Yes.... I might be old for a student but entry to this race, for two years running, is one of the few perks of doing a Doctorate... The essay deadline this week, however, was not!
NERVES are a funny thing. I tend to enjoy the nerves and anticipation on race day, but it is pretty hard to stay calm and relaxed, when you are waiting until 3pm to get going. This year felt very different. Last year was my first triathlon and I felt completely out of my depth. The sense of the unknown was terrifying, but the novelty of the event was exciting and I knew I had nothing to loose. This year I had more expectations and I wanted to show the improvement I had seen in training. I knew if I could stay relaxed and trust the hard work, I would be ok. In any situation it is hard to tolerate uncertainty... And race day is no exception. The one thing I can do is give everything I can on the day and see what happens!
SWIM.... 30 lengths, 6 lanes, four waves. By two lengths I had caught the girl who had gone off 10 seconds ahead. Hoping I hadn't gone too hard too soon, I kept relaxed and just focused on strong and smooth. I felt good in the water, but by 350m I was taken by the boy who started 20 seconds back. When he passed I was determined not to lose him and I found a change of gear. I achieved a big swim PB of 10.15 (750m)...I was up and running!
TRANSITION ... Oh dear transition!! I would prefer not to talk about it, but, I guess it's all good for the learning! I think I let my excitement get the better of me and everything was way too frantic. In T1, I was quick with the helmet and getting my bike out and all seemed fine. It was a long run to the mount line, however, and next thing I knew, was one of my bike shoes came out my cleat. I put it on my foot and ran to the mount line. I managed to successfully jump on with one shoe on one foot and the other foot being placed neatly into the shoe on my bike.... Phew!! Messy, but I was still in one piece and managed to avoid anything too catastrophic.
BIKE started well and I worked hard out of transition. The new Argon18 felt great with a tail wind and I was trying to establish some rhythm. Although I felt physically strong on the bike, there were many elements I was disappointed with. I was not smart on the hill and got my gear selection completely wrong. I also felt my lack of time on the new bike showed in my cornering and handling. I still did enough to hold position with a time of 43.27 (25k), but I hope that I can build on the more technical elements of the bike leg.
WELL.... I thought things couldn't get much worse than T1... But they did! Safely off my bike before the dismount line and running, bike in hand! There was a speed bump and I now realise that I should have listened to my driving instructor all those years ago.... He once told me "speed bumps are for slowing down, not for taking off!!" I hit it a bit hard and, indeed, took off! Ending up in a heap over my bike, a shoe flying off, chain coming off and a leg full of cuts and bruises, I had no idea what had happened. All I knew was I was getting up, collecting my shoe and running as fast as I could out onto the run.... Time to make up some time!
RUN RUN RUN.... As fast as I could out of T2, fuelled by a less than pretty transition and a focus to hit the 1st km as hard as I could. I ran the best 5k off the bike I think I have ever run. I was so pleased to see the time of 18.12 when I finished. I had nothing left at the end of the race and that is exactly how I wanted it to be.
I'm delighted with the start to the season, finishing 8th and over 4 minutes quicker than last year. It was a good marker of where I am at and also where I want to work towards... Onwards and upwards I hope!!