400 metre swim; 17.5KM bike; 4KM run
After Ellesmere Triathlon was cancelled I was on the lookout for a replacement for May. Choosing an event that took place on my birthday seemed like a good idea at the time, but getting out of bed at 5am had me questioning my sanity. This was the first year for this event and it was nice to be part of it. Sure, there were a few things that could be improved, but from my perspective it was a great success.
As for my performance, I felt a little stronger than I did a month ago when I did Chirk Sprint. A couple of brick sessions helped I think.
The whole experience started with the swim in an open air pool at about 9am. As Highley is quite close to where I was born and raised, a few people recognised me from school days. I was deep in conversation with an old neighbour when I was called to enter the pool and as I slid into the warm water which reached all the way up to my knees, I realised I may have issues. Thirty seconds later the race had started and I was on my way through the 16 lengths of the pool. Turning in the deep end was ok, but the shallow end had me scraping my knees on the bottom of the pool. I’m having problems with a brand new pair of goggles letting in water and before long both lenses were full. When I quite literally couldn’t see anything I had to do a quick empty and together with the heat and shallowness started to find it a bit of a trial.
Finally I was out, just stepping out of the pool and bounding into T1, shoes going on without any dizziness and running to the mount line. With the sun shining, I didn’t need to waste time getting into a cycling jacket, but a silly mistake was going to rob me of valuable seconds later on. Making sure to put a foot down at the junction of the leisure centre to avoid a DQ for the right turn across traffic, I was on the way. Again, I felt like I was cycling through treacle to begin with and after a nice decent was faced with the first hill. After running out of gears I crawled up the incline, passing a guy who’d decided to get off his bike and walk. My inner chimp was really having doubts about this, but I was gaining on the next competitor so concentrated on picking a few adversaries off!
With the sun warming me up nicely, I decided to take a drink and the strangest thing happened… I could not put my bottle back in the cage. Something I do with finesse on every other ride and I was slowing down, weaving around and actually looking where I had to put the bottle and still I couldn’t house it. I contemplated chucking it like a pro! But my environmentally conscious self stepped in. Finally I was sorted and enjoyed the remaining downhill, celebrating the halfway mark with an energy gel.
After being passed on by a guy on a slight descent I shot past him up a hill and retook my position, upping the pace. It wasn’t long before I heard someone behind me for what felt like ages and slowly the same guy pulled up next to me. I was a bit unclear of drafting rules relating to side-by-side riding and despite him not actually passing me, I decided to drop back… a huge mistake. I lost my pace and although my nemesis didn’t put much distance between us, I was a bit perturbed at being beaten. Not long after I was pulling into the leisure centre and here comes silly mistake number two… Once in transition, I slipped straight into to my running shoes thanks to elastic laces, but I couldn’t see run out! Entirely my fault for not checking it out beforehand, and after much running around panicking, someone eventually pointed me in the right direction.
Despite lost seconds, my nemesis was only just in front of me on a narrow single file path and I fixed my sights on him. I was feeling a little weak at this point, yet still easily passed him, but didn’t want to go too fast as I was expecting hills!
And sure enough the hills came, but they didn’t seem as testing as Chirk and once I was on the return journey I guessed I had enough in me to up the pace, passing a couple of other competitors. Getting to the finish line was a bit of a challenge, navigating cones and looking for a finish that wasn’t apparent… a bit of an anticlimax! Once presented with a bottle of water and a goodie bag containing a water bottle medal I sat in the sun, cheering on other finishers. A good 5 minutes later my nemesis came in.
Time on watch was 1:14:56, but a mess up with the official times at the time of writing this means I’m artificially riding high above others on the leaderboard!
So would I rate this triathlon? The answer is definitely. Despite some teething problems, to have a bike and run route that are equally testing make this a challenging event. There was a friendly atmosphere to the day too, which helped raise one’s spirits.