I woke up bright and breezy at 4am on Saturday morning. The alarm was set for 4.15am so I turned it off before it went off and got up and got ready.
We left at 5am – me and my number one fan aka the wife. We got there fine, registered fine, sorted transition, sorted the swim in, bike out etc caught up with my mate Steve in transition. All nice and relaxed – it was a ‘C’ race after all.
The expectation for the race was low. I have only done two Olympic distance races in the past. Both were around the 3 hours mark. So my ‘target’ was Swim 30 – 35 mins, Bike no idea (you can never estimate or guess on unfamiliar roads) and Run 55 – 58 mins.
The walk down to the swim was quite steep and it’s then we realised that this was also the run course!
We were in the third wave of the start at 7.30am but at the race briefing at 6.50am it was so foggy you couldn’t see the turn bouys. In fact you couldn’t see anything. So the start was delayed and we didn’t get going until 7.50am when the fog had cleared.
The swim was good, nice and easy, plenty of sighting. I exited the water and literally right in front of me was Steve. I looked at my watch 33 mins – happy with that.
Then there was the long (2 mins 24 seconds) uphill rise to transition and I slowly saw Steve pull away. So we hit transition about 30 seconds apart.
T1 was OK, and I was on the bike and clicked the Garmin on – locating signal. I cycled more than 5K before the bloody thing picked up signal and could give me any info. So I just rode on feel.
Lap one on the bike was good, it went very quickly, quite fast roads. Lap two was busy. A lot more cars on the road, the villages I was riding through quite fast on lap one now had parked cars and people milling around, children walking on the pavements (near the road) etc so it was a slower pace. And the junctions were busier and instead of being waved on by the marshals we had to stop and wait for a gap in the traffic before we could pull out.
The bike leg took 1 hr 23 which surprised me as I thought it was slower than that due to the traffic, so happy with that and then on to the run.
I left transition down the steep twisty downhill section to a short flat section, then a gradual downhill for circa 300 metres, then another short flat, then a gradual uphill for 300 metres, then a hard right turn up a steep hill to get us on top of the reservoir, a nice flat run over the top of the reservoir, then a set of steep steps, and then the hard sharp climb up the twisty hill back up to transition to turn around (this uphill section is what we did after the swim to get back to transition).
The run was 4 laps of the above. The run went OK. I had to knock off the pace after the first two laps, as the hills were sapping the energy out of my legs. I did the run in 1 hour dead – outside my 55 – 58 mins expectation but that goal was set before I saw the run course.
Catching up with Steve afterwards (an experienced runner) he said he didn’t like the run and it was tough. So my 1 hour was all the more pleasing.
So a total time of 3 hours 4 minutes. I wanted to go under 3 hours – the last Olympic I did at London Excel was 2hrs 58 mins – but that was on closed roads and a pancake flat run. So add in the traffic on the bike leg and the hilly run I am happy with that.
Once we got back home I sorted out my kit, sorted the bike, cut the grass etc. I tried to have a power nap in the afternoon but after 30 mins I gave up. It was just too hot and too bright.
Sunday was déjà vue.
Up at 5am, me and the wife were an in the car by 5.30 back to Bewl Water for the 3.8K Open Water Swim.
No fog issues, less people so more laid back. And we started the swim bang on time.
I swum well and had no real goal. It was about swimming the IM distance (for a confidence boost) and to swim with others rather than on my own. But the pack soon spread out and I swum most of it on my own. I did catch up with a guy on lap 3 (of 4 laps) and practised drafting behind him for a bit which was good experience. I tried to take him on the fourth lap and the last 1K we were side by side both pushing for the line.
I did the swim in 1 hr 15 mins – less than 1 minute slower than IM Austria, so very happy with that. I haven’t really lost any swim speed over the winter where running was the focus.
In fact my average speed was higher for the 3.8K swim on the Sunday than it was for the 1.5K swim the day before!
I did manage a power nap late morning of almost 2 hours before settling down on the sofa for the afternoon.
Then late afternoon I went for a 4.5K run with Hannah my niece. Hannah has got into fitness in a big way in the past few months and is running regularly in the gym on the treadmill and we have been saying for ages we should go for a run.
Hannah normally runs for 10 or 15 mins at a time so to go for 35 mins on her first real ‘road’ run was a great achievement.
Not too surprising an early night was called for Sunday evening. Quite a fun, racing packed weekend!
Three weeks to go until the biggy.
Thanks for reading.