Bala Middle Distance

Bala Middle Distance, 13th June 2010
Swim: 2KM
Bike: 82.5KM
Run: 20KM

My preparation for this middle distance triathlon wasn't exactly textbook...

The week prior was spent travelling to the U.S. for a conference. With all the hard socializing work that entails, I got about 3 or 4 hours sleep (ideal would be now 8+) a night and consumed WAY more alcohol than a recommended NONE. The journey home involved flight delays, missed connections and airline food so bad I chose to go hungry. (Note to self: if at all possible, bring your own meals. If trying to buy a remotely healthy meal in Newark airport you're shit out of luck.)

So I arrived back in the UK in the wrong city (thanks to the only standby option available), and 4 hours later than planned. A quick call to Ele, my race and travelling buddy, to assure her I'd be home and ready to go as quickly as possible, then bus, train, taxi home to Glasgow. So so tired I was seeing stars at this point!

Ele arrived shortly after and helped organise and pack my race stuff while I showered and tried to wake up. Slightly chaotic scene of grabbing various bits of kit, back & forth loading up the car, and the final almost forgotten item retrieved: "It's OK, I've got the lube!" (my neighbours couldn't hate me more) and off we sped!

Bless her, Ele had even made me lunch to eat along the way AND did all the driving (I was in no fit state). With that distinctive triathlete driving style, we sped towards Chester, past many a "chuffin' Sunday driver"!

Friday night stop at Ele's dad house in Chester was magic. We ate as much butternut squash risotto as possible and crashed. 11 blissful hours sleep later...

Easy 45min spin on the bikes, 15min run. A niggling hip flexor, but nothing too weird or wonderful happening - phew. Stocked up on more food and headed off for Wales.

Registration on Saturday afternoon was quick and easy. A towel and a RedBull in the goody bag, I like this race already! Had a good laugh chatting to some other athletes Ele knew, as we watched some overly keen pointy helmet brigade do laps of the course.

Last checks of the bikes complete, we sneaked them into the B&B bathroom, you know, to stay warm for the night!

Transition opened at a leisurely start time of 7:30, with our wave starting at 9:45, so there was plenty of time to admire the bikes and organised setups to copy next time!

This was Ele's 'A' race, and despite a weird tyre problem that put her out of action for a good 20 minutes on the bike, she finished the tough course in a stomping 5hrs 10mins. My approach was a little (too?) more laid back, viewing it as a big training session under race conditions.

Swim, 2KM
Water was a tad chilly, but essentially the swim was totally fine. I felt pretty relaxed and just got into a steady rhythm. Trying to think about the technique pointers that Vicky has given me recently, then returning to lazy ways when my shoulders tired. A random punch in the face by a woman veering off her course wasn't so nice, but I did draft the culprit for a few hundred meters after. Probably could work a bit harder in the swim on Ironman day - just trying to learn the balance between conserving energy and putting in enough effort. 43 minutes is reasonable time for me though.

Bike, 82.5KM
Bike was fairly tough going - smooth roads, but plenty of hills including a 10% one. Headwind on the way out, and got the bike shakes on a few exposed downhills, but was pleased that it wasn't scary like Vitruvian had been - partly better fitting bike, partly I'm more confident on the bike. Felt like a bit of a slog really, but "hey, it's only ~80KM, has to be over soon" was pretty much my mantra. Although really I was happy with my power output, which for me was solid and a bit higher than recent training.

Run, 20KM
Oof. Ouch. Oof. Ouch... was the first 35 mins, seriously sore shins meant I shuffled along like an old woman. The pain finally eased and I was able to run a bit better, but I found the course super tough - definitely the hilliest run route I've done in training or a race, I had to walk a couple of the steeper hills. The downside of being so slow was really noticeable on the 2nd half of the run. I'm fairly used by now to training by myself and even racing amongst very few (if any) people at the back: it doesn't usually bother me. On this race though, the aid stations were packed up on my return leg! I found that a bit rotten, it's a bit discouraging to feel like you're so slow that even the organisers can't be bothered waiting around for you. Still, slowly but surely the run too was done.

7hrs 1min in total, another tick on the preparation for Ironman and no new injuries. That'll do for me.