Bala Middle Distance Tri (2000m/82km/20km) – http://www.wrecsamtri.org.uk. GB Age Group Championships
Swim 2000m/31:23 (1:34/100m) __ HR138(150)
Cycle 82km/2:20:40 (35.0km/h) __ HR149(166) ascent 987m
Run 20km/1:28:09 (7:05 min/mi) __ HR155(165) ascent 243m
What a different way to race from last year (linky). As this was only a build-up race for Roth Ironman, and not my main triathlon focus for the year, we didn’t bother staying over near the event the previous evening. That would’ve been tricky anyway, with Jules away shooting a wedding.
After a very good night’s sleep, thank fully uninterrupted by pain from my shingles, my alarm went off at 4:30am. We were quickly up, dressed and having tea and toast. I made up a bidon of coffee to sip in the car. The drive up to Bala was uneventful and we were unpacking my kit in the rugby club car park just before 8am. I quickly registered and got my bike and kit racked while everyone else was seemingly still faffing about, and then got ready for this year’s slightly later (10am) start for the +40 age-group wave.
The lake water was definitely colder than Dorchester, although not quite as breathtaking as at Merchant Taylors’ Tri last month. I did a few minutes swimming to “warm-up”, lined up and then, all of a sudden – no count-down – the hooter went and we were off. I sprinted the first 200m, got my breath and found some quick feet, drafting them nearly all the way to the far turn. I lost the tow a bit around the turn but I think the swimmer I was following was actually slowing a little at this point, so I was happy to press on alone. The water was very shallow and rocky near the shore and I ended up walking the last 10m or so to the ramp, which hurt my feet a bit – the heels were bruised the next day.
I struggled (as ever) getting my wetsuit off over the timing chip on my ankle, despite chopping over an inch off the bottom of the legs of it recently, and I’d not clipped my shoes into my pedals like last year – I was more relaxed and also more wary of the short climb out of T1 onto the road.
I felt like I had a good bike leg – pushing hard all the way. We had a strong headwind on the way out which made some of the climbs hard. I was down to the 23 sprocket in places but never needed the 25. I caught and passed a couple of guys with my age group “I” written on their legs, but there could, of course, be others up the road, so I kept up the pressure on the pedals, overtaking as many from the previous waves as I could and keeping an eye on my bike splits (I’d taped last year’s ones to my top tube as a guide). Being the last wave out on the course this year the roads were very crowded with other riders and the traffic was often baulked by them, so I had to choose my overtaking moments carefully. I managed to eat most of my food – 2 cereal bars and 2 gels, plus 2 x 650ml bottles of diluted Lucozade. After the last 10% climb over the top of the final pass, it was mostly downhill back into Bala – a chance to relax before the run.
I got into T2 about 1 minute quicker than last year, put on some socks with my Asics DS shoes and was quickly out into the run. Last year I ran the first mile waaaaay too hard, and had that at the back of my mind this year. However, I still went through the first mile split in around 6:34, oops. I backed off after that, aware that I needed to “save” my legs, make sure I didn’t push them too hard and pick up any twinges before the final training push for Roth. The run back from the far run turn – mostly downhill and with the wind behind, was great. I was passed by the guy who finished in the silver medal position in my age group here, I recall he had a race belt on him, stuffed with gels – I was 38 seconds ahead of him coming out of T2, but he finished 1:36 in front of me. His “I” had worn off his leg, so I’d no idea we were racing at the time. No matter, I was enjoying the running and felt like I could’ve run more than 20km at 7 minute miles – that bodes well. I was pretty much on my own for the last 3 miles, sipping the occasional cup of water. I only felt like I was pushing hard again coming into the last mile, just in case there was anyone behind me about to catch me.
I was very happy to cross the finish line only 1:20 slower than last year. Some of that wil be due to my being slightly heavier (about 1.5kg, I think) than last year so being slower on the run, and also due to a more relaxed aproach to the whole event. I dropped a few places to 28th, from 12th last year – this year’s field was much more competitive – so I think I’ve “only” got a bronze age group medal, as opposed the the “virtual” gold I won last year.
Before the rain fell I collected my stuff from transition and we had a cup of tea in the leisure centre cafe and then headed for home through the torrential rain and heavy traffic on the M54/M6.