My achilles wasn’t feeling too bad and I’d managed a couple of 10km jogs, although my calves were generally a bit tight after the previous weekend’s ECCA 100. I was confident of a decent-ish result at the Grafman, but probably not an age group win, especially as Roger Canham was on the start sheet. Assembling my kit before the start, I heard he’d dropped out with illness, so that sort of threw the over-50 age group wide open.
We had a nice two-lap swim, with an “Australian exit” after lap one, something I’d never done before (you run out of the water, around a turn, and then back in for lap two). The water was a reasonable temperature so I had none of the problems I’d had at Bala and managed to get out of T1 fairly high up in my start wave. From then on it was just a question of putting as much time into my rivals as I could on the bike, knowing my running was going to be compromised.
I really laid down some power over the first 20 minutes to get clear of the packs and then settled down to work at my own pace. It rained quite a bit on the second lap of the bike course, but I was still putting time into the chasers. At each turnaround I could see groups of 10 or 15 riders together – there were sure to be some fresh legs cruising along at the back of those, waiting to take me down on the run. I didn’t see any draft-busters either which would’ve been handy on such a fast, flat, bike course.
After turning off the main loop we had a few lumps and bumps to negotiate and then I was into T2, the announcer calling me out as first over-50. I reckon I had about a 2 or 3 minute lead over the next guy in my age group at this point. I quickly settled into a steady plod, never seeming to be able to lift the pace at all. At least the rain was easing off. I got run down by the first over-50 (they were easy to spot with high race numbers) after about 5km, and I could see two or three more going after me. Only 16km to go…
I enjoyed the run course – quite varied, if not the fastest, and you went past the start/finish pretty regularly. With about 1km to go I was passed by the next guy in my age group and I was powerless to resist his challenge. The lack of run miles was telling and it was all I could do to plod to the line, happy to get my bronze medal and a cold pint of Erdinger alkoholfrei.
Result: 4:37:11/51st, 3rd M50 [results PDF]
(splits taken from my Garmin 910XT – there was quite a long run into T2 that the official timing mats missed)