Well you can't write a script for the weather lately. Just one week after getting burnt to a crisp at Marazion I'm lining up on a Saturday evening to race the Saunton Sands Aquathlon and it's been pouring with rain ALL DAY. It's not very often you expect to finish the run wetter than you finish the swim, but this was one of them. Still it's all good fun and with the race being a tiny casual affair it was all done in good spirits. No doubt the conditions scared a few people off but the sea was as calm as you could hope for so it was game on.
We stood in the clubhouse looking out to sea as they put the swim bouys out. "Are you sure that's the right distance?" we asked. "It looks like a long way".
Race time came and we charged into the sea, well some charged while I strolled out. At least the water was warmer than at Marazion. I picked through the back and mid packers and set my sights on a group of 3 who were leading the field, just before the first bouy I caught them up. We headed back to the beach to complete the first half of the 'M' shaped swim and as we exited the sea to run around a flag someone shouted "14mins!". 14mins!!!!! I can swim 1k in 14mins, this is supposed to be 1k and we're only half way through. Ah well, no matter. One of the local SLSC boys dolphin dived into the lead which helped me because it meant I didn't have to sight near invisible bouys. At the final turn the 4 of us were still together but with the huge white clubhouse to aim for I pushed on and headed out to transition with a small lead.
The run was a real ramble at times and great fun except for the fact that my legs were trashed from my morning bike ride. There was a relay runner ahead who I just couldn't get anywhere near, he was only 13 but a national cross country racer. As he hadn't swum I'll hold my head up against the embarrassment of getting a kicking by one so young (I'll get him next time).
A tiny field, but a win is a win (so they say) and a rare race where the swim takes longer than the run. Happy Days in the rain.
Another week gone and the weather has turned again as Burnham took place on a blisteringly hot day, but the relatively early start saved us from the worst of it. In a bid to kick start my Ironman training I'd ridden the 80miles from Barnstaple to the parents holiday crash pad in Brean on Saturday and the 5mile spin from there to the Pool on Sunday morning told me that my legs were not the only sore bits that had forgotten what 4hrs+ in the saddle felt like.
After catching up with some old friends and cheering on some of my earlier starting clubmates it was time to head poolside.
The swim was straightforward enough. 500m in Burnham Pool so once that was dispatched in 6:50 I did the necessary and headed out on the bike. Early on there were a few annoying traffic hold ups. Maybe I'm too casual about this sport because rather than risk my neck overtaking cars I sat behind them while a couple of other lads charged down the outside. A couple of minutes later though the cars had gone and I set about catching and despatching those who'd taken advantage of my timid nature. In my swim wave was a lad I've never ever beaten, we're similarly paced on the swim and run but he always kills me on the bike. He'd been just ahead out of the water but the traffic had given him a lead of around 30secs, I focused on him ahead thinking that if I could minimise the damage on the bike I'd stand a slim chance of catching him on the run and better still I'd have a chance to break the hour marker here for the first time ever. Then around half way into the bike I realised that not only was I keeping him in sight but I was actually slowly gaining on him, that was all the incentive I needed to keep pushing when the going got tough and I wanted to ease off. With a mile to go I was within 5 secs and we returned to the main road and the main road traffic. For the next half mile there was some tentative overtaking going on before we returned to a closed section of road near the pool.
Entering T2 my legs were in bits but I knew that there was a chance of a very rare victory over someone who's been out of my reach for years. I entered T2 ahead but my transition was slow as I messed around racking my bike, I left with a small chase on my hands.We ran out to the beach side by side and my legs were screaming, any minute now I could feel that my cramp problems would re-appear. My breathing was controlled though, pace wise I was well within my limits and I was holding my own, if I could just focus on keeping my form then I should be ok. Along the beach we were inseperable but then we hit the sand dunes for the first time and I got a small gap. Through the off road section of the run course the gap opened a bit more and then I started getting cocky and relaxed. Hitting the dunes to return to the beach I felt the inevitable twinge in my quads. Do I walk, do I hope to run through it? Looking over my shoulder I gambled on the gap and stopped to walk, I'd count for 1 minute and then get mobile again. When I started running again all of the gap had been wiped out and it was game on again, it was all down to the last mile of the run. We ran side by side for 2/3 of the beach before I felt confident enough to try increasing the pace and thankfully the increase was enough for me to cross the line ahead and sneak home in 2nd place overall, with a new pb and for the first time in 10 or so attempts a finishing time below the hour in 58:55.