A more beautiful location for a triathlon would be hard to find. This is one of my favourite races. The first time I came, I couldn’t understand why I’d never been before and that was in howling conditions! It’s just my kind of race, stupidly hilly, and with a fell run instead of road at the end. This year was looking like the weather was due to be kind to us. In previous years I’ve seen transition under 3′ of water with the porta-loos about to bob away and a 2′ wave slamming into the shore. This time was different, water temperature was almost tropical.
I was amazed to see the thermometer read 17. I had for some time (and too many cold swims) thought it was stuck on an imaginary 13!
One of the reasons I like this race so much is the attitude and friendliness of the organisers and their crew. This year they’ve gone super slick with matching hoodies 🙂
Time for Tash to take the mic and remind us that it’s our own silly fault that we’re here and to be careful. I still have thoughts of Mark standing on a tree stump infront of a crowd of frozen rubber fools, shouting over the wind as the rain lashed down years ago. Not so today, I was even warm in my wetsuit. I struggle a lot with getting cold. Last year still too fresh in my mind. my feet were beyond blue. In we plopped into the lake. Foggy gleefully pointing out just how far we had to swim from the safety of his canoe.
As you may be able to tell swimming isn’t my strongest disipline. After the Bowland Badass I got the usual stiff neck from hours on the bike, normally this will pass in a day or so. However Hebden Bridge flooded and I was working in one of the shops on the main street. Along with everyone else on the street, I helped with sandbags. Next morning I couldn’t move my head 😦 Ali has been helping to mend it by mobilising the joints and massage. I’d tried one swim in choppy conditions and had made it much worse. This meant no swimming before the race. For a poor swimmer that’s less than advisable for a 2000m swim. Still Ali had taped my head back on and taped my curly shoulder back to where it’s supposed to be and I was relying on chirpy optimism (again).
Now in my head I leap from the water gracefully and trot up the matting like a pro….in reality I beach myself like a seal and hope I’m the right way up when I try to walk!
Oh the GLAMOUR!
Yes this is what I do for fun…right?!
Anyway on with my tale. I must have such fear of being cold I’d left a little pile of clothing choices next to my bike. I know really the answer is to ManUp and just wear my skinsuit with “one of those nasty little triathlete bags” on my top tube but vanity won’t alllow me to spoil my lovely GF-Ti with clutter!
One of the best bits about this race is that it climbs up at 25% straight out of transtion.
Genius! It has been pointed out that I’m often the only one grinning like an idiot at this point!
The course whooshes up and down some of my favourite roads, they’re pretty much traffic free, not sheep free however, and that does make you keep your wits about you. You climb through breath taking views of the Dales, plunge down into cute valleys, before climbing back up again and again. Not for the faint hearted but I love it. The GF-Ti dances up hills.
It’s not the easiest course to eat on, you’re either going up or down (much to my amusement when I see tri-bars in transition). I’d thrown on a jersey so I had pockets for snacks. It is a course where you need to be able to eat though, due to it’s duration. I know it sounds like sales stuff, but each time I have a Clif gel the little lanyard on the pull off top makes me happy that I won’t litter by trying to catch it. LISTEN UP you gel makers….so simple so clever 🙂 and nobody likes to see litter. So having convinced myself that I’d had a cheeky wee espresso, I started on the decent back into Hawes and the second transition. Straight into HEADWIND, no fair I thought, this bike loves this decent as much as I do, a real stamp on the pedals then crouch into a tuck bomb of a decsent…not today though. 42 miles and I’m in!
Now it must be added that by this point my shoulder was really hurting, well it had been hurting from a quarter of the way into the swim but I’d been busy ignoring it. I knew it would hurt more when I started to run too, so for once in my life I was sensible and didn’t try to batter the bike too much. Last years race photo’s promted me to book on the course with Leon, from faster-feet.com and try to learn some running technique. The Pose course with him has completely changed my running. I used to be a heel striker. I’ve also had it said to me a number of times that whilst the bike is my strength that I should consider my weakness more and save more to run with. 11 months isn’t long for a new technque either, I’d thought it would be at least 18 months to really start seeing a difference. Pretty much every triathlon I’ve done over the years I’ve hit the bike hard and then wondered who had stolen my legs when I began to try to run. This time was very different, holding back had worked, I might not be a fast runner (yet! optimist again!) but I ran all the way 🙂
Now I’m far more used to this race with really bad weather. I’ve seen it with streams running down the roads, waist deep water where gates should be, low visibility in fog (yes, it’s August) and wind and rain slpatting you in the face. This time was different, it was warm, muggy almost, I’d drunk plenty on the bike. I’m not one for sticky sports drinks so the Clif lemonade electrolyte is ace as it doesn’t give you that furry tongue you often get from a sports drink. I had a bottle with me too but was worried that If I drank that then I might get a bit fretty. I’m not sure why a lack of water panics me so? Fell run’s are normally fine as you pass streams on the way. I’d recce the run a couple of weeks ago and the ground was much wetter with safe pools to drink from. A quick calculation of “If I drink this puddle and it’s bad will anything nasty happen before I’ve run to the finish?” decided I’d be fine and stuck my head in. Cool water is a great thing, even helped with the hair styling as you can see!
Whilst the run was slow, I didn’t walk and maintained a forefoot strike which pleased me. My legs were a bit tired, so I couldn’t quite manage the relaxed fling down the hill I’d done in the recce, but hey, it’s the furtherst I’ve run since last year! A guy came past me then just infront he buckled over with cramp, “stretch it out I cried out” he said he didn’t know how. Some how I found myself stopping to show him. See now Ali says I pay no attention to stretches, but I must have done 😉
As the route heads towards the finish it passes a field of cows. I’m scared of cows! I could hear a man behind me, as he drew level I shouted back “I’d better speed up and run past the cows with you, they scare me…you’re not wearing red are you?” luckily he wasn’t and we ran past them together, he said “it’s ok, we’ll run to the left of these, the right of these and don’t worry about these…they’re sheep!”
Last 500m and cramp man trots past and thanks me.
Round the corner and into the finish, 12 miles and i’m in. Ali is there cheering away. I forgot to look at my time or where I finished. It didn’t matter to me. I’d had a nice day out and really enjoyed it. I didn’t expect to be competitive having done zero swimming and with a new run technique. Lots learnt again though and it’s all good!
And the best bit… You get CHEESE!
And SOCKS! But Ali stole them 😦
What can I say? My Tri Club organised yet another brilliant event, well marshalled, well signed and I’ll be back again next year.
A big thank you Sport Sunday for the photo’s and the shouts of encouragment 🙂
Next year I want me some of these pretty podium girls they’ve hired in though! 😉