I was looking forward to this one but my weeks prep was not the best. On Monday I went for a run with a mate in Hartlepool and did a 10k, it was a good pace for the legs but I paid for it the following days with DOMS. The rest of the week consisted of be decorating everyday of my annual leave! Some holiday!
What I should have done was spin the legs out on the bike and have a gentle swim mid week. In the end I was pretty tired and my legs weren't in good shape. Not as bad as hockey though
The final thing in my prep was that once again I decided to try to sort my headset out on Friday afternoon. Stupid, I should have just left it. A trip to Godley's to try to get some help was to no avail, so I had to manage solo. I got it to the best possible place and left it. But once again not the best preparation, leaving things to the last minute seems to be a habit of a lifetime.
4.30am...... yes 4.30am what's that all about? The alarm goes off and to be fair I had a good nights sleep in the spare bed haha so that was a much better sleep than Druridge Bay in the van. Less stressing over what's to come. I suppose that will dissipate further the more experience I gain.
5.00am - the car is packed and breakfast is gobbled up and off we went sending the dogs back to bed as they were wondering what the hell was going on. Pretty sure they thought we were off on holiday and leaving them behind.
6.15am we arrive at Roundhay Park Leeds on time as the roads were very quiet at that time of day. We parked up and unloaded and headed to the arrival tents for our temp checks to access the park. Pretty well organised really although they were pretty slow getting people through the gates. After this it was the long walk into the park to the Registration. However cut the grass the day before wants shouting. There was cut grass wedged in every nook and cranny of the bikes, I'm sure at one point I had a full bail in my front forks.
7.20am ish we made our way to the portaloos as we hadn't come dressed for the race. I was going to but thought a fresh Tri suit would feel nicer and I wanted to see what the weather was going to be like to decide which suit to go for, sleeves or no sleeves. Sleeves to avoid the sun burn it was. Pre race Poop no.2. and off to bike racking.
On the way to rack the bike I realised I was short my transition baskets. I'd left them at the Park entrance where we had our temperature taken. Oh well, all my stuff will just need to be chucked on the wet grass then!
We got sorted and wandered off to the swim start to put the wetsuits on. It was getting warm so I didn't want to get in it too early. Pre race poop No3.
Heading down to the swim start I noticed a guy struggling with his wetsuit, same one as mine so I knew what he was struggling with, the dam zip comes undone everytime you bring the suit up over your shoulders. So I stopped and gave him a hand. Got him sorted and then we heard the call for red caps. Shit that was both of us! so off we went, leaving Ali to her own devices, sorry Al.
We joined the back of the red cap line ready to go in. I was hoping for a warm up to test the water and get the HR up and shoulders warmed. No such luck. We were just getting thrown in. Oh well.
I was all set, I was way more confident than at Druridge so that was a positive, the extra swims in open water between then have been really positive so I was in a good place.
I was in, watch started, and wow the water was lovely and warm. Still I had a moment and I just couldn't get my breathing right so I had a breast stroke, front crawl medley to start with and managed to get under control. It wasn't the fastest but I was focussing on technique and going the whole 750m in one go. After the initial moment I was going well and got all the way to the exit in one go. Massive achievement for me. Although spotting in the low sun was tricky I managed it all without any major issues.
I must remember to use my watch properly at the right times. As I got out of the water, no dizziness and feeling good, I started my way up the blue carpet to T1. 400 bloody meters. There should have been golf buggies shuttling athletes up to their bikes.
I waited until I go to the bike before undoing my suit as I had my hands full with all my swim head gear. Those of you who have seen me in the water will know what I'm on about. Although it was a little slow I managed easy enough with the new lube. Shoved some gel down my neck and a jelly baby and off I went on the bike.
This course set up suited me down to the ground. My background in multi sprint sports lends itself to these lapped circuits with lots of turns. It lets me slow, turn, sprint and get back on the power on a regular basis, and allows high speed bursts and short recovery. I was enjoying it.
I left the water from the swim in 253rd place and managed to get up to 72nd on the bike. It was evident that the motorsport track race came out today, wide entry to corners, ignoring marshalls waving slow down and carrying as much speed through the apex as I could and getting on the power as quick as I could on the exit. There was a couple naughty inclines that were leg sapping but I made up for them on the downhill sections.
Dismount!!!!! argh, almost a fall. Firstly I got out of the clips too early and had to get back in as there was a small incline before the dismount line. I approached the dismount line and unclipped swung my leg over and unclipped the other foot only to slide on the tarmac in the cleats. I stayed up and carried on safe-ish!
The run in the cleats to the racks was long again. Not very comfortable in the cycle shoes and my hips and calves were starting to cramp up. So I slowed up and managed my gait into the T2. More fluid, another gel and a jelly baby runners on and out onto the final leg.
Two laps of the park was all that was left. 5km and done. It was heating up now and the sun was beaming down. Even though I had taken on plenty of fluid I was starting to get thirsty. No wonder my legs were starting to cramp at transition. I grabbed a bottle of water on my second lap and quenched my thirst and cooled my head down. Almost done.
It was a windy hilly route and the inclines really took it out of your quads. I was on target at 5min/km I don't think I had it in my legs to go any faster today so I was happy with the consistency.
My watch clicked over 5km and I was searching for the Sprint Finish signs.... no where to be seen! There was a Go Tri, a Tri Star, a Youth Tri Finish sign but nothing relating to Sprint. I went past the ramp to the finish line as I assumed there'd be a turn somewhere. Nope! On I ran. Back passed transition zone, again. As I was running, I'm asking marshals where the finish was and getting no real help just encouragement that I was almost there! Helpful! I got to the lake again and asked the marshal and she said I'd passed it as there's a U turn at the ramp. Finally some useful help. So I jumped the fence where she was and started up final bank to the ramp on the blue carpet. only 2km extra!!
Turns out I wasn't the only one. I was one of six crossing the line in a 10sec window and each and everyone of us were complaining about the signage and that we had done an extra lap.
So that had screwed my race. I officially finished in 1.42.54 but I would have been in on 1.32 ish without the extra 2km.
Anyway, I was only going to make sure I could get through it and finish without issue, which I did, pretty much. So overall I'm pretty happy, had a good day in the sun, managed to get a moan in for poor organisation and got home for an old man nap on the sofa with a beer.
Small steps, big achievements. Onwards and upwards.
Finally, the club Tri Suits are not flattering at all!! Belly gonna get ya.