On Saturday I was back at Exeter University, sitting in their heat chamber and pedalling away while having all sorts of samples taken. I was assured that the power and temperature were the same as last time but it felt a lot more comfortable. I think they quite like the fact that I'm an oddball. They like the fact that their blood pressure tester beeps at them because my HR is only 36bpm and they seem amused by the fact that on this test my HR constantly sits around 120-130bpm when most people are over that in the first 10mins. Saturday night we had some friends over to celebrate Shells birthday with a big fatty chinese meal, some beers and a bit of Singstar/Buzz action, finally we crawled into bed at 2am for 4hrs sleep.
Sunday was my Tri Clubs annual season opener, the In-Club Triathlon which I won last year. It's very unofficial and really just for fun but it's a great way to get the Tri thoughts back in your mind. There are no numbers/course arrows/prizes and we use anybody who turns up to watch to take times, photos and marshall. A great time was had by all and we all went for a meal in the local pub which was paid for by the entry fee.
It was a hard day out there and I started off in a wave with a few of my clubs pre-race challengers to my title. The pool is notoriously slow, but still the swim went well enough and I kept a distant eye on our clubs speedy swimmer to make sure he didn't get to far ahead. Towards the end I even managed to pull him back a bit and we exited the pool within a second of each other with my other swim challenger less than 20seconds back. 600m swim = 8:22
Into T2 I'd opened up a minutes gap on James and Phill, trainers on and I was away. Wow! The first race of the season always brings out the jelly legs doesn't it. No time to worry about those though I'd got a race to win. Bike Time (inc Transitions) = 45:56.
Out onto the bike and I set about chasing down my wave leader (James) only to see my chaser (Phill) come flying past me on the first climb. For the first few miles the three of us swopped places, but when we got to Combe Martin there seemed to be a lull in the pace and I pushed on past into the lead fully expecting the other pair to hop on my tail, but they didn't. When we hit the rides big long drag of a climb (around 20mins of cycling) I had established a small lead and the pressure was on, I needed to make sure I stayed away from them so I pushed on. Occasionally I'd glance over my shoulder and see that the gap had widened slightly which helped me push on even more. The rest of the ride was fairly problem free, it's just a case of selecting a little gear and keeping the legs turning on the hill and then knuckling down and watching out for errant cars full of holiday makers on the descents.
(back from the bike feeling wrecked)
Out onto the run and barring a big problem I knew James & Phill wouldn't be running me down so I thought about those who'd started in previous waves. There were a few out there who I'd have taken time out of on the swim that had the ability to bike and run me down if I gave them half a chance, there were also a few unknowns that could be capable of anything. The run is tough (very tough) and off road, there's a killer climb in it that you've just no choice but to walk at times. I kept my focus though and the walk breaks were kept at a minimum while I pushed on hard at other times. I was catching a few of my clubmates from previous waves by now. It's always nice to give them encouragement and try to push them on as you go past (I'm not sure if they enjoy it so much though - none of them have ever sworn at me yet though). The final push to the finish is on another big climb and my legs were in bits by now, I couldn't wait to see the finish line. Run Time = 17:29.
(finishing the run and glad it's all over)
All over for another year it was time for a shower, a chat and a club curry in the local pub while I sat down with Shell and sorted the results (I promise I didn't fiddle them - honest.). Now I could sit down and feed myself knowing that for another 12 months I'd won the race that matters. No prizes on offer, just an ego massage and the knowledge that you're one up on your clubmates. Now I've just got a season ahead of them trying to knock me off my perch. I ended up with the 2nd fastest swim, 3rd fastest bike and the fastest run finishing in 1:11:47.
Overall I'm happiest with my bike ride, I've done so little over the winter I was expecting it to have taken a bit downturn. Sure it's lost a bit on last year, but not a huge amount and I'm now quietly confident that if I can get myself out training then it shouldn't take me to long to get motoring again. Fingers crossed.
(James and Phill discussing how the hell I've beaten them again)