Bristol Harbourside Triathlon - Race Report
My thoughts of the Olympic race in 2014

Cardiff Triathlon 2015

JamesHesterby JamesHesterJul 25th 2015
Cardiff Triathlon 2015

28th June 2015

NB: I’ve included my notes for myself regarding the race at the end, out of interest â€" I’ve kept the Blog about the race about the race itself, really…

The inaugural Cardiff Triathlon had long since been my second of two ‘A’ races this season, along with Bristol two weeks before hand â€" I’d hoped to carry some form and see what I could do on a new course. To be fair, preparation hadn’t been ideal in between Bristol and Cardiff and for a variety of reasons, I wasn’t even sure if I’d be racing on the Sunday but despite everything it was an interesting and in some ways fun event.

The Saturday registration saw myself and club mate Jonathan Bale take a trip to Cardiff, registration was straight forward and quick but the amazing ‘expo’ that had been promised was poor â€" I needed to pick up a valve extension but the woman at Chain Reaction basically just shrugged and the rest of the expo seemed to be bike insurance, panniers and a ‘triathlon transition box’ that you need a mortgage to buy.. anyway â€" some good goodies alongside the race numbers, swim hats and number tattoo’s but no bag to carry the cowbell, bike bottle and race belt gizzits â€" we left our bottles at a restaurant by mistake â€" thank god it wasn’t a more critical item. We drove the bike course as it had been changed from a straight out and back, flat power TT course to a tricky 4 lap 10k city center crit circuit â€" it was going to prove fun with lots of bike riders, lots of corners, narrow sections and the forecast crappy weather. There were also plenty of wheel smashing speed humps to negotiate but just enough flat straights to warrant a TT bike over a road bike.
I feel aggrieved that the race I signed up and paid for had a totally different bike course changed/announced so close to race day â€" I get the feeling that it was Always Aim High’s plan to do this.

And so to race day â€" a very early start due to an early close to transition (no idea why) â€" and the 0430 alarm clock was met with a very stark contrast to the hot, sunny registration day â€" a cool and very wet day greeted us as we arrived at the massive transition area (“a natural amphitheatre built here by the docks”, according to the race briefing…?!). Once again the T1/T2 area was littered with boxes and more gear than you could shake a stick at â€" I’ve no idea what people actually take with them or think they’ll need but it makes for a nightmare in finding space â€" especially when someone further down the line gets their bike the wrong way around and everyone has to change everything around when the BTF marshall points this out. Once again I had trouble with the height of my seat post and rear bottle with getting it under the racking… The change of bike direction left me with my trainers at the rear wheel of my bike and I thought that perhaps this wasn’t such a bad move â€" more on this later… Everything was soaked so with helmet and race number on my bike and running shoes by my rear wheel, myself and JB walked the swim entry to T1, bike exit and entry and run exit. To get to the front of my bike after the swim meant going between racks 3 and 4 on the way in but then racks 2 and 3 to rack my bike the from behind (oo-er) â€" again more on this later. The race brief was fine and off we went â€" I seemed to point out to about 10 people that wearing their chip on the outside of their wetsuits wasn’t the wisest choice… It was bloody freezing by then and lack of being able to eat breakfast that early and not wanting our spare kit to get in the way/soaked â€" myself and JB went back to the carpark to suit up. Umming and ahhing about whether to wear a compression top under my trisuit â€" forgetting to pack it made my mind up â€" proved to be a good move. Plenty of Slik Skin Strong on my legs but forgot to put some on my neck. Awesome. Then a barefoot walk back to transition. JB’s wave went before mine and so I had a long wait and spent the time trying to stay warm and loosen my shoulders. The swim course didn’t look exactly like the plan we’d been sent so I spent time watching the other races swim to get my eye in.

When it was our turn to get in, the marshall said it was warmer in Cardiff Bay than out â€" he was right, it was like a warm bath actually â€" very welcome. Not a massive wave and I was able to find a nice spot at the front and to the right of the pack â€" Bristol had been carnage and I wanted to find some space to get my cadence right â€" one thing I wanted to correct from two weeks previously. The Klaxon went and so did we â€" the water was clear and I was able to draft a little from swimmer to swimmer â€" feeling strong and comfortable I moved up from 2nd pack in our wave to the first group, sighting that only a few hats from my wave had gone any further ahead. Sighting the buoys on the otherhand was considerably harder, they were small and the two turn buoys, being red, essentially disappeared. Making our way further out saw more wave chop but it was a case of business as usual really â€" the pack was spread out really wide until turn 1 then it came together to some extent., around turn 2 and then â€" literally â€" no idea on direction â€" no buoys or markers to follow, just the other swimmers. As we’d caught a lot of the back markers of the previous wave, this proved hard â€" trying to stay to the right of the paddle boarders (who I assumed were marking the course) sent people off in all sorts of directions. They need better sighting buoys â€" especially in poor conditions. There was a chap about 5 meters to my left that I swung towards to draft, as I got to where I thought he was, he seemed to be 10 meters to my right â€" no idea… Then the back markers became like Scalextric Jam Cars, swimming into you and changing direction like Pac-Man ghosts… oh well, I did give a solid kick to someone who was trying to grab my ankles for some reason but I needed to fire my legs a bit anyway. All in all, a better swim than Bristol but I could have still finished further up the placings..

SWIM: 24:27

The run from swim exit to transition was on wood and I really didn't fancy stacking it in the rain but some people were haring it along â€" fair play to them. I probably could have/should have gone harder here but once again I felt a tightness in my calves that I had noticed in Bristol. Something to investigate… Wetsuit off carefully over calfs (calves?) to not induce cramp, race belt and helmet on â€" slightly jammed the bike under the rack as per usual and off out of transition. Brilliant â€" just before the mount line my gels fell off. I grabbed them and jammed them down my tri-suit… That’s worth 10 seconds right there. Idiot. Forecast rain and use gaffa tape…

T1: 1:24

So onto the bike course â€" the recce allowed us to know what we had got into, I knew where the power sections were but I knew it wasn’t going to be a solid power bike ride and I soon realised it was a very busy bike course. Fortunately most people stayed left and there weren’t any crashes that I saw, caused by poor bike riding. The first lap acted as a way to plan what to do but one addition to the list was ‘not to puncture’ as my rear bottle with tubes and pump came flying out on the first residential section â€" there were a lot of bidons along there so I’m guessing I wasn’t alone. Lap one complete, my average speed not being what I’d hoped and power down by 20 Watts on Bristol, the course was slow and technical. Laps two, three and four were very samey, although I took to singing outloud a song I’d had stuck in my head since a gig on Friday (can’t remember who it was) and shouting encouragment, complmenting tattoo’s and commenting on the weather to my fellow riders as I went by â€" another thing I find myself doing for some god-forsaken reason. On lap four I counted up how many had gone past me â€" about 5 riders.. Perhaps it wasn’t so slow but impossible to know in waves… My laps were fairly consistent:

1: 16:51
2: 16:11
3: 15: 57
4: 16:47

My friend JB came down heavily on a corner but soldiered on â€" there were also a lot of people who seemed to puncture and were walking back to transition, no idea why.. Anyway â€" the bike course? Not great â€" fun but no good to race on â€" Draft Busters were pointless as it was impossible to eradicate it with the slower riders, there were sections were I had to slow behind the motorbikes, sections where you couldn't overtake…

BIKE: 1:05: 45

T2 was fun, bike dismount is never an issue but I had to time it right so as not to hit the cobbles whilst swinging my leg over the bar. Job done though, although someone stacked it behind me at speed â€" I made an error going into the transition area and miscounted the racks â€" I couldn’t find my rack for good reason, I was in the wrong corridor â€" I couldn’t see my stupidly fluo trainers and had to go back and move over a rack â€" there they were â€" same issue with bike jamming, helmet off and trainers on. Run: Go.

T2: 1:22

The run went out towards the swim start â€" if fact the last thing I (or anyone else wanted to see, I’m sure) was the words ‘RACE START >’ when starting the final leg. I pointed this out to a rather bemused fellow runner and set about the run. I felt strong and very warm (thank god I forgot my compression top). The course was a two lap course, going out to the Cardiff Barrage. Flat and fast but with very industrial and boring sections in the middle â€" a little windy in places but all good. I’d peeled off one gel in T2 and ran with it in my hand, planning on necking it at 1K to get a boost. Ripped the top off and then dropped it. Between that and my bike bottle, I guess I’m lucky not to be DQ’d for littering but both were utterly unintentional. In fact I had to curb my swearing for dropping my gel. Oh well, it’s only an Olympic distance but I could have done with it. I felt strong and caught up with another yellow number who commented on my speed, he sat on my shoulder for a bit and I dropped him going onto the barrage â€" I was really happy with my pace, running around 4:15 per k â€" this is good for me. Out and round the barrage and there was some respite with a slight downhill and the wind behind you â€" this felt great and I planned to drive hard going towards the turn around point on the second lap and recover a little on route back. I shouted some encouragement to the GB AG’s and club mates but I ended up in my own world, really â€" I felt good but became aware that I had picked up some grit in my trainers in T2 â€" the outside of my left big toe felt horrendous and I kept running through puddles hoping to wash it out â€" to no avail. About 4.5k the yellow bib runner came back on my shoulder and I managed to say ‘fair play’ to him and he replied ‘still a long way to go’ and he pushed on. I stayed on his shoulder and was struggling badly and then at 5k â€" he went right towards the finish and I went left for lap two. Turns out there was two yellow waves. Brilliant… Held pace for the second lap but had to dig deep between 6-8k, felt good again after that. I suddenly became aware that the run would be a little short which I was sad about â€" I wanted to rack up a sub 42 minute 10k which I was on track for. How hard is it to find a couple of hundred meters, really..? Finish line crossed and JB found (blood and road rash too) â€" we grabbed some chocolate and water and a very nice Welsh slate coaster instead of a medal/T-shirt â€" good choice.

RUN: 39:11

OVERALL: 2:12:08

Turns out the ‘grit’ was just blisters from the soaked running shoes â€" not much can be done about that. Good massage afterwards to sooth tight calves (calfs??) and then back to the car to sort gear out â€" Thanks JB for driving both days and excellent company â€" good to spend some time with someone who also wants to do their best…

Position: 53rd out of 278 but more critically 26th in Age Group â€" this age group went from 15 â€" 39 (I’m 38..!) and included the elite wave. All of the other AG’s were in 9 year blocks â€" I’ve no idea who thought this would be fair â€" no idea why they can’t use the BTF/ITU AG’s?

Overall a fun day out but the bike course and AG’s need sorting out to make it race-able really.


Got cold getting ready - need to have bin liners and cheap flip flops for races like this to keep warm. Did manage to get wetsuit on better but forgot to put body glide in neck - ouch...

Had some time to stretch and warm up - this was good but feel I need to warm up before OW swims from now on.

Bin liners to put wet kit into too

And breakfast that I can have on the move - Muller rice etc...

Swim was good - still didn't draft as much - long stretch back in was hard to sight and felt like I wasted meters - pushed but didn't go all out - probably could have. Stroke rate was good - Much more room at start and pleasant swimming conditions.

T1was ok but need to work on stamping wetsuit off as needed to use my hands again.

Was overtaken by someone running really hard into T1... Must try harder...

Bike got wedged under racking as seatpost and rear bottle cage so high - rack rear of seatpost?

Exiting T1 my gels came off my bike frame and I had to stop to pick them up and shove them down my trisuit. Need waterproof tape. Then couldn't get them out and have them as course was so techy

Garmin lap button was pressed in swim and on handle bars - can I 'lock' buttons or move watch?

Rear bottle with tools and inner tubes came flying out on bump section - must CQR with tape

Have cut drinking straw too short on front bottle..!

Bike Garmin wasn't secure for bumpy road

Messed up T2 - forgot which row my bike rack was in - spotting bike rack in t2...? Spend more time walking into t2 - that's the hardest part, coming back in from the bike and finding your spot...

Running shoes were utterly drenched - totally - everything soaked... Need to keep dry somehow…

Dropped the one gel I'd saved - had binned others - on run so got no gels in - plenty of drink on the bike though

Blisters on foot are horrendous - from wet shoes - must be able to keep shows dry..? Body glide inside? Nearly ended my race at 8k it hurt so much - thought I had a massive stone in my left shoe...

Need to work on technical courses - lost lots of time (based on a few riders going around me) on cornering - otherwise I had good base speed - was only 5 mins off winners course time.
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