Grafham Triathlon- 9th June 2013 2:42:20
Having entered the Dambuster and Vitruvian, I needed another Olympic distance race just to keep those legs going. With a free entry at the Grafham Triathlon- courtesy of NiceTri (thanks Keith!) I had another race to get to grips with. Being at Grafham right next to one of my places of work (Grafham Cycling) this was a great opportunity to test myself on a course that I knew would be fast. Also being a weekend full of other races going on (Qualifier at Rother Valley, Middle distance at Bala, Blenheim triathlon, Beaver triathlon) it meant that the competition would not be as fierce and I could stand to do quite well. I was aiming for a top ten finish and to place well within my age group. I was therefore disappointed to learn that there were only 3 of us in the F 25-29 age group.
The weather forecast leading up the race was promising, with a couple of fellow Stamford Triathlon club members planning on racing as well (Kevin Hamlyn and Darren Kelly) at least there were to be a few others that I knew at the race. Saturday gave me the opportunity to register, so I drove down to Grafham with the wind whipping around me, and the cloud cover looking quite ominous. Having registered, it all seemed very organised and easy to negotiate.
The next morning we were off at 8.30am so I needed to leave the house at a relatively sociable time of 6.30am. I decided last minute to pack a jacket in case I got cold- which was quite likely! Turning up at the car park, I was most displeased that it was trying to rain and it was BLOODY FREEZING! Darren, Kevin and I had the usual banter, doing up of wetsuits, and chat about how cold it was and joking that they had already given us our medals, so maybe we should go home! The swim was to be a beach start, with a mass start of all of the competitors, which was a little under 200 I think.
Swim 1.5km 26:52 44th O/A (out of 181) 6th Female (out of 28)
Just before the swim start we were able to get in the water. Having swam at Rutland Water the day before in Inspire2tri’s OW swim session –which was totally brain numbingly cold, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the water was quite temperate, and actually getting back out, I realised just how cold the wind was! Wearing my brand new Blue Seventy helix, I managed to position myself over to the far left and one person back, so when the hooter went off, I was able to get in a good position without getting kicked too much in the face. A great start and off I went into a good rhythm moving my way up the field. It was to be a two lap swim, with a novel run around on the bank before diving back into the water. I wasn’t too aware of my position in the field until I got out of the water and looked to see how many were ahead of me. I was pretty pleased with my time and another first for me was that I didn’t wear a watch in the swim as I was going to wear my Garmin forerunner for the bike and run but didn’t have the quick release strap so it was already strapped to my bike.
T1 1:22- nothing unusual here apart from I decided to don my lightweight jacket and even though I did that, I had the second fastest female T1 time which I am super pleased with, as I did have a little bit of trouble getting the bloody wetsuit off.
Bike 38km 1:16:57 128/181 O/A 9th Female
With a slightly shorter than usual bike, this was to be the area that I could really try and concentrate my efforts. I was pleased to find that after having studied the bike route quite thoroughly, that the wind wasn’t really a strong disadvantage to me. I was able to also count my position on the bike and found that I was around 5th on the bike. I was overtaken at the last hurdle (literally the last mile) so was pleased to find that I had held my position on the bike, I was naturally overtaken by quite a few blokes (as my overall position indicates) but I was rather pleased that I utilised the bike and really worked hard on the hills. I even had a rather funny comedy moment on the final hill back towards the race HQ. I overtook a guy on the hill who I thought was racing, only for him to shout out that he thought we were mad and I had already swam and was about to run, he was only out for a Sunday ride! It was rather funny. The only point of the bike that I didn’t really enjoy was when I got onto the bike, I was rather unsteady, and really must listen to the ‘less haste, more speed’ as I really struggled to get my feet into my shoes. I also found that my fingers and hands were totally freezing, and as I left T1 I shouted to the marshals that my hands were about to drop off. It was a real struggle to think that this was going to warm up and improve, but eventually it did. As my hands warmed up, my feet certainly cooled down….
T2 0:55- could have been slightly quicker, although I was pleased to be the 5th female time for T2.
Run 10km 56:12 141 O/A 17th Female
This is the part that let’s me down the most and this race was no exception to this rule! I ran out of T2 with a purpose, and feeling good on the dam was able to glance down at my Garmin and see that I had covered the first mile in 8:31 and then followed up the second mile in 8:43. Coming back in after the two miles across the Dam, I felt really good, little did I know that the next section of the race was going to be fairly undulating and quite tricky, especially with a few drags which really burned the legs! Running as hard as I could, I still watched the speed drop down and my average speed for the final part was 9 minute miles. I was highly disappointed, and it really was my fault that the last mile 4 girls came past me. One girl had overtaken me in the first few hundred metres, but then I held my own for the rest of the run. I was therefore in 6th position and thought that I had worked really hard and just should keep it there. On the turnaround point, I could see four girls running me down. This is where it all started to go wrong. One the last descent down back to the finish, one, then two, three four in quick succession. It was quite demoralising, but I kept going and tried to pick up for the last few hundred metres. I was rather pleased to cross the line and got my results to see a good swim, good bike but not so good run. Something to work on, but also considering I have done hardly any running due to a sore/still twisted ankle, this was not to be too much of a disappointment. The provisional results also had me as the first across the line in my age group, but this was soon corrected to second, out of two! Not to worry, a good result overall and I couldn’t be too displeased with a top ten finish (10th female!)
I knew that my running was going to be the part that let me down the most in this race, and will probably mar my season quite a bit this year, with such an injury, I know that running is going to suffer, so trying to focus on the bike and the swim will be the best way forward this year.
I was pleased to only have come in around 5 ½ minutes behind the overall female leader for my bike split. Will has been very supportive about my result and has been very reassuring that I can get my run time down, and an encouraging run training session last Friday pleased me immensely. However a little trip on Saturday night meant that I have done my ankle again! I think it has a bit of weakness now, so realistically it will never really improve unless I have total rest on it- which is impossible.
I am racing the Dambuster this weekend, and with it being a World’s qualifier and Europeans qualifier, it is bound to be the most competitive race of the year for me. Well not for me entirely as I am not planning on trying to qualify. I know that it being the third time I have done this race, not to have high expectations of my results in comparison to others, but try and work on what I can do myself and try to beat previous year’s times. Last year the high winds, and cold water meant that the race was a bit of a test of survival for all. With the swim shortened to 1000m due to the cold temperature of the water, and the winds testing everyone, it was a real test of wills. I know that this weekend the weather isn’t looking too promising again, so maybe I should must try again with the swim and bike as much as I can.
If you are racing this weekend, good luck, if you are at the Dambuster say hello!