Sunday morning found me in cold, misty and downright miserable Bedford, town of my birth. The purpose for my visit was to take part in the Autumn Sprint Triathlon (400m/24km/5km), part of an annual series of 3 events which has been held since 2004. I did my first sprint triathlon here back in 2009 and have done it once a year since, the thought behind that was that I could use it as a marker every year for how much (or little) i’d improved over the last season. My first target was to get round the course in around 1:20-1:22 which would have been a little faster than last years effort, but I also wanted to at least replicate the speed on the bike I managed around London (i couldn’t expect a significant improvement in such a short time) and to take off 4 or 5 minutes from the London run which was well below par.
As it happens, the morning didn’t start well. I got out of bed late, rushed a breakfast, rushed getting stuff in the car, missed getting a parking space at the pool and joined the worlds longest queue for registration. Anyway, after picking up my race numbers, getting marked and collecting my “goody” bag (there wasn’t much good about it unless you have a particular obsession with the Mango Capri-Sun) I managed to setup in transition and get to the pool. I collected my chip at the pool around 7:30-ish and I was number 299 of around 400 participants, due to get in for the swim around 8:40am – quite a long wait. The idea is to get people into the pool (for 12 lengths @ 33 metres) in order of predicted swim time to ensure no one is unduly held up – my predicted time was 7:00-7:30 for the 400m and I felt good, but I also felt keen to get into the pool and out onto the bike, all the waiting around wasn’t helping the nerves which always get the better of me. In the end I managed to jump the queue (which seemed to be pretty free form actually) and got into the pool around 8:10 – this cost me some time since the swimmers directly in front were much slower and I had to overtake (where possible) at the end of the lengths after the requisite toe tapping. Anyway, my thoughts of a 7 minute finish went out of the window early on and I exited the pool in 8:45 (160th out of 351 finishers) – not a great start.
Out of the pool and into T1 I quickly found my bike, got geared up (including putting sunglasses on out of habit which was particularly enthusiastic given the miserable weather, so threw these down my tri top – just in case) and started the run out. T1 was pretty muddy and slippy, especially in cycle shoes (still not built up the courage to have these pre-clipped to the bike again) so I took my time running out. T1 was a slow 1:28 (70th out of 351 though).
I quickly found my legs on the bike which was encouraging, especially on such a cold morning. The Bedford course has a couple of challenging hills and some equally challenging road surfaces, but I managed to get down on the aero bars for many of the flatter segments. Given the change in profile from London I didn’t expect to be too much faster (on average) than I was there. In fact I averaged slightly slower over the 24km (29.4kph) so still significant room for improvement. I did however feel much fresher off the bike, I think largely because I managed to average a much higher cadence throughout the ride. After slipping my feet out of my shoes in the last 500m and jumping off the bike in double quick time I managed to finish the cycle in 48:59 (118th out of 351).
T2 was a slow and steady affair, completed in 1:27 (180th out of 351) – nothing if not consistent.
The run was where I hoped to improve over London where I felt I let myself down. The route around Bedford Park is also pan flat like London so there was no excuse. My aim was not to sprint the run (I couldn’t even if i’d have wanted to) but to find a good pace and keep it up for the full 5k. As it happens, I found that pace early and felt like I could have kept it up almost indefinitely – you might say that means I was going too slow, especially for a sprint, but all these events are now confidence builders for Outlaw and this pace seemed sustainable for a long period. Nevertheless I finished the run in 23:55 (208th out of 351 – poor) – 4 minutes faster than London but certainly not my fastest 5k ever (<20 just ;-)).
Overall I managed to get round in 1:24:15 (137th overall) – a full 1:23 faster than last year – whoop 😉 but a couple of minutes slower than I hoped – I’ll attribute most of that to impatience to get going. Must try harder.
I’ve got no more triathlon events planned this year, but hope to take part in a final sportive ride (60m+) and potentially a longer run (half marathon) by the end of the year. I’ll keep you posted.