Pwllheli Triathlon 2012 – Race Report
April 1st already and time for Pwllheli Triathlon, my first race of the season – will the winter training have paid off? Will I be any faster? How will the competition do? The first race of the season is always a bit of an unknown, but less so than last year when it was also my first race for about 20 years.
As mentioned in a previous post, training has been going well, but although I was feeling fit I wasn’t feeling particularly fast, so this was going to be a bit of a test.
The day started when I got up at 4:45am after a sleepless night. As it was April’s Fools day Morgan had set some booby traps out for me so I had to negotiate them before a breakfast of cinnamon dusted porridge and a cup of coffee – my first caffeinated coffee for a week or so! I then got my own back on Morgan by taking his chocolate bar out of its wrapper, hiding it and replacing it with an ‘April Fools’ note. I then checked my emails and packed the car ready to head off to Pwllheli. I almost forgot my front wheel, but spotted it propped up against the house at the last minute – phew!
The drive to Pwllheli was lovely, with the early morning sun on the mountains of North Wales and stunning scenery reflected in the lakes and estuaries. Although, with temperatures below zero I was beginning to think it might be a little cold out on the course today. I’d had a look through some of the competitors for the race and it was looking pretty tough at the pointy end of the field. Arthur Connell, last years winner was there again and he is always fast, Huw Jack Brassington (2nd last year) was there too, as were a number of people I knew, most of whom were fast and likely to beat me. Pete, my coach from INTRtri who beat me by 3 minutes last year was there as was Alison, and from Cerist were Owain and Dylan, another couple of people likely to beat me. Scott Butterworth who I met last year and who beat me by 5 minutes in Pwllhelli and then 3 minutes in Brecon was also there.
I soon found everyone once I was in Pwllheli and it was good to catch up with everyone and see how they were feeling before for the race. Everyone looked fit and fast and had been training hard over the winter. It was going to be a fast race at the front! We registered, set up our kit in transition and then as the faster people were off last had quite a long wait until the off just before Midday. The good news was that the temperature was rising all the time and it was looking as though just the tri-suit would be warm enough, although, with the sun came a little bit of a breeze too.
My predicted swim time of around 6 minutes obviously wasn’t fast enough as there were about 12 faster people starting behind me. This included Dylan, Scott and of course Huw and Arthur. Owain and Pete were starting just before me, so I would at least have someone to chase, but I didn’t know any of people in my heat.
Before we knew it we were off. The swim went well, I felt pretty good and didn’t need to go flat out, I just kept to a decent race pace and kept things clean and tidy. At only 400m it was over with pretty quickly and I glanced at my Forerunner 910XT as I pressed the lap button. 5:37 – not a bad time, I was happy with that. Official time was 6:09 because the timing mat was outside, which gave me 3rd fastest swim of the day.
There was no running allowed in the transition area so I walked as fast as I could to my bike, put one cycling shoe on, reached down to put the next one on and fell over. I got back up and tried again, only to fall over again – this wasn’t going too well. I wobbled around a bit more trying to get my second shoe on and eventually managed it, before inexplicably struggling with my race belt as well. T1 wasn’t great, but I was now on the bike and feeling good.
The bike section went well, there was a bit of a headwind on the way back, and the roads were pretty busy with cars and caravans which didn’t help at times, but I did OK, passed plenty of people who had started before me and only got passed by one person – a very fast Arthur Connell. In the end my 13 mile bike split was 36:59, 7th overall
Into T2 and more walking on cleated shoes before putting on my new running shoes. I know, I know, the golden rule is to never try anything new in a race, but I had bought some lightweight race shoes and hadn’t had chance to run in them yet. I slipped them on and took off on the run.
The shoes felt good, and so did I. I’d kept a bit in reserve on the bike so felt within myself the whole time. I didn’t go flat out on the run to start with but gradually upped the effort throughout. I could see Pete not too far up the road from me so had caught him by quite a bit and had him in my sights. I also saw Owain, he was still a few minutes ahead of me, but had started 9 minutes before so I had caught him by quite a bit too. Things were looking good.
I overtook a number of people on the run but didn’t get passed by anyone, and managed to catch and overtake Pete too. My gradually increasing effort on the run actually turned out to produce a very consistently paced run. 5:58 for the first mile, 5:55.6 for the second mile, 5:55.6 for the third mile and then a faster (5:40 min/mile) final 400m, giving me a total run time of 19:19 which was 6th overall.
I then met up with the others, had a chat about the race and our various performances, had a shower then headed off to Pwllheli Rugby Club for some chips, rice and curry and the race results. The results were out pretty quickly – I was surprised and pleased to find that I’d come 3rd overall, just behind Arthur in 1st and Huw in 2nd. My time was 1:04:54, an improvement on last years time of 1:08:36 and definitely up there at the sharp end. There wasn’t an over 40’s category in this race which was a shame as Arthur and Huw are half my age, so I would have got that, but 3rd overall was good enough for me.
There was an over 50’s category though which Pete won, coming 13th overall in a time of 1:08:35. Also from INTRtri was Alison who came in 150th overall in 1:47:17, 4th in her category. From Cerist, Dylan came 6th in a time of 1:05:55 and Owain came 15th in a time of 1:09:41.
Overall, the race went well, everyone enjoyed themselves, most of us now what we need to work on – transitions for me, and the event was well run and well organised. Considering the fact that I wasn’t feeling fast I did really well and I’m sure there’s more to come, so I may treat myself to a beer tonight, before getting back to the training tomorrow. Happy with that!