"Ave...take a photo of me taking a photo of you" - He's a teacher. Frightening.
So, continuing on from the last entry where I left you in Spain after the calamitous ETU Long Distance Champs, I now bring you back down to sunny West Wales.
PEMBROKESHIRE COAST TRIATHLON - Welsh Olympic Distance Championships
The Pembrokeshire Coast Triathlon has become one of my favourite races over the last couple years. That and the Vitruvian. It's a very tough Olympic distance course set in stunning Broad Haven (couple pubs right on the beach...amazing for spectators, Stuart and his dog, Maximus Maximus (so good, he named him twice)).
It was held as part of the Welsh Olympic Distance Championships and included a very strong field. And a man dressed as Batman.
Starting off with a 1,500m sea swim which was all the more interesting with the strong winds and a colleagues' story ringing in the back of my head -> basically, he and a group of mates went snorkelling off the coast last year, when jumping off the boat, his mate was instantly shocked to see a Basking shark in front of him. Due to this shock, he lost all his hair and eyebrows over the next couple weeks. Personally, I would have probably died on the spot.
Anyhow, after negotiating the waves and difficult sighting, I was out of the water and I had some time to make up. All last season my swimming struggled and I shouldn't be surprised as I was probably going through the motions training wise. Looking back at my times, I'm reasonably happy with it (compared to what happened in Bala) - 25:09, but still not where I want to be (6mins down on the leading lot already).
So, decided to go as hard as I could manage on the bike knowing that I had a tough 10k to finish. Last year, I did the bike with a capped HR in mind...from that, I learnt I can race Oly's on feel and hit the bike hard. It's a hilly course on the back roads of Broad Haven, so it's not a race for PB's. In 2009 I managed a 1:23:01, 12 months on, I knocked off a 1:19:30 and could have gone a bit faster if I hadn't been stuck in traffic, I say traffic, I mean the 90yr old couple who blatantly drove past the waving marshall before stopping in the middle of the road to reverse for the sake of reversing on the sea front.
I also got in front of local Vet Chris Morris for the first time in my racing "career". I was passing a couple athletes, and upon noticing it was him, a mirror image of "what the f*ck are you doing here?" was mouthed.
Out on the run, I just wanted to stay ahead of him. Looking back, I could see that he stayed the same distance for the first 5k then I pushed on the hills trying to put some time between us. It probably stayed the same and it hurt.
Note - although stunning to look at, the coastal track hurts...and the steps don't do any favours to the quads.
Anyhow, crossing the line on the beach front was great. Great support along with Welsh cakes and tea. I finished 13th overall and 9th in the Welsh Championships. Very happy considering it was a week after the rubbish result out in Spain.
AFAN OFF-ROAD TRIATHLON - Welsh Off-Road Triathlon Championships
Next up was a spurr of the moment entry. Looking for one last race before Bala, I found that the Welsh Off-Road Triathlon Champs were being held down the road in Afan. Some seriously great trails! Knowing that I was riding well and my run was coming together, I gave it a shot.
A 600m pool swim was again, rubbish. Followed by the 500-600m run downhill into T1 to grab the MTB. Plan was to hammer it and smash myself on the 6km off road run. Knowing that Chris Morris was there again with some familiar faces from Cardiff tri along with Ryan Evans (Xterra Athlete) and British Duathlete, (looking at his results, bike/run monster) Jez Cox, I thought I may be able to get my first top 10 and at a push, maybe nudge the top 5. The bike was going well, catching people in the earlier wave on the inclines and my downhill skills were paying off too...that was until I noticed that my rear wheel was giving off some lateral movement...? Stopped, hopped off and tightened the quick release skewer...still moving. With very basic mechanical skills, I decided to plough on.
Coming to the end of the ride, there was one short, sharp incline to get over and whilst changing down the gears, the chain jammed. Again, stopped, hopped off and had to change gear by hand. Turns out I hadn't serviced the MTB since Nepal and the hammering had taken it's toll. Once on the flat section, I left it in gear and pedalled (cycled, not push drugs) my balls off.
Annoyed with myself I decided to run as hard as I could for the 6km. I loved the route! Pathways, river, steep climb and a trail to get over. Twice, being a two lap run. I caught a few people and wasn't passed, so figured I had a good run. As I was coming into the finishing 500m, I saw the remainder of the field going out. Crossing the line, I had no idea of my finishing time/position.
Stayed for the awards ceremony with Chris Morris to see him collect 3rd Vet. Saw 3rd place in the Open Male go up (Cardiff Tri) and thought I missed out on the top 3 for sure. 2nd place was Ryan Evans and first....me? WTF! Very surprised and without doubt my best race result in Triathlon.
Shame about the shorts/trainer combo. But hey, Welsh Off-Road Triathlete 2010. Boosh.
BALA TRIATHLON - British Age-Group Qualifying Race (European Championships)
Arguably one of the strongest fields in Olympic distance racing in the UK adding in a GB Age-Group Qualifying race, this was a big race. I decided to put my name down for a shot-at-a-slot (err...I've turned into Bruce Forsythe) to see how far off I'd be for the time needed. I was aiming at a sub 2:10 race and ideally, somewhere around the 2:08 mark.
Unfortunately, I didn't get the target and managed a 2:12. A bad swim, disappointing bike and a decent run pretty much paid price to the final target.
My swim was terrible...as it has been all year. And the waiting around for 5-10mins in the lake before starting (although fine during the swim) meant that I was about to cramp up badly on the bike. I've never suffered with it before, and man...it hurt. As I got out on the bike (after my nigh on 28min swim...FFS!), I was no more than 5 mile down the road when my calf...not gradually...instantly locked up in agony! I couldn't shake it off and free wheeled for a couple minutes whilst trying to stretch it out...another 5 mile, it happened again. And again. 3 times during the ride. Uuuurgh.
Got around in a respectable 1:02:12 (24mph ave...interesting...thought it was slower?).
I'd changed my running style in the months leading up to the race and converted to fore-foot racing due to me being a heel-strike runner before...which caused my knees to swell after 8-9miles. Anyhow, as soon as I started running, I cramped up...obvious with more stress on your calf during fore-foot. So, luckily, I could change back to heel strike. It was a tough run due to the constant twinge (but only locking once...at the start of the run) but ran to my limit with a sub 40min goal. Yadda, yadda...yaaa...got around in 40:12. Tits on a fish. Christ on a bike. Balls. Although I think it's a 10.25k run...but "eff it". I missed out.
Interesting thing is, I qualified for a place on the GB team. Bad thing is, it's a week before IM Austria...and in Spain.
Sensible thing is, I'm 90% NOT going to do it and try again in 2012 for the *World Long Course Champs and the *European Olympic Distance Champs. *Provisional goals.
CARDIFF HALF MARATHON - Sort of...it was 192m short
I ran as fast as my legs could carry me for 13.008 miles and finished in 1:23:32. I ate a hot dog, drank two tea's and ate another hot dog.
Very pleased...6:19 min miles.
I've lost interest in writing more in this entry...so that's it. 2010 over. Season over. Game over. End.