If something can go wrong, it did today. I still had a really fun day though, I suppose I lost a few battles....
It was quite a long run to transition. It was set up so you had to run right to the end before turning back into the bike rack area. Once set up, it was out onto the roads. I managed to mount my bike without event and set off. I had decided to take it pretty easy. This was an odd distance sprint (400m, 22k, 5k) and so would not really be comparable with other sprint tri's I had done. The cycle was quite hilly and it was after maybe 15k that there was a sharp left hand turn and then a steep hill. I tried and was unable to shift onto the small ring on the front of my bike and so had to big ring up the hill. Of course, once the hill levelled out, my gears changed and I was spinning away. Then I couldn't get back onto the big ring. At the top of the next hill, I realised that I had a puncture. I asked a marshal how far it was to the end, he said it was about 3miles but it was more like 6miles. So I pulled over and went to fixing my puncture. The marshal was really helpful, in fact, he did most of the fixing for me. I carry a mini hand pump and we got enough air into my tire to get me back to the transition but it was definitely sub-optimal and this definitely made me decide to just enjoy the day and not race.
We had arranged to meet at 8am at my house, I was just putting the bikes on top of my car when Jonathan turned up. It had been raining but the forecast was that things would improve. After lots of yawns 'n' stuff on the way there and a plan to get coffee to 'get things moving', we arrived at Penrith Leisure Centre. This is a great leisure centre, there is a pool, gym, cafe (with a bar), a climbing wall and probably other stuff that I missed. It's all pretty new and modern. We got to the leisure centre at about 9am with plenty of time to sort out our gear, have a coffee and rock up to the race briefing all nice and casual at 10am. There were no parking spaces left at the leisure centre so I manoeuvred my car onto the curb and shifted some cones out of the way. After taking our bikes off the roof, I realised that I had left my helmet at home. No need to panic, a quick trip to local super outdoors store Go Outdoors and, thanks to Jonathan's membership, I got a nice Raleigh helmet for £10. Of course, on the way there, I took the wrong turn off the roundabout and ended up heading towards Scotland on the M6 - oops!
Back at the Leisure Centre and no chance of a parking spot now, not even a makeshift one, so we parked in the Sainsbury's car park next door and still got back in time for the race briefing. Now I know there has been some trouble lately, at the Bassenthwaite Triathlon, where a marshal sent people the wrong way or something. The organisers pointed out that it was up to the entrants to know the course. Personally, I'm happy to let marshals tell me the way, if one of them gets it wrong one day, I'll probably take it on the chin. Anyway, this course seemed to have more twists and turns than the average. Luckily, there were loads of helpful volunteers as well as plenty of cones,tape and clear signs.
I was in the second group for swimming, starting at 10:50am. Jonathan was in the first, starting at 10:30am. There were six swimmers to a lane. For the first time I had to tap someone on the ankle to ask to pass. Swim etiquette is that, if you want to overtake, you tap someone on the foot or ankle and they are supposed to let you past when you get to the end of the pool. What you need to remember is that things look a lot closer under the water than above. I tapped this man's ankle and then had to swim frantically to catch up with him. He didn't seem too impressed but he let me past. The swim was 400m or 16 lengths of the pool. My best swim has still been my first one, at Cockermouth. This swim was ok though, six swimmers was a lot to a lane but it worked out fine and I was soon hopping out and on my way to transition.
Back at transition for the second time, I remember thinking, "oh, that was a bit quick, I'm going to have to run now." Setting off on the run which twisted and turned but was all marked out with tape and cones. Two laps of some playing fields, at this point I decided that I should really try harder and overtook some people. The run was hard, due to the grassy surface and some hills but I think I got a decent time.
My eventual time was 1:39:28 I'm not sure how much time I spent fixing my tyre but it was an ok time considering the issues I had with gearing and the puncture. It seems as though my timing chip didn't register the different splits, it has my run as 25:17 which I think is really good for the course.
We had a beer in the leisure centre and then headed to great local cafe Number Fifteen where they were happy to veganize some Huveros Ranchos (Noveros Ranchos?). Post race analysis confirmed that I had actually tried quite hard and was pretty knackered and maybe we should look at doing some actual training to try and go a bit faster?
We thought briefly about the upcoming Ulverston Triathlon before realising that an 8am swim start would mean a 6am set off time and decided to look at other events instead.