Berkshire Tri Squad Club Champs

There are 3 races on the BTS calendar which are pretty much mandatory for anyone who is active within the club: Lidl Bananaman in July, Human Race’s Ballbuster duathlon in November and our Club Champs in August/September – a race where we hijack the VoTwo evening series at Eton Dorney and get our own start wave at 7:05pm.

Club Champs is an odd one… For a start, it’s not quite a full sprint: 750m/18.5km/5km. This takes away my advantage on the bike, boo! On the surface it’s “fun” with some healthy competition, and it’s followed by the biggest sandwich  you’ve ever seen in your life and comedy prize-giving at The Pineapple in Dorney. However the conjecture, predictions and general psyching-out of teammates starts a week or two before race-night and this, in combination with my irrational unease of swimming at Dorney Lake, means that by the time race night comes around I’m not in the mood to enjoy. Nevertheless, being the competitive beast that I am, I carry on and endure in the hope of finishing in a respectable time.

Last year, I ended up with the woeful honour of being 4th lady. I had tried my hand at SUP the day before, so my swim was pretty poor due to aching shoulders, and I faded badly on the run, allowing my clubmate Gemma (who is a talented runner) to breeze past me in the last 500-1000m or so. As disappointing as that was, I did bag a prize for my ability to effortlessly regurgitate whatever pre-race nutrition I have eaten whilst in T1 🙂

So this year, I went along safe in the knowledge that I had not buggered my upper body with any recent poorly timed new sport taster sessions. I had carefully considered my nutrition that day, so that I was racing on plenty of sugar and caffeine but no actual food in my stomach. All going well so far, or so I thought. Quick kiss from Paul whilst we waited for the start horn, and then I settled somewhere mid-pack. Swim seemed to go ok, even managed to hold onto a pair of feet for around 200m which is unusual for me! I’ve been practicing my sighting all summer since the Euros, and although it clearly needs A LOT more work, I can tell it’s slowly improving in that my line is less drunk sea-snake and more distracted Dory fish. I exit the water 2nd lady in 14:07 (2 minutes 10 seconds faster than last year) which I’m pleased with.

What concerns me slightly as I run my way through to my bike, is that I managed this year to vomit whilst in the water – this is a new one even for me… But no time to analyze, I have to get out on the bike and try to keep my main competition Lynda and Julia as far behind me as possible. Both are strong cyclists (stronger than me) and both outran me last year.

Cue major cock-up. Having last year mastered the “pro” bike dismount with ease, and recently practiced the “pro” bike mount (where shoes are left attached to the bike with elastic bands), I went with this in an effort to save time. Alas, something went wrong and I ended up having to stop, pull over, take my shoes off the pedals and put them on in the normal way once out of transition and past the mount line. Probably cost me 30-60 seconds but also just massively disrupted my race momentum and resulted in about 1km of swearing! Triathlon is a sport which really does count on saving time in any way possible, hence why transition is the 4th discipline which should be practiced in the same way the sporting elements are.

Anyway, I digress. Bike portion went OK once I eventually got going. I couldn’t get my HRM to talk to my bike computer, but I did have power to go on, so I tried to keep it at or above 170w on the straights. I managed to hold off both Lynda and Julia, and also played a fun game of cat and mouse with Steve F on the final bike straight (which I smugly won 🙂 ). Arriving in T2 after 32:15 (1 minute 07 secs quicker than last year), I felt disappointed with the bike section; more worrying, I’d also been sick again, this time whilst cycling. I put it down to nerves, and not knowing just how close Julia was to me (1 second behind), I started the run.

Dorney 5km runs tend to be an out-and-back affair, with 4x 1.25km legs. Although boring as far as runs go, it does make it fairly easy to spot where your competition is and help to mentally break-down the distance into manageable chunks. Not having done a lot of BRICK this year (something to address next year), it takes me a good 1-2km to get the legs going, so I expected to feel legs of lead. However, by about half way the stomach cramps began. Unfortunately there was no let-up, and I could do nothing to stop Lynda seemingly effortlessly sailing past me. I did manage to hold Julia off and complete the split in 24:40 (17 secs slower than last year), but only just.

As I crossed the line, I must’ve gone a very attractive shade of grey, as the finish lady went to get me a cup of water straight away. I walked towards Paul (who had finished a very respectable 3rd man in 1:00:39) and tried to tell him I didn’t feel very well. A beeline was made for the portaloos, but after about 5 steps I puked everywhere, exorcist style. Oh gawd, how embarrassing… Having a talent for silent regurgitation is one thing, but full on pubic vomiting is hardly ladylike!! Once I’d finished and cleaned myself up a bit, we decided to show face at the pub given that we’d already paid for our sandwiches. I sat there for a good half hour or more, unable to eat a thing despite the well-meaning encouragement of others. Just as the prize-giving began, I felt another surge of waterbrash,  legged it outside, and promptly decorated the pavement. Needless to say, we slipped out at that point and I went straight to bed.

Back to the race result – 3rd lady overall in 1:12:23. A 3 minute and 01 second improvement on last year which I should be pleased with. But, because I am me, I am not. Next year, the aim will be probably 3rd lady again (I’m not in the same league as Louise and Lynda, and there are others who didn’t compete this year who are equally as good as me if not better), but I hope to go sub 14 minutes on the swim, sub 32 minutes on the bike, and closer to 23 minutes on the run. More BRICKS and run intervals needed  as well as some upper body conditioning methinks! Oh, and if I could get through one Club Champs without vomiting, that would be great… 🙂