Not a bad setting for a race eh? That is the grounds of Ardingly College (not Ardingley as I’ve annoyingly put in all my other posts). The run took place around here, including through the trees on the left and Pauls Sprint Tri started in the reservoir in the top right.
I digress. I’m sure you’re all waiting with baited breath as to how I got on and the answer is………really quite well, considering the content of my previous post. Taking all that into account and also getting about 1 hour of sleep the night before (avoid the Europa Hotel Gatwick if you want to actually sleep), I am really happy with how things went.
In the week leading up to the race, Paul and I watched a video of the 24km bike course waiting for us on Sunday morning. It looked tough and with a lot of hills, it could not have been further from my introduction to all this at Eton Dorney. Nerves set in a bit at this point. Just to top it all off, the weather looked as though it was going to be unsettled when checking 5 days before. Superb.
Morning of the race, dragged ourselves out of our beds at 4:45 to get the bikes loaded up and drive to the venue for Paul to register and get set up before his initial race briefing at 6am. Thankfully the day was sunny with just a bit of wind. With Pauls start being at 7:15 and mine not being until 9:45, it meant that I could watch all of his race. When I say all, the moments he passed me during each discipline or in transition that is. He crushed the race, took 2 minutes off his previous 750m swim PB, seemed to blitz the bike and then manage a 24 minute 5k on a course that was very tough. Spoke to Paul afterward and he gave me an idea of what to expect:
1 – First third of the bike is pretty much a constant climb
2 – The last 500m or so of the run lap (5k was two laps) is off road and all up hill.
I am not a fan of going up hills when running or cycling…….or at any time come to think of it.
Now, it was my turn and I was just looking forward to getting started having been there for 4 hours already.
With the first run I just took my time to get into my rhythm, starting at the back and just easing into it. I didn’t want to destroy my calf or get out of puff too early on following the recent illness. It worked well, I got into the middle of the group after the first lap and took another 2 people on the 2nd. Somehow I managed to get within 40 seconds of my 5k pb at 23:09. The final climb killed me, so my transition was exceedingly slow, over 2 minutes to allow me to get liquids on board etc.
Next came the ride and Paul did not lie, it was constant climbing with only 2 small downhill sections for the first 10k. It was tough going but kept the legs pumping away just to keep moving. There were some horrible climbs, a mixture of long slogs and short bursts, including 1 that was only about 8 metres long, but it was like hitting a wall. To the extent they warn you in the briefing to go to your lowest gear, and they were not lying.
The ride was hard graft and also a mental challenge as I was out on my own for pretty much all of it, just picking off a few stragglers from the Super Sprint Tri that went before us. Got the 24km done in 48:37, jumped off my bike and trotted into transition 2. Again, took my time as I felt my right leg cramp a bit on the ride, so was in no rush.
Set out on the second run and I felt slow but was just patient with it,
I knew after the first 400m my legs would come back to me and I could get into a rhythm. Was keeping a steady pace until that uphill section ,where I was going barely faster than walking pace, but with everyone else in front of me actually walking, I was determined to keep running, knowing that it was just the one lap and I’d be done soon.
Finished the second run in 12:48, which in hindsight I am quite chuffed with given how fatigued I was and how much that last section hurt.
It meant my total time overall was 1:29:43 which was just under the 1:30:00 target I set myself before even knowing how challenging the course was. So yeah, pretty pleased with it. The running has come along slightly since the first race but the bike, even with the climbs, felt a lot stronger despite it being over double the distance.
Going forward? I am in the midst of a week off from training to allow me to recover, pack up my flat and celebrate my dad’s 60th Birthday in Edinburgh. Then it will be back to training whilst trying to get up to speed in the new job.
All in all, exciting times lay ahead and I can’t wait to take on the new challenges.
As always, got to thank everyone for their support and, as always, especially Paul for signing up to do a race at the same event so I wasn’t there on my lonesome.