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

Tockington Triathlon: Race Report

Bishmanby BishmanOct 4th 2012


Swim 400m - 8:21
T1 - 1:44
Bike 21k - 35:33
T2 - 1:23
Run 5k - 19:02
Total - 1:06:05

I felt really good before this race. My training had been going well and I'd tapered nicely. I knew exactly where I should be at what time and I knew how I should feel. My goal for this race was to just push myself as far as I could go - something I don't really feel that I've done in any race until now. I wanted to drive, drive, drive and walk/stagger away feeling proud of my performance and unable to feel my legs.

On The Day

Waking up at my first alarm, I had my porridge and picked up my pre-packed bag to cycle out to the village. Living in Horfield, this gave me about 5 miles or so to wake up the legs - I left plenty of time and didn't try anything hard, just spinning and gradually upping the gear. As I approached where I thought the turning was I saw a steward in a hi-vis. He ushered me left off of the A38 and down a hill. I was having a bit of fun free-wheeling down the hill when I saw people cycling up on the other side. They had numbers on. I realised that this hill was part of the course. Honestly, I wasn't scared - it quite excited me actually because I really was feeling good.

By the time I arrived at the site I was feeling excellent. Legs working well and perfect weather too. I got to the sign in desk and told the lady my name - then she asked me for the money for my race license. *&%$!!!! I couldn't remember packing my wallet and immediately began thinking I was going to have to sprint back home to get it before my wave entered the water. I really hoped I had it. I had about an hour, I could make it if I needed to cycle back...

I started digging through my bag, praying it would be there. Fortunately that morning the gods were looking down on me with sympathy and I found my wallet at the bottom of my bag.

I got signed in and collected my number then went off to find transition and get set up. They let you pick your own spot which was nice, so I selected what I thought to be one of the most accessible places. Laid everything out, made sure all was exactly how I wanted it and headed over to the pool.

This was my first pool-based triathlon and I wondered how I'd get on considering I can't tumble turn. It was also my first time swimming in a tri suit. If I had to tap anyone in the pool to move over it would also be the first time I'd done that (not being a strong swimmer has meant I've never had to do it!) It was also the first race where I had elastic bands holding my clip on shoes in place at the start of the bike. Quite a bit to think about then...

After the swim briefing I was told I'd be leading a lane - quite exciting but also made me wonder how far I would get before I was tapped. The whistle went off and and so did I. I was actually pushing, rahter than my usual sitting back and taking the swim a little easier. Around the halfway point I reached someone's feet - this must be the person at the end of the line, I was amazed that not only had I not been tapped yet, but I was actually about to tap someone else's feet! I went for it and sure enough, at the end of the lane they moved over. Amazing!

I tapped one other person before I saw the luminous card dropped in front of me. I gave it all for the last 50m and climbed out. I looked at my watch as I ran from poolside back to transition - it said a time around 8:30. I was really hoping to go sub-8 mins so that was disappointing. Not the best start.

This transition was the easiest I've done - saw my bike straight away, threw down my goggles, stuffed a slice of malt loaf in my mouth, glasses, helmet, bike, gone. I decided against putting on some extra layers - today was about going fast and I didn't care if I would get a bit cold, I wanted to save every second I could get and just hoped it wasn't too windy out on the course. I reached the dismount line, threw my leg over the seat and gave a few hard pedals to get some speed up before slipping my feet in - a bit wobbly - but it worked!

Almost the first obstacle on the bike course was the hill I'd free wheeled down on the way in. My legs hadn't fully woken up yet after the swim and so it was quite tough going to get up. Out of the saddle and I made it up. The rest of the lap was mostly flat or downhill and I felt quick and fast.

The whole way around the bike course I was repeating to myself something I heard Chris Boardman say when he was introducing the second individual time trial at stage 19 of the Tour de France this year. (You know, the one where Wiggo won the Tour!!) I can't find the video on YouTube to show you but this is a paraphrase of what he said, and what I repeated to myself over and over:

'In a time trial you have to keep asking yourself, "Can I maintain this effort for the rest of the course?" If the answer is No, then you're going too hard. If the answer if Yes, then you're not pushing hard enough. The answer you're looking for is Maybe.'

The word "Maybe" was ringing around in my head, reminding me of how hard I should be pushing myself, trying not to move the needle too far away from 'maybe' on the effort spectrum.

By the time I reached the hill at the start of the second lap my legs felt great. I steamed up it and overtook a lot of people. I felt light and strong. It was then that I realised that since I got out of the water I hadn't been overtaken. By anyone! In the water I overtook two people and while I very much doubt I was the first of my wave out of the water I thought that by now I must be leading the wave. I realised that the people I was overtaking had either started 10 minutes earlier in the wave before mine or were from my wave and just getting onto their bikes as I started my second lap. I doubt the second was true - a 30 minute 400m swim seemed quite unlikely! This was a massive confidence boost and spurred me on even harder.

Approaching T2 I slipped my feet out of my shoes and started pedalling with my feet on top of them. I had passed the point where I had planned to take the gel taped to my bike's top tube, but I had decided against it because putting anything else into my stomach whilst I was pushing this hard ran the risk of giving me a stitch. Fingers crossed it would be fine - it was only 5k...

I dismounted just before the line and ran in to rack the bike. A stoney road made this less fun than I was expecting! In T2 I dumped my bike and scrunched up the sole at the bottom of my shoe as I mashed my foot into it. I had to take it off, sort out the sole and put it back on before heading out to collect my 3 rubber bands.

I haven't ever really had a problem running off the bike - I find cycling after swimming to be a lot harder. It just seems to take me ages to adjust. This being the case, I was quickly upto speed and was still feeling as I expected - positive but starting to tire. I was holding good form, quick and light foot strikes (fore foot - success! the first tri I've managed to hold a forefoot run style) with Chris Boardman's word "Maybe" ringing and pacing me in my head.

The run course was nice but not very scenic compared with the great bike course going through a number of small villages. I crossed the finish line and was absolutely knackered. A faint sprinkling of applause and a kid who was helping out grabbed me a t-shirt while I had a drink of water and some haribo. I spied the DB Max timing guys and went to check my time. My watch read 1:06:05 which I was very happy with, but I'm usually a little bit out with the official timing. I typed in my bib number and was given a print out of the above splits. I was beaming. Based on recent training I was really hoping to break 1hr 10mins which I did and was ecstatic about, even so I was disappointed with my swim and I'd hoped for an 18 minute run too. I felt exhausted and pleased with how I'd done overall - every decision I made I felt to be the correct one, and to top it all off I had gone the entire course without being overtaken.

My eyes were then draw to some other information my printout had on it.
Tockington Triathlon: Race Report
I didn't really know what to do. Does that mean...? Can that be right? Am I winning??? I waited for the screen to scroll through the finisher's list and yep - I was top of the list! I'd pipped the previous leader by 40 seconds. Happy days.

Not knowing quite what to do I kind of wandered around for a bit and then went back to transition and started to stretch. I felt a bit gutted there was no one here with me to speak to. I packed up my stuff and took this cheeky photo of the printout and posted it on facebook. - that would have to do.

After I'd packed up my stuff I went over to a steward who congratulated me on a great run, saying I looked like I was flying. I asked him what I should do as apparently I was winning. He told me I would have to wait to see if anyone else beat my time and if they didn't then stick around for the award ceremony after everyone had finished in a couple of hours time. I went back over to the time screen, yep still top, so I went to get a coffee and stand out of the cold.

As I drank my coffee I started to think about this situation. It was quite funny really. I didn't ever expect to win, and still didn't really - I know that most sprints will have a couple of people go sub-1 hour and didn't see why this course should be any different, they just had started yet. That didn't stop me secretly hoping for some deus ex machina; the wind would suddenly become gale-force and start pelting everyone with hail in an attempt to slow them down by 6 minutes...

I got chatting to a couple of guys, also stood inside watching the screen - it turns out that one of them was the guy I had just knocked off top. I apologised and we had a great chat. He had raced last weekend and was in his first year of tri as well. As time went on I was amazed to still be on top, and I stayed there until pretty much the final wave, when all of a sudden about a dozen people over took me. My final position was 13th overall/8th in Male Open category. Oh well, at least I have a print out saying I was the winner!

The winning time was 59:22 by a guy called Lee Francis - roughly 6 1/2 minutes quicker than me, or about 10% faster. Does that mean that if I'd given 110% I would have actually won?

Things to Work On...

I always find it quite useful to compare my results to the top 10. Thinking that I need to pick up 7 minutes to win:

My swim is quite clearly below average of the top 10 which, with the exception of one person were all below 7:20 - I can pick up a minute there since my swim was 8:21.

T1 had a massive range of between 1:30 and 2:30, of which I was at the quicker end. I guess I'm looking at minor tweaks to grab some extra seconds there.

Bike - the winner clocked the fastest bike time in 31:59 - 3:30 faster than me. I've made big improvements in my cycling this year, but I think there's still a long way to go. I wonder if not having a time-trial bike and tear drop helmet and all the rest of it puts an upper limit, or at least denies me another level. Whether or not it does it irrelevant - I can't afford a new bike and even if I could, at the moment I feel like it would just be using technology as a scapegoat rather than grafting and hurting my way to a better time!

T2: smaller range of times here, and I was among the slower. Sorting out my trainers so that the soul would be a good start! Perhaps some glue or something.

Run: Knocking a minute off would be glorious, but that's going to be one painful minute to get rid of. Probably better to focus on swimming and cycling.
TriRachby member: TriRach, Oct 12th 2012 10:14
Good work bishman and if you've been knocking time off then you've had a great season, even better if you can still identify areas for improvement.
Bishmanby blog author: Bishman, Oct 18th 2012 15:38
Thanks alot - I hope my times keep moving in the right direction!
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