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Well that wasn't in the script! - #RememberBen

timPby timPAug 5th 2016
Hey Ben,

It's about time we told you how we got on at the Cotswold 226, although as you'll soon see it didn't quite go to plan!

The event itself is put on by a great combination of 113 Events and DBMax so you know in advance you're in for a good time. It's a shame then that it doesn't get a bigger entry, only 130 for the triathlon this year although with the addition of a timed swim on the Saturday and a triathlon rules sportive on the Sunday it didn't feel like a small event. Another change for this year was the run course and unlike the previous editions the finish line was located at lake 32 rather than in South Cerney. Everything being centred at the lake created a nice vibe for the event as well as making logistics much easier.

After registering on the Saturday afternoon it was nice to see our friends Jon, Holly and their son Sebi manning the Triathlon Shop stand. They are providing retail support at all of the 113 events and DB Max triathlons this year. I think this is as tough as actually racing as their stand is open for the duration of the event so they get the same early start as the athletes and a very long day. After a quick chat we arranged to meet up later in the evening and ended up having a nice relaxing early evening meal.

As we had entered at the last minute we weren't able to get a room at our normal accommodation so the alarm went off at 2.45am in a Travellodge on the outskirts of Cirecester. A quick breakfast of coffee and porrdige and we were soon parking up at the site ready to rack the bike at just after 4am.
Well that wasn't in the script! - #RememberBen
Due to the relatively small field the transition area had plenty of room and the bike was racked in no time. Of course with us having entered as a relay team there was no need to worry about the run kit. A quick chat with the referee confirmed where the handover from bike to run would take place and we were all set.

Following a short safety briefing we were let into the lake at about 5.15am for a warm up prior to the start, at that time in the morning it was actually warmer being in the water than stood on the bank.

For such a small field it was mayhem when the hooter went off at 5.30, everyone trying to get a good line for the first turn buoy. It only lasted until the first turn buoy and the staight line to the next turn coupled with my lack of speed meant that I soon had clear water to swim in. The lake itself is really nice and the temperature was just about perfect which made for a very pleasant swim. I wasn't expecting too much as my swim training hours this year had been quite a bit lower than in previous years and I slowed quite noticeably on the second lap, swimmers I had easily been keeping pace with just started pulling away. However come the end of the swim I was really pleased with my quickest ever iron distance swim and over 6 minutes quicker than this event last year. A bit of cramp on the steep exit ramp slowed the run to transition a little but I was soon running out towards the mount line.
Well that wasn't in the script! - #RememberBen
Not too many bikes left in transition by this time!
I really like the 226 bike course and whilst the swim and run courses are similar to the Cotswold 113 and Cotswold Classic middle distance events the bike route is completely different. Rather than the almost pancake flat middle distance route the longer distance is nicely undulating, no major hills just a couple of very short steep climbs but a good variety of up, down, flat and rolling. I find this much more interesting and enjoyable especially for the longer distance and time. Based on last years event and assuming that we didn't get the torrential rain I was hoping for a time between 6 hours and 6 hours 10.

As usual my relatively slow swim meant I would have plenty of cyclists up ahead to chase down and this year there was the added interest of those competing in the triathlon rules sportive. So it was head down and get up to speed as quickly as possible.

For some reason the first 10km felt really sluggish, not sure what was going on perhaps the swim had taken a bit more out of me than normal. Whatever the reason it didn't last too long and by the time I was on the main road passing the Cotswolds Airport I was feeling pretty good.

To be honest there isn't a lot else to say about the bike course, I had a great first lap about 10 minutes ahead of schedule and a slower second lap leading to an overall time 1 minute under the 6 hour mark. The signage and marshalling on the course were both outstanding and the police manning the two difficult junctions was great for the confidence. For once there were no real problems, the weather was fine and I only had one moment when I ran wide on a fast corner and the wheels dropped onto the gravel on the outside of the bend. No harm done but certainly a brown pants moment!

So I headed into T2 to find Debbie ready and waiting and as per the referees guidance racked the bike and removed my helmet before handing over the timing chip and number belt. A quick kiss and Debbie was off and running.

It was quite a nice feeling that my part of the day was done and dusted and I was able to pack up transition, load up the van change into some clean clothes and something to eat and drink. By this time the sun was out and it was getting really hot so I didn't really envy anyone having to run a marathon, sorry Debbie!
Well that wasn't in the script! - #RememberBen
Looking forward to getting out on the bike
Well that wasn't in the script! - #RememberBen
Going strong at the end of the first lap (Great action shot by Holly of TTS)
After getting something to eat I wandered down to the finish area to have a chat with Jon & Holly at the Triathlon Shop stand and cheer Debbie at the end of the first lap. It turned out I didn't have too long to wait and Debbie came through the turn at the finish line to collect her first band in a storming time and was looking really good. Even stood there watching the runners coming through I was finding that it was unpleasantly hot and I started to get a little worried for Debbie as I know that she doesn't handle the heat very well.

This run course was a mix of hard pack trail and tarmac going all the way around lake 32 with a small out and back section to add some extra mileage, an out and back section to a second lake along road and tarmac pavement with a circuit of the second lake also being trail. Each lap was a fraction over 5.2 miles with five laps making the full marathon distance. My plan was to wander down and catch Debbie at the end of the second circuit of lake 32 so I thought I would grab a quick coffee from the food outlet before departing. Whilst I was there the clock ticked around to 2.20pm so I closed my eyes and thought about what had happened exactly two years earlier and what a tragic loss you are to this world. The lady serving noticed the change in demeanour and I was able to tell her your story, another person who now knows all about Ben Pocock.

Coffee in hand I walked down to the point where the run course exited lake 32 and waited for Debbie, I got there a little early and after 5 minutes had to move into the shade because it was getting so hot! When Debbie appeared it was clear that she was starting to struggle. We had a quick chat and she told me that she wasn't able to take any fluids on board as soon as she drank it came straight back up. On any day this was going to be a problem but being so hot just made it much worse but she was determined and carried on and completed the second lap.

Even though she was still unable to drink her determined head came out to play and she set off on the third lap. Finally after completing the third circuit of lake 32 sense kicked in and she bravely decided to call it a day. I know that was a very tough decision for her to make but I'm very proud of her for doing so. If she had tried to carry on I think she would have ended up being carted off by the medical team which wouldn't have been fair to them. It was also important to remember that this race was a last minute decision and we didn't want to jeopardise our main goal of racing Challenge Almere in September.

Despite the natural disappointment it was still a pretty good day our main objective was to not let the second anniversary of MH17 pass without recognising it in some small way so we managed that. Although not finishing it was a good workout for Challenge Almere, Debbie still completed over half a marathon before stopping and we can learn some lessons about racing in hot weather to try and make sure we don't hit the same problems again.

For me this is definitely a race I would like to do again and I truly hope that the organisers get the size of field that it really deserves.
Well that wasn't in the script! - #RememberBen
Coming in to the end of the first lap looking good (Photo by Holly of TTS)
The weekend following the Cotswold 226 was Thunder Run weekend, this time with a headline sponsor of Continental rather than Adidas as in previous years. We were offered places on the Triathlon Shop mixed team of 8 for this years event but for a variety of reasons had decided that we weren't going to compete.

It was a bit of surprise then when on the Thursday before the event we got a message from Jon saying that they were 2 short for the team and was there any chance of coming up even for the day. So a week after the 226 we were heading up the M5 to Catton Park for the start of the race.

When we arrived we found out that another two members of the team were unable to come so the team would have been down to four, an interesting proposition for a 24 hour relay!

We ended up having a great day, met some really nice people in Mike, Toni and Gadget and contributed 4 laps between us to the teams eventual total of 22 laps. After the disappointment of the previous weekend Debbie ran a great lap and was strong throughout. It ended up being her fastest lap ever from the three visits to this race. I managed three laps, a single to start and a double lap to finish which although tough I found to be really satisfying.

I think we were both pleased that we managed to perform pretty well so soon after the Cotswold 226 and hopefully we made a reasonable contribution to the team. Too soon and it was time to say cheerio and hit the road for home.
Well that wasn't in the script! - #RememberBen
Looking fresh, so it must be my first lap (Photo by Toni Green)
Well that wasn't in the script! - #RememberBen
Coming towards the hand over point after a strong lap (Photo by Toni Green)
Well Ben, July didn't exactly go to plan, we hadn't planned on entering any races and ended up taking part in two big events. The first ended in a dreaded DNF whilst a week later we came back quite strongly in the second, truly a month of highs and lows.

At the time of writing it is exactly 5 weeks before Challenge Almere. This race has so much more meaning to us than the others we have completed in your memory and we are determined to do you proud. Three more weeks of hard training before tapering into the event to make sure we can give 100% on the day.

On that note time to sign off and get some sleep, there's a busy weekend of training ahead.

Lots of love

Auntie Debbie & Uncle Tim
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