Mid Sussex Tri - The Race Report
I wondered whether it was a good idea going for my final practice swim just 48 hours before the event itself. I decided that every meter swum would help me on the day, so last Friday I headed to the pool for my final session. The session had evolved into something alittle more sophisticated from my first 'let's splash about and see how far I can swim' to 'let's do some 400 meter repetitions'. It was still tough going but this time I had the advantage of my new secret swimming weapon; a nice new silver Speedo Pace hat. I was perfectly willing to try any technological advantage I could in order to shave a few seconds off.....
I managed 3 sets of 400 meters before I got tired and bored. On the plus side I increased the amount of lengths I could muster freestyle to 5/12, but it wasn't making a dramatic difference (read, improvement) to my time. I clocked 8.22 and thought if I managed that on the day I would be pleased. A few more 'alternate' lengths later I called it quits. That was as good as it was going to get. The only question I had, was what I was going to wear. I had been practicing in my long trunks, but I wondered whether my cycling skinsuit would be more effective. Plus, it would offer the advantage of not needing to change, so I could literally jump out the pool, put my cycling shoes on and Allez, Allez, Allez.
I actually went for a brief ride on Saturday, something that I had'nt really planned on. Come the evening I had eaten for England and the Spesh was broken down into 4 pieces, ready to be put together again at Burgess Hill the following morning. Kit bag packed, I was ready.
5.30 is quite early on any day, let alone Sunday. The only advantage of it being 5.30 in the Summer is that at least it's light. I was soon on the road, went via Swazy's house and 20 minutes later we were at the Triangle in Burgess Hill. It was busy already. Upon registering I asked a resident Triathlete whether my skinsuit would be ok to swim in. She replied positively after writing my number, 119, on my shoulder and my right hand in permament marker. Great! Branded for life. But it felt quite exciting as well.....Returning to the car we put the bikes together and made our way to the transition zone to set ourselves up. We elected to rack up by the run exit. Gear in the appropriate place we attended the short and snappy race briefing and that was it! 7.00. Race starts!
I was getting quite nervous by this time and skinsuits are not easy getting on and off when you need the loo! (There's a redesign opportunity here surely.) The swim basically worked like this; slowest first, zigzagging your way up the 8 lanes, clocking the required 400 meters. The pool looked quite small compared to the one I had been used to. My turn to start came round quickly. I gave my name and DOB, jumped in and got a 5 second countdown. I was off!
My plan was to do the first two lengths freestyle and see how I felt. 50 meters in, I opted to switch to breststroke. I didn't switch back. On the third length I got my completely breathing wrong, took on a bit of water and subsequently felt a bit whoozy. I calmed myself down and concentrated on my stroke. I also managed to clobber my shoulder twice on the lane dividers too, unpracticed at ducking underneath them as was required. Finally, I had one length to go. I had been overtaken once and I had overtaken once. Quits. Let's get on the bike. Something I know something about. I clambered out the pool and jog-trotted to my bike, still quite out of breath.
Hat on first, don't touch the bike. Got that bit right. Put my number belt on, number on the back. Shoes on. Shades on. I trotted through the transition zone, guided by the excellent marshals and elegantly mounted the bike. 26km here we come.
I took the first few clicks easy, getting the legs used to pedalling. I hadn't tried swimming and cycling immediately thereafter and it felt weird. I knew the route and there was a 'mark' 500 meters ahead. My first target. By the time I had reached the top of the first hill I had already overtaken 5 or 6 people. I knew I needed a good sector here as I had no idea how the run would go. I dug in a bit more and went for it. Downhill I was quick to change gear and make the most of my rolling speed. A TT bike overtook me but that was ok, I just needed to focus on my own race. I was working my way nicely through the field, and I was overtaken by only one more bike, another Timetrialer. The last few clicks were beginning to sap the energy from my legs. I pushed on regardless and the Triangle was again soon in sight. Final discipline to go. Make or break time.
I dismounted pre-transition zone as advised, and re-racked the bike. Cycling shoes off, running shoes on. Move the number belt round to the front. Engage legs. Run! This timearound, the legs felt really odd - like jelly. I plodded my way through the grounds of the centre and settled into my stride. Actually I felt ok, just focussed on my breathing and kept my fingers crossed; would my calf hold out?
The mid-run-point eventually appeared. I had made decent progress and had overtaken a few people. However, just after the turn I felt a warning twinge. The calf was not happy. I had to ease off a bit. Finishing was more important and having got this far I really wanted to avoid a DNF. I slowed down and folks started to overtake me. I stayed on the job and just concentrated putting one foot gently in front of the other. I saw some grass ahead so ran on that and that helped. I spotted a guy called Ashley we had chatted to in the pool area. He was my new mark! I gradually ground the distance out and caught up with him, though to be fair he was struggling, walking up the hill. "Come on" I shouted. Almost there. And we were. 500 Meters to go. It had to be a sprint finish. I summoned what energy I had left and went for it. Folks were clapping as we entered the final stretch, which was very motivating. I crossed the line and without grimacing. I had done it! My leg had held out and the rain had held off! It felt good to finish. I stood around, chatting to Ashley, discussing how we felt our race went. Frank finished 15 minutes or so later on account of him starting 60 places after me in the swim. It had been a tough race for both of us.
So would I do another one? Definately. There's Ringmer Triathlon in August......and there's plenty of scope to improve. Here's how I did.
Jonathan Medhurst, aka bikebritain, #119
Swimming - 8.18
Cycling - 52.49
Running - 25.43
Total Time - 1 hour 26 mins 50 seconds
Position - 86/265, 14th in BTF age group
2011 Mid-Sussex Triathlon
Words, Thumbnail and Slider Image - bikebritain Ltd