Yet another 3 hour journey up the picturesque M40 with nothing but our iPods and vocal chords—regardless of what John says, I’m convinced my pitchy renditions of chart favourites significantly enhanced the panoramic views of a grey motorway blending into an even greyer sky. We left London Friday afternoon, thankfully avoiding the traffic, and arrived relatively early that evening. We went straight to register and drive the bike course just to remember how the infamous “Rutland Ripple” was going to be on race day. However, my mental preparation left me unusually ready and rearing to go, which we’re going to count as personal victory number one…
Waking up at stupid o’clock the next morning wasn’t to be as mentally positive as the previous night. My eldest son once quoted Shakespeare in Henry VI, Part III, to me, and I remember these words: “Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course”. I wonder if such “wise men” would feel the same having to rack a bike in temperatures synonymous with November rather than late June, aggressive, horizontal rain and winds that made the transition area feel like a muddy, dark freezer compartment? Possibly a little bit of an exaggeration but it wasn’t ideal for a June race. My mental preparation was in the toilet at this point. Had John said, ‘come on lets go home”, I would have been in the car quicker than Oakley at his dinner bowl. But sadly he didn’t, so begrudgingly we begrudgingly readied ourselves to face the elements.
The swim, for me, was surprisingly good. After positioning myself up front and to the left in the cold water I got a good start and was able to stay with a group, who in my mind looked like a world-class pick n’ mix of a bit of Phelps, Lochte and the rest of the Olympicswimming teams. Finishing with a time of 26 minutes dead, I gained a new PB. That is better then getting a pair of coveted, wait-listGucci shoes at Harrod’s first day sale. Putting me, mentally, in a much better place for the remainder of the event—we can count this as personal victory number two.
Jogging up to transition, all I needed to do was decide whether to put on my fur coat for the bike or not. Hmmmmm….tough call. However, the majority weren’t and so I decided to man up and go with out. Surprisingly, Shakespeare’s wise men got it right this time—it was the best decision I could have made and I was very comfy on my 42k ride. We can, therefore, count this as personal victory number three; everybody knows that getting your clothing wrong in a race can leave you far more uncomfortable than any injury or weather conditions could.
My one gripe—and its a big one—RACKING. Why, at a World Qualifier event, did someone get the racking wrong? It was too low for some people (thankfully I’m not that big so mine was fine) which meant that when I got back into T2 my neighbours bike was lying on the floor in my place. As efficient as us girls are at multitasking, this gave me the almost impossible job of having to try and pickup their bike with one hand while juggling my bike with the other. Not to mention a slow T2 time for good samaritan me! UGH! Alas, we can count one more personal victory here—not panicking when unforeseen mishaps tried to fling me off kilter! Boom, victory number four!
The beautiful run course took me out along the dam, hence the name Dambuster, and back which leads to my fifth and final small personal victory. Coming out of T2 I noticed a girl who I had been with on the bike course. Overtaking each other more frequently than I would have hoped for, she ended up passing me, and it seemed effortless, after the first 1k on the run. Not letting her get into my head and pick up my pace, I kept to my race plan. I stayed at the pace I knew I could hold for 10k and miraculously at the turn around point I got her….shock, horror!! Now I just had to stay ahead, which I was able to do until the end…another shock horror!
To summarise my personal victorious day, The Dambuster Triathlon is a race that everyone should put in their triathlon calendar for 2014. It has a smooth lake swim (well, kinda smooth…), a rolling bike course with a few uphills, but also a few fast down hills as well. Finishing off with a run that is both picturesque, fun and exciting, it is a course during which you can work hard on your strengths and try to improve your weaknesses. But for me it was all about those little victories and enjoying a race I will continue to come back to. Was the path in the face of adversity the wisest one? After 5 personal victories I’d definitely say so, regardless of how I may have felt at the time.
Race safe everyone, write soon!