Monday, 23 July 2012

Pendine & ETU Cross Champs, Den Haag

Pendine Tri – 2012

Managed to find this event at the last minute and also had the bonus of a 5k beach run – ideal prep for the ETU Champs in Den Haag which was also a predominantly beach event.

Despite some bloody rough weather in the build up to the event, we were treated to our entire summer in one day down there. It’s a stunning location for a race and with the sea resembling a lake, you couldn’t have asked for better conditions. I’m sure this event will grow in the future and with the holiday park on the sea front, it’s ideal for anyone who wants to make a weekend of it – it’s also got a penny drop machine in the arcade. Boom.

Anyway. My rear hub somehow managed to loosen itself and I was on the verge of pulling out as a quick test ride showed I could only choose 3 of the rear 10 gears as the chain could’ve potentially dropped off into the wheel and written it off. Which was nice. A random choice of obscenities later, I decided to give it a go and hope for the best. Knowing that there were two nasty climbs at the turn around, I was looking at probably getting over them by pedalling squares. Hey-Ho.

Thanks to Darren at TriExercise for the loan of the Blueseventy wetsuit, the swim went very well. Turns out a well fitted wetsuit works. Years of frustrating open water swims are finally behind me (until Darren wants the suit back), and was out the water in comfortable a 2nd roughly 20s behind 1st.

Onto the bike, I made sure I kept him in sight and rode conservatively until the return leg where we got to a nasty, short, sharp kick where I managed to pass him and then continue to put time into him. A gap of around 1min was whittled down by TWO wrong turns; one into a car park and the other into the wrong side of the transition fence. Note to self; at least think about looking at the transition entry/exit prior to the event rather than guessing it. Plum.

Out onto the run and I heard over the loudspeaker that there was roughly a 25s gap. The out and back route was perfect for pacing with cones out every K. The halfway turnaround seemed like miles away (1.5 of them probably...strange that),  and 3rd was on the heels of 2nd but I could see the gap growing behind me. I could relax on the way back and took the line with around a 1min gap to 2nd. My 2nd Tri related win! Boom.

A quick note: the Welsh Standard Distance Championships were the day before, so explains why the field wasn’t stacked and how I took the win.

A quality event and one I’ll definitely do again. Cheers to Noelwyn at Human Being Active for putting the event on with only 6 weeks preparation.

ETU Cross Championships, Den Haag, Holland.

Firstly, no fuss whatsoever with EasyJet with the bike bag. It’s simple; book a bike on board and you have 32kg’s MAX for the bike. Easy.

I’m still not 100% sure why I wanted to race this event, but it seemed like something good to focus on and gave me a target when I was running my weekly 3x2mins back in February...well, that and probably the draw of racing in GB colours in an Olympic year maybe?

Den Haag is worth a visit by the way, it’s like Amsterdam without the bargain basement prostitutes and canals.

So the race itself. A tough sea swim (1.5m swell) led to some non-existent sighting; but using my brain for a change, there was an obvious Northern current. I kept the field to my left and swung around to the buoys where you could see some had misjudged the tide and were struggling to make their way back on course – some, I noticed, missed the first buoy out entirely...meh’. Coming back to shore, I could only see a handful in front and started riding the waves in rather than swimming them. Just like Keanu Reeves in Point Break, but without the hair and fecking dreadful “acting”.

I was out the water in 12th (from 120) and 2nd in my age-group. Knowing how well I had been cycling lately, I genuinely thought I was in with a shout of leading my age-group. Then it went horribly wrong. Descending the wooden stairs (which were pretty gnarly <- yes, gnarly) and having a run up to the sand, I knew that I had dropped an almighty bollock in tyre choice. I went with knobbly tyres and also forgot to take sufficient air out of that’ll be knobbly tyres and ~40psi. This for future reference, is NOT what you want if you plan to “ride” on sand. I was basically planting the rear wheel into the sand and digging ruts for myself. The field were flying past with ease and I just had to laugh at myself. I was catching people on the tarmac, climbs and descents...then lose it all and some on the beach. There was a lot of pushing when we got to the deeper sand sections too. That was as about as welcome as a “Live Jasmine” popup.

It was pretty cool to be racing against other nations for a change too, was stuck behind an Italian at one point with a Dutch guy and Czech bloke on my wheel. My bike split was the 70th quickest of the day. SEVENTIETH.

As always, the Kinesis Maxlight was the tits. The build got some nice comments and it loves climbing. Hopefully next year’s ETU Champs are somewhere hilly and cold.

Getting back into T2 and about to do my longest run in 2yrs, I was under no pressure and could just stroll along not knowing what position I was in. 3 x 3k laps on the beach and steep sand dunes separated the stronger runners and I was over the moon that my knee held out well and got around in 41mins for the 9k. Got passed by an Irish guy who was in my age-group and he was FLYING. Fastest run split of the day for him (37mins)...chapeau.

So, finishing 36th from the 120 and 6th from 7 in my Age-Group – *rolls eyebrows*. 

Looking at the positives, I’m back running, my results are much better than I thought they’d be and I’m just happy to be back racing.

Next up with Cymmer Off-Road Triathlon and Tuska Triathlon (Welsh Sprint Championships).

More photos/videos to come...



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