Stratford-upon-Avon, in the heart of England or, at the very
least Warwickshire. It's a very touristy town, what with Anne Hathaways
cottage, and being the hometown of Bill the Bard. Apparently. One
day I'll actually stop and take a look around.
My third visit to Stratford is, like my previous two, for the
purpose of triathlon and, as before, approached with the usual degree of
trepidation. I'm writing this whilst in dire need of sleep, with the
sounds of the new OSI album 'Blood' playing before me; I read somewhere it's not
so much prog-rock as avant-garde metal. Whatever, it's good.
So, awake at 4:30, up a few minutes late and some pink sludge
for breakfast (Maximuscle will be so pleased to hear their Promax Diet
strawberry flavour so called). A final check of the bag (not thorough
enough - see later) and a loading of the car so me leave at 5:20 - but not
before waking D2 in order that she could prepare herself for her trip to the
Radio 1 Big Weekend.
Arrived at Stratford around 6:45, a good journey with plenty of
wildlife (mostly rabbit but one fox) to be enjoyed along the way. I should
point out that D1 stayed in bed, and the g/f woke long enough to send me a txt
just as I was rising to wish me luck - love that woman!
Registered, made the first of several 'stops' before indulging
in a SpecialK breakfast. Well, with 90 minutes to go, no reason why it
should hurt. Besides, after the previous evenings veggie pastabol where I
ended up having most of the garlic ciabatta (plus a whole home-baked baguette)
and a couple of glasses of cheap cooking-only S African wine, you'd think I'd
given up on the day.
Watched the start of the swim, arranged 180 degrees from
previous (due to some muppet breaking the key in the lock of the fire door!) before returning to
the car (via you-know-where) to think about racking. Realised I'd
forgotten to pack my swim goggles, so rushed in to by a pair from the TotalFitnessBath stall and
finally got myself sorted out with around 30 minutes to go. Things were
looking good, I'd worked out where I was in transition - unlike last October -
and was all set to go swim when I realised I'd forgotten my heart monitor strap.
So, back to the car....
Finally, via another 'stop' I made it poolside (via another
'stop' - I can't help it, really) and I was soon called to start. Managed
two lengths on the crawl, before resorting to the breast stroke. Even so,
I wasn't overtaken by too many and even overtook one crawler. Hooray for
Out in around 9:30, a short run into T1 where socks were
donned, helmet on, shoes on and a couple of chews grabbed (one had been taken
prior to going in for the swim). Out on the bike for a single 23
(advertised - more like 24) kilometre ride, and finally all those spin sessions
began to make sense. I didn't stand along the way, but made good use of
gear changes along the way, once I got going (those chews take a while to lose).
One thing that bothered me about the ride was the pins and
needles effect on the right hand, made gear changing tricky (must talk to the
boys at TBAS about that). Even so, fairly happy with a 45 minute ride -
that new Cube Aerium I'm riding is a nice bike.
In T2 a quick change of shoes, and I'm off for the run (noting
a time of around 58 minutes). Nothing furious, just slow n steady.
Reached the far turn in around 8 minutes, which gave me a target of 23 for the
second time. Eased through the run, stopped for a few paces to take some
water at the halfway point - so near to the finish yet so far - and I was
pleased to note a far turn in just over 22 minutes. Didn't go crazy,
chatted with a walker whom I got running again (239 as it turned out) and made
steady progress back to the finish. Got past 239 and had a go at upping
the tempo to the finish - pleased to note there is still life in the legs, even
after everything else.
Finished in 1:26.12, an improvement of 6:22 minutes on last
years event (or over 13 on last Octobers). Good time, really happy.
Had a nice chat with Russ (266) at the finish, collected bike and had a pleasant
chat with Andre (223) - good to meet you guys. Packed the car, had a Multimuscle shake and came
home to see Kathy for a coffee before hitting the gym for a steam and shower.
Sheer bliss - and the steam/shower was good too!
As usual, great organisation, good crowd and a great
competition. Nice t-shirt too which, for the money charged, is something
IMG could learn from (big hint to Blenheim/London there).
According to the
finished 392 out of 612 men. Add in the women (204) and relay (29) for a
final of 466/845. Splits are swim - 9:45, bike (inc T2 and probably T1) -
48:54, and a decent run to finish in 27:33. Still room to improve,
especially on the swim but, like I said, I'm really pleased. Looking
forward to Blenheim now on June 7th.