Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Flying the Mendip Triathlon colours at Weymouth at Bustinskin Middle distance

This was to be the last triathlon of the season and I had worked myself into a tizzy because I knew it was hilly and I felt I hadn't prepared myself like I did for the hills at Ironman 70.3.  So waking up at 3.15 am and travelling down to Weymouth was an anxious journey.  The weather forecast wasn't good so I packed a  waterproof coat and gloves.  I had been pretty anxious about the swim to but once I realised that it would take place within the protection of the harbor wall, I felt a little better.

Bike all racked up and blowing around like a flag but wet suit on and ready for the off.  There was a slight delay in the start due to the buoys being blown right off their markers......mmmmm that made me feel a little uneasy. The water seemed quite calm when we started but as we got further out the waves appeared, I guess as we left the comfort of the harbor wall nothing was there to protect us.  Then a really strange thing happened... I took a breather to try and sight as the waves were getting larger and I couldn't see anything, imagine my surprise when I realised I was touching the sea bed with my feet. As I looked around there were other swimmers with the same bemused look on their faces.  So what can I say, I was faced with waves crashing into my face and I could have swam through taking on lots sea water and air but instead I walked a little bit.  This gave me some recovery time and the whole situation seemed a little surreal. As I we got closer to the exit point, protection from the harbour wall was restored and it was a lot easier to swim again. My chip kept coming off in the water so I rolled it up and put it up my wetsuit sleeve so as I came out of the water I had to spend time putting it back on my ankle.  I didn't fancy paying the £50 to replace it.

As I got into T1, I had covered my stuff with my high vise waterproof jacket but it had blow away and everything was soaked. I put my gillet on and the coat because the wind and the rain was awful.  i stared out on the bike and that long Portland stretch was dangerous.  The wind was so extreme I was being pushed into the kerb and I had white knuckles from holding onto the handle bars so hard.  In hindsight I would have put my training wheels on and not the deep rim carbon wheels!!! After escaping that windy stretch it was straight up a really sharp hill which when cold on a bike made my lungs catch on fire. The hill had a sharp right hand bend which the wind was blasting down at an incredible speed so as I turned I got off my bike rather than be blown off it.  The route took us down to the lighthouse and again the wind here was lethal.  I heard quite a few riders got blown off here and at this point I was ready to throw in the towel.  Clive kept going past in the trusty support van and on many occasions, I was ready to chuck my bike in the back and give up.  I know I'm pretty hardcore but I had NEVER EVER ridden in such extreme conditions. If Clive hadn't of kept popping up and urging me on it could have been a very different story.

Somehow I kept going the wind and the rain was persistent throughout the whole course.  The course had been compared to Wimbleball but I can safely say that although it is tough, there are a lot more downhills on the Weymouth course giving you some recovery whereas wimbleball is a constant up (or so it seems).
After a particularly long climb with the wind in your face many of us had to stop.  A rider has lost control of his front wheel and then headbutted  a passing car so we were delayed by about 20 minutes whilst they scraped him and his bike off the road. This isn't what you want to see, I had many issues with my safety with the wind as it was.  Standing around meant that we were all freezing to death as well.  Finally we were off again.

It was a long bike ride..... 59 miles in total on a hilly course with extreme weather with a headwind that stripped your skin from your face and the rain felt like it was leaving bruises all over your face.  I don't know why I had any fitness anxiety issues because considering the conditions  I was doing pretty well.  The ride was coming to an end and the last bit was that windy Portland stretch.  The wind was pushing me into the road and the cars passing didn't even seem to register.  I screamed abuse along that stretch, half expecting to find myself on  a car bonnet.  I have never ever been so happy to enter T2.  As I got there I was told the run was cancelled.  I cant say I blame them, half marathon on a coastal path, many of us would have landed up being blown off a cliff. I was ready for the run, I felt that I could have coped with it but was also happy that my fight with mother nature had come to a close. So in total 5.23. 

Although the weather was bad, I thought this race had the potential to be one of the best races that I could do.  The views were stunning and on a better day could be truly appreciated. I can't comment on the run but apparently its a killer, but that's just how I like it. Great organisation, Bustinskin hold some fantastic races and I will be back next year with a score to settle.  Big shout out to Clive I couldn't ask for a better support crew.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mendip Triathlon on tour at Burnham Olympic Triathlon

This was my first triathlon with my new club and I was testing out  the new Mendip kit.  I had won 1st in age cat last year but had no idea and missed my own prize giving so this year I was determined to get it again.

I was quite nervous about the swim as last time I had swam in Burnham sea I had been rescued by the coast guard after having an asthma attack.  The sea looked a lot calmer and I made sure that I went in to acclimatize so there was no shock.  The swim looked really long compared to last year.  So any last minute nerves had to disappear as we were off.  I went really wide on the first buoy and found with the waves I couldn't sight very well so I just followed the other swimmers.  I finally got to the third buoy and we had to turn around and head back.  I found the current at its strongest here and swallowed quite a lot of water.  I was glad to be out of that water and felt quite sick as I entered T1.  Once I got into transition there wasn't that many bikes left so I knew I had some work to do.

I caught up and overtook quite a few riders very quickly and then I was out on my own. I could hear a really noisy rider coming up behind me and then got overtaken by a 65 yr old man on the nicest Trek bike you ever seen...... he casually said as he passed "age before beauty love " and went zooming past.  This guy was amazing and I will gladly admit how he went past me and continued his lead over me.  I kept him in my sights but I couldn't catch him. I caught up some other riders and then Mark ( from time trial) came bombing past me.  Oh boy that man can ride.  The course was really windy and it seemed like a struggle all the way round but I did take 7 minutes off last years time. My legs felt really heavy on the ride and I couldn't decide if I  was in dire need of a massage or a whole years of racing was beginning to take its toll. I entered T2 and struggled with my trainers but I was off on the run although my shoes didn't feel right.  I thought that they would slip on my feet as I started running.

The first 2 miles felt really tough, my stomach was started to expand (saltwater) and I didn't feel quite right.
I slowly started to feel a little better and soon my body had adjusted to running.  The 3 laps went by quite quickly and I was heading down the home straight.  I could see Mark in the distance and I knew I had 1 mile to go.  The finish is straight down the sea front so I had my eye on him the whole way.  I picked up the pace and I was slowly gaining on him.  I saw a crowd of Mendip triathlon hoodies and heard the cries of support and thought ok its now or ever so I went for the sprint finish.  I overtook Mark and as he picked up speed I just pipped him at the post.  Fair play to Mark he wasn't expecting it and he was great at the end. I have a feeling that I will never get away with that again.

 Time 2.52.49 beating last years 2.55.47.  The bike and run were faster but the swim was longer but so was the distance.  My watch registered a lot more than 1 mile.  So this year I hung around for the prize giving and won my age cat.  

A really nice touch was Mendip CC cycling down to Burnham to show their support and forge the affiliation between both groups  

 BIG shout out To Clive who was the best race support,driving me around, taking lots pictures, shouting encouragement and just being there for me.  Thanks Clive couldn't have done it without you x x

Friday, September 7, 2012

Running my first race as a member of Mendip triathlon club

Bridgwater half marathon...conditions were perfect... The course was pretty flat and I wanted to smash my 1.53.51 pb that I had set at Bristol 2 years ago.

I started off really well and ran the first 5 miles with Nick from my old club and we paced each other well. After 5 miles, Clive finally caught up with us as our push bike support. The first 5 miles were quite fast and this started to show on about mile 8 and 9 where I was feeling the strain and started to slow down.
I really wanted to get a sub 1.45 so with a final drive I pushed on and started to pick the pace up. I won't mention here how Clive was trying to be supportive and I was a little grumpy and threatened to push him off his bike.... Sorry Clive I was feeling the strain.
This is where my endurance training kicked in... I picked the pace up, my lungs were hurting, I was grumpy but I wasn't going to slow down. It's funny sometimes how your goals change through a race, I realised that a sub 1.45 wasn't on the cards but I was prepared to settle for a sub 1.50.
The last mile was really hard but I pushed through and even managed a sprint finish. Time on garmin 1.50.30. I didn't quite get the goal I wanted but I still knocked 3 minutes off my PB.
I do however know exactly what I need to do at Burnham half in Oct to get that sub 1.50 that I desire

I have tried checking my official times but I don't seem to appear on the results.... Watch this space!

Thursday, September 6, 2012