British Championships – Olympic Distance
I last competed in this event at its inception 4 years ago and vowed to not go near it again due to the farcical organisation. I was persuaded otherwise by my partner after she had done it a couple of times since and was assured it was now much better organised. Plus, it fits nicely with one of my philosophies, ‘Never say Never’.
This was also the British Championships and a World qualifier, so guaranteed a quality turnout. I had 170 in my age group with many of those also trying to qualify for the World Championships in Edmonton next year.
Up before the sun to travel over to Leeds to rack and register on the morning of the race presented a rare opportunity to avoid the queues for the toilets! However, I knew it would get busy shortly afterwards and thought I would get ahead of the game as toilet roll becomes a premium for those last min toilet stops, this led to me strategically locating a supply within my tri suit for later use.
The usual racking and laying out of equipment proceeded, followed by checking the location against a reference point so I could find it amongst the couple of thousand bikes that where there! Then checking all of this a couple of more times! I noticed a familiar bike during my preparations, it was my bike! Well the one I had recently sold, a bit strange seeing it in transition, let’s hope I don’t jump on it out of habit and it doesn’t pass me.
Time was ticking so into the wet suit and down to the start. The start was in the water holding onto a pontoon with the other 170 competitors in my age-group, I managed to get my legs up high enough to place them on the small side panel so I could use it to push off when the start gun fired. Go, that worked well, I was immediately clear of those packed around me which was a bonus as you usually have to fight like a mad man to hold your line and avoid the flailing arms and legs. After a few hundred metres and a clean first turn I managed to find some toes to get on which enabled me get an advantage in effort and speed. This continued for most of the swim until someone came past with about 400m to go, I quickly increased my pace to jump onto his feet, and despite the increased effort I managed to stay with him to the exit point, out in 22:53 pleased with that.
The run to transition is a long one and the mount line for the bike is on a hill! I had made sure I was in the right gear to do a flying mount and luckily this went to plan, and I was away on the bike. Leeds tri is renowned as a tough course, and it sure wasn’t easy or straight forward. The bike was 2 laps which was predominantly up or down with not much flat in-between to talk about. I was on my road bike and once again, TT bikes where moving much faster, I really need to get myself one and soon! I worked hard but still had the scars of Barcelona in my mind which caused me to save a little for the run.
Coming back into transition in 1:03.58 I was probably a couple of mins off where I would like to be but that will come. Out onto the run which again was an immediate uphill section to really get the heart working and legs screaming. The run course was also quite lumpy, so trying to pace it was not practical, trying to judge the pace on feel is always tough but I dug deep as I ran into the centre of Leeds for 2 laps around the main shopping area before the much welcomed blue carpet finish. I ran well, (for me) passing many more then passed me, feeling strong over the last 2 km, I managed to pick the pace up with the help of the supporting crowds giving me an injection of adrenaline to come over the line in a run time of 40:26 and overall time of 2:14.26.
That hurt! But if it didn’t I guess I wouldn’t have been trying hard enough! Good to catch up with some familiar faces afterwards and watching my partner finish in 2nd place in her age category and 10th overall was an added bonus. Watching Nat on the podium was a proud moment and being fortunate enough to get entry to the VIP area to watch and mingle with the elites was a fantastic way to end the day.
Nearly forgot, what happened to that strategically placed toilet roll! I never went to the loo again and it wasn’t until I picked up my bike from transition that I realised I had what had now turned into paper mache in my tri suit! Haha, not such a great idea after all, we live and learn!
So what next? Cardiff Bay in two weeks, or at time of writing, 2 days! Another challenge as I come down to sprint distance in another world qualifier.