Another weekend, another race: Big Cow MK Tri 2013
This weekend saw a bunch of Ampthill (ish) residents take on the MK Tri 2013 organised by Big Cow Events. The race is based around Emberton Park with the swim and run taking place in the park with the ride heading out on the country roads in Buckinghamshire and South Northamptonshire. I’m not really sure how it came to be that we entered as a gang, but eight of us lined up for the start, a couple of us had a few previous events under our belts but the rest we standard distance virgins. The MK Tri was my third attempt at getting under 2 1/2 hours….here’s how it went!
The build up
As with most tri events there is lots of faffing around in the week before the event. There is kit to be buffed, bikes to be tweaked, trainers to be adjusted and bags to be packed. Registration for the event opened on Saturday night, so with it being local, a couple of us headed over to register and drop out bikes with the brave few who had decided to camp. Registration done we headed home at which point the heavens opened and the rain came down like the end of the world was coming. I’m 100% pleased that, on this occasion, I chose to stay at home and get up a bit earlier than camp at the event site. At 05:20 on Sunday morning, I was collected from home and after two more pick-ups we were en-route to the Big Cow MK Tri 2013. We met the (un)happy campers who had done a fine job of looking after our bikes and headed for transition, racked our bikes, pulled on out wetsuits and got ready. The atmosphere was ‘keen’ but with a bit of ‘jovial’ thrown in. A few discussions around predicted times didn’t decide on a pecking order so it was each man for themselves out on course!
After a decent (i.e. short) pre-race briefing we we’re into the water, the air temperature was quite a bit cooler than it had been recently and stepping into the water was like getting into a lukewarm bath!! A few minutes of splashing around, a whistle was blown and we were off. I found the swim a little brutal and felt totally out of my comfort zone, I think there were two reasons for this. Firstly, I got right in the middle of the bunch and was getting bashed left, right and center. Secondly I was swimming quite a bit faster than I had previously and I was therefore pushing a bit harder than normal. Having rounded the first and second buoy the field was spreading out a little and I started to feel a bit better…then it was time to get out and get going on the bike!
As usual the bike leg was going to be the strongest of my disciplines, and sure enough I quite quickly found myself passing other riders in the first few kilometers. My legs were feeling a bit rubbish and I was starting to wonder if I was having an off-day, however I tried to keep the pace high and hoped my legs would come back to life! The bike route had been changed at the last minute so I was heading off into the unknown. The route was on some nice undulating roads to the north and west of Emberton park, nothing too testing but enough to keep rider interested. After about 4 or 5 kilometres my legs suddenly came back to life and I felt like a new person – I keep picking riders who were ahead and aiming to pass them. The bike leg is also the only real opportunity to take on some fuel for the run so I was stuffing gels down my neck every 15 minutes and taking mouthfuls of energy drink. When the route hit familiar roads I felt a surge of energy as I was confident that I was on a good ride and it gave me a little boost to push on to the transition. I glanced at my GPS as I crossed into transition an I guessed that I had done 1hr 10 for the bike and 30 mins for the swim, I therefore needed a sub-45min 10km run to get under my 2hr 30 min target (I guessed my transition time would be another minute so it wass going to be close).
The run at MK Tri is a 3 lap route on a pan-flat mixed road / off-road route around the park, after leaving transition (and blanking my wife and kids – accidentally!) I wasn’t feeling good, it’s always a struggle to go from riding to running and today was no different. As on the bike leg, I aimed for a person ahead of me and tried to pass them before a particular point. After the first lap as I entered the start / finish arena I was greeted by the voracious support of the Ampthill wives and kids, this gave me a huge boost but I did my customary ‘puffed-cheeks-this-is-killing-me-look’ and urged myself to push on. Another lap down and I was feeling much better, largely due to passing a few people and catching a fellow Ampthill’er! Entering the start / finish arena I glanced at the gantry timing clock to check my mental arithmetic and calculate what I needed to do on the last lap to make 2 1/2 hrs. To my absolute horror, the gantry clock was just ticking over 2hrs 30mins, I couldn’t believe it. Feeling rather pissed-off, I put my head down and resolved to finish this bloody race as quick as possible and deal with the time at the end of it. The final lap of the run passed in bit of a blur, I turned the final corner, attempted a (slow) sprint finish and smiled at the continuing Ampthill wives screaming support. As I crossed the line the gantry was reading 2 hrs 42 mins, I was gutted. Then it occurred to me, the first wave went off 15 minutes before me and the clock was showing the ‘event’ time and not the time for my wave.
I wandered over to say howdy to Mrs Abbott and the kiddies, their first question was ‘what was your time?’, I replied ‘I’m not sure’. Mrs A looked at me in a puzzled fashion, (basically the ‘I can’t believe you don’t know your time’ look), and then suggested that the MC had name-checked me, saying I’d done 2:27 and something. And so it came to pass that I’d gone under 2 1/2 hrs for the first time! Here are the official results.