In hindsight pre-race preparation went off without a hitch aside from arriving late at the hotel late and finding out our room doubled up as a sauna. It was right above the beer garden and directly above the beer garden and all of village’s raucous boozers as well. I thought this would be the first of many small inconveniences that would ruin my race and went to bed with the ‘ump. Luckily, the next day, we managed to negotiate a move to a cooler room over-looking the car park.
I managed to cram in a few hours sleep before a 3:45am rise to wolf down a tuperware box of museli. I washed this down with a pink grapefruit istonic drink – not a Heston Blumenthal-approved flavour combo.
I came close to a second meltdown when I thought we’d missed the turn off for the venue but things were soon back on track.
We parked up at the venue. Not a million miles away from transition, which was pleasing. I have some nice photos of me ‘racking-up’ with a lovely sunrise in the background but I can’t say remember it being that tranquil. There wasn’t a lot of room in between each competitor’s position and I thought this might cause issues later (it didn’t).
I can’t say the lake took my breath away. That’s because it was 20.5 degrees celsius. This was much warmer than the familiarisation day a few weeks before so I already felt comfortable in the water. Glen and I aimed to take the first bend on the inside and when the klaxon sounded I got away sharpish. Video footage shows that I took an aggressive line and cut someone up in the first 20 meters.
I felt pretty strong in the water. I managed to breathe bi-laterally for the majority of the distance. I’d mentally split the swim into two halves but on reflection the second half was actually much shorter than the first. It all felt pretty steady and I made in-roads into the wave of swimmers in front.
Glen was surprised to see me out first (not as much as I was to see him out second) and we exchanged a few words of encouragement at the rack. I was out of T1 first but I knew it was a matter time before he sailed past me and lo and behold he reeled me within about 10 mins on the bike route.
The bike course was wet. I expected to see Graham Goddard (our club rainmaker) somewhere around the route as it rained constantly. I just about kept Glen in eyesight and there came a point on the second of the two laps when I managed to catch him up. Despite the wetness I finished the bike section inside of my target time and with a decent average speed of 19.3mph – pretty happy with that!
The run was where it went wrong. I started slowly and got slower. Pain in my left ankle and a complete lack of energy meant I couldn’t really get into a good rhythm. Annoyingly it wasn’t until after I stopped and raided the feed station mid-way through lap two (of three) that I suddenly regained some form. I know enough about nutrition to know it’s highly important on these long distance events and I thought the food and drink I’d taken on board during the bike course would see me through. Alas, I could manage no more than a slow-motion trundle.
I battled it out and finished with a sprint. The support I received around the course was so important and provided a much need lift.
I had a pre-race goal of finishing in under five and a half hours and I’m delighted to say I completed it – my first half-iroman distance triathlon – in 5:27. For anyone wanting to move up to this distance I would highly recommend this Cotswold 113 event. The guidance you receive from the organisers is superb and the general running of the event was also very good. Competing with my Havering Tri clubmates was also a huge factor in my enjoyment of this event. It is so much more fun to prepare, compete and then talk about the race as a team and I will look forward to racing with clubmates in the future.