English Middle Distance Triathlon Championships – The Grafman!

Short Report:

 

This race is a middle distance triathlon located in the heart of Cambridgeshire near the ancient villages of Buckden & St Neots. The race base is set at Grafham Water . The swim is a dip in the beautiful Grafham Water Reservoir, followed by a fast out, 2 laps and back undulating bike course, finishing with a 2 lap “out and back” scenic run around Grafham water and the surrounding villages. It was the official English Middle Distance Triathlon Championship event. It was also possibly the hottest day of the year so far!

 

Swim: 33:26

T1: 2:12

Bike: 2:44:53

T2: 1:28

Run: 1:52:59

Total: 5:15:59 (3rd in AG 40-44F)

National Age Group Championships Bronze Medallist

 

Long Report:

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My race no of 69 seemed to cause a lot of amusement!

Race start was at a very civilised 7:30 am which meant that for a change I was getting out of bed later than I would on a normal weekday! As my parents were also watching me race I went up the night before. They had conveniently found a campsite just around the corner from Grafham Water but I decided to treat myself to a night in more luxurious accommodation at the Premier Inn in Huntingdon, 10 minutes drive away. Martin was also with me and just as I was getting into my wetsuit at the swim start my brother and his wife also rocked up. Uh oh! The pressure was on!

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It was only two weeks since I had completed the Tour of Wessex so I was slightly worried that there would still be an element of fatigue in my legs. Along with that I had a terrible cold straight afterwards and although feeling much better still had a voice that was a lot gruffer than normal so possibly was still carrying a virus.

The Swim:

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There were wave starts with the women in the final wave along with the older men. My plan was to try and stick to the feet of Naomi, another Tri Londoner who is a much faster swimmer than me, for as long as I could. I probably managed it for about 50m before there was complete carnage from all around and I lost her. I tried to maintain the pace but developed quite a strong stitch and was worried as that doesn’t normally happen to me in the swim. I eased off and as the carnage settled I then couldn’t find any feet at all and spent the rest of the swim on my own. The route was one large triangle, run out of the water, back in again and then swim a smaller triangle. Judging by my GPS tracking, I didn’t do too bad a job at sighting in spite of the strong sun shining for the return leg which made sighting extremely difficult. I glanced at my watch as I exited the swim and was pleased to see it was a couple of minutes faster than my race last month. I had tried to put more effort in but I always find it so difficult in the swim to push hard when I am not trying to keep up with anyone.

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T1:

As I ran up the bank into T1 I could hear the family shouting and the cameras clicking! I was pleased to see a far amount of bikes still on the rack too. I took my time in T1. I have big problems with blisters on the run so I wanted to make sure I put some silicone anti-blister lube on my feet before putting my socks on and had to sit down to do this. Still a relatively quick transition for me.

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The Bike:

The bike was an out and back course in the shape of a T. The length of the T ridden just once and then the bit across the top twice. In spite of the waved starts there were lots of us out on the bikes which meant that there was also a lot of drafting. In spite of the BTF presence it didn’t seem to make any difference. They only seemed to be out on their motorbikes for the first 30 minutes or so anyway! As is usual for a waved start race I found myself on many occasions stuck behind the slower guys with cars trundling behind them, unable to overtake as the roads were fairly busy, narrow and there were cyclists and cars coming in the opposite direction too. Coupled with this seven miles into the ride my right knee was hurting pretty badly. I had injured this knee last year but it has been great, its stood up to a long training camp and the Tour of Wessex and I couldn’t understand it. Then I remembered that the day before I had walloped it directly onto the knee cap at speed on the corner of a window sill getting onto my watt bike. I was tempted to stop and try and stretch it to see if it would help but in the end opted for the HTFU option and got on with pedalling. I tried to ignore it but to say that the bike course dragged on is an understatement. The pain was radiating into my thigh. I tried to put more effort through the opposite leg. Regardless, my heart rate was also quite high so I figured I was actually doing ok. Being out and back I could see the other Tri Londoners and try and watch the progress of everyone. I tried to distract my mind my working out how far ahead or behind others were and then if I was gaining or losing on them. It was great entertainment for an otherwise boring course. There was really only a group of supporters at the top of the T, gathered outside the Snooty Tavern. Pat from Tri London was great encouragement each time I passed. Soon enough I was returning to T2 once again stuck behind a camper van slowing us all down.

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T2

I was pleased to see quite a lot of empty spaces on the bike rack but had no notion of where I was in the field. By now it was hot! hot! hot! In and out just 13.1 hot miles to run!

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The Run:

 

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The run was a couple of loops of mixed terrain around Grafham Water. Slightly undulating in places but nothing too terrible. We had to run across the dam on the south side of the reservoir. With a fairly stiff breeze this was quite exposed but relatively cooling. However, after turning around at the end of the dam if felt like I was cooking on the return. Not sure if I took on a gel too soon but I developed a terrible stitch just after the first turnaround point and ended up having to stop and do some stretches and deep breathing before starting to run again at a slower pace, didn’t quite work so I repeated the actions again then set off running at a slower pace and it seemed to do the trick. I decided to ignore the next aid station and let my stomach settle. The next part of the run was relatively shaded either through woodland or alongside trees. I saw a few competitors for whom the heat had got the better of them. Including a couple collapsed. I offered assistance both times but they were in good hands. My stomach settled and I began to enjoy myself, particularly the abuse from my brother and the encouragement from Martin as I ran past transition each time. The aid station at the far end of the course about 4 miles in had run out of water and cups – less than ideal on an extremely hot day! My knee was sore but nothing like it had been on the bike and I was able to maintain a steady pace. Was good to see so many of the other Tri Londoners and others I knew. It made the time pass quickly and I began my counts again to see if I was losing or gaining time. My family were around the transition area with the other supporters and that made for a great buzz when I ran through.

I’ve been plagued with Achilles problems over the last few years and have just had new orthotics made by Simon Costain at the The Gait and Posture Centre. He has also been manipulating my “concrete” feet on a weekly basis and this has made such a difference to me. This is the first race I have really noticed it, with minimal discomfort from my feet on the run.

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On the final lap my sister-in-law ran the last 100m with me putting the pace on which meant I had to pick mine up. Couldn’t believe how soon it was all over and was delighted to be welcomed across the finish line by a cool pint of Erdinger and of course Martin and my family.

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There were a huge gang of Tri Londoners present – 17 of us in total – we sure made our presence known. The Tri London ladies were awarded a spot prize of Team of the Day which was a bundle of protein bars and then the task of finding the “Male Legs of the Day”! It was absolutely fantastic to have so many of us there and some noisy supporters to boot. I have never raced with so many friends before and it was a superb experience.

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I had been hoping for a top 10 position at this race. After crossing the line you can obtain your results but you have no idea of your placing. I went along to the prize giving to support my fellow club members as I was sure a couple of them would have been on the podium. It was an awful shock to hear my name called out for the Bronze! I am delighted!

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Huge thanks to the team at for their continued support. Two days before the race I managed to snap two of the cables on my bike that control the Di2 (electronic gearing). Don’t ask me how I managed this but after a panicky call to the store the trusty Dave came to the rescue and sorted it – phew! I’d also like to thank the team at Sofa.com. I am striving to be the best I can be this year in recognition of the huge amount of support that & the team from have given me. spoil me rotten and alongside that they provide an excellent service for all things bike! are rather special people too. Alongside their lovely sofas they just love being nice, they do lots of lovely things for various charities which you can read about . remains my inspiration and with the support from Sofa.com and Giant Radlett I stay focused and determined to train hard and hopefully race well. I appreciate all the help that I get more than these guys will ever know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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