Monday, 7 July 2008

Bournemouth Triathlon

Yesterday was the day of the Bournemouth International Triathlon and I was booked in to to do the Olympic distance event. This was supposed to be my big race of the year and my first Olympic distance event. As usual things did not go according to plan.

On Saturday I went to Bournemouth to register and pick-up my timing chip. This was done at a leisure centre on the outskirts of town and afterwards I headed down to the pier where the race was going to be the next day. Wandering along the beach it was obvious that the chances of a sea swim the next day were very slim. There was lots of white water crashing about the place and the breakers were far enough out that most of the swim course, which runs parallel to the beach, would have white water washing over it. It looked like my sea swimming practice may have been good fun, but ultimately a waste of time. According to the race brochure in the event of the sea swim being cancelled the event would become a duathlon comprising 5k run, 40k bike, 5k run.

Sunday morning I was up bright and earlier, well earlier anyway, at 04:30 to drive down to the coast. The weather was terrible, very windy and wet, on the drive down to the coast. I managed to find my way to the multi-story car park without any problems, which is impressive with Bournemouth's roads and my sense of direction. As I was unloading my bike other people in the car park announced that, as expected, the swim was cancelled. So leaving my wetsuit in the car I head down to the transition area.

As we entered transition to rack our bikes everyone was being told that was well as canceling the swim the bike leg was being cut down to 20k as the top part of the course was on exposed dual-carriageways and was too dangerous. Quite a few people handed their timing chips in at this point and headed home, to be honest I was tempted to join them. The competitors were huddled under the pier pavilion or the fly-over that crossed the transition area. After some consideration I told myself to HTFU and carried on getting myself ready.

Waiting for my start was not much fun, though we managed to maintain our sense of humour in the rain. Warming up was difficult, moving out of the shelter of the pavilion put you into the horrible wind blowing in off the sea. Coming in with the wind was a sprinkling of sand from the beach, producing a nice sand-blasting effect on any exposed skin. What made it even less funny was that the whole run was along the sea front so we would be sand-blasted the whole way.

Eventually 08:00 came round and with a light drizzle blowing in on the wind we were off. The run was an out and back affair along the sea-front dodging the piles of soft sand that had built-up on the road. The wind was slightly behind us on the way out which meant it was a head wind on the way back. It wasn't too bad this time, but I knew we would have to do it again. Transition went well, even if it was unpleasant putting on soaking wet cycling shoes.

The course took us straight inland and that means uphill. The first hill out of transition was very steep and as I reached the top the rain began to get heavier and heavier. But the wind was behind me and I felt like I was going really well. After a few minutes on the bike I was soaked to the skin but to be honest I was quite enjoying it. It only took me 15 minutes to reach the turn-around point which was when I realised just how strong the wind was as now it was in my face. Riding back into the headwind with the rain stinging my face was no fun. A car going past drove through a puddle and splashed me with a load of water but I couldn't get any wetter so it didn't really make any difference. The return leg of the bike took 12 minutes longer than the ride out.

The worst was yet to come though, the final run. The wind was blowing just as hard, the rain was still coming down and my legs felt like lumps of lead. It felt hard enough running with the wind behind me, going into the wind on the way back felt really tough. But I pushed on and managed to keep a reasonable pace going. I was extremely glad to see the finish line and finally be able to stop. With the weather as it was no-one was looking to see any timings or hanging around and I was exactly the same. I had a cup of water (and sand) from the table at the finish then got my gear and headed home.

The final result:

Run : 20:51
Transition : 0:58
Bike : 37:24
Transition : 1:20
Run : 21:19
Total : 1:21:53

Given the conditions the times were OK, but I am just really disappointed that I didn't get the chance to do an Olympic distance triathlon.


Karen said...

Mike - that is tough and rather rude weather for you :O( HOW VERY ANNOYING!

Good on you for giving it a go and sticking through the change of format and conditions.

Obviously what you need to do know is find the next Oly distance nearish to you and if full write to the organisers and plead for a slot - has worked for me before!! DO IT YOU KNOW IT MAKES SENSE (Assuming the family agree to you taking another weekend out!!) :O)

ian said...

Shame about the conditions , but you seemed to do pretty well and the actual event was probably more fun than simply another training session.

Bill said...

Mike, well done for pushing through. There is nothing worse than having to wear wet disco slippers. BTW, great run times.