Date: 3rd August 2014
Location: Wellington College, Berkshire
Distance: 400m / 20 miles / 10km
I was pretty scared about this race. After my bike had been stolen and I couldn’t do my season’s A-Race, the Maldon Standard distance tri, I had a bit of a sulk and booked myself into lots of events to make up for it. This was the first one, and was called a Sprint distance triathlon. As I was in a booking frenzy, I saw “Sprint”, “400m swim”, “20 bike” and thought, standard sprint, I can do that. Once the red mist had cleared from my eyes and I was reading all my confirmation emails, I noticed the word “miles” had snuck in next to 20. 20 miles for the bike? That’s a lot further than the 20km I was expecting, and a 10km run? I did not sign up for that! Only I had.
I signed up for this on the 17th July, that gave me just over two weeks to train to run a 10km, which I had only done twice previously, once for training, and once as part of a half marathon (Have I mentioned I hate running?). Early morning hill sprints became my friend.
The morning of the race dawned, and I had had a terrible night’s sleep, constantly waking up with a jump thinking I had overslept. I managed to leave late, and spent the 50 minutes I had from parking to my swim start time rushing from one transition to registration, from registration to the second transition, then back for the race briefing. I like to think of it as a warm up. I was definitely warm.
The swim was in an openair pool, and was gorgeous. One of my favourite swims to date. Swimming up and down the lanes in crystal clear water, watching the bubbles my hands created sparkling in the sun, I didn’t want it to end, 400m was much too short. (Having tinted goggles might have meant the sparkles didn’t blind me so much, but oh well).
I was out the pool in 08:58. I’d put my estimated time in at 09:00, so was please I’d stuck to my estimate, but would have liked to have been faster.
What an amazing bike course! This was four laps of undulating roads. There was only one real hill where I had to drop down to my small ring, but the hill rewarded you with fantastic views over the countryside. And what happens after you’ve gone up a hill? You get to go down! The downhill was exceptional, long and straight, with an uphill before the roundabout at the end of the road, so you didn’t have to worry about braking. This downhill was my reward each lap. Head down, highest gear, legs turning, maximum speed of 45km/h (This is very fast for me).
The 20 miles took me 01:26:04. I was happy with this as it gave me an average speed of nearly 14mph.
Now time for the dreaded run. I put my headband on (new haircut, so no more ponytails for me), adjusted my sunglasses, changed into my trainers and off I went. My legs weren’t feeling too bad, they never feel good running, so it’s difficult to tell if they feel worse due to the cycle. The course was mainly off road, through the grounds of the college. There were a few long slow hills, and one steep one that I let myself walk up on both laps. The heat was really starting to affect me and the drinks station at 3 and 8km (same one, just two laps) had become a beacon of hope in my mind. I will make sure to take my own water with me next time the run looks like it might be a hot one.
The highlight of my run was the two goats sitting in a field next to the course. They were watching all the runners go by with a wonderful expression of apathy. They couldn’t have cared less that I was running past them in pain. I waved, making sure the people around me thought I was a bit mad.
01:13:44 was my time for the 10km. Pretty good! I was aiming for 01:20:00. But when I looked over the data on my Garmin, it had measured the distance as 9.4km. I was so happy I wasn’t running at this point, I didn’t care that I hadn’t run a full 10km. And I still don’t. It was hard enough.
This is a great race, everyone was so friendly, both the competitors and the marshalls. I cannot wait to do it again next year.