It all started with Bideford Tri last weekend (8th July) which got off to an iffy start when I came off my bike on the Saturday. It was nothing too major, there was no real damage but I woke up Sunday morning with very tight hamstrings. No worries, I can work through that! Then the swim which was filthy due to recent floods was moved and shortened to around 400m meaning I'd hardly got into my stride before we were getting out of the water again. I'd lost time on people I really couldn't afford to lose time to and then I lost more time as I fought to get my wetsuit off - my casual nature had also lead to far from idea bike positioning too.
Off out on the bike ride and I came across a lad who'd come off his bike just before a big flood on the course. It was his first Tri and he was in a good deal of pain (nothing major thankfully) so I decided to hang around, keep an eye on him and wait with him until we managed to get the St Johns folks to come sort him out. After that I completed the course, but there was no race day urgency any more although it was a pleasant surprise to rack up the day's 3rd fastest run split without 'really' pushing that hard.
A lowly 53rd place finish but taking off the 9mins I was at the crash site and allowing for my relatively easy pace I'd have still done ok.
Midweek there was one of my Tri Club's Duathlon 'Training' Sessions at the airfield over the road. By now my hamstring issue had moved to my back and there had been times during the day at work when I didn't think I'd be able to compete. I went over regardless though knowing that I could always stop if there was an issue. The (training) race was a 1.5k/15k/3.5k/10k/1.5k and after sitting in nicely for the first run I warmed up slightly on the bike and was able to push on a little. It was a tough windy night with us riding up to 36mph one way and 16mph the other - on a flat course!!
The day after the Duathlon my back was in all sorts of trouble. Thankfully it was my day off work and with the wind and rain not stopping ALL day I didn't feel too guilty when I ended up missing the planned 6hrs of training. I tried to get back on it quickly though with a good swim on Friday night and then close to 5hrs of training on Saturday, although 4hrs of that was VERY steady on the bike.
Then we came to Sunday and the disaster that was..................
Roadford Middle Distance Tri
It was a teeny tiny field but still with some quality up at the sharp end including old club foes Timbo and Toasty, so no loitering around.
The swim was good, I swam alongside Toast and Del Pitcher (Exeter) for the first 500m before sodding off on my own to chase the lead kayaker. This moving target would have been perfect with my useless sighting abilities if he'd known the course and not taken me around a bonus buoy which (according to Toasty) allowed my chasers to gain 50m on me. I'd have known no different had the organisers not been discussing the mess while stood next to Shelly!! Still, I hit dry land first in less than 25mins so I won't complain.
T1 was my normal struggle as I fought to get my wetsuit over my huge feet (really must trim the legs!!) but I was heading out by the time the 2nd place swimmer appeared. The exit was uphill, I had too big a gear and my bike shoes fixed to the pedals - ooooops!! A Frank Spencer moment as first I ended up on the floor and then got my shoes trapped under my bike as I finally got under way.
The bike was a tough course, constantly up and down with some proper steep sections. Thankfully it was a very small field because a few of the sections (including the three single lane bridges) could have been very interesting with a car or two coming one way and a few bikers in race mode heading the other.
I felt like a train wreck from the moment I got on the bike with no energy and no power but somehow managed to get round the first (of three) lap without getting caught. As the miles clicked by I started wondering if Toasty had suffered a mechanical, he couldn't have been that far behind me out of the water and is undoubtedly the stronger cyclist. Then finally at the end of the 2nd lap I looked over my shoulder and spotted him closing in. He passed me ripping down a hill and then held me up on one of the tricky sections (wimp) before gradually pulling away around the rest of the lap.
The 3 laps totally 50miles and there was an out and back section added on to make up the mileage, here I saw Toast had a max 2min lead and also checked up on the chasers including Tim who was around 15mins back. Game on for the run then!!!
T2 was nothing special. I took a little time to towel my feet off and put socks on before heading out onto the run though.
Can I stop now? Please? PLEASE?
Ok, the run/walk/paddle/wade or whatever it was started and I quickly found out that the empty, tired feeling of the bike was only going to get worse and a lot happened here that put me in a proper mood.
Firstly the course was like a swamp and this isn't a bad thing, I should have loved it. It was just the sort of thing I'd have loved running around on any normal day. Secondly the race pack said it was 3 x 3.5mile laps which was a little annoying pre race as it meant the course was 2.5miles short, on the day though it was a relief ............ right up until the 2nd lap when I saw the marshal marking laps on our hand and he said "I've just had a phone call saying it's 4 laps!". WTF? When did that happen? 14miles feeling like sh1te, brilliant!!
I've no idea when that decision was made, it may well have been made before the race and announced at the race briefing, but if it was I didn't hear it. I dragged myself around the 3rd lap hoping the marshal had heard wrong, then I saw the leader heading out again and knew.
I saw Shelly at the end of the lap and simply said I really couldn't be bothered to haul myself around another lap at a snails pace...... in the end we came to a compromise and I took Rosie pup out for a run around the final lap knowing she'd love it. The worst that could happen would be them DQ'ing me and as I was so close to DNF'ing anyway it really wouldn't make any difference.
Eventually, after 4 miserable laps only made bearable by some very friendly marshals who I spent far to long chatting to (16mins according to my Garmin) I trotted across the line in 5h38m after a 2h13m run.
Fingers crossed that's the bad race of the season out of the way. I sure as hell don't want any more like that........
As for Freak Events! Potentially they're very good. The idea's are there, the marshals are fantastic although they could do with more (who couldn't) but they do let themselves down with some stupid things.
1) Hiding the first turnaround buoy where you couldn't see it from the start line
2) Sending the swim course so close to the back we were dragging the bottom (& Toasty was dolphin diving).
3) If you have a lead kayaker make sure he actually knows where he's going.
1) Don't say the race is chip timed on your website if it isn't!
2) Don't say the race results will be out within 24hrs when they won't
3) Don't say the run course is three laps and then 'change your mind' on the day
I'm sure there is more but I'm even boring myself now.
PS - yes the bike is ok thanks . I'm not so sure about the back!