Oh what a miserable start to a June Saturday. We sat in our cars waiting out the latest heavy rain shower wondering if we were really going to have to get out and race in this horrible weather.
Of course we would. The weather forecast showed the showers mostly holding off for the rest of the morning anyway, and by the time we’d racked and wetsuited up (largely to stay warm) it hadn’t so much as “brightened up” as much as the very dark clouds had just become a little less dark and menacing.
I had another cracking swim, tacking a more direct line than those around me thanks to picking out some good sighting marks on the shoreline, and picking and changing good feet. I came into the ramp below Verdi’s cafe (what a great spot to have a triathlon) only a little off the back of the front pack, which is great for me.
The run through transition was really sharp and rough tarmac but my feet were nice and numb after the swim so I didn’t feel a thing. Racking was a bit tight so I made sure to lob my wetsuit under the bar and out of the way. The racking wasn’t evenly set up either, and racking in the wrong spot would have made for a longer transition run than I had (it’s worth checking these things out early y’know). The bike mount line was “anywhere after the timing mat” at the T1 exit, so I chose to run all the way out to the road, missing the little incline and the potentially dodgy junction and had a clean run, mount and escape.
The bike course is nice and hilly, and the bike splits last year had been rather long, I’d noticed on the interweb a couple of days before. These roads are all in my back yard but I’d never ridden this loop all together in one go. The plan was to tick off each little hill and hit the next one a little harder than the last, paying attention to the wind that was going to be blowing into our faces going back past the airport. The hills felt great, but the 1:4 climb up to Lunnon from the Three Cliffs Bay bit was a really jelly leg fight over the top. I had to force my legs to keep pushing as it flattened out a little. I’d made up a number of places to that point and caught sight of the fella in 2nd place just as I went to jelly. I figured his legs had done the same by the way the gap had closed.
After that the gap remained and as we hit faster stretches the spatial gap widened even if the temporal gap remained similar. My buddy Ed was marshalling at the Upper Killay turn and confirmed that I was in 3rd. I hammered hard back towards the sea, then the downhill back to the Mumbles was flat out, dropped aero and slippery wet, hard, hard braking for the roundabout (poor bastards on carbon rims today must be having a horror here) and back to T2.
Fast through T2 I saw a first year medical student that I teach, Andrew Loftus. It was his entry to the race that made me enter. Out of T2 hurt big style, and I pushed to focus on good, tall technique, caught and passed Andrew with a slap on the back (I probably couldn’t speak by that point) and pushed, pushed, pushed out around the bay beside the sea. This was a path I used to run daily. Its very nice. Not many people in the way at 8am on a Sunday either.
Everything had softened up a bit by the 1.25km turnaround point for the short sprint distance race, and there were only three of us continuing on the stretch out to the 2.5km turnaround marker and the lonely marshal. The gaps looked ok. I thought I was gaining on 2nd place.
On the way back I saw lots of Cardiff Tri lycra and just about managed a waggly thumbs up. Lots of pain. This was our chosen club championships event so I was pulling the stops out here. There was a fair gap to 4th place though so I was pretty comfy there, but I wanted to try and pull back 2nd. Pain, pain and more pain. That 5km at the end of a sprint triathlon is fast and short. Ow. My running still needs a lot of improvement.
I was very glad to see Verdi’s again, and rounded the cafe to hit the finish line with a massive smile. Very happy with 3rd overall. I clapped a bunch of people home, jogged to the car to get warm clothes on, and saw Stu MacCormac running in. Great to see Stu racing. It was a great morning generally, and it was brilliant to have so many Cardiff Triathletes over to Swansea to race. I just wish the weather could have been better, but hey, it was fairly representative of the Swansea climate.
Cardiff Tri picked up a bunch of prizes, as you can see. I’m looking forward to picking up my Club Champs trophy this weekend when we meet again at the Pembrokeshire triathlon in Broad Haven.