It wasn’t the easiest of pre race preparation, with my husband being taken into hospital 48 hours before race day. He insisted I should travel down to Bristol and race as planned, however.
|My hotel :)|
After making it through over an hour of gridlocked traffic (due to several public demonstrations, Bristol pride and an EDL rally, which caused riots, leading to many arrests, riot police, choppers up, the works!) I arrived to registration carnage as the very very small car park of around 30 spaces simply could not cope with almost 1000 athletes trying to arrive at once to a building situated in a one way system under a flyover, on an island between two bridges!
Luckily my hotel was situated well away from the melee in Clifton – which is at the top of the opposite hillside (STEEP roads up to there!) but what I wasn’t prepared for was that my hotel, at the top of that hill in Clifton, was CLOSER than the suggested race parking. Great.
|7am race morning: |
I like midday starts!
The transition was incredibly long, narrow, and open all day. This spelt chaos. People CONSTANTLY getting in the way of racers coming through on foot, or with bike. On arrival I noticed the racking was very very low, and my bike would not fit under (normal for me, and I usually ok it with the referee to rack by the brake levers). I asked a marshal could I speak to the referee. He informed me there was not one. I said ‘what!?!?’ He wanted to know why I needed one. I explained, and he said ‘oh, no, that won’t matter, you can do what you like’ !!!!! I took a walk, and stood by bike out for a bit, surveying the scene. I asked why were there two dismount lines. ‘Oh, that one was a mistake’ they told me. A referee came by, and was nearby when several bikes came through, shoes flying off, people NOT picking them up, one guy threw BOTH his shoes down and carried on. I was aghast! People are usually disqualified for discarding gear. I asked the ref was he not going to be penalised for throwing both shoes. He said oh, I never saw him, who was it? I suggested he TAKE the shoes, then he was sure to find the owner! He said ‘oh yes, good idea’ !! When I got chatting to the guy – querying the previous marshal telling me there were no referees, he revealed that he had been there since 5am and he was the only real referee, the other three were all trainees. That figures because two others I talked to, to ask would they talk to the competitors near me because they were racked wrong, informed me it didn’t matter, you could rack whatever way and in whatever direction you pleased, there were no rules. Oh. My God! The lady next to me queried was I ok, decided I wasn’t and wanted to make small talk. She asked was I trying to qualify. I said yes, She said oh, what time are you hoping to do, 1:40? !! I walked away before I got tangled up in any more arguments or got any more stressed, checking briefly before going to the swim start that nobody had moved any of my gear!
|Swim exit pontoon|
By this time I was feeling like I seriously just wanted to get started (and finished!) So I was glad when we were let into the harbour with a few minutes to go. Quite a busy narrow start area but no matter, I picked my spot, only one back from the front row. The woman floating nearby asked what time I was likely to do. Stunned at the question, I replied 13-14 minutes roughly, why? Oh Jesus, you’re fast she exclaimed! (Er, no not really in the grand scheme of things!) Air horn and we were off. I went hard out, as per race plan, to get clear of the scrum, which worked nicely. Then I settled into my rhythm, catching and passing two breast strokers almost immediately. I focussed on my stroke, gradually making inroads into the people ahead of me. After screwing up the first turn under the narrow walkway, the rest went smoothly and I exited around on target time.
A MAMMOTH long run down an incredibly long transition barrier, (past a girl who got out just ahead – excellent!) and into T1. I arrived after and left BEFORE another girl nearby who was wrestling her wet suit and her bike shoes, as my kick and flick wet suit technique worked nicely despite the HUGE timing chip! I spotted Pink Sparkly up ahead (Vicky my clubmate – easy to see in pink calf guards!) as I mounted and started the bike ride.
|end of lap 1: Pink sparkly right behind!|
Thanks Ian Roberston for taking the pic!
I was looking forward to this ride, reporting to be quite flat, like 2 x 10km time trials. I set about my thing, pedal stroke, nutrition, and drive those legs. I was catching the cyclists in front and just before the first U turn I caught and passed Pink Sparkly (Vicky) and a few others. I continued to drive on hard, not knowing what the people I had passed were doing, and knowing for sure that here is where I would make the ground up, as this was my strength. Lap 2 started and as the photo suggests, Vicky must have been chasing me after I passed because I caught her quite easily, but once in front, she stayed not far behind! Lap 2 was harder, as I now had no physical targets, the road was almost deserted. I seriously need to practice my dead turns though, the only place I must have ever had to do them is abroad because right hand U turns felt very kack handed!
It’s hard running the length of a transition that must have been a good 300m+ long, in bare feet on tarmac! I felt like I wasn’t in control of my limbs! What with that and the dodging people who were in there milling about! I was glad for once to get the running shoes on and be off!
I passed a girl as I exited T2 (yay!) and off I went on the last leg. It was an up and over the bridge, then ‘flat’ tow path run. I was expecting it to be flatter than it actually was, although it was like small rises rather than hills, but cinder paths, and quite wet in places. As I crossed the bridge a couple of runners passed me, including one who I was sure was in my category, and pink sparkly (dammit, but its ok, she’s not in my age category anyway!) then off I went down the tow path. I was concentrating really hard, several things in my race plan specific to the run section came into play here. I focussed on the effort level, keeping it high and keeping the path ahead of me only in my zone of vision. I noticed Lisa Greenfield coming the other way, she acknowledged me as she passed me (F35 – thank goodness) and Andri (another F35 and a friend) thankfully told me I was nearing the turn as she passed me going the other way. As I rounded the U turn to do the final leg back, I noticed I had run under the Clifton suspension bridge, high above me, and I must have cycled under it too. I also noticed that some of my ‘enemies’ were behind me coming the other way. It was a good sign, but I needed to remain focussed and keep this position that I had earned. I could see far in the distance the tall red brick building that was adjacent to the transition area, and that was my focus. As it got nearer, I felt better and better, knowing with each step that no one had come past me since the turn point at half way. I might just do this, and keep this run position to the end. This and that finish line, and that GB place on the world championships team was my driving force. I couldn’t let up – who knows what the winners time was, every second might count. When I got back up onto the bridge, I knew there wasn’t far to go. With a glace over my shoulder I could see a long way behind me back down onto the tow path, and there was no one nearby. This was excellent, I had managed to keep the run position that I had at half way. I had only lost a few places perhaps, at the start of the run, as far as I could tell.
I crossed the line knowing that was EVERYTHING I had, and I had executed all my plans as I had wanted.
As I await the official results, I THNK it was enough for a GBR place on the world championship team. I await that exciting confirmation email!!