The other day, I was trying to remember the last time I started a triathlon without the words ‘Iron’ in the title and was failing miserable.
Actually, while I type that I can hear Pen in my head telling me the Outlaw technically hasn’t. Anyway, she is a pedant (love you Pen 😉 and hopefully you get my drift. Which may explain why I was extraordinarily excited at the impending late summer triathlon I had entered a while ago. Not least because I should have been back for tea and medals within a couple of hours. Luxury.
Since it’s also been a while since I’ve had an opportunity to ride a bike and I was very excited at the thought of taking Piri out for a spin. This, it turns out, was a good job!
The distance was billed as ‘sprint’, (although it has quirks – ie all of the disciplines were long). The 50m pool at the K2 (and the high sides prohibiting an exit from each lane) meant that one was fed in from one side and proceeded up and down the lanes ‘snakelike’ until one ran out of lanes and therefore exited via the far steps. The distance was 600m.
The run to transition was one of the longest I’ve ever seen. It led to a 24km bike leg mostly up and down a duel carriageway. The 6km run in Tilgate Park was ‘undulating’ and as it happens, beautiful.
Registration was a good while ahead of the pool time I had been allocated which gave me plenty of time to meet up with the others for coffee. (I had entered with co-ersion from Penny and Lindi). Geoff and Jean had also secured entry and so we had a merry band along for the ride. Eventually, we all went our seperate ways to prepare for the swim. I had the earliest swim time (generally being the most rubbish swimmer in the group).
Normally I exaggerate the poorness of my swimming ability to secure an early spot and avoid the masses. But of course, I forgot this was a 600m swim and therefore ended up accidentally telling the truth! Ooops. As a result I was a tad worried I’d get swum over and hold everyone up. But apart from the breastroking guy who caught me in the first length (there’s always one!) and a big group I let go through about half way, the swim was slow but uneventful.
I broke the habit of a lifetime and ran all the way to transition. And as a reward enjoyed a leisurely transition before heading out towards the underpass and onto the bike.
I’ve noticed my short term memory has been pretty rubbish lately. In fact, my memory in general actually. It came to a head last week on Bacchus morning when I got into the van and turned the key to start the van. The message ‘Engage clutch before ignition’ flashed up on the screen and bugger me if I couldn’t remember which pedal was the bloody clutch.
Anyway, this time I thought, it’s a straight road along a duel carriageway. All I have to do is point and pedal. I negotiated the rooty underpass with care and then turned right and put down the power. It felt amazing and although I was clearly tired, I was so happy to be back on my bike.
Me and Piri against the world.
On the approach to the first roundabout I noticed that entry into it was signed but bizarrely not exit out of. ‘Hmmm, I better watch that’ I thought and then promptly forgot. I then drifted off into a fantasy land I often adopt when riding.
This is turned out was a mistake.
After two or three (or maybe four) roundabouts I found myself on a duel carriageway, with no one in front of me and no signs (despite other junctions) for ages. I eventually cottoned on I must have taken a wrong turn. But, since I didn’t know where or when I had no idea how to get back onto the route.
I found other people with race numbers on, but had no idea if they were in the sprint or supersprint and in which direction they were pointed. I followed a couple for a while and got even more confused when Pen arrgghed and cheered as she passed me going the other way. Eventually I found my way back to the start and then had to turn around and start again with four miles already on the clock.
I was really annoyed with myself and the course markers for a little while. Until I realised this was meant to be a ‘last hooray’ for the season and essentially a bit of fun. I jollied myself into a better mood and then spent the rest of the ride trying to re-catch the people who had unbeknowlingly overtaken me while I was drawing pretty patterns for the garmin profile.
Once back into transition and another rather sedately T2 I set off towards Tilgate with two pirates behind me. It took Lindi hardly any time at all to pass me (she finished fourth lady in the end) and I settled into my rhythm while watching her pull steadily away from me.
I knew we were in for something rather hilly since I could remember hills from the course the last time I did this race (and that was a good seven years ago!)
But what I had forgotten was how pretty Tilgate Park is. It was such a pleasure to be running in the woods. I savoured the smell of the undergrowth around me, and the light of the dappled sunshine around me. I was aware of being pleasantly warm and in a happy place both physically and metaphorically.
As the course steadily climbed on the out and back course, I enjoyed cheering those who were heading back towards the finish and receiving both praise and encouragement in return. As the course kicked up steeply towards the turnaround cone at the top, a solitary male was sprinting reps upwards. Incongrous to the rest of us plodding our way up the hill. He would burst into action for roughly 40 yards before turning round to walk back down the hill breathing heavily.
A quick dance around the cone and finally heading downwards again. This time it was my turn to pass on the news there was not much further to go. And a marshal informed me all of the hills were out of the way (ignoring the irony that I was climbing steadily again out of a valley and back towards the bridge that took us across (high above) the main road. Then finally, deliciously downhill I ,picked my way back towards the paved paths and the entrance onto the track, a sprint to the finish line and tea and medals aplenty.