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Friday, 8 May 2015

Challenge Seven - Winchester May Day Triathlon - Monday 4 May 2015

Broken Wheel
Only one week had passed since the Southampton Triathlon.  Training had been slow!  One ride had to be abandoned due to a broken wheel, which meant my bike had to go into the shop for repairs and I didn't get that back until Saturday and with only one 14km run done with the guys and girls from Stonehenge Triathlon and Road (STAR) if anything I was well rested!  But I was ready for my second triathlon in a week!

TriathlonBox all packed and ready
The day started at a more reasonable time, my start time was 0850 hrs but I had a race brief I had to attend at 0745 hrs.

The ever trustee TriathlonBox was packed and along with the now fully repaired bike was loaded into the car for me to set off to Winchester.
 I had a feeling that the day would be a good one.  
My confidence in my own abilities was ever growing and I was feeling great.  Also I knew that I would have lots of support as Georgie (my wife) and Freddie (my son) along with Lucy (my mother in law) and an old friend, Smithy, would there to see me race again.  The weather was looking good for the race too and perhaps for the first time this year I'd be racing without any strong winds!
Registered and Ready

Busy Transition
I arrived at the event and took a good look at transition as I drove in.  It was massive!! A really long barriered section marked it out and there was lots of racking.  I was unaware at this point just how
many were taking part.  I parked up and grabbed my kit from the car and made my way to registration.  Once I'd registered and collected my numbers I took myself to one side and set about sticker the relevant race numbers in the right places.  Having done this I made my way through to transition to rack my bike and sort my kit out.  

Already transition was heaving with people and it was becoming apparent that there wasn't going to be much room during the race.  We were racked in Waves.  I was in Wave 6 so about half way down on the left hand side.  Once in the right area it was a free for all to find some space.  I found a spot and sorted my kit allowing room for others but allowing enough room for myself.

All racked and ready I went back into the hall and listened to the race brief before getting ready for my swim.

The Swim

The swim took place within the grounds of the school the event was being held at.  It was a 6 lane pool and there was 4 people to a lane.  Each of us had different coloured swim caps, Blue, White, Yellow and Orange.  Blue would go first then the others would follow in order at 10 second intervals.  We were briefed on the pool side that if we caught the swimmer in front to tap them on the foot and then that swimmer should get to the end of the length and allow the swimmer behind to pass.  Everyone got that!!! Easy! Nothing hard nor difficult to remember, tap foot and wait! Simple.

I was a blue hat so in my lane I was to set of on the first whistle.  All four of us got in the pool and waited. He we go again - 3, 2, 1 GO!

I was off - again!  I got into a steady flow and kept the pace up.  After 100m I was still in front and I was meeting the other 3 swimmers half down each length so I knew I was going well.  I started to catch the others at around 300m in.  I passed the first one with no problems as we met at the wall on the turn and they just let me past.  Half way down the next length I caught the next swimmer and gave the obligatory tap on the foot.  Now I'm no Olympic swimmer but at this point I was having to swim breaststroke but in the style of a elderly gentleman out for is afternoon swim.  The wall was approaching and I got ready to get by and smash the last 75m.  However, the chap in front had other ideas because at the wall he just turned and carried on.  So I gave him another tap towards the end of the length again.  But yet again he just ignored me and turned at the wall ignoring my request to let me past.  I was losing time badly.

With the wall approaching for my last turn he was still in front so I made the choice to just force my way past and try and get some time back down the last 25m.  So at the wall I got along side him and turned before he did.  But as I did the guy actually grabbed my foot in an attempt to pull me back.  Naturally I was in the middle of a stroke so I 'strengthened' my kick and he soon let go.  I powered down the last length and climbed out of the pool - a little annoyed but not much I could do now the swim was done and I was making my way out to T1.  Official Swim Time - 00:09:00.
T1 out of the Pool

Transition 1

I made my way out of the pool and ran down to transition.  I was still angry after swimgate and I lost my bearings.  At first I couldn't find my slot.  Thankfully my TriathlonBox gave me a good indicator and having ran past it I turned and made my way back.  On went the helmet and race number followed by my shoes.  I grabbed my bike and made my way down the long transition area to the mount
line.  Official T1 Time - 00:01:39.

The Bike

At the end of transition a very helpful marshal pointed to the mount line and then the direction of which we had to travel.  The route started down a little lane which then merged onto the main road and out on the course.  It was a 2 lap dash over a 12km course.  This would be the longest bike course on a triathlon I'd have done to date.
The first part was reasonably flat and the pace was high with some slight downhills it got even higher.  I was getting up to speeds of over 50kph and I was feeling good.  That was all about to change very quickly.  The lumps and bumps came thick and fast.  Although only short they were steep and my speed was dropping fast.  As fast as the hills approached the downhill the other side of the climb also arrived.  They were a blessing as the speeds got back up to 40-45kph without having to pedal too.  But the hills kept coming and they were leg sappingly steep.  Some had nice downhills and some just levelled out.  For 3-4km at a time the pace dropped to under 20kph and it was becoming a struggle and this was only LAP 1!!!

Coming in to T2
At the end of the last hill there was a steep drop back down to the main road and over a roundabout.  I could see the turning for the school ahead.  I managed to negotiate the traffic lights without having to stop and blasted through to start the 2nd lap.  I knew lap 2 would be hard but also knew that I would be able to use the first section of the ride to keep a high pace and keep the legs fresh for the hills that I knew were coming.  The lumps and bumps were coming and I needed to get my legs ready for them again.     

I lost a bit of time on the hills but they were done and I was now on the final stretch in to transition.  No such luck at the lights this time though I got stuck for a few seconds on red but thankfully it was the junction for the school so it was a welcome stop.  A short blast up the road to the dismount line and I was back!  Official Bike Time - 00:51:22

Transition 2

On went the trainers
I had my feet out of my shoes before the dismount line and ran round to the rack to hang up my bike. Off came the shoes and on went the trainers.  Helmet off and I was on my way out of transition. Official T2 Time - 00:01:14

The Run

During the pre-race brief the organisers had said that the run was 'cheeky'.  During the 2nd lap of the bike I had seen some of the first starters on the run along the same road that we were riding on.  The first section was along a bark type surface underneath some trees and then out onto the path.  The route then turned left and the road started to rise slightly.  My legs felt pretty heavy at this stage the ride had taken a lot out but I was starting to get a good rhythm going.

At the top of the hill the route headed down a narrow track.  Ahead I could see some of the other runners on the other side of the fence running down a field, I assumed to be the school.  About half way down, the track became very steep.  The run just got really difficult.  People ahead of me were walking it was that steep.  I just kept the legs going even though the pace dropped to just under 8min/km. Once the hill had peaked the route turned into the grounds of the school and the hill we just ran up was now going back down.  To be honest it was difficult not to fall flat on my face it was pretty steep.

Lap 2 Begins
The inevitable downhill became another uphill and the field turned to the right.  Ahead I could see the finish line but I knew this wasnt the end as the run was also a 2 lap course.  I ran past the finish line and made my way through the barriers which marked out the run through the school grounds.
Once through that the run went past transition and back down to the start of the run for lap 2.  The crowds were amazing and cheering anyone and everyone all around the course.  It felt great.

Lap 2 was very much the same as lap 1.  I caught a few more on the hill into the school and knowing the route now I saved a bit for the sprint finish.
A Painful Finish

The finish was approaching and just off to the left I could see Georgie and Freddie clapping and cheering me home.  Couldn't miss Fred in his STAR T-Shirt.  I gave everything I had left to the sprint finish and crossed the line!
Official Run Time - 00:25:33

Me and Fred
It was over! My fourth triathlon and Challenge 7 of my Charity Challenge Year done!  I can honestly say that to date it was the hardest Triathlon I had done.  A tough swim followed buy a very hilly bike course and a cheeky run all accumulated to a Official Finish Time of 01:28:49!!  Overall I had finished 55th and I was 9th in my age group.  To be honest I was delighted with that considering how hard I had found it!  The support of my family being there meant the world to me and as I was handed my medal and a bottle of water I turned to see my little boy running
towards me and jumping into my arms.  No matter how mu ch pain I was in he always makes me feel good!  With all the photos taken it was time to get changed have coffee and get ready to go home were me and Fred had a day of Star Wars ahead of us!  What a way to finish a great day.

Once again I ask all of you that read this to remember why I'm doing it.  To date with your help I have managed to raise £1025 which is past the halfway mark.  So please keep giving where you can and share this with your family and friends for them to donate too.  Visit my Just Giving to donate or alternatively text KOMS99 plus your donation to 70070.
Its getting full on the medal front

It means so much to me that so many people take the time to read this so thank you

Next up is Cycle Wiltshire, 100 mile ride across the hills of the Wiltshire Downs on May 9th so look out for another blog soon.

Thanks you all.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Challenge Six - Southampton Triathlon - Sunday 26 April 2015

Yes that all fits!
Another 2 weeks had passed and already upon me was Challenge 6 of my Charity Challenge Year.  When I planned all of this, at the back end of 2014, the events and dates seemed so far away but now I was prepping myself for the Southampton Triathlon and it was already the end of April.  The night before again meant packing up my TriathlonBox, checking over the bike and double checking times and locations.  It also meant an early night as my race started at 0730
hrs!!  Yes that's right started at 0730 hrs!

See! All in one TriathlonBox
Sunday morning arrived, very suddenly and very early.  My alarm went off at 0500 hrs and I was glad I had packed and checked my kit the night before as none of my motor functions were in operational order at that time of the morning.  I managed to force some porridge down and had some breakfast drinks in the fridge ready for the drive up to Southampton which was about an hour away.  I loaded up the bike and my TriathlonBox and set off about 0530 hrs, still not fully awake!

I arrived at the event about 0630-0645 hrs after negotiating some traffic issues and getting a little bit lost.  Arriving that little bit earlier than needed was handy too as the event coordinators weren't ready for us either.  It gave me a bit of a chance to wake up and take in the surroundings.  Once registration was open I went and got my numbers and timing chip.  I racked my bike up in transition and made my way over to the pool to get ready to start my 6th challenge of the year!  The weather was awful it had been very wet over night and it was bitterly cold but nevertheless the race was about to start.

Now by no means would I consider myself a seasoned triathlete but now that I have 3 under my belt the pre-race nerves aren't as half as bad as they were at Bicester for my first.  I get more nervous about the race the night before making sure I know where I need to be and when etc.  So being stood on pool side getting the race brief from the marshals felt like a standard Sunday afternoon now  I was ready to race and the clock was ticking round to 0730 hrs!

The Swim

We were given our lanes and got into the water.  3 to a lane was good and gave us the chance to have plenty of room in the lanes too.  I waited for the race starter to give the go sign.  3, 2, 1 GO!  I was off.

I think the early start was working in my favour as the first 100m flew past and by the 150m point I had passed the other two swimmers in my lane.  I caught them both again by the 250m point and was feeling pretty good.  Before the swim we were told we had lap counters, but needed obviously to count our own lengths.  So when I reached, what I thought was 350m, I was fully expecting the lap counter to show me the float, but NOO! He didn't move!  Now I had a choice to make.  Do I get out and argue the point later or do I do another 50m and see what happens.  I made the choice to swim on, I didn't want to run the risk of DQ!

The next time round the lap counter did in fact show me the float.  So maybe I had miss counted and had made the right choice to swim on.  I opened up my stroke for the last 50 and really went for it!  I finished the 50 and climbed out of the pool.  I was the first one out!  I hit the lap button on my Garmin and checked the time before heading down the metal fire escape steps to transition.  It was now i noticed that i had in fact swam an extra 50m and the lap counter had made an error. Still the time was good and I was first out of the pool! Official Swim Time - 00:07:52!

Transition 1

As I just said the pool exit was down a flight of metal fire escape steps, which wasn't ideal at all.  But as I was first out they were relatively dry.  I got down them safely and ran into transition.  On went the helmet, followed quickly by my shoes.  I grabbed my bike and headed out. Official T1 Time - 00:00:54!

The Bike

I had already had a look at the bike route prior to the event and knew some of the route from the New Forest 100! I knew there would be some lumps and bumps on the way and one small climb in Beaulieu.

I got round the first set of roundabouts without any issue, again the early start helping. The last big roundabout led me into the Forest itself and over the infamous cattle grids.  Over the first one I went and as I did so something fell from my bike.  Something small, small enough that when I looked back over my shoulder I couldn't see anything! I had no idea what it was but decided to crack on and hope that nothing else decided to work loose.

The first section of the Forest was up and down and fairly open ground so the wind was playing its part.  I managed to keep a high pace of around 34kph which I was pleased with and hoped I could keep up all the way round.  I kept looking over my shoulder thinking that the others must be out of the pool by now and out on course but I couldn't see anyone, even over the open ground.

The KM kept rolling on the lumps kept coming but they were very short and once they had been passed there was very often a downhill section to recover on.  This kept going until about 12km when I got through Beaulieu and hit the one bug hill on the route.

My speed dropped to about 13-15kph and the hill was killing me.  It was probably only 1km long but it was fairly steep and was sapping my legs.  Once at the top the ground leveled out to a pan flat open stretch but now that strong wind from earlier was straight across the front of me and I could not get my speed over 30kph even though I felt like I was peddling for my life.  This went on for a good 3km and it felt like forever!  Eventually there was some cover and the last 4km was back up to pace but the damage had already been done.  My legs were ruined and I was trying to ease my way back to transition to save my legs for the run.

I rolled round to transition and heard the marshal shout, 'first rider back.'  It then dawned on me that nobody had overtaken me during the ride and I was the first one back.  This gave me a massive boost.  I unstrapped my shoes and took my feet out before the line and jumped of at dismount! Official Bike Time - 00:42:06

Transition 2

Now that I'd mastered the art of getting my feet out of my shoes before the T2 was quick.  I shot in with bare feet and racked my bike.  Helmet off and slipped my trainers on and tightened my quick laces and was out on my run.  Official T2 Time - 00:00:51

The Run

Now my legs were really heavy, the bike had really hurt.  The run started with a slight uphill along a narrow track through some woods.  Thankfully I was the first out on the run and again the early start helped as the track was empty it was just me.  At the top of the track a marshal directed me right and I started up another hill, in fact it was the downhill section of the bike on the run in. It was tough, my legs were getting heavier but I was still averaging between 4-6 min/km so I just kept going.

This was were I made a mistake!  I anticipated that the route would be an out and back.  I'd already spotted the marshal that I assumed was the turning point.  As the crest of the hill approached I knew the marshal was just over the other side and down a little hill.  I had paced myself out to this point hoping that I would be able to open up the legs on the downhill all the way back to the finish.

Now here's the error!

The marshal, as friendly as he was, didn't tell me to turn around and run back.  He did however point to the right and made me turn and head up a route I wasn't expecting.  Now I didn't actually know where I was in relation to the finish.  So i just kept my pace as close to 5 min/km as my legs would let me. Many of the others were heading back in now on the bikes and I was sure that I was going to be passed any minute by another runner.  But again as I looked behind me there was no one in sight.

As I approached the top of another little hill another marshal pointed to the right and shouted, 'its all downhill from here.'  I took that as a hint that the finish wasn't far off now.  I opened up a bit and got my time down to under 5 min/km and kept it steady still not really knowing where the finish was.  In the far distance I could see another marshal so him/her my next target.

I was reeling in the road and the marshal got closer and closer as got up to her she pointed to the right again and said, 'well done you've finished.' Ahead of me I could see every runners favourite thing the big inflatable finish line. I gave my legs one last sprint to the line and hammered it home.  Official Run Time - 00:24:20

Another medal for the rack!
I'd done it!  I was first out of the pool and first one back from the run!  No one had caught me.  I was in first place, granted I knew that wasn't going to last but I was in the lead!  I was then given my time.....officially 01:16:03.  Given how I felt on the bike and how heavy my legs were during the run I was delighted with the time.  I was only 3 minutes off the time I set at Portland, which was a shorter bike course too.  As I had no one to chase and was pacing myself along a route that didn't exists I was actually over the moon! Whilst talking to the time keeper another runner came home.  He was 2 minutes behind me! I was still in the lead!!!! Again I knew I wouldn't stay there but I was still there.  I actually stayed in the lead for another 4 or 5 runners and stayed in the top 10 for a while too.  But that all changed later on.  But I wasn't there to win the thing I knew that wouldn't happen but id done it! Id finished another triathlon and was buzzing!

So half way through my Charity Challenge Year and the support you have all shown has been incredible.  At the time of writing this blog I have reached the amazing amount of £1,010 raised for the MS Society!  That is also half way to my £2000 target.  So please please keep the support coming and the donations too!  Challenges 7 and 8 come within 5 days of each other.  Challenge 7 is the Winchester Triathlon on 4 May and Challenge 8 is Cycle Wiltshire 100 on 9 May.  So to help and show support text KOMS99 plus your donation to 70070 (i.e. KOMS99 £5).  Doesn't have to be £5 just £1 from each of you will make a huge difference.  You can also donate on my JustGiving page if you'd prefer.

The posts will come thick and fast over the next few days and don't forget to catch up on previous races on here and follow me on Twitter (@MartynSeddon) for more updates.

Thank you everyone!