Because of my still-not-quite-there swimming I predicted a 22+ minute swim time, so I was in the first wave. At 7:30 in the morning. Shite. So after getting up at 4:30, eating porridge and a banana, driving to Bath, stopping for a leak beside the road at 6am and seeing a police car slow down and speed up again, and arriving at about 6:30, I registered and got ready. The race was on Colerne Air Force base, and it wasn’t easy even finding the event village. Still dark, but the signage wasn’t great either. But … registration was in a hanger which also contained a good food and drink stand and several displays from suppliers.
Everyone was very friendly, even at 6:30 in the morning. Registration was smooth (as it should be … only a few people there at that time!), and I was the second to rack my bike.
The swim kicked off at 7:30, and I had a nice chat with the 7 other swimmers in that first wave. It was nice, because I got to see them all several times out on the course too.
My swimming’s not great. But I managed 800m all front crawl, which is a huge improvement on my first sprint Tri, and I wasn’t last in the pool. Almost … but not quite. But of the 6 who beat me out, I pulled back 4 places on the bike.
Out to transition, a quick change, and I reckon it took 2 minutes. The first mile on the bike was through the base, a nice flat run to get my legs working. Then it was out onto the roads.
The roads. Which were shite. Potholes, ruts, raised drains, a bloody nightmare. I was starting to see where the ‘challenge’ came into the title! Marshals were wonderfully encouraging as ever (they really are a unique breed). I overtook one of the women from my swim wave, we had a natter. There was a killer hill a few miles in, great fun going down but then a quick U-turn at the bottom and back up. That was when I overtook another young woman from the swim — her first Tri! — and she nearly wiped me out swaying all over the road! We chatted for a bit, I gave her some encouragement, then stood on my peddles.
Back to the base, and then a U-turn to go back onto the course for lap 2. This U-turn is where some of the signage issues with the race started to cause problems. It simply wasn’t clear where we had to swing around, and if it wasn’t for a marshal calling from along the road, another rider and I might have cut the route short and been DQ’d.
So, lap 2. The rain began, but it wasn’t too bad. And ….. I was feeling really good. Finished the bike, shoes on, then out onto the 10k run. Just as I started my run the duathlon was kicking off, the marshal kept them back til I’d run by then they were behind me. And of course, fresher than me they stormed by. My legs felt heavy but I soon settled into a rhythm, and realised that … I was still feeling really good! Upped the pace. Saw some of the people from my wave again out on the loop. And here we go again with signage problems …the duathlon run was 5k, but it wasn’t at all clear where I was supposed to swing around for lap 2 of my 10k run. I ended up running back through transition with some of the duathlon runners, which is where I think my timing chip messed up (back across the mats again).
I only lost a couple of minutes doing this, but it was frustrating.
Second lap of the run went well, and I crossed the finish line. There wasn’t anyone there. Not a soul. Bit of an anti-climax, really. I went into the timing tent to hand in my chip, then back to the hanger for a coffee and some grub. Luckily I asked the timing guy the time. If the swim started on schedule at 7:30 (pretty sure it did), then I finished the race in 2:46, which was 15 minutes quicker than I’d planned. Dead chuffed! As of writing this, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to get my official timing & splits, but I really hope I do …want to see where I made up time. And on the results page I’m showing as DNF/DQ’d, which I don’t much like.
This was a good race. It had its faults (the signage, and the lacklustre finish), but generally I’d recommend it. The swimming and changing facilities were a bit ‘used’, but that’s the ethos of Naked Strength who ran the whole weekend … racing without frills. And when I sent feedback to the organisers they responded very quickly, and very positively. You can’t ask for more than that.
And … I felt really good for the whole race. I can feel where the training has worked, and that’s a great feeling, because I’ve put a lot into my swimming/biking/running over the past couple of months. Judging by my time I reckon I finished about halfway down the field, and I’m pleased as hell with that.
Now it’s time to plan training between now and the end of the year when Ironman training begins. I’m going to work on getting my swimming up to scratch, aim for a century ride by the end of the year, and try to both increase running distance and speed.
Great stuff! Most people say ‘you’re mad’. I like that. What better way to spend a Sunday morning???