Having my hand forced by injured participants, I nervously jumped up a group, from Slouch to Fast and we set off about 20 minutes after the Elite group. I very quickly found the pace too much to sustain and had pains, with only 10 miles completed and a decision I might regret, I persuaded Steve and his group to completely desert me. 1 mph slower and my stamina seem to recover, but the pain seemed to continue until, cursing my pre-race tinkering, I noticed my saddle was 2 inches too low. It was like a different set of legs had taken over, well for another 10 miles or so, just coming in towards the 1st stop, my legs felt heavy once again, looking down I now realised that the saddle was actually slipping down until it hit the reflector bracket. Had someone had oiled my shaft the night before! Just like when you are camping a couple of big leaves, seem to wipe most of it off, clamp up super tight and why, why did I not do that earlier.
My target time was eight hours with 7 hours cycling, averaging 15 mph seem possible and now checking with my only friend left, Mr Strava, he was telling me it was possible, but tight. I started to feel more confident, but knew all too well what the last 10-20 miles would feel like, also knowing the wind had little affect so far, so I knew it would not be long til it did. After lunch at 47miles, I managed to get in a little group and stayed with them for 5 or so miles, which was a welcome relief, but apart form a few more short tows that was about the only drafting I got. I bimbled on, cursing a bit and enjoying it at times, but the last 35 miles were windy and tough, the last 20 very tough, but I could not give up, after all, I am a Gauntleteer. I had 3 stops, drunk 4 litres of fluid and gel ran through my veins, bowl of spicy pasta for lunch and 4 bananas saw me through. If it had gone slightly better, yes I could have gone maybe 1mph faster, if I had not mended someone’s chain I could have saved some time and yes if I had not stopped at all I could have shaved off another 50 mins, but incredibly even with all this, I would still be a full hour slower than the Elite Surfer group – Very Impressive. That will be difficult to pull back in the 10K.
Highlight, the fool who thought he could keep up with me down a steep descent with a tight sandy corner at the bottom. I got the turn-in right, hit the apex as my Rossi gate leg clicked back on to the pedal, giving me enough time to turn and see him cross the road and use the opposite bank to stop himself. I did warn him and getting my foot down must have given him a clue.
Lowlight, realising I have not trained enough and as always, the last 10 miles, although there were still some to overtake this year.
I was not quick, but some 40 mins quicker than last year, mainly pushing forward on my own, so a great sense of achievement and as always, well organised and well catered, way of seeing our lovely county.
Despite vivid recollections of my last outings to windswept Wattisham I decided to give it a go again this year. Forecast wasn’t brilliant for later on in the day but if all went according to plan, I’d be safely in a tent with a cup of tea and a burger when the bad weather arrived.
The sun was out and fooled by the transition area being in the lea of the Physical & Recreational Training Centre and out of the wind I set up and began to feel hopeful that the Met Office had, once again, got the forecast wrong and that I was in for a nice, warm and calm event.
|Nice and Sunny|
Briefing was over at 12:30, first swimmer scheduled for 13:01 and I was off at 14:42 – so loads of time to relax and mentally prepare. I almost sound like I know what I was doing.
Watched the first few swimmers set off then outside to watch the T1 activities and was treated to the most casual transition I have ever seen. Watched by 30 or so spectators this guy comes out of the pool and calmly walks to his bike. He then starts to gently towel himself down like he was at a beach and had just got out of the sea. The similarities didn’t end there – once dry he wrapped the towel around his waist and proceeded to wriggle out of his shorts, one handed, just like you would at the beach. Then on went the cycle shorts in the same careful way – top marks for not letting the wind flap the towel and expose his tackle. On goes a nice cycling top then a sit down on the grass to dry his feet properly, bit of the old talc, before pulling on socks and finally some cycle shoes. Sorted. Must have taken over five minutes. Walked out of T1 to a round of applause. Epic.
Now time to go get ready and implement the “just smash it” plan for this year. The two spaces in front of me were empty so I had a free pool in front of me. 14:42 and off we go. Steam up and down the first 4 lengths far too fast and have to hang on for the remaining 8 and extremely glad to see the final length stretch out in front of me – complete with single old guy pool side spectator clearly visible on every other stroke as I gulped in air – smiling at me – bit weird.
Out we get in one jump in a plume of water and run outside with water pouring off me like Poseidon rising from the deep. Helmet on – shoes on – glasses on – GO and over the T1 mat and off in 6:30 – so far so good.
Got out of the lea of the building and then it hit me. Wind whistling round the buildings like a trailer for Twister – well that’s what it felt like. Out to the south of the airfield against the wind then turned north round the perimeter with a little tail wind – this ain’t so bad after all. Then across and point down the runway into proper wind. Must have been 30mph & gusting so much more that I was honestly almost blown to a standstill. 7-8 mins later got to the other end, turned round and it all goes quiet, and warm and very fast – guessing close to 40mph – fantastic J. Still sticking to the “just smash it” plan and keep my head down and grind out a series of headwind/tailwind encounters ready to unleash my secret weapon – running legs - in T2.
This is where I had made a small error in judgement. Actually my running legs are the same as my cycling legs which are now completely done in. I transition with no real issues and go over the mats in 48:22 for the bike leg. I’m sure the blood will replace the lactic acid at some stage so bide my time and wait. And wait. And wait. Clearly I’m not about to spring into gazelle mode and it’s about hanging on. Which I do and knock out a 22:17 5K – pah.
|Where have my legs gone - why don't they work!|
Still – Wattisham=Windy and it’s never going to be anything else. Always underestimated. Always brilliantly organised.
Total time 1:17:35 – 6.5 mins slower than 2010 and 1.5 mins slower than 2008. But it was very windy – honest.