Yesterday, I completed my last triathlon of the season, the HOWSC Sprint Triathlon. I had originally intended to do the Olympic distance but after the Challenge Weymouth Middle Distance, I felt like a bit of a rest.
The event is another TryTri event and now in its second year. Based near Fordingbridge, it takes about 30 minutes to travel to the event from home. As a local event, several triathlon friends were taKing part. Although I was doing the Sprint distance, there was a Novice event and the Olympic distance. Tamsyn, Stuart, Teri, Steve and Liz were all competing in the Sprint with Suzanne, Jenny, Sonia and Katherine doing the Olympic.
I slept really badly and got up just before 5am. My plan was to leave at about 6am and get a good spot in transition. As it was, I left home 5:50am having loaded the carlr the night before. The journey was nice and quick and I arrived at about 6:20am. There was already one line of cars in the car park adjacent to the transition area as I arrived although no one had reached their bikes.
I wandered through the field to registration to see a, friendly face, Donna, who signed me in. There was a choice of freebie, a mug and coaster, a buff or a water bottle. I went for the mug although in hindsight which I’d gone for the buff.
Having registered, I headed back to the car to get my bike ready for racking. This involved a quick check that everything was secure and that the tyres were pumped up.
I made my way to transition, helmet on head and found a spot on the Sprint rack near the transition exit. It took a while to get everything in place and I prepared a few extra layer fort the cycle and run just in case the forecast sunny weather didn’t materialise.
Once set up, I headed back to my car to get my swim stuff ready. That just meant putting my wetsuit, cap, goggles and deck shoes in the boot. As I wandered around the site, I bumped into Jenny from STC and Run Camp.
I soon speed Teri arrive and one she had started racking, I went over to say hello.
As Teri finished off, we spotted Tamsyn, Stuart and Liz racking too at the far end of the rack near transition entrance. I’m not sure what their rationale was.
By this point, Katherine and Suzanne had arrived too. It was almost a reunion of the Challenge Weymouth gang!!
I bumped into Gareth Sylvester-Bradley and chatted with him a little about how he’d been doing and also about my middle distance experiences. It’s always good to chat with Gareth and even though he’s at the elite end of triathlon and I’m definitely at the other end of the spectrum, he couldn’t be friendlier. His post about the HOWSC Sprint Tri is well worth a read.
We all wandered down to swim start to see Suzanne and Katherine off.
Olympic distance competitors heading for the first buoy
Once the Olympic distance triathletes were heading off on their swim, we headed back to prepare for our race. This meant me going back to my car to get my wetsuit on and then back to transition to make sure I was all set up. I chatted with Teri once I was ready and tried to slow her down as she was starting to rush a little. Once Teri was set up we wanted down to meet the others and then headed down to the swim start area to get our timing chips and listen to Ben’s race briefing.
Before long, we were in the water. It was pretty chilly. Far cooler than Lakeside had been 3 days before. I’d forgotten just how muddy and squishy it was underfoot. Not the most pleasant feeling! I found myself a little too close to the front of the pack and tried to move back a bit. Having wished Liz and Teri good luck, it was time to pose for a photo and then the ‘starter’ counted down from 10 and we were off. The swim course was a 750m course comprising of 2 laps around very easy to see yellow buoys. It was such a difference swimming in a flat, calm lake after the sea at Weymouth. Being able to see the buoys was a definite advantage. With 100 in the event, there were a lot of swimmers around me and I felt as if I must be swimming ok to still have swimmers around me. I could see a good percentage of swimmers ahead although many weren’t too far away. The 2-laps went by pretty quickly and I didn’t feel too tired as I swam for shore. Many thanks to fellow STC member, Jonathan Northcott for helping me out of the water. Another top bloke!!
I soon recognised Teri immediately in front of me. Teri had had a good swim too. We’d make it to dry land in about 16 minutes and just had the run to transition before we could get on our bikes. I’m pretty sure that the swim course is a little over 750m (especially as I can’t swim in a straight line at the best of times!) The run to transition is a little longer than I’d like and includes a sharp little incline which does its best to sap any energy!
I ran into transition and headed for my bike. As I was only a couple of bikes down from Teri, I was able to keep track of how she was getting on. Although I had a cycling jacket and fingerless gloves set up, I decided against both and got out on the road as quickly as I could. This worked in my favour as it meant that I left T1 before Teri. I wasn’t sure whether Tamsyn was ahead of or behind me.
The bike course was rather nice! I’d heard it was undulating but compared to some of the inclines at Challenge Weymouth Half, I’d say that the course was much flatter; not flat you understand!! There were a few cross roads where we had to slow down and one where I had to stop completely but overall, wheels were turning at all times which felt good. Unlike the middle distance at Weymouth, I didn’t feel as if I were being overtaken much. Having said that, with no distinction between race numbers, it was really difficult to tell whether those I was being overtaken by or overtaking (yes, I overtook some riders!) were competing in the Sprint distance event.
An unflattering side view of me on the bike – must lose a few lbs!
The one lap loop was an improvement on last year’s two-lapper although I didn’t have the advantage of knowing 3/4 of the course. That was no bad thing though.
As I approached the end of the cycle course, I looked down and realised that I’d not taken on any fluid. This wasn’t great as I’ve suffered from cramp before having not hydrated. Too late to worry now so I took a large swig of water (with High-Five Zero in it) and hoped that it would see me through the run.
As I ran into T2, I saw Donna who was now making sure that cyclist and runners didn’t meet in any nasty accidents! Jon was also close by doing the same.
My T2 was rather slow! I have no excuses. I took the time to put some socks on! Having got two nasty blisters at CWH, I wasn’t going to make the mistake of not wearing socks. No sign of either Teri or Tamsyn so it looked like I was ahead of them.
The run course was two laps starting around the field where the race HQ and transition area was and then around the lake where we’d swum. The course was mostly on grass with some trail and a very short section of tarmac. It’s quite energy-sapping and as the temperature was rising, I wasn’t going to be running too fast. My goal was to finish the run in under 30 minutes. This was based on a goal time to complete the event in 1 hour 40 minutes (based on 18 minute swim + 2 min T1 + 48 minute cycle + 2 min T2 + 30 minute run). I knew that I was about 2 minutes ahead of schedule so had some time to play with if things went wrong on the run. However, the plan was to keep moving and not let myself stop and walk!
Practising the Ironman Shuffle
Having completed the first lap, I knew that the end was in sight. I maintained my pace and plodded until I got back into the field where the finish was only 100m away. As I headed for the finish, I heard Steve shout some encouragement and I ran to the finish gantry. At 1:35 on my watch, I counted down the 60 seconds in the hope that I’d get to the gantry in 1:36 but didn’t quite make it. In the end, I finished in 1:36:08 which was almost 4 minutes faster than I’d hoped. Very happy with that. I can’t really compare times with last year as each course for the swim, bike and run was different to last year.
Teri and Tamsyn finished about 4 minutes after me shortly followed by Liz and then Stuart who’d had the misfortune of getting not one but two punctures on the bike course. We then watched Katherine, Suzanne and Jenny finish their Olympic distance event. Great results all round. Just before heading home, I had another conversation with Gareth who’d finished in 2nd!
Tamsyn, Teri and I showing off our medals (race number well positioned so that’s all I’m showing off)
Swim + run to T1: 00:17:16
Yet another great TryTri event well executed by Chris, Ben and the team. Many thanks to all involved.