On Sunday morning my alarm went off earlier than I wanted it; I didn’t even have time to hit snooze. Registration at Dawlish Tri was open until 7.30am. At least there is no traffic on the roads at this time as most sensible people are still sleeping. There were two Tri distances running this year. A sprint, and a longer standard, sometimes called ‘Olympic distance’. I was doing the latter. With most of my events this year being running races it was actually only the second Tri of the year I’ve done, the first being a sprint distance at Blackpool Sands. Still, I’m used to swim, bike and running these distances, and if anything, I often prefer the slightly longer distance stuff. A 1500m swim, 42k bike and 10k run should suit me well.
Everything went pretty smoothly when we got there. No long queues. Numbered bike racking which I generally prefer as I’m not usually the first to rack my bike. I did the Dawlish sprint tri last year, and the organisation was good. The race briefing was delayed as the fog meant that the swim might be cancelled. It was quite warm, and it was hoped that the fog would lift very soon. As we wandered to the sea in wetsuits, it was still undecided whether the swim would take place. We all had a little while to dip our heads in the water, then stand on the shore, contemplating what was about to happen. Would it be turned into a duathlon like it was a couple of years ago when the sea was rough? I really hoped not. It would be a real shame to have to get changed again, particularly when the sea had been so invitingly warm. I’m still in the same wetsuit I bought 5 yrs ago, and I was thinking the suit was losing its warmth, but I’ve been used to swimming in the river dart. When I walked into the sea I was really surprised it was as warm as it was. That cheered me up no end !
In the end, the swim was cut short. How much, we didn’t really know. Initial info was around 400m, but I think we did about 600-650m in the end. I can’t fault the organiser for this decision. The visibility wasn’t great, you couldn’t see the buoys, and that’s just too much of a risk when there is so many people all swimming at once. We started on the beach, running in, sprinting to the first buoy. There was a bit of bumping as a few people had a slightly different line past the first buoy, but considering the distance, it wasn’t too much of a fight. From the brief I was expecting to be swimming completely parallel to the shore, but we actually had to swim out and back in. Still, I think I took a fairly decent line around the two buoys, and came out the water in 9th, exactly a minute slower than the first placed guy. I’m reasonably happy with that considering swimming is the sport I have done least of.
Now, the less said about the transition the better. Running up the platform was fine; Jumping on the bike, less so. Although my transition says I was second, it didn’t count the scuffling about I ended up doing once I was on the bike to get my shoes on. A couple of people overtook me at that point, and then once I had my feet in I overtook them, and went in search of the next mystery person. I had no idea where I was placed at that point. Just before the turnaround at the roundabout, I saw the lead guy coming back. He probably had around a minute or so. The thing I find with triathlon is that, when you haven’t done many races, it takes a while for the recovery from one sport into the other. When you’re coming off the back of a few races, It’s easier to push hard on the bike straight after a swim, and a lot easier to push hard at the beginning of the run straight after the bike. Obviously, this comes from practice, and training to switch from one to the other definitely helps. I’ve done the odd few ‘brick’ workouts but nothing really, nothing specific.
The bike felt ok. I got caught by a guy just before the halfway point. I overtook him. He overtook me, and after a bit of leap frogging, it was clear we were cycling the same speed. I sat in, and left a big gap, probably about 15-20m, so there was no issue with a draft, and made sure he didn’t get any further ahead. I lost sight of the very lead guy shortly after seeing him as all the sprint competitors came onto the course. I think I could probably have pushed the bike a bit harder, but decided to hold back a little for the run. Off the bike I was straight into second place. The run course was a little hilly to begin with. It merged in with the sprint course a couple of times. There was a nice long straight along the sea wall at the end, but I didn’t see the lead guy. I caught a glimpse of Lee behind me in the last few hundred metres, and thought I better pick up the pace a little. My run wasn’t great, but I think my broken toe had taken a chunk of run fitness away. More importantly, my back, which I’d strained earlier in the week, gave me no bother at all. It was good to walk away with second place, one place better than my last Tri, and, one place better than the year before. At some point, I’m going to have this win! Perhaps best of all was the massage. I love getting a massage straight after a race, it was great that Teign fitness was offering one for free. Thanks to the Dawlish Tri team for putting on such a good event again.
For now I have a few days until I’m off to La Santa, in Lanzarote, for a bit of training in the sunshine. I’m looking forward to extending this rather moderate English summer and coming back to do the Darlington Duathlon a few weeks later on 18th October, one week before a marathon.
Thanks to Cathy P for the pic.