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TriHardAlan - Tales of an Age Grouper
TriHardAlan - Tales of an Age Grouper

Doing it when it doesn't count

TriHardAlanby TriHardAlanSep 26th 2017
Nearly 2 years ago I lay on a operating table ready for my Birmingham Ham replacement vowing to qualify and take part in the 2017 World Age Group Championship in Rotterdam. And as per my last Blog I had qualified and was on my way.

And the build up had been going well. I had cracked 20 minutes for 5k for the first time post op, both in a Tri and a standalone race and at my own clubs race, the Thames Turbo Sprint, I had taken a minute of my PB for the bike course, a marginal improvement on my swim PB and was only 25 seconds of my course PB. I was feeling confident of performing to the best of my ability.

But then I got ill with a nasty cold/flu about 2 weeks out and it became a race against time to shake the virus. Getting out there and on to the start for the swim and still coughing and spluttering I knew I had lost that particular race. But hey, I was there and I would finish and enjoy the experience. So the gun went and of I went and it wasn't long before I wanted to cough again but obviously couldn't. It felt like a long swim and I put that down to a lack of training over the last couple of weeks but was told that the course was 1700M. Not sure how accurate that is but if so my 26 minutes was a great swim for me. After a 500M run to T1 I got on the bike and set of on the tight, twisting, technical and frankly at points dangerous bike course. There wasa lot on narrow cycle paths and it didn't suit my dubious handling skills but once past the first 5k or so it straightened out a little and I was cycling OK. Got to the end of the 1st loop, turn't around and I was on 35 minutes. With a shorter 2nd loop to come and being familiar with the bike course now I was hopeful of a decent time. But then I punctured and my spare wouldn't inflate. Was my dream over? No, I rode the last 15K on a flat. Very slowly. Finally got back to T2 after a 1 hour 30 minutes determined to have a good run. 1st K was 3.57 but shortly after I realized how ill I still was. Some of the K's dropped down to 4.30 but kept most of them around 4.20 which on reflection was a herculean effort. A run time of 41 minutes hid the course was a little short and I finished in 2.47. Exhausted I sat down and burst in to tears of frustration. This was not how I wanted my 2 year dream to end.

So, what to do now? My season isn't over, I have a couple of London League events left in October but I wanted redemption quicker than that and didn't want my last Tri of the season to be such a disappointment. I waited to the end of the week to check I was clear of the virus, which I seemed to be, and that the weather was dry and also checked my front race wheel wasn't damaged and then set of to my Triathlon spiritual home of Eton Dorney for the Votwo Sprint. I hoped that some of that fitness from before the virus was still there.

My wave had the Vets (40+), Super Vets (50+) and Relay Teams in it and was set of at the sociable hour of midday. The swim was the one area I wasn't expecting a great time but I was very wrong and surprised myself with a 12.01 which was a 45 second PB. Maybe that Rotterdam swim truly was 1700M! Anyway, after a reasonable T1 and a slightly slow mount I set of on the bike and for those familiar with Eton Dorney we were on the slightly slower rougher surface of the Service Road. But I was flying, 1.19 for the 2nd K. Wow! But then we turn't around to come back down the middle road which is much smoother and normally faster. But I was struggling to hold 32 kph now and battling some headwind. Which of course was a tailwind on the rough road on the way up. 4 laps of 43 to 45 kph one way and 32 to 34 kph the other. But I was passing everybody so figured I was getting it right. Back to T2 after 33 minues. I was about 50 seconds down on my time from the same race last year but talking to others after the race they had lost about 5 minutes so it was a very good cycle. After another reasonable transition I set of on the run and looked ahead up the 2k straight alongside the lake and couldn't see a soul. Was I in the lead? There was a little applause as I set of on the run so maybe. Lets get to the turnaround and see if I can see anybody coming in the other direction. I again had the tailwind on way up and headwind on way back so again a considerable drop off on speed but was now confident I was in the lead and gritted my teeth, enjoyed some more applause as I approached the finish and crossed the line 1st in my wave. Which was very enjoyable and a new experience!

After I confirmed I had won the Super vets category, would have won the Vets too, beat all the Relay Teams, had the quickest male bike split overall and finished 6th overall.

Did all of that make up for the frustration of the Rotterdam experience? No of course not. That I will simply just have to do again.
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