Bit of a delay in reporting back from the Wilmslow Tri, but you’ll see why.
When the date first appeared, I just entered it and didn’t think much about the date. It was only a few weeks ago that it dawned on me that it was the last day of the season. Didn’t matter to me at that stage, City had blown it so I’ll just wander down after the tri. When it started to appear that we could still have a chance, I dropped Xtramile Events who run it a quick email and asked if I could start at the earliest part of my timed wave, as I wanted to get to the football. Guess they appreciated my honesty as I was put on a 9.00 start which was fine. The only problem was they’d put me down as a 12 minute 400 metre swimmer, whereas I’m more of an 8 minute swimmer, but it was very much appreciated so I just went with it.
Woke up early on Sunday, and it was throwing it down, not quite what I wanted but cant be helped. I’d packed the day before so just set off and parked up at the leisure centre and walked through to register. Get soaked doing that, and soaked again going back to the car to get my bike to put in transition. Tyres felt a little low so I asked the one stand who had braved the elements to turn up to check them out and put some air into them. I was allocated an end spot in transition, which was good. Got all my bits sorted, and under cover and went to get changed for the swim.
The format was the same as previous times. Report 15 minutes before your swim, register took, race briefing then allocate your lanes. There are usually 5 swimmers in 5 lanes going at 10 second intervals, and if you need to overtake, you just tap the swimmer in front on their foot, and wait until the end of that length. I thought that I might be having to swim around quite a few with the timings, but hoped that they might have put a couple of quicker ones in with me. There were also some who’d missed their wave so they were added to our wave as we also had a few no shows, guess the weather put a few off!!
We ended up with 4 in our lane, with me getting off first which suited me fine. Once we got off, I was quickly into my rhythm, but it soon became apparent for at least one, that swimming was not their strongest leg. I ended tapping my first toe after 3 lengths and so it went on. Wouldn’t criticise anyone as it was my choice to get an early start, but there were a couple of times when I came behind and I almost had to stop as we were going so slowly. Lesson one learnt, if you start early you just have to live with slower swimmers. In fact, I ended up passing a couple of times before the end as I just couldn’t tread water that slowly to keep up without touching the bottom. I finished the swim in 9.44, which is a good 90 seconds slower than I would expect, so not a great start.
Run over the grass/mud and into transition. My stuff was set out but because of the monsoon conditions, I’d covered it up which didn’t really aid a smooth transition. I also could get my gloves on so it was all a little messy. And when I saw my transition time, it was actually very messy, 4.13!! Not sure what I was doing but I don’t remember sitting down, making myself a brew and having some breakfast. Lesson two, practice transition.
Off on the bike, and this year, remembered to put my Garmin onto the bike from my wrist. Only this time, I hadn’t changed the display to show my bike timings so wasn’t much point. Also, when I got out onto the road, realised that I had not put my number belt on. Decided just to crack on. I had my number on my arms and legs, and I’d put it on for the run so I’ll take the chance. Lesson three, concentrate more in transition and don’t rush stuff.
Bike felt good, even in the wet. Took it a little easier round the corners and under the trees where it could be slippy, but overall, I felt confident on it. Got past the pot hole that gave me two punctures last year which made me feel better, and even overtook a few people. Rain was on and off, and was a bit breezy but just tried to get my head down and go on how I felt as my Garmin wasn’t any help.
Soon enough was back at the leisure centre, hopping off the bike trying not to slip and wading through the mud into transition. Bike time was 56.01 which given the conditions, I wasn’t too unhappy with. Dumped the bike, helmet and gloves, changed shoes, put my number belt on and on my way. T2 done in 1.55 which was better, but still not great.
Off over the field and onto the back alley way that takes you onto the road. This was seriously muddy here, and also quite deep. Kept my balance ok and onto the first footbridge taking me over the dual carriageway. I find the two footbridges here evil as the steps are just a little longer than my normal step so it really throws my early rhythm out. Ended up walking up and trotting down, just didn’t want to slip on the metal steps as they were very slippy.
Have to say, I really wasn’t looking forward to the run. I’d not done much run training as all because of the pains in my foot so I wasn’t sure how I’d feel. I was quite pleasantly surprised as got into a nice steady rhythm and started to pick one or two people off. Hardly flying past them but as a new target came into view, it gave me something to aim at. There’s a couple of short, sharp hills on the course, and the nice stewards tell you to dig deep but once they’re done, its not a bad run.
Soon got round, and as at the start, have to get over one of those footbridges. Really takes my legs out but stumbled up and over it, and back into the alleyway full of mud. Then its just a quick run through the trees and the finishline. Nice touch at the end with plates of sweets, bananas and Jaffa cakes. Unfortunately, there was a photographer at the finishline so apologies for the pictures that follow!! Did get warned that I should have my tritop fully zipped up as it can be considered nudity and a disqualification, but I managed to get away with that.
At the end, a quick visit to the tent to get my times, then had to gather my stuff to get home and showered to get off to the Etihad to watch City win the league again, though this time was a lot easier.
Thoroughly enjoyed the event, beat last years time by over 4 minutes so I should be happy with that but I really wanted to be south of 1.40, my total time was 1.44.34. I can easily take time off T1 and the swim so when I’m back in September, that’s the aim.