I mentioned earlier that this is a busy week, with three races. Race one was a trail 10K on Tuesday night. Race two was at 3pm today – the Marketing Industry Triathlon. I only had time to do the Sprint race (you think I’m joking!), which is a 750m open-water swim, a 20k bike and a 5k run. That’s fine by me, I quite like sprint triathlons, for the same reason that I prefer 5k running races to 10ks: they’re short enough to really be able to attack at close to 100% and you know you can hang on because the end will be here soon!
Client Jeremy (you know Jeremy) had said he’d to the race with me but then took the (sensible) decision to defer his debut until he’d actually done some triathlon training. So I was all alone (hence lack of pictures!). Well, me and the 71 other people in the Sprint race (and the hundreds of people in the other race distances on offer today).
I know Dorney well from my coaching days there, and it’s just a perfect venue for triathlon. Pancake flat, fast, traffic free, great for spectators. The only downsides are the total lack of shade and the epic walk to and from the car-park areas.
I registered, set my transition area up and bought a gel. Ate a banana. Wondered if I’d eaten too much lunch or too little. Wished I hadn’t worn heels at this morning’s breakfast networking meeting.
3pm’s a weird time to race. Triathletes are more used to, say, ooh I don’t know, 6am. Even in the height of Summer, 6am isn’t hot. 3pm, however….is. Today was muggy and humid. I put my wetsuit on at the last minute, and got into the water at the first opportunity. Ah, lovely!
The starter talked us through the course, cracked a few jokes and then we were off. Feeling more confident about my swimming since my coaching session with Bill Furniss (blog post on that coming soon), I’d positioned myself aggressively (assertively?) at the front and in the middle. It was the right decision – I was off with the first pack and had clear water. At the first buoy, two people either side veered towards each other and swam over me. I couldn’t get free of them and took a mouthful of water and an elbow to the head. I tried not to get rattled and put some power down, finally getting clear of the most erratic of the two.
The swim seemed to be over relatively quickly, although I didn’t check my watch. In a sprint race, every second really does count. I ran to my bike, whipped the wetsuit off and ran to the ‘bike mount’ line, overtaking someone on the way. Soon I was off and down on the tri bars.
I knew from looking at last year’s results that I was in with a good chance of finishing in the top 5 females, so I made it my job to identify ponytails and plaits in front of me and methodically overtake them. To be fair, there weren’t many, but as I overtook one I heard a group shout “go on, Sarah!” to my victim. “Go away, Sarah”, I thought to myself. Two women on VERY nice bikes came past, and I thought “there’s our “one” and “two”.”
Sarah and I played cat and mouse around the 4-loop bike course until suddenly she was nowhere to be seen. I’d grown rather fond of her and hoped she was OK. As I had one loop to go, I saw Client Jeremy. Bless him, he’d come along anyway just to give me a cheer!
Before too long at all I was into transition again, having held an average of about 33kph on the bike. Lovely Venus had done a grand job. Sarah was still nowhere to be seen as I took my bike shoes off, put my run shoes on and dumped the bike helmet.
I had no idea what kind of run split I needed to get a PB (I’m not sure I even know what my Sprint PB is), or get under 1:20 or under 1:15 or anything. Just like Tuesday, I decided to run as hard as I could and go by feel.
I felt pretty good, although the run at Dorney can be tough. For all that it’s flat, it’s unrelentingly hot and quite boring. I was keeping pace with the blokes in front of me which seemed to be a good sign. As I approached the dead-turn which marked my first (of two) turns for home, I saw the first lady. I (quickly!) asked her if she was first lady, she nodded yes. OK. Well there’s no catching her, she’s far too far in front. And she’s taller than me, lighter than me and looks a lot more comfortable than me. I ran on, staring at the runners coming towards me, trying to identify female runners. Here’s one, you can tell by the fact that her tri-suit isn’t all unzipped at the front. Second lady. So, where’s third lady..?
I ran on…looking for another lady, but then I was at the turnaround and realised I’d seen everyone who was ahead of me. I was in third! Ah but who’s this powering her way up behind me? Yep – it’s l’il ole Sarah, bless her.
I had about 2 seconds at each dead-turn to scan the oncoming runners for Sarah, and to assess how she was looking (fast? strong? on the verge of collapse?) whilst also trying my best to psyche her out by momentarily looking as if I was finding this all a breeze. ;D
At the final dead-turn on the second lap, I reckoned she was getting closer. Not much, but definitely closer. And who knew how much of a strong finish she had in her?
I was damned if I was going to give up third place without a fight. I looked at my watch and promised myself to run strongly for one minute at a time. I could do that. Then another minute. Then another. Before I knew it, I was at the turn for the finish. I allowed myself a glance behind (was Sarah on my shoulder?) and saw….nothing!
I ran for the line and crossed it with a massive grin. Third female finisher! Yep, I’ll take that, thanks
Finish time: 1:19:29 (must find out if that’s a PB or not)
I don’t even have to scroll down the page to see my name!
3/15 female finishers
No idea about age-group
By the way, since you’re wondering, Sarah’s really a very nice woman when she’s not chasing you down on a 5k run. I had a good chat with her – shook hands and all – and we walked back to the cars together.