Another full weekend of racing for me. Leanne has the Estyn inspectors in at school so I am under instructions to get out of the way. This suits me well at the moment as the race season is full of events. This weekend I attended Shrewsbury for the 3rd time this season for the final round of the Paramount CRT organised series.
Jade and I set off from Aber in beautiful sunshine, only to be greeted by mist and cold weather in the mountains which had not cleared by the time we got to England. Shrewsbury was pretty cold at around 5C being reported by peoples car thermometers. Quite different to the race most of us had packed for. Some had forgone arm warmers, leg warmers in favour of skin suits or short sleaved jerseys. Luckily I’d left my warmers in the bag and had a compression top to go under my skin suit and was fine once up to race speed.
The race itself was pretty standard faire for Shrewsbury. A fast start threatened to spread the bunch out but it came back together after a few laps and never really separated for the remainder of the race. The only events threatening to split things up were the crashes, and there were many! I recall at least 2 and heard reports of others. One of them took out a clubmate and resulted in a cracked carbon frame, snapped carbon bars and a broken arm! Hopefully the injury will not hamper his Ironman training too much!
With 5 laps to go, I made my move up the pack on the entry to the hairpin. A brilliant and safe move straight down the outside and into the hairpin in first position. I was very pleased with myself for being able to jump the entire field when things were heating up for the sprint. Unfortunately I let a couple riders passed on the following laps and got squeezed out on a corner on the bell lap, leaving me mid field and without enough left in the legs for a 100% sprint effort. Positioning is everything at Shrewsbury and I really needed a top 10 position going into the hairpin to do anything useful. I know I can make the move now though so when the next series comes around in a few weeks I’ll be back to try again. I crossed the line in around 20th with club mates James and Andrew also mid bunch.
On Sunday morning the clocks went forward and I set an alarm for 6AM (felt like 5AM) to get up to Pwllheli for the 2nd Pwllheli Triathlon. This is a sprint distance race (400m pool swim, 20Km bike, 5Km run) and suited my current focus on short distance racing (crits, cyclocross and time trials all around the hour duration mark). I’d been doing a bit of running in the past few months so I know I could at least complete the distances. I probably should have tried doing some of the activities back-to-back before hand. Triathletes call the bike-then-run training “Brick” sessions, apparently due to the way your legs feel when you start the run. I can see why! On the treadmill, I’d timed a 5Km at 22 minutes, a 400m swim at 7:30 a few months ago and my 10 mile PB was 27:27 on the cyclocross bike. Everything seemed to be in place for me to have a stab anyway.
A lovely quiet drive up the coast had me arriving in plenty of time, but typically Al, was already there (he’s always early). We met in the leisure centre, signed on and got our race numbers written all over our arms and legs. Al had his new bike and I had mine so we went to the cars to compare kit and notes before getting changed and laying out our transition areas. I’d had lots of tips from people on transitions (take a box, lay a towel out, pre-talk things). I forgot the talc and Al said the only talc in the house was scented so he’d rather lose 30 seconds than smell like a girl!
Race briefing was a bilingual affair in a sports hall with typical sports hall acoustics. I speak a little Welsh so got the gist and I’d read the rules a few times though so felt confident enough not to be missing anything too important. I think Al was a little less able to understand anything though. After the briefing I had time to get to the viewing gallery and watch the first wave of swimmers start off. Some impressive turns of speed on display and some lovely lane changing maneuvers, (we had to change lanes every 100m). Then it was my turn. I headed down to the changing room where we were to wait until called through poolside. A few minutes chatting to fellow seeded competitors and it was my turn. swimmers went off at 20 second gaps and this meant that I was due to start ust as somebody was about to lane-turn infront of me. I scooted off quickly and got ahead. Luckily I kept ahead and caught the next swimmer over the next few lengths. I couldn’t pass her though as there was traffic in both directions. Eventually I made a move as we moved into the second lane. I had to swim under her off the wall which meant I cleared most of the second lane under water. Not great for my breathing but I seemed to get through ok. The following lanes were nice and quiet and I only had one more overtake to perform on the final length before jumping out. Swimcap and goggles ripped off as I walked out of the fire exit and into transition. Socks on while standing on my towel, SPD shoes on, helmet on, glasses on, race number belt on. Good to go! I started walking with my bike towards the transition exit. Why is this marshall shouting at me? OH NOW, I’ve headed out of transition the wrong way! Turn around, and head back the other way. Probably lost 30 seconds here! Damn. Still this was the bike leg and my strongest discipline so I got down to business from the off.
The new bike felt brilliant, my tri suit had dried off immediately and the pad was very comfortable on the bike. Legs felt great, considering yesterdays circuit race at Shrewsbury. I got into the aero tuck and ploughed out of town around the tight corners at first, then up the 2Km climb. I picked off about 6 riders on the climb then opened it out across the top of the valley where I hunted down another couple. A right hand turn south put us up another slight incline and I managed another pass over the top here. a nice long descent to a roundabout now. On reaching the roundabout there was no sign! I saw a marshall and asked him which way. He mumbled something so I just asked this way? as I made for the first exit. Wrong choice. I came back onto the roundabout and tried the 2nd exit. ‘not that way’ he shouts, very useful I think as I head off down the only remaining exit! Grr. all the other junctions had been signed and well marshalled aside from this one. Another 30 seconds lost. The rider who I’d passed on the top had squeezed past during this so I had to take him again once up to speed. I admitted my cock-up to him as I passed and continued into town along the seafront. This stretch was fast and I took another few scalps as the marshall motorbike came alongside for a look. (draft marshall maybe?). I got back into town and the next junction had several marshalls but nobody really paying much attention to riders. I followed the arrow though and then noticed the rider down on the pavement receiving medical attention. Hope she’s alright, I thought as I carried on. I turned the final corner and dismounted while rolling into transition. This time the change should be faster. Helmet off. shoes off, trainers on. I’d got elastic laces on the trainers and velcro on the SPDs so this was fast. Off I go again. What does she want this time? OH NO, I’ve gone on the bloody wrong direction again! another few seconds lost.
The run was immediately tough. I felt nothing like I do when I set off on a run usually. I didn’t understand why though as I didn’t think the same muscles were used on the bike. I think this is the cause though as the body has to redirect resources to a new muscle group and this takes time. The only thing is that I never felt any better. 5Km is a short run but it took me MUCH longer than normal. I was in survival mode and had to stay strong in the head not to stop and walk. In the end, my GPS has the run split at 25 minutes. not bad considering my 22 was on a treadmill without the many technical corners, curbs, sand covered pavements and sea furniture. I only got passed once or twice I think. Finally rounding the corner to the finish line was a great feeling. I picked up my finishers medal and a bag with a banana, mars bar and drink. All of which were duely demolished.
After putting on some clothes back in transition Al and I met up and watched the finishers before heading to the rugby club for results and food. The girl who’d fallen on the bike sat on our table and she was in good spirits, having gotten back on and completed the race, albeit with a bent shifter.
Results finally arrived after quite a wait and I was very pleased to take 16th place overall. Al did even better to come in 7th but those 30 seconds he spent no smelling like a girl wouldn’t have helped him gain 6th place so perhaps he knows best. Dylan from work also crossed the line in 106th with an improvement on his time from last year.
All in all a great day out and a lovely event. I’ll be back next year and I’m looking forward to competing amongst local friends at Machynlleth (Cerist) Sprint Tri in the Summer.