My last race this season was the New Forest Middle Distance Triathlon.
The Swim was 1.9km in a sheltered lake, 2 laps of a well marked course, followed by T1( a different place to T2). After the swim was a 90km bike on undulating roads, the course featured two climbing sections, an open headwind part across the heathland, and a fast tailwind final 5km to finish one lap. To complete the distance we had to ride three laps. T2 was to be held at the finish in a holiday park, then out for the 22.9km run off-road. The run was an out and back course.
Me and Dad travelled up on the Friday to where we would staying for the weekend. On Saturday I went out for a spin on the bike and looked at parts of the bike route. We then headed down to register and set up in the two transition areas. All went to plan, then we had a chilled out afternoon in the New Forest.
Sunday; up at 4:30am, breakfast, multiple coffee's, off to the race, bike set up, warm-up…….ready. We started the swim in a mass 250 person wave. I positioned in the middle at the front, which thinking about it now was probably not the best idea. From the gun I was dunked under by bigger swimmers at least three times. This knocked the breath completely out of me and I went into panic mode. Once the field spread out I settled into my rhythm, got my breathing under control and set about completing the 1.9km. I exited the water in 31mins just at the sun rose up over the trees. Sprinting into transition I got out of my wetsuit, into socks (a must for longer races) and my helmet and set out onto the road.
My legs felt great on the bike, I overtook 10 people on the first climb. I really got into the course with its rolling terrain and fast flat sections. The only real hazard was the animals in the New Forest who seemed to have no concern about anything coming towards them no matter how fast or how loud you shouted. After my initial 10 person overtake I was alone for much of the first lap. Then into the headwind section I could see two riders up ahead. This is one part that I really enjoy in these races, hunting others down and overtaking. This is exactly how it panned out with the two ahead of me. On completion of lap 2 I was really starting to get into a great rhythm on the bike. I started overtaking some of the back markers who looked a little astonished as I passed them. I was now in 4th place. My only other catch was on rider 3 as we entered transition, we came in together, I exited quicker and wouldn't see him until the finish.
I set out at a hard pace on the run, staying at between 17-19kph on the road section before I headed off onto the trails. I knew I had some work to do as Dad had called out that the winner at this point was 10mins ahead of me. That meant running at least 1min a mile faster than him to take the win in the closing stages of the race. My blood sugars were feeling a little low at the crest of the first hill, so I nailed a gel and picked up the pace again. I loved the run. Most of the 14miles was fuelled on an adrenaline high, the one I really only experience from running. I got stuck into the hilly route, pushing hard on the ascents and cruising down the other side. Each water station was a welcome relief as the sun beat down across the open heathland. I downed a cup at each one and thew another over my head. Within 43mins I had reached the turn, I had caught sight of second place ahead of me, and first place passed on the ascent out of the turn. I tried to judge times, I estimated 5mins. After the furthest point I was now in second, one more to catch. On the way back I raised the pace, fuelled by the thought of overtaking the one runner ahead to take the win. Competitors coming the other way offered encouragement and passed on time gaps to me. I didn't catch sight of him until 3km to go and made the overtake with 1.5km left to race. He congratulated me as I passed, with one look over my shoulder I could see he wouldn't be able to respond. I upped the pace again giving it everything to the finish. Crossing the line in 4hrs33mins, in first place.
What a way to finish off a very enjoyable summer of racing triathlons, time for a short break to let the body recover from all the punishment I've been giving it since this time last year. Then I will begin preparation for next seasons races.