now there used to be one thing I hated riding over on a bike.... and now after Barcelona in May there are two. Namely; cattle grids and speed humps (BAH to both)..... you had to go through past T2 to mark the start of the loop, alas this meant navigating in via one cattle grid (BAHHHHH), going over two speed humps (EVIL) and exiting out over another speed hump (WAHHHH), luckily I held on to the bike over all obstacles (phew). I also took advantage of the portaloos in T2 (as I'm not "racing" right!?)... and confirmed to myself that my arse cheeks were still frozen! LOL.... anyway the bike was true to it's word. Undulating and hilly... Not in the 20% slopes I've seen on a sportive this year but still it really felt quite tough. 

Lesson 2 of the day was picked up with the ride... whilst my nutrition in the first hour was perfect I got to the 2 hour and suddenly felt a bit crap oh and then I realised I hadn't eaten (like major WHOOPS!), I think I was just having too much fun watching people with serious race faces on ;)... anyway having realised my mistake I set about eating everything in my little box thing to discover one of my gels had exploded and eugh gone everywhere! Wasn't too stressed though as I knew the feed station (where ever that was!) would have both gels and drink which I know I can take. So I scoffed and drunk what I could to play catch up. It was clear the race was going to be a longer one then the flat fun of the Barcelona half in May, in fact nearer 4 hours for 60miles. So nutrition was key to feeling less grumpy!!!

The hill at the 55 mile marker was a little rude... Mainly because once done you were in to T2 and little time to recover ...but still when you were on it you knew it was the end. Photographers were placed in evil places to catch all the grimaces!

Came off relatively knackered and kind of hope that this was down to the undulations and the 100miler from two weeks ago still hanging around a bit. But was well pleased and mega surprised to have, ahem, "chicked" some guys on the route!

Bike split 03:51: 20 ... kinda happy with that, little baby shuffle dance rather then a big bottom shaking rumba.
Bike Elevation - Normal Compact Cassette used

Having navigated the cattle grid (again) I bimbled in to T2 (note NO flying dismounts!!) bike got taken from me and I got handed my T2 bag. Found myself a seat and got about changing my shoes... one shoe on I looked at the socks in my hand and remembered I meant to change them!.. so took the shoe back off, sock off sock on, forgot to vaseline my toes but figured they should be ok. Helmet off, hat on, shoes laced, gels in hand and in pocket and I was ready to rock 'n' roll.... 'cept I figured I may want to go to the loo (so my hydration had worked then!).... checked with the support crew in T2, and yes, no portaloos on the run.. So  I exited T2 and headed straight for the portaloos which were there for a quick pit stop!

T2 time no PBs there = 0:02:36

Humm now given my longest run since the injury in Feb was like - err last weekend at 11.5 miles and the wheels came off my cart big time I wasn't too sure what was going to happen. Broke the run in my head into sections... the down hill out, the up hill back and repeat. Started off feeling like my hamstrings were on fire (from the climbs on the bike) and pretty scared about what may happen to the dreaded tendon because (a) this was going to be my longest run of the year (b) I have done NO hill work, (c) my physio back in May said to avoid both hill work and uneven surfaces... Humm so an undulating off road run was probably not on the "go do" list but still... it was what it was and I was having FUN! :) 

Lap 1 went well... down, hydrate at the half way point, gel at the turn, hydrate again at the half way and back to race HQ to pick up my band! I like bands :) Unlike other races I got no band envy at all but was simply saying well done to people who passed me .. :).... Thought I was ok until about 10mins into Lap 2 and then I felt like, well... I was about to have a serious bout of tummy issues.... I was thinking several things, other then "can I hold on to this"... I was repeating thing like "pain is temporary, a Little Woody Medal is Forever!"... or "pain is weakness leaving the body", and with the tummy problem a little chuckle to myself as I contemplated using the Woods as a porta loo..."if you go down to the woods today you'll be in for a big surprise... yeah like a big white Doris arse surprise"... humm anyway figured it was Coke or bust so hit the middle aid station and asked for some. Except they didn't have any. Didn't want a gel. Didn't want water. Did want Coke. They said they had energy drink so figuring that would be something like High 5 or Science in Sport or something I gulped down a few mouthful's... only to go "Eugh what was that" to which the little Scout replied "energy drink it was watered down!"... "like what energy drink?" I asked and that's when he pointed to a Red Bull like drink... like major UH OHHHHHHH.... that stuff really does give me wings. So I trundled off to the turn, the tummy sorting itself out kind of to be replaced by some zen like calm - safe to say I felt a little off my face and was expecting pixies or fairies to come out the woods at me at any moment!! I tell you that stuff is lethal!!

No idea what was going on for about 20-30mins but some how managed to jog (slowly) back up the single pathways, the firetracks, the road and finally (FINALLY) back to the field where race HQ was. Final lap of the field and the finish line! YIPPPPPPEEEEEEE

Finished with no issues with my foot/ ankle/ tendon = do the happy dance

Run was short by a bit... Garmin had it at 11.9 (someway short of 13.2, but given the undulation I reckon that's ok)... in a time of 1:59:25 ... Definitely a happy dance moment! Although not on the times I was at in Antwerp last year I'm ok given I've only been running again for 2 months, I'm knackered and I've always been a slow runner! HA HA!

Well the fun didn't stop there. I finished with a club mate, Alistair about 10mins ahead so he was waiting for me to give me a big hug and we waited for another club mate, Paul to come in about 5mins after me. I was wondering where Leanne was as neither Alistair or I had seen her on the run and it  was at this point a St John's Ambulance lady came to me and said Leanne was in the medical tent. For a moment I became Beaker from the Muppets and then established she had fallen coming out of the swim, had done the bike with a bashed up back and DNF'd - she had asked for St Johns for some painkillers only to have been taken in because (a) she couldn't feel her toes and they could find no pulse there (cue panic over serious back injury and a call to the ambulance with blue lights on) and (b) she was it turned out extremely cold (like 35 degrees cold!).... By the time I came in she had been warmed up under space blankets and the paramedics and confirmed that her back wasn't spinal (if you get me). Leanne was relieved to have to not go in an Ambulance and I was relieved that things weren't too serious. .. So relieved in fact that I fainted there and then!! HA HA HA ... lucky I was in the med tent!

We finally left the med tent gathered stuff and headed back to the B&B, staggered to the pub at the end of the lane for a well earned steak and chips!!

7th from 14 in Female 40-49
17th from 44 Female finishers
116th from 204 Finishers

Swim 10th Female
Bike 16th Female
Run 23rd Female (drat! Not quite half way)


  1. JulesR11:07 pm

    Liking the bike 16/44 female...that's a huge advance in a short time. How ya doing Nevada?

  2. oh my gosh, that swim exit...

    well done on the race. and good job staying upright this time. :-)

  3. JulesR11:28 am

    ...until the medical tent ;-0

  4. hahaha! I thought you were totally kidding when you said it was named "Little Woody" :-)

    Great job out there! That swim was something else. On the other hand, I'd rather have that than no swim.

    Glad that your run went so well, and you didn't have any surprises! You had me chuckling for the whole race report.

    Good work!!

  5. Well, *that* was an adventurous post-race - glad all worked out OK.

    Ladders? Oh my.