Finally we headed out to Copperhouse Pool for what will be the last time the event is held at this location. The mood wasn’t good, it’s supposed to be Summer sport after all, we want to race in the sunshine occasionally. Only 7 days ago I’d ridden the Two Moors 100m Sportive in torrential rain, I’d been hoping for better weather but it wasn’t to be.
I racked my bike and my bike/run gear in transition which was one of the most organised and spacious transitions I’ve seen, plenty of room for all of your gear and bike with none of the cramped up spaces that you find at most races. Brilliant job folks!
Soon I was putting my wetsuit on which was a longer job than normal as already everything was soaked. I left the bag with my clothes in a puddle by my bike, there was little point covering anything up in a feeble attempt to keep it dry and headed to the pool. Copperhouse Pool is an open water venue filled by the sea at high tide. Safe sea water swimming without any of the waves and currents you’d normally get. The water was nice and warm compared to my recent dips in the sea and we were soon all gathered on the far side of the lake for the start.
Soon we were under way and I immediately tucked in behind a clubmate who I expected would fly for the first 400m. I’d picked my spot carefully because of my notoriously bad navigation skills. After a while I looked up and we seemed to be way over to the left of the main pack and it didn’t look right to me so I jumped ship and headed back into the throng. The huge buoys marking the course were brilliant and visible even to a blind old bat like me and although I had to keep stopping to empty water from my goggles (I really must get a new pair) I don’t think I swam off course much at all which is a bonus. That said, I never really managed to break free from the hoards either and although I’m not the quickest swimmer in the world I’m normally quick enough to find myself in clear water fairly quickly.
The first lap finished and I still seemed to be struggling along and then suddenly my form just appeared from nowhere, I slowed down my stroke, focused on technique and I was flying past people. For the first half of lap 2 I just swam down the outside of a huge pack until I swam off the front and hit clear water. I couple of smaller groups were dispatched before the final turn where I saw a group of 2 just ahead and set about catching them. Just as I was sailing past I realised that one of them was my swim partner Phill, finally I’d got myself into a half decent position and knowing that his navigation is spot on I tucked in behind him for the last 100m or so before the exit ramp. (1500m swim time - 20:56)
(scenic setting for the start)
I exited the water in 6th place which I was quite happy with considering how badly my 1st lap had gone. Phill was up the ramp with his wetsuit down to his waist while I was still trying to unzip mine but I was soon at my bike putting on my sodden bike shoes and tipping the water out of my aero helmet before putting it on my head and grabbing my bike to exit transition. (T1 - 0:57)
Onto the bike and the rain continued to pour down on top of us. Phill was just ahead along with 2 other riders and I passed them heading out through the town before dropping into my Tri bars in preparation to smack the bike course, except that I couldn’t.......... My legs were just empty, there was nothing there, no power, no energy, no enthusiasm. It’s nothing that will worry me too much, I’ve put in a lot of miles over the last few weeks and I’m guessing that they’ve just caught up with me. The weather of course didn’t help and no doubt took the edge off what little bit of determination I have too. I still felt fine though so I just kept myself aero and turned the pedals round at whatever pace and with whatever power my legs would allow. I guess I’d had a bit of a preview the day before when I’d done a Vo2 Max test at Exeter University and my legs really hadn’t wanted to play there either. All I could do was hope I didn’t get passed by too many people, look forward to the ribbing of those clubmates who did catch me and hope that when I got off the bike I was able to run some respectability back into it all. (40k'ish Bike - 1:09:22)
(Did I mention the rain)
Back off the bike and into T2 it was still raining! I racked my bike, took off my helmet and bike shoes, then tipped the water out of my trainers before putting them on and heading out onto the run. (T2 - 0:45)
The good news for the run was that there was no sign of the cramp that quite often plagues me when I’ve been getting some bike miles in, the bad news was that my legs still had no energy and they seemed to tell me how fast I was allowed to push them rather than the other way round, luckily that was still a half decent speed and I almost immediately passed the last two people to take me on the bike, then about 1.5miles in I caught Phill who’d re-passed me at around 20miles and gone on to hit T2 a minute up. I continued to chase people down but not at anywhere near the pace that I’m used to, rather than making huge gains on them I was creeping up on them, but at least I was gaining. I saw my clubmate Alan near the turnaround, he’d flown past me like a man possessed half way through the bike course, he’d still got 2mins on me and if I was to stand a chance of catching him I was going to have to scorch through the 2nd 5k, so at the turnaround I put my legs in their place and made them work a bit harder. I caught and passed a couple more folks and then with about a mile to go we turned off the main road just as I ripped past someone. I heard shouting behind us and presumed it was spectators cheering encouragement to someone......... it wasn’t! While overtaking the pair of us had overshot a turning, the chap I’d passed turned around on hearing the shout to see a marshal waving him back, I didn’t realise until I got to the end of the path and saw my clubmate Alan who I was chasing run past from the other direction..... balls!!!
I turned around and ran back to where I should have turned off but I’d lost all of my momentum now and couldn’t really be bothered to push on, the chap I’d passed was now a good way ahead so I just focused on making sure I lost no more places and cruised into the finish in what turned out to be 9th place. (10k run - 39:12)
All in all it's a fantastic event and would have been even better but for the weather. Copperhouse Pool will be missed because next year the swim will be in the sea, so there will be waves and tides for the newbies to contend with.
So now it seems that I’m race free for a few weeks although I have got a couple of testing lab session at Exeter Uni where I’ll be locked in a heat chamber and pedalling away on the bike for an hour. Hopefully with IM Florida getting closer then I’ll be trying to update this a bit more often than I have. Fingers crossed we’ll finally get some decent summer weather and I’ll be able to get some good training done.