I've been looking forward to this race for 365 days because after last year's race I vowed to go back & break 4:30 hours. After my knee operation in the early part of this year I decided that I would concentrate on this one race & nothing else. I only did two races running up this event, both middle distance, & the rest of the time was devoted to training, & lots of it. Was this a mistake? I'm not sure.
My training had gone very well so when race day eventually came, I felt that I could do nothing else & all I wanted to do was to race. We travelled up on the Friday thinking the distance to Rutland Water would take 3 hours or so, but 5 hours later (poxy M25!!) we arrived for registration & then pasta with garlic bread in the cafe next to the water. We then booked ourselves in our hotel & had a well deserved spa bath & a good night's sleep.
Race day started at 3:45am & we left the hotel at 4:30 to arrive at Rutland Water at 5am in the dark so head torches were needed to get to transition safely. Bike racked, kit set out then off to do a warm up. Race briefing was at 6am which was compulsory for everyone & this is where I met up with Scott & Di as well as Rob Griffiths who were up their supporting their athletes. The race was very nearly ruined before I had set foot in the water. As I was putting on my wetsuit, Nikki screamed at me to stop because a wasp had travelled in the sleeve just as I was about to pull it up my arm. I managed to get rid of him before any harm was done. I entered the lake at 6:40 (Wave 3) with the sun rising over the calm waters of the lake. I positioned myself on the front row & off we went. For the first lap I set off on a steady pace but nearing the end of this lap we started to catch the tail-enders of the wave in front of us so had to do a bit of dodging & weaving. A safe exit & re-entrance onto the second lap of the swim. I started to move up a gear on this lap cos I wanted to at least get into the 30 minutes for the swim.
I exited the water for a speedy T1 & out onto the two lap bike course with the renowned Rutland Ripple which Nikki kept calling the raspberry ripple!!!! This made me chuckle while I was struggling to get up it (note to myself - I must concentrate). The wind was quite blustery but the first lap was OK, no untoward problems & worked hard throughout. We had to come back into the water park via the feed station to then start the second lap. By now the wind had picked up considerably which made the second lap a little bit more difficult, & that is where I lost a couple of minutes, which was a little bit annoying.
Back into T2 for a speedier transition, & it is at this point that I can honestly say I can match the eventual winner of the race, the times will follow at the end of the report. Now I knew what I had to do on the run & I honestly believed that I could do this what with all the times I had been recording in training off of the bike, but would it come together on race day? The run consisted of a two lap run, out of the water park, along a narrow path onto a bit of grassland, a right hand turn & across the dam & off to the Norman church & back again. The first lap was fine. At the half way point was still on schedule but during the second lap, heading towards the church, I was heading into a very strong head wind & this is where it all fell apart. I really struggled. I turned around & gave myself a mini talking to & a kick up the arse & with the tail wind behind me I was moving along a bit better, but once I hit the dam again I found myself heading into the head wind again. It was at this point that people started to overtake me. Not good. I struggled to get to the finish but I did it. I am a Vitruvian.
Split times are as follows:
Swim - 30:20 [63rd]
Bike - 2:26:04 [67th]
Run - 1:37:29 [134th]
Total time - 4:36:04 (last year's time was 4:36:00)
I came 61st overall out of 785 entrants & 8th in my age group. Conclusion: I really believed that I could do it in 4:30 so deep down I am gutted, but I tried my best. This race is now in the past & I'm going to enjoy three weeks off & then start to focus on next season & improve on the areas that I now know that I need to improve on.