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Jules Richards
Jules Richards

Open season

Triharder78by Triharder78Apr 28th 2013
So, first time I've written a blog post for a very long time. Things did go off the rails a little in the off season, especially around Christmas time. However after a stern talking to from my better half the end of January saw me return to some form of training, starting with swimming initially but soon gaining pace with the other two sports too.

I spent the first 6-8 weeks just putting in the miles, nothing fancy just learning to enjoy training again, not easy when the weather was terrible and time is in short supply so 0530 starts become common place.

However, by the beginning of March I felt ready to start stepping things up with regards the intensity of my training. Since then I've probably managed the most consistent start to a season I've had in years, in part driven by the desire to be on the starting line in London in September and in part due to the necessity to train as a release.

All this has led me to enter some early season events, kicking off a couple of weeks back with the Castle Combe Standard distance Duathlon, I entered this as part of a relay and agreed to take on both the 10k and 5k run portions. To cut a long story short it was an exceedingly unpleasant experience not having run a 10k in race conditions for 2 years but still managed a PB, so all good really.

This leads me nicely to today, a friend of mine (Dru) who took up triathlon last year and who has made such leaps and bounds in his progress it's quite terrifying talked me into doing the Wincanton Triathlon (pool based sprint) as it's the first qualifying race in the Southwest series, which we're both entered into.

Completely ignoring the old adage that you shouldn't try anything new on race day I picked up my brand spanking new Felt DA3 courtesy of the Triathlon Shop - Bristol, took it out for a quick 5 mile spin last night and hoped for the best.

Waking this morning after a fitful night sleep (first race of the season after all!) I woke up before my alarm, looked out the window to be greeted with light cloud and no wind, perfect conditions if it had been about 10 degres warmer, 3 degrees is not my ideal race temperature! After a quick breakfast we headed to the race venue. The set up was really good, it was a small tri, with only 120 athletes but judging by the number of good looking bikes, shaved legs, sponsor branding and GB kit the quality of the field was high. After a quick registration and trying to remember how to set up transition (forgot my elastic bands, thank you to Lucy for coming to the rescue) I made my way to the pool.

After a good warm up (courtesy of my new swim coach at Bristol Masters Swim Club) I slipped into the pool and was away. I had done a timed 400m earlier in the week and knew I was swimming well so decided not to go all out, the new Castelli tri suit felt great but after about 8 lengths felt like it was a little restrictive across the chest, figuring this is because I'd never worn it to swim in so it'll be a case of getting used to it. Apart from being held up slightly by someone I caught and then having to wait for a faster swimmer to pass me the swim went well, 6 minutes dead including the run to transition, good enough for 7th best swim of the day (when 2 people go sub 4:30 you know you've got a good field!)

Out onto the bike, it was a tough course, some really great flat stretches but plenty of hills and lots of gradual inclines to sap the strength from your legs, not to mention it was longer than usual at 27km. Only getting past by 1 person on the bike was a massive plus for me and shows that I am indeed getting quicker, normally being passed by 4 or 5 people as standard. Three main things to note on the bike, when I jumped on the saddle must have slipped a little (saved from completely bottoming out by my race sticker!) meaning that I was a lot lower than I should have been, I wasn't carrying a tool so rode the whole thing having to be very quad dominent, especially difficult with the gradual inclines. So make sure I'm either carrying a tool or that the saddle is good and tight! Secondly I didn't have a bottle cage on the new bike, on anything over 20k if I'm pushing it hard I need to drink so I started to struggle with dehydration, no cramps but a really dry mouth and feeling slightly sick. Last of all, I learnt a new skill, coming off the brow of a hill, coming up into the big ring to put the power down, the chain came off the big ring and was left dangling on my crank, whilst doing 40km/h I actually managed to get the chain back onto the big ring successfully without crashing or loosing too much time! Bike time 47:55, 9th fastest split on the day, even with the saddle and chain issues.

I felt good coming into T2 apart from not being able to feel my toes due to the cold, which made getting my shoes on a little tricky, but in no time I was off out onto the run. Again not knowing the area meant I wasn't aware of what the run course had in store. The first 400m was flat then gently sloping down which allowed me to get my legs turning over but suddenly we dropped down onto a really steep rough track, too steep and uneven to relieve control which was frustrating and certainly not pleasant on the quads. Straight off the bottom of the descent the road kicked up a solid hill towards the race course, concentrating on keeping my strides short and weight forward I felt fairly good, thinking this would be the only major hill on the run (mistake!) cresting the top it was a slight downhill to the turn around and back the way we had come. Back down the hill we went straight on and into a housing estate, more hills! up, then down then up again and finally to the finish which seemed to come out of know where. Run time: 17:48, 5th fastest on the day and a PB for 5k for me.

I came 5th overall and 2nd in my age group, so all in all, a really good first race of the season, hopefully I can take the lessons from here and build towards my next race in May.

Dru was only 9 minutes back from me, a huge improvement on last year, got a feeling he'll be nipping at my heels sooner rather than later!

A massive thank you to my ever constant support crew of Zoë and Nyah and to all the organisers and marshals at Total Buzz events.
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