AdministratorJuly 15, 2019 at 12:07 pm
I was never taking this one too seriously – with a 10k run at the end I’d need to really keep the brakes on and keep an eye on the main prize in 5 weeks time, which is very definitely Race across Scotland – there was to be no getting carried away. It was more a case of cementing the improvement in my open water swim confidence and dragging the swim speed up to where it should be in relation to my pool pace.
Despite a confident and successful swim at Derwent water last weekend I still found myself really quite nervous about the swim again, possibly because this would be the first one I have done with a tri-suit rather than a swimsuit under my wetsuit, which can make things a little more restrictive. I do wonder how long it will be before I stop feeling that anxiety before an open water swim? It seems ridiculous to still have so many nerves prior to getting in the water (I’m always fine once I’m in there). I don’t think my brain has quite caught up with the fact that I’m now a pretty competent swimmer.
Having registered and racked my bike and stowed my trainers it was with some trepidation I headed for the water, another mass deep water start, and this time I didn’t position myself too far back, I wanted to finish the swim inside 38 minutes (which would match my pace of last weekend) and that shouldn’t see me right at the rear of the field.
I went through my usual ritual of rinsing the goggles, filling my wetsuit with water (this makes it less likely to chafe and means you warm up the water in the wet suit to keep you warm), getting my head under and doing a few swims to sort out the breathing. Having the tri suit on didn’t feel any different to the swim suit so that was a relief. Then it was time for the off. I went out hard and it was a rough start – arms and legs were flying everywhere, and this time, I can’t deny I gave as good as I got and there were some clashes of arms and legs.
I stuck to my line all the way to the first turn buoy at around 300m and fought to keep my place as we turned, I got an albow in the ribs and a kick in the shoulder but I know my feet made contact with someone behind me. Then once I was round there I eased back and got into a steady rhythm as things spread out a little, I still had plenty of swimmers around me so knew I was going well. There was a bit of scrapping for positon again as I went round the second turn to head back towards the start to begin my second lap. The boat traffic made this side of the swim a little tougher and a little slower as they set off bow waves but nothing to really be concerned about, just some breathing adjustments.
I didn’t check on my first lap time as I turned for my second lap, just got on with it, this was not a swim to be wasting time, I wanted a good one. My stroke on the second lap wasn’t as clean as on the first and I did keep veering a little to the left but nothing like as badly as I used to, and I sight much more regularly now, but it is for sure something I need to work on. I had a bit of a tussle with the two guys around me on the final straight – trying to overtake the guy in front, and trying to shake off the guy behind who was obviously drafting me as he kept slapping my feet or calf (I may have aimed a gentle kick in his direction to try and shift him) and I came out of the water alongside the guy who had been in front.
The swim exit went up a short steep bank to the transition field and I was breathing heavily going up here and trying to get my wetsuit unzipped. I had glanced at my watch as I came out of the water and it still said 35 something – which really gave me a boost and a smile – that was my best case scenario time – but the timing mat wasn’t until the top of the bank so I didn’t hit the transition button until after I crossed that – so official time will come out at just over 36 minutes.
I seemed to take forever to get my wetsuit off – I forgot as I was coming out of the water to open the neck to let a load of water in which really loosens off the wetsuit and makes getting it off much easier. Then I put my cycle gloves on the wrong hands and had to wrestle them back off, so it was a really slow transition considering I didn’t have to get changed. The run out of transition was a long one on grass, (a good 200 yards to the bike mount line) which added more time to the already slow transition – it ended up being 5 min including that long run with the bike, so I need to shave time of that and get more efficient.
Onto the bike and unlike the Lakeman it wasn’t a windy day, so there was no strategy other than to go hard – all the way. A standard distance tri should have a bike distance of 24 miles but I knew this bike leg was 26 miles courtesy of an adjusted route due to road works, and the first half was mostly climbing, with a few steep descents thrown in until you got to Shap then a long gradual descent back to Askham.
I’m not the best at going uphill on a bike – it’s not something I’ve worked on this year, focusing instead on time in saddle and distance, so I expected to struggle on the climbs. Having said that I was catching people on the climbs out to Askham and making places – I was having a good ride and my splits up to the main 2 mile climb to Shap before the turn for home were looking great. I ate a flapjack as soon as I was on the bike and drank well too. The actual main climb of the was steep in places and dragged on from around 9 miles to 13 with the odd little dip, but I was still making places and going well, then I hit a descent before the final turn into Shap and it crossed my mind that my back wheel was making a bit of an odd noise on the few times when I did stop pedalling on the downs. I assumed something was caught in it and rattling but it felt normal so I pushed on just feeling a little uneasy.
I hit the brakes as I saw the marshal signalling the sharp almost ‘U’ turn to signal we were heading back for home and I cornered carefully then dropped a couple of gears and stood on the pedals to get up the steep bank to the main road and there was a crunch and suddenly no resistance from the pedals. I had that heart stopping moment where you suddenly grind to a halt and your feet are still clipped into the cleats and you know unless you act fast you’re going to hit the deck. I just managed to get my left foot out and down before I toppled over. I had assumed that my chain had just come off, but a hurried inspection showed that everything looked as it should – but turning the pedals was not turning the wheel. Something critical in the drive chain had failed (turns out it’s the hub itself). So that was it – the game was up.
The marshals were lovely and radioed for the race director to come out and pick me up – I borrowed his phone to ring Ian as I knew my failure to return on the bike would be causing a panic – but all I could do was leave him a message as he wasn’t answering his phone.
As races go not the best of finishes, but I think this is another aspect of Tri that I have to get my head round – mechanical failure on the bike is always a possibility and it can always be race ending. I was disappointed as things were going so well, but my first reaction was simply to be grateful it had happened there and not at Lakesman, and I came out unscathed, and all told I hadn’t had a bad day having produced my fastest pace in open water to date and made it up the climbs in better order than I expected.
Sadly that is probably the end of my tri season this year, I can’t find another one that fits in with my run calander. So after a short season where I’ve learned a lot, made some massive improvements and gained very valuable experience I’ll get back to the training, make the most of the rest of the openwater swim season and pick some events next year to try and capitalise on this years gains – I’m not quite ready to hang up my wetsuit and bike just yet…
MemberJuly 15, 2019 at 12:43 pm
That just about explains the day perfectly. Maybe it’s good to hang on to a few nerves before the swim, means you wont get complacent with it but great all disappear when in the water , which sounds like a bit of a free for all battle.
Super swim time though, all previous swim training has really paid of.
As for the bike, just one of those things which can happen anytime. Maybe a lesson learnt is to get bike serviced before a tri.
Season may of been short but loads of experience built up, things learned along the way, all will stand you good for next year. Xx
MemberJuly 15, 2019 at 1:49 pm
How disappointing after such a great swim but I suppose with the 3 disciplines involved there is more scope for things to go wrong but as you say at least it wasn’t at Lakesman. Think pre swim nerves aren’t too bad a thing, I still get nervous before races that I’m not even “racing” but you have to be super pleased with how far you’ve come on your triathlon journey from the 1st one you did as part of your rehab 🙂 🙂
MemberJuly 15, 2019 at 2:23 pm
After going so well it must have been a real disappointment for you. As you say, these things can happen. Must stil have been a confdence booster on the swim
MemberJuly 15, 2019 at 3:47 pm
What an exciting write up, edge of the seat excitment at how you battled to shake them guys off, was laughing here. Little tricks with the opening of the wetsuit, all these little things add up to get those extra minutes. Sounds like you were on one heck of a ride Sharnie too, im so gutted for you when it was going so well for you.
Like you say at least it wasn’t LM, one downside of a Tri, some mechanical misery you just cant control… Not suprised the bike and wetsuit aren’t getting put away, you have put way too much training in and come so far to hang it up. well done Sharnie, 😊
MemberJuly 15, 2019 at 6:03 pm
<p style=”text-align: left;”>Really good to see the confidence building around the swim part loved reading how much you fought back in the water to push on. The little tips you’ve learned around the wet suit is great and I would think will become automatic the more you do. As for the bike pain in the rear but outside of your control – definitely don’t hang up the bike/wetsuit you’ve made so much progress – well done Sharnie can’t wait to follow your next tri season 😊</p>
MemberJuly 15, 2019 at 7:36 pm
Another great write up Sharnie, such a shame about the bike failure but must take great confidence from an awesome swim and can take this forward for next time when ever this will be
MemberJuly 15, 2019 at 8:31 pm
Laughing at you giving as good as you got on the swim Sharnie 😄Going so well up to the crucial point of bike malfunction 😕 plenty more of these to have a go at 💪💪
MemberJuly 15, 2019 at 9:23 pm
Lol – great write up, Sharnie. Certainly sounds like no prisoners taken on the swim – you did well to keep powering on through that as it must be only too easy to ship a lungful of water if you suddenly get a flailing foot giving you a mighty whack.
Pity about the mechanical failure, but at least it was not on one of your major target events. Well done on being pretty phlegmatic about it.
MemberJuly 16, 2019 at 9:04 am
Sharnie great write up. You must be really happy with the progress you’ve made with the swimming & you were ahead of the time you wanted. Sounds like the swimming is quite a battle which you seem to have got through unscathed.
Shame about the mechanical with the bike that must be a real sickener as you were going so well.
Log in to reply.