Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.

- T.S. Eliot -

Gatorade Bedford Triathlon 2013: Race Report

Gatorade Bedford Triathlon 2013

Before we start

The Gatorade Bedford Triathlon 2013 was held at the beautiful Box End Park which is located just down the road from where I live.  After my efforts at Windsor and my forthcoming race at Emberton Park, I chanced my luck with Mrs A and was given a the green light to enter and have another crack at a sub-2hr30 standard distance triathlon. The only fly in the ointment was Abbott Jr’s playschool Gala day which was scheduled to start at 11:00, with a fair wind I could get the race out of the way bash home, grad a shower and be out of the door in the nick of time!

As seems to be the norm with triathlon events, the start was pretty early. At 06:00,  I found myself creeping out of the house, trying not to wake three sleeping ladies (one big, two small). I arrived at the lake, was promptly directed to the parking area and whizzed through registration.  I’m not done a Votwo event before, but I was mightily impressed with the organisation and efficiency of the whole organisation.

Swim (31 mins)

I was off in the first wave of swimmers at 08:00, following the smooth registration and bike racking I was ready with plenty of time and stood on the waters edge listening to the canoe-marshalls being briefed.  I then felt a tap on my shoulder and an old friend appear with a broad smile on his face…after a bit of willy measuring we realised that he would be ahead of me until the run and which point I’d have a chance to get past him, the proverbial gauntlet had been thrown down! Just before the pre-race briefing was due to start I glanced down at another chap standing nearby and noticed his timing chip on his ankle. Oh bugger, I hadn’t got my timing chip on!! A quick dash back to the car (imagine a slightly rotund chap running across a field of cars) and my timing chip was firmly attached to my ankle and I was ready to go.

As part of the safety for the event, each person was counted into the lake. Rather stupidly I lined up near the front and as a result had a good five minutes of bobbing around in the lake waiting for the other chaps to get in and the starter to get us underway. After my experiences at Windsor of being cautious and staying away from the washing machine effect in the middle of the pack, I took the decision to line up in the middle and ‘go for it’. It wasn’t actually that bad, I took a few kicks in the face and a couple of bangs on my feet, but nothing like the battering I used to take when I played football.  The major advantage was getting a draft / tow of the swimmers in front.  Being in a familiar lake also helped and I bashed around in 31 mins, knocking 4 minutes off my swim PB.

Bike (1hr 11 mins)

The bike element of a triathlon is pretty simple, once you have negotiated transition and got some cycling shoes on – get your head down and pedal like hell. But don’t pedal too much like hell, you still need something in your legs for the run. the bike discipline is my strongest and is from where I came to triathlon (via a bit of running), therefore I often find myself thinking of the bike leg as an extended transition from swim to run. The bike also offers the best / only real opportunity to get some energy on board. For me, the bike leg is normally a case of not overcooking it, getting some gels on board and trying to pick off as many people as possible. However, I decided to change my strategy for this race and go bonkers on the bike in an effort to build up a bit of time for the run (which I knew would be slow as it was off-road). The ride was on familiar roads and I was conscious that the first half was a bit lumpier than the second, the plan was to work really hard at the start and hammer it in the second (downhill) half. At Windsor I did the 42km bike in 1hr 10mins and I figured that a 40km bike would take me about 1hr 5mins, couple to a 30 min(ish) swim I would be on for a comfortable run and a sub-2hr30 time. Guess what, I clocked 1hr 11 for the ride!! I still can’t really work it out, but looking at the stats comparing Windsor and here on my Garmin it looks like I was slower through the first 20km (hilly), lots quicker over the next 15km (downhill) and then slower on the last 5km (rolling). Windsor also has a largely downhill final 10 km on which I averaged 30 mph. Busted!!

Run (45 mins)

Therefore the 2hr 30 ambition came down to a leg race over 10km. I knew the run was going to be tough as it was around the lakes and 100% off-road on mowed grass, it’s full on all the time with very little recovery and a couple of little hills thrown in to make things tougher. The British summer also arrived earlier in the week and the temperature was edging towards 26°C. Time for a bit of pain! I had calculated that I must have been on about 1hr 45 for the swim and ride, therefore I needed a sub-45min run to hit the target! After a sensible transition, I donned my cap and glasses and headed out on the run, also the moment I hit the first straight bit I spotted my old buddy up the way and when a bit quick in an effort to catch him. Having passed him, I had a moment of calm reflection where I realised I was moving at an unsustainable pace and need to wind my neck in a little.  Fortunately, he had spotted me in transition and gone off like a rabbit with a firework in it’s arse and blew up shortly afterwards (leaving me with the bragging rights!!).  The run passed in bit of blur, other than it hurt and it was hot! Rounding the last corner I glanced at my watch and guessed the 2hr 30 target was close, time for a sprint…nope, my legs, body and brain was cooked. As I crossed the line, the guy on PA name-checked me and announced my finish time….2:31:18. Double blast, but as least I was a bit closer than at Windsor.

Running fattie

Run fat boy

Run fat boy, run

Nearly finished

There was no time to hang around, I dashed to transition, grabbed my bike, headed back to the car, chucked everything in, climbed into the driver’s seat and still sweating profusely  drove home to head out into the heat again and have an ace day at the Ampthill Gala!