800m swim, 36km cycle, 8.2km run
Race day and I’m awake 20 minutes before my alarm goes off. After a great few months of training I’m excited to compete in the first triathlon of the season and to get an idea of what condition my body is in. I’ve got 2 hours before my wave starts so food is number one on my agenda – a bowl of muesli, a banana and coffee. The morning is overcast with 12 mph winds, but thankfully it’s warm.
This was my first time entering Steyning triathlon but I knew the course well from competing in local time trials. Having registered and read through the start list, I knew it was going to be a tough race with formidable competition from some of the top age-groupers in the country. A caffeine drink and energy gel later and I’m warming up on poolside focussing on my race.
The swim is usually where I have an advantage over some of my competitors, having come from a strong swimming background. However, a shorter than usual 800m in the pool doesn’t give me much of a lead. I paced myself fairly conservatively, trying to save as much energy as possible by long smooth strokes, cruising the swim in 11 minutes 01 seconds.
Transition 1 went smoothly and I was quick to get out on the bike, with some roaring support from Brighton Tri Club and my number 1 fan and girlfriend.
The bike leg was perhaps my strongest ever in a triathlon, which is no surprise as it’s something I’ve been working on throughout the winter. A rolling, non-technical course on main roads – my perfect course. The first 6 km included a 335 ft elevation gain into Findon, so my average power was higher than usual at 318 watts, although this settled down as the race progressed. There were two areas of the course which double backed on the same road, offering a great opportunity to time check against my main competitors. At the 20 km point I spotted two of my top competitors 45 seconds ahead, which I managed to maintain until the 30 km point, by which time I was gaining on them. After the final roundabout, the course brought us back into Steyning, so I increased my cadence and tried to prepare my legs for what I knew was going to be a tough run. I finished the bike course in a time of 53 minutes 48 seconds, managing to hold 304 watts average as well as an average speed of 39 km/hour.
Coming into transition 2 I had even more support from the club and changed into my running shoes without any problems.
Jumping off the bike my legs felt strong. My main focus during the first km was to get into a controlled rhythm rather than trying to push the pace. The first two kms were undulating, with a slight downhill to the Bramber roundabout. Immediately off the roundabout we hit a long gruelling hill and I began to catch one of my main competitors. Running along the Steyning High Street I passed him feeling strong, holding 3 minutes 37 km pace. Then going into km 4, disaster struck! My feet were still wet from the swim and began to rub against the arch of my old racing shoes. Throughout kms 5 and 6 my feet were getting progressively worse and by km 7 one of my shoes had turned from blue to red. Unable to acknowledge supporters and fellow team mates I had to put my head down and just focus on completing the race. It was absolute agony and by the last 0.2 kms I was moving at barely more than jogging pace. I finished the run in a time of 31:52, with a slightly disappointing average pace of 3 minutes 56 per km. Crossing the finishing line and my shoes were off within seconds!
My overall position was 4th with a time of 1:38:13, just over 2 minutes behind the winner (Henry Eaton – Army Triathlon Association) with a time of 1:35:53. This also gave me 3rd position in my age group. Overall it was a great event and I highly recommend it for next season. I’m really happy with my result and even more so with the progress I’ve made since last season. I cannot wait until my next race in three weeks, which is the Swashbuckler Triathlon in the New Forest. Plenty of time to get myself a new pair of shoes!
I’d like to say a massive thanks to my sponsors for some fantastic new kit and nutrition, and especially to my coach – the hard work is paying off!