On the Thursday before racing I had to take Patrick, to Cardiff, for a hospital appointment, and on the Saturday that I left for the Cotswolds, he still wasn’t feeling great. I didn’t really feel up for racing, but knew that I needed to and that Patrick wanted me to race, so I drove up to the campsite, so that I could register before 5pm. The campsite was already rammed and I found a parking spot, tried to bag a tent pitch and headed to registration. When I had settled down I started to feel quite lonely, we had planned to make this event into a little camping trip for the family, the weather was perfect, and everyone was in groups. I consoled myself with a trip to get some supplies to eat. There was a beer festival, and music on, in Cirencester, which looked nice, but I had a quick walk around then headed back to my tent to relax.
I had a restless night, and dreamt that I had done the race. When I was drifting back into consciousness I felt a sense of relief, as though I had already raced. I soon realised that it was a dream and that I would be up and active in a few hours, a bit of a disappointment!
Race start was at 7:20am for me. The race is organised in waves, we were allowed to choose a wave, but I didn’t do anything about it until it was too late and was allocated wave 6. I needed to get my bike racked before 6:15am though, as transition closed then. At 4am the tent next door was up and about, so at 5am I had breakfast, sorted my nutrition on my bike and headed down to transition. I had about an hour to kill before I started, so after seeing the queue for the portaloos, decided I had enough time to walk back to the campsite and use their facilities (a good move!)
The Swim. Garmin data here
The water was 19 degrees so not much acclimatisation was needed, I got in and did a few efforts. The people in my small wave looked pretty relaxed, and the majority did not really look interested in racing, I went to the front and when we started tried to stick with the front group which lasted around 200m before I got dropped, and spent the rest of the swim on my own, apart from overtaking people from the previous wave. I felt pretty comfortable and like I could have carried on at this pace so maybe I could have tried a little harder, the swim was a bit short too!
The Bike. Garmin data here
The bike is flat, there are a couple of little hills, but really, most of it is flat. There was a small section of twisty lanes, which were fun on the second lap, but clogged up on the first. As I was in wave 6, it meant that there were a lot of athletes in front of me, which I used to my advantage. It felt good to be passing people, pretty much the whole time. There were a few familiar names that I kept catching up with, and then losing, but looking at my splits I knew I was going well. This year I have set my Garmin to lap every 10 miles which helps to keep me focussed, as I can see if I’m slowing down/losing power. Power was up from Deva, which is great news.
I came in slowly off the bike as the road was congested again, I was feeling pretty happy with my effort, and just the run to finish.
In T2 I cramped up a bit getting my shoes on, so took a bit longer than I would have liked, but was out fairly fast.
The Run. Garmin data here
Being in a later wave I had no idea what position I was in, so I just ran strong, and looked out for people who I had seen on the bike. The run route has a fair amount of off road in it, and on the second lap I found myself really enjoying this part, as it reminded me of the woods that I run in at home. I also clocked a guy who had passed me on the bike, and he looked like he was running around the same pace as me, so I stuck behind him for a few miles. When we got to a feed station I grabbed some water and he stopped ahead of me. I took the opportunity to pass him and then kept the pace on, as I thought he would probably come back at me. Luckily he didn’t, but I had someone else pass me on a few minutes after, who I managed to catch again on lap 3 and pass. The third and final lap felt hard but I kept reminding myself that it was only 4 miles and got through to the finishing straight, where I was out sprinted by a woman from a previous wave!
I got my breath back, then went to print out my results. It looked like I was in 1st place, with a time of 4:36, which was faster than I was expecting. I tried to find out when the prize giving was, and was told it was at 3pm, so I decided to; collect my bike, have a shower, then head home. When I got back to the car I checked the results again on my phone the live leaderboard said I was in 2nd place, and it looked like the woman in 1st place had a much faster overall time, so I assumed there had been a mistake. I packed up my tent, stopping at Waitrose on the way home, for a load of snacks. I was looking forward to getting home to my family.
When I got home Patrick and my mum arrived back from the beach about half an hour later, excited for me, as they said I had won. I was still a bit confused as the times didn’t add up, when Patrick asked if the winner, had had a penalty. I clicked on her results and it showed that she had picked up a 5 minute drafting penalty, so that explained it! Overall the race went really well, the next time I race a triathlon will be in Kona, so preparation is going in the right direction. There is still a lot of work to do, but in the meantime I’m enjoying my easy week, before it all kicks off again.
Full Results here