My opening race of the season, first of six this season, and one that I had hoped to participate in last year, but due to injury had to drop out. Pleasingly this year, despite the wrist problem, I felt on good form and took the drive over to Oxfordshire…
As some of you may know I still struggle with the concept of early morning starts. So it was with much pleasure that I read my start time of 13:20. Result before I have even started… Leisurely drive over with increasingly blue skies and temperature rising. The forecast was for a high of 26c and I believe it will have easily have been that.
Blenheim is a beautiful location and as I wondered around getting registered and setting up, it certainly didn’t disappoint. My other observation was just how friendly everyone was and also how this event attracts a lot of first timers, 38% today apparently (I guess because of it’s strong charity leaning). This was particularly evident in transition with the broadest range of bicycles you could possibly imagine. From the ‘normal’ exotica through to fast road and then into cyclo-cross, mountain bikes and a few that could well be described as ‘shoppers’. But actually who cares?? If you looked beyond the carbon what you really saw were 1000’s of smiling faces and all you could hear was laughter and fun. And that set the tone for a wonderful day ahead.
Swim 750m 16:08 (02:09 min / 100m)
A bit of a downhill walk from transition to the side of the lake. The water was a very pleasant 18.5c and the whole briefing and organisation was second to none really. Couldn’t have asked for better. The swim was a deep water start and the course basically being a bit of a dog leg out and then half way back exiting at a different part of the lake.
My general plan for the swim is (a) survive (b) try not to swim too much further than you need! Being very inexperienced I tend to find some clear water near the back and avoid the carnage. However today I wanted to try and at least stay in touch with the pack so that I wasn’t exiting the swim with a ton of catching up to do. Feeling really brave I decided to actually start near the front and on the inside!
With all credit going to my friend Sue H. at Wootton Tri I had an amazing swim (for me)! Remembering the tips she has given me and focusing on just the points we have been talking about it all came together 🙂
I did managed to get kicked in the face twice, but then in a shock move I got a proper little wiggle on and swam over some other people and basically sat in the pack for the entire swim. This kind of helped with my shocking sighting as I just went with them and pretty much swam the right distance. Once I concluded that nothing bad was going to happen and I was plenty strong enough to hold my own I actually quite enjoyed the mayhem…
The final turn made me smile as I found myself exactly at the buoy and did the closest turn I have ever done. Encouraged I pushed on and found I could overtake some more people on the last sector.
Scrabbling out of the water I felt strong and happy. Especially when I looked over my shoulder and realised I was still near the front of the wave. This was all looking very good.
Whilst my speed might not have been brilliant in absolute terms, it turns out that it was ‘good enough’ for the wave I was in. Also it felt relaxed and I swam faster than my CSS pace in training.
What can I say other than THANK YOU SUE!! 🙂
I know… You might look at a 5 minute T1 and think what a fuck up that was. And NO I didn’t stop off for bloody cream teas on my way through.
Let me tell you about T1. As you leave the serene and beautiful lake at the bijoux boat house, heading up to the manicured grounds and court yard setting of transition, one has to get ones fat little body up a hill. Not an incline, a hill. It is also 400m long. That, for the hard of thinking is virtually half a kilometre of running, up a hill, straight out of the water in your not-made-for running wetsuit. And did I mention it was 26c??
Bike 00:42:00 (17.7mph)
Allegedly the bike is my best discipline and today went well but could have been better. I payed no attention to my power output, had I then I would have realised I could have been pushing harder. So a learning point around what numbers to look at and the tech(nology) set up. Drank loads on the bike so that was a big tick. For a longer race could have eaten, but no need today.
Its a fast rolling course on what amounts to closed roads (you stay in the grounds). I could have done more, but do you remember those shopper and mountain bikes? Turns out that the owners, whilst happy, were also a series of moving and unpredictable obstacles! Now I can hear some people (Bob / Chris) saying why the hell weren’t you in front of them… It was three laps and I lapped them. Also people at the back of the previous wave were still riding round. A few had got off their bikes to push them up the larger inclines… conveniently walking in the middle of some very narrow roads.
No drafting? That was a joke… People seemed to be riding together and chatting. In fact I have been on club rides where people have been more strung out!!
Having said that there were also some proper quick people.
I chose to ride a road bike rather than TT. For me today that was the right choice. I want to do more training miles on my TT bike so I am more confident with the handling. Given the ‘traffic’ today I was pleased to be on my road bike and I was probably quicker than I would have been on the TT
Not much to say other than it was a big transition area… How long can it take to change your shoes? Couple of minutes really 😉
Run 0032:00 (05:55 min/km)
My run fell apart. Or certainly that’s how it felt. Running out of T2 felt absolutely fine in terms changing muscles. But boy was it hot! Not used to running in the heat just yet and even though this is ‘only’ 5k, I felt over heated after about 3k.
Quads were feeling it and fat little legs were just not interested in co-operating any further.
Definitely a case of mechanical failure rather than cardio. So to some extent this is good as I can now focus on getting my legs stronger. What did go well was my mental focus and ‘talking myself’ through the run. Quite a lot of people walking or running but at incredibly slow pace, so these became sources of motivation as you could chase down the next lame duck and push past. Works for me 😉
So in summary
I didn’t get sub 1:30 or in the top 50 in my age group. But I did my best, finished 69 / 217 in age group and had a thoroughly grand day out!! Which actually is good enough for me!
Would I recommend it? Absolutely. Would I do it again? Absolutely. Definitely in 2020 calendar. And if you fancy a friendly well organised event, with some stunning scenery, then perhaps I will see you there?