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Race Reports 2005

Wombourne Sprint Triathlon, April 17th 2005

Gather my thoughts, Andrew Sixsmith in yellow-blue
Swim long, swim long, swim long
Start of the run with Mr Sixsmith hunting me down

We drove up to Wombourne on Saturday and once there did a quick reccy of the course. It's quite a simple course, just three roads with two right turns which takes you to the main part of the course. An undulating straight road to a turn roundabout then back to the leisure centre. It's a lot less hills than I'm used to so I was looking forward to the race.

Sunday dawned and although rain had been forecast the sky was blue and clear. That meant there was frost on the ground but luckily I didn't start until 10.32 so there was plenty of time for the spring sun to do it's thing and warm things up. After an outrageously expensive breakfast at the Beefeater next to our Travel Lodge we set off for the leisure centre. After a quick register and racking there was just enough time to wander off to the disused railway line where the majority of the run (and the Longest Day run) took place. The course was damp but it was still firm underfoot so no problems with slipping.

My time had come and I made my way to the pool. The first thing that struck me was just how hot the pool room was, it was boiling. I jumped the queue as my number was next to go off and I dived in, received my 10 second count down and off I want. I'd been practicing 400m swims and I knew the pace I could go at to get a decent time out. I only managed 6 lengths before that pace was to fast and I was suffering. By length 10 I was really struggling to keep going and had to sneak in an extra breath at the ends. The hot pool was really taking it out of me. After 12 lengths I was in survival mode and just had to push on and dig deep. I was annoyed as it felt I'd thrown the race away within the first 5 minutes.

The swim had finally ended and I climbed out of the pool (you start at the deep end so getting out is a bit tricky!). I ran to T1 which is about 100m away from the pool exit and put on my socks. I'd forgotten how much I fumbled when doing this and it seemed to take ages to get my things on and finally pick the bike up. I set off on the bike leg which is a down hill section to a set of traffic lights over a hump back bridge. That gives you sufficient time to sort yourself out, make sure your helmet is properly on and everything is fastened up properly. As I got to the lights the just changed to green so no need to stop. The police were operating a road block at the right turning and after about half a mile on this road there's another right turn onto the main part of the course. This road is undulating but none of it is particularly difficult. You can easily stand and power over the up hill sections and recover on the down hill. It's quite exposed with fields on your left and fairly straight. I felt pretty good along this bit and made it to the turn around roundabout in 15 minutes. I was extremely pleased with that but once I was all the way around I realised why, I was now cycling into a head wind. It was fairly slow progress on the way back but still fairly uneventful. There was one person in sight behind me, Andrew Sixsmith, he started just behind me and must have been within a minute of me. I needed to get a move on to avoid getting caught.

Working my way back to T2 I turned left into the road with the traffic lights and hump back bridge. Just as I got to the lights the went to amber so I stopped quickly and out a foot down (they record the amount of time your foot is on the floor and deduct it from your final time, so I got a foot down quickly). It seemed to take forever sitting there waiting for the lights but it was a chance to compose myself for the climb to T2. Once changed I cycled up the hill and changed shoes, dumped my helmet and set of running. The run takes you around a playing field and onto a disused railway. It's made of hard pack dirt and although it had been raining it wasn't muddy. The outward 2.5km was slightly up hill and I was very slowly catching someone up. I kept my pace pretty consistent but the dead straight track made the run challenging in it's own way. I couldn't see the turn post so kept wondering how much further I had to go. It seemed like forever before it appeared but around it I went and set off back for the playing field and the finish line. That section went really fast, almost without noticing. I slowed a little and the chap I was catching made some space on me. One chap over took me just before the playing field but he stopped short of the line to collect his kid so I over took him back!

It was a good race and well organised. The people were friendly and the location was nice. The course is challenging in it's own way but isn't a problem. A thoroughly enjoyable weekend.

Swim - 400m T1 Bike - 20k T2 Run - 8k Total
7:24 - 36:13 - 22:45 1:05:47
Weather: Cold but clear, typical early spring day. Finished 67th out of 218.

Tonbridge Sprint Triathlon. 2nd May 2005

You'll be swimming here but no one will be looking
Final sprint

Arrived and got directed to the wrong place for registration. Walked back up the hill with my kit and bike and found the queue. Registered and racked then wandered around looking for the entry to the pool. The only way in was through the changing rooms. Tonbridge triathlon is in Tonbridge School so I guess things are going to be a little different.

My time came and I jogged around a bit to warm up, got changed and went down to the pool side. I explained to the lap counter that I’m not good at counting so to tap me on the head with the “2 to go” board when I made it to 14 lengths. I got in, received my count down from the race starter and off I went. The pool had no proper lane ropes so the water was very rough, in fact it was rougher than some lake swims I’ve done. The swim isn’t seeded so you get to swim with people of all abilities. Luckily the lanes are very wide so over taking isn’t that much of a problem. I shared the lane with a chap doing slow breaststroke and lapped him every 2nd length! That can't be very encouraging for him.

Swimming along it suddenly occurred to me I’d been going for a while so I stopped and asked the lap counter (who was sitting and looking like he had no intension of tapping me) “Is that enough?” – “Yeah” he said and I got out. Where was my tap or “2 to go” sign? Running out of the pool to T1 had me thinking I’d swam to far. I have no idea how far but I wondered while cycling along.

The bike course is hilly with an uphill section for the first 6k then a short fast decent and another 6km climb to the country lane section. That was all going well, I kept pushing along but still wondered about the swim. After 20k you reach the top of the hill and it’s about 7km down hill back to T2. I hammered it down that part, tucking in as much as possible and staying on the tri bars. I was a long way past my maximum pedalling speed so guess I was approaching 50mph. Pushed it to the end and finally saw another bike on the course as I climbed the short slope back to T2, I over took three people on that part and that’s all I saw of the ‘race’ for the whole bike ride.

A quick T2 and off I went on the run. At the start of the first lap of the playing field the chap told me “you collect a rubber band for each lap, its two laps” and he gave me a band. A tiny thin one that I put around my wrist. I set off too fast as I saw someone just in front but he was too quick for me so I slowed a bit to a more sustainable pace. Half way around the first lap and I started thinking about the swim again. I must have swam too far, it seemed like I was a long time in the pool. Feeling annoyed that I’d done that I slowed a bit more. I’d thrown away time in the pool so couldn’t be bothered to knock myself out running.

At the end of a the first lap a young girl handed me my second rubber band – and dropped it. I had to stop and run back to pick it up. I plodded around the second lap even more annoyed, up the short hill to the running track, three quarters of a lap around to the finish line. I finished feeling empty, packed up my stuff and went back to the car. The results said I clocked 9:03 for the swim, that’s about 2 minutes more than I’d expect so I probably did an extra 100m. I won’t be doing Tonbridge again.

Swim - 400m T1 Bike - 27km T2 Run - 5k Total
9:04 - 53:58 - 23:50 1:26:52
Finished 95th out of 322 finishers.
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