Sunday, 17 July 2011

Andover Triathlon 2011

I thought today was going to be one of those days. Firstly, a last-minute bike check showed up that Bianca had a flat back wheel. I was less than impressed, especially as earlier in the week I thought there was a slow puncture somewhere and so had changed the tube. What was actually wrong was a big old stone was wedged into the rubber that I had completely failed to spot! Fortunately, I had one spare tube left and a spare tyre knocking around so I got her fixed up and race ready.

Once I had made my post-race peanut butter and jam rolls, donned the tri suit, packed my bag and consumed vast quantities of coffee,  I was feeling a lot more relaxed. That feeling lasted all the way through arrival, registration and transition set-up. Even as the rain started coming down I was feeling pretty good about the race, I knew what to expect from the course and it was all good.

As I went to take off my clothes ready to get over to the pool, I realised I had completely forgotten a vital bit of kit: goggles. I held in the panic, and casually asked some of the marshals if there was anywhere I could buy some. There wasn't. The palpitations were starting. Before the panic set in Holly stepped up and offered hers,  we began making a complex plan of goggle dropping in transition so that she could quickly grab them before she was due to swim. I knew though that once I got into race mode I would struggle to think about anything as complicated as a goggle drop location and was genuinely very concerned that in some sort of state of frenzy I would end up cycling off with them and leaving Holly in the lurch.

A very nice man stepped up and offered me his spare pair, which I was enormously grateful for. I was still a bit worried though as the goggles didn't look entirely leak-proof and I was having visions of a horrendous watery-eyed swim. As we watched the previous wave, another fellow club member offered up a different - far more substantial - spare pair. They were perfect, phew!

I still couldn't control the onset of mild hysteria the closer we got to the start of the swim. The whole way through the race briefing I could feel my heartbeat gradually getting quicker and quicker and as I walked up to get in the pool I really was a nervous wreck!

As soon as the swim begun though, I instantly felt better. In fact I even felt like the pace was reasonable. My panic quickly converted into anger though as I continuously tapped the feet of the man in front of me who just wouldn't let me through. For the whole swim I couldn't get into a nice smooth stroke as I was sitting right on the feet of whoever was in front. Frustrated as I was, it was probably for the best as I saved some energy from drafting and didn't emerge from the pool as a breathless mess!

A fairly quick transition (with a last minute decision NOT to ditch the socks) had me coming out onto the bike with a number of others from the same wave. I had taken all of them within the first kilometre and had my sights set on a quick looking man up ahead.

There was no holding back on the bike course, I was absolutely battering it and managed to catch up with the man in front on the first, longish uphill bit. I even tried to hold my breath a little bit and look as cool as possible as I passed him, before gasping for air once I was about 20 metres in front.

Further along the course another man overtook me, and we had a little back and forward tussle for a few minutes before he got out in front. I was glad he was there though as I knew if I could keep him in sight I'd be doing okay.

Not wearing gloves was going fine until I attempted a snot rocket - which was only half successful - and then had nothing to wipe my face with. Might tuck a hanky in the cleavage next time!

The ride was going brilliantly until we hit of a bit of road that was in the process of being resurfaced. For what felt like about 3kms (it probably wasn't) the route was just loose gravel. Most of this section was uphill as and I had to get up out of the saddle to try and keep the momentum going. I was wheel-spinning and all sorts, and just prayed for that whole section that I wouldn't get a puncture. Eventually the gravel came to an end and I pushed as hard as I could for the last 5km, which seemed to go on forever!

By this time the rain was hammering down and I came into T2 to find a big, wet jumble of kit. The trainers went on and I was given a little boost by the crew of Salisbury Tri-ers that were there supporting (mostly the Clements family!). 

I'm not sure where my fond memories of the run last year came from. It's a tough course and takes in quite a lot of up and down. What I do love though is that there are markers for every 2k, so you can sort of monitor your run. I couldn't tell first of all if I was having a good run or not, as the legs felt heavy and slow from the bike,  but once I hit the first 2k marker I tried to pick up the pace a little. 

I was loving the heavy rain during the run, yes my feet were squelching from running through huge puddles and there was snot dripping all down my face but I felt comfortable and didn't have the standard worries of getting sunburnt. I loved the middle section of the run and whilst I felt I was breathing fairly easily, my legs just weren't up for going any quicker so I tried just to maintain the pace.

When you hit the 6km marker, you are faced with a big hill and I knew at the top of the hill you are on the home stretch. I tried so hard to power up the hill and up the speed for the last 2km but I just couldn't go any quicker, and that last section seemed to go on forever!

I was ecstatic to see the finish and tried to put in a sprint to the line (as I was getting a barrage of abuse from Sam at the finish and some of the girls from work who were at the sidelines) but I didn't have a whole lot left!

Andover was chip-timed this year which meant you could see your times instantaneously. I was absolutely chuffed to see that I had taken almost bang on nine minutes off last years time. Not quite the ten minutes I was aiming for but given the weather, the gravel section of doom and the 'could've been quicker' swim, I felt very satisfied indeed.

We hung around for the results ceremony to see if any of the Salisbury crew had picked up any prizes. I was very pleasantly surprised when I heard my name called out as an age group winner. I was then hugely shocked when they called out my name again as the overall winner for the women - result!

All in all a cracking race, brilliant organisation from Andover Tri and great marshals who stood out in the rain for hours on end. Definitely one to go in the calendar again for next year!


  1. Excellent blog L'il Egg, though not sure about the 'snot rocket' EEUUWW!! x

  2. Ah, I knew Mum would be ever supporting - bless you Val! You are a very nice Mum! Well done Egg, brilliant result and great report. See you soon.

    Nicky x

  3. Check you out, Egg. You rock! (Although I'm not sure about the coffee!)