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Musician. Triathlete. Almost.
Musician. Triathlete. Almost.

Bristol Harbourside Olympic: Race Report

Bishmanby BishmanJul 18th 2012
1.5k Swim: 34:22
T1: 2:55
40k Bike: 1:20:52
T2: 2:18
10k Run: 46:11
Total: 2:46:38

I'll start with how I recovered from Bournemouth the weekend before. It's been an easy week and the only 'training' I've done was not really training at all, just commuting. Still - I've managed to get in 20-30 miles on the bike and about 5 miles running. For most of the week I felt a bit of pain in my shins (shin splints? I hope not) which is probably due to me losing my form and resorting to heel striking during the final leg of Bournemouth. Whatever happens I was determined to stick to the plan in Bristol.

To start with - what a fantastic day for it. Absolutely beautiful weather. I couldn't go to registration as I was working the day before so had my friend collect my chip and swim cap and got them the evening before. I had a breakfast of Shreddies and cycled down to transition (after getting slightly lost) and set up my things. I saw the dad of a pair of brothers I teach piano to, he was also doing the standard race, and had a chat with him after I was set up.

My stomach was feeling a little strange but I figured I would forget about it as soon as the horn went off. The race briefing was good and I thought I understood everything (more on this later...) so we moved down to the water and got in. Apparently it was 18 degrees and 4 times cleaner than the Thames for the London Triathlon. Hurrah!

I positioned myself towards the wall, reasoning that I was less likely to get booted in the face there. This turned out to be true as I didn't get kicked, however, as soon as the horn went off and I plunged my face into the water my right goggle filled with water. Completely filled. All the way. As I wanted to try and keep up with the pack I made the decision to continue regardless and just do it with one eye shut. Unfortunately, I was out swum and found myself getting left behind. Thinking positively, this gave me the space I needed to sort out my goggles. Hurrah, I can see again. I got back into my stroke and felt it slowly starting to fill up again. Arse.

That was the point I realised I would be forced to do the whole swim one-eyed. I settled into a rhythm and felt comfortable, I even picked off one of two other swimmers who had got dropped from the mass. As I approached the end of the first lap I felt the strap of my timing chip hit my leg. I immediately became conscious of it and thought it was going to come off. I slowed the swim down but it really felt like it was loose and going to come off. I grabbed hold of a canoe and checked it, but it was fine - not even undone, just a flappy bit which I tucked in. Had a quick breather, emptied my goggles one last time and set off for the last 500m or so. Of course, the next thing that happened was that my goggles filled up. Unbelievable.

I got to the end of the swim and was dragged out and cheered by the support staff. Happy to be out of the water and remembering almost stacking it upon leaving the sea last week I walked the first few meters before breaking into a jog. I glanced at the water and saw only one or two swimmers from my wave left - I was almost the last one out. Getting into T1 this was confirmed by running past what seemed like miles of empty racking. I grabbed my bike and left.

Leaving for the bike course, my stomach had not settled on the swim. In fact, it had been churned up and was now feeling quite unstable. I drank a mouthful of water and headed out onto the long straight of the portway. After the problems I had with eating the muesli bar in Bournemouth I had ditched it and decided to stick with gels. The plan was to have one at the start of the bike, one on the last lap and if I felt like I needed it, to have a third as I headed out for the run.

This plan was immediately aborted.

My stomach was in no mood for gels, or in fact even water. I spent most the the first two laps of the bike feeling pretty crappy. I couldn't push because my stomach wasn't letting me get comfortable, and I was getting more and more concerned about how I would manage the second half of the bike and run if I didn't take any gel or water on board. It was uncomfortable getting down into an aero position, which, being obscenely small, I'm usually quite good at.

At the turn around of the first lap a chunky guy kitted out in an aero helmet on a TT with tri bars and all the accessories whizzed past, slowing down to tell me I could have at least washed my bike before the race and then let out a laugh suitable only for an evil villain. I thought of several, unclever and unrepeatable things to say to him, but he was gone too quickly for me to do say them. In a race where I have to say the crowd and support was better than any other triathlon or running race I've done, this guy clearly wasn't in the friendly, let's-all-just-have-fun mood that everyone else seemed to have. Loser.

Anyway, the support really helped. I wasn't having a great race, I was down on my expected times (I had wanted to go harder and faster than Bournemouth but any hope of that was well gone now) and just generally not enjoying it. Having Matt, the BAD Tri swim coach cheering me on personally at the bike turn around on each lap was a big lift, and so was Will, another swim coach who was racing in my start wave, telling me to keep going every time we passed each other. "Keep pushing Josh", very encouraging. I thanked him at the swim this morning - not sure he realised how bad I was feeling.

Coming back in towards transition there was a photographer, presumably for Evokepix, for whom I tried to smile and look like I was doing really well, which cheered me up a bit. Then going up and over the bridge there was a stewarding girl at the top cheering everyone on, "but BAD Tri especially!" I fell a little bit in love with her over the four laps.

Towards the middle and end of the 3rd lap my stomach felt settled enough to actually drink water comfortably. I tried a gel on the fourth lap and went back to feeling bad. I got overtaken on the final lap by the father of my pupils - who looked really strong and confident. He was in the wave after me.

Coming into transition I approached the dismount line, slowed and then went to get my leg over and heard "WOOOO... GO JOSH!!!" Confused and alarmed, I spun my head round to look and saw my pupils and their mother standing there cheering. That brought a smile to my face as I went ploughing into the guys at the dismount line...

Luckily they grabbed me and saved us all from going down. Off I ran into T2, embarrassed that my pupils, to whom I was supposed to be the cool piano teacher, had seen me almost go crashing down.

The Run....

This was where I had planned to do some damage. I wanted to go hard and make up some time - and by now there was alot of time to make up. When I said I thought I understood the briefing, this is where it got me. Going out of T2, I got lost and went the wrong way.. D'oh! I finally made it out onto the run course I saw my pupils again and this time was able to smile and wave without falling over - an improvement if nothing else.

I started fairly strong but the churning up of the contents of my stomach slowed my pace fairly rapidly. Running uphill out of transition seemed to be fine, but the descents were really not good. Everything was moving and I felt like I was going to throw up. I slowed down some more.

Pretty frustrated, I just figured it was one of those days. I kept going but slowed to a walk on several occasions (all of which were either after or during a downhill stretch). The downhills were so uncomfortable that I fell back into a heel strike pattern, just like in Bournemouth, as it seemed to be less chunder-inducing. I decided against a gel, obviously, and took on some water at the end of the 1st run lap. By the end of the second lap I was feeling comfortable enough for a sprint finish. Up onto the front of my feet again and over the line in 2:46 by my watch - about 10-12 minutes slower than Bournemouth and enjoyed it approximately a tenth of the amount.

This was the last race I had actually got planned for this year but have since found the K2 events which I might have a pop at. They have an evening triathlon series and a pool based sprint in Tockington in September, both of which sound good but I would like to find a local standard distance for September. I've also been eyeing up an open water either 3.8k or 5k swim at Lakeside, Essex where I did the Sprint earlier in June. It might be nice as well to do some sort of cycle sportif. I'll have to 'get my google on' and do some digging.

I think the stomach thing was caused by the Shreddies; I had them again this morning before a swim session and although we didn't actually do much swimming as it was a technical session, I got a similar feeling of discomfort. I think nestle have lost a customer there! I had porridge before Bournemouth so I think I'll stick with that in the future.

And of course, I need some new goggles.
TriBlogsby member: TriBlogs, Jul 18th 2012 10:42
Hate the stomach issues! Still a very respectable time and your blog always make me chuckle! good point about the Tockington race and summer evening series, link here for anyone who wants it
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