Weymouth Middle Distance Triathlon 2010

This weekend was the first major test of my Ironman training progress and at the same time my third triathlon since moving into the sport last summer. Despite substantial disruption to my training since the accident on 8th May, I’d started to feel like myself again in the last ten days and lined up on the Weymouth beach brimming with confidence (if a little apprehensive about the temperature of the sea!).

SWIM & T1: 7.33am. The hooter sounded and into the water I charged along with friends Ewan and Simmo and the other 260+ competitors. Conditions were calm and far more manageable than the Channel last September. After the usual jostling for position I settled into a good rhythm positioned to the right of the pack, concentrating on steady breathing and a long stroke. The swim distance always looks a long long way from land but I was pleased to hit the turn around fairly quickly; feeling good, I opened up and found myself passing people on the way back in. Up the painful pebble beach and into T1: 34mins by my watch. Despite cramping calves trying to get the wetsuit over my heels, I safely emerged from transition with 37:50 on the clock for 63rd place. Simmo and Ewan were 7mins back.

BIKE & T2: after a dicey mount with wet feet slipping off my shoes I got myself down the road to the clock tower (see picture above) and hung a right out of town. I felt uncomfortable for the first 15mins but after the short climb out of Weymouth I found my legs and settled into a good 21-22mph pace, loving the aero position on the new Cervelo P2! The route was largely rolling A-roads with some dual carriageway sections and smooth tarmac; great for fast biking. There were some head- and cross-winds after each turn around point at Bere Regis and Wool but I found my confidence growing as I picked off riders on the windier sections. I saw Ewan flying past on the other side of the road after Wool which was a boost, but what was the time gap? I debated with myself for the next 10 miles! The temperature had really heated up during the bike leg and I’d been rationing 1200ml of drink (an extra bottle would have been nice). I also had to force an energy bar down; I normally like eating but maybe the excitement, adrenalin and heat combined to dampen my appetite.¬†Entering T2 I hit the lap button: 2h35. I also nearly took out a marshal on the tight turn (smiling for my brother’s camera!) – oops. Very thirsty, the extra 350ml of sports drink I’d prep’d for transition was vital. Official time keepers clocked my bike + T2 split as 2:39:12 and 85th place. Simmo had pretty much matched my split whilst I’d pulled out a further 9mins on Ewan.

RUN: Trouble. My left knee was really stiff as I hit the sea front and range of movement was limited. I ran past my folks – putting on a brave face but wincing with every stride – and quickly found a double stitch causing breathing difficulty whilst sweat stung my eyes so much I could hardly see! Those first 15mins were tough. When I go through a bad patch I always have a minute or two where I ask this question: what injury could I suffer that would legitimate a DNF? It’s an odd one I know!! It’s strange how the mind works in times of extreme stress. But it’s whilst I contemplate how painful the wounded pride would be if I failed to finish that I somehow push through my bad patch; it’s getting through these moments that makes you learn about yourself and what it takes to achieve your goals. I went through lap 1 in 50mins and – hitting the beach again – suddenly Simmo appeared on my shoulder (he’d talked down his potential but clearly he’ll be a big rival from now on!). We spoke for 30secs or so before he pulled ahead on his way to an impressive 1h33. Whether it was coming off the injury or the impact of a good bike I’m not sure, but I didn’t have another gear on the run so concentrated on maintaining my own pace. I felt stronger and stronger through lap 2 and found a little something for the final few mins to ensure I came in under 5hrs (1h42 run). The buzz from winding it up down the home straight to the sound of my family and the crowd was something to cherish. 4:59:43 and 79th place. Simmo finished in 4:56:08 and Ewan at 5:10:40 (itself very impressive given that he’s not been training that much this year). Also noteworthy is Ewan’s Crystal Palace Tri mate Selwyn – he’ll be lining up with me in Switzerland – who finished in 5h04; could be close between us over the full distance! Full results here.

Overall I’m delighted. The swim exceeded expectations (for a sea swim) and the bike was strong (although I fancy I can improve here). The run was disappointing, although understandable given the injury. 7 weeks until Zurich so coach Steve will no doubt be working me hard!

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