Castle Howard Standard, 23rd April 2007

2:37:03 (1.5k swim, 45k bike, 10k run)
15th M40-49, 49th Overall

0:22:28 – Swim – incl ~ 300m uphill run to transition
0:01:33 – T1
1:24:39 – Bike (45k)
0:01:07 – T2
0:47:06 – Run

I was doing this race because Rachel was keen to race it. It would be my first Olympic distance race in over a decade and I was quite excited to race a shorter race. We set off from my mums at 6:20am for the very scenic drive to Castle Howard. It was very well organised but the 90 minutes we’d arrived before the start soon disappeared.

The swim course was well marked out but it was slightly confusing as on the return you had to pass the final yellow buoy the other side to the others. As he’d explained this I made a mental note to concentrate on that bit of the course.

On the start line there was this guy was a bit full of himself. “I’ve qualified for GB the past five years” – not sure who had asked him. He was also edging forward at the start so I wondered whether he was fast or not but decided to start beside him just in case. The swim start was the usual mass sprint. As usual, I was quite surprised how hard some people sprint given what their pace overall proves to be. 50m in and the “GB guy” was just ahead of but I’ve got my shoulders ahead of the rest. By 200m we were clear and I decided to sit on his feet. All was good until we started towards the final yellow buoy of the first lap. Well, he didn’t head to it so I left his feet. He was re-directed by the kayaks and by the buoy I was just ahead. I decided to see how strong he was by swimming comfortably. He came alongside but couldn’t / didn’t go past. The next turn was dead. 180 deg round a narrow orange buoy. It was a left had turn and he was on my right. I couldn’t understand why he stayed in that position as it put him wide on the turn. As I finished my turn I did a flat out sprint to drop him. Got about 10m pretty quick and that was that. I soon noticed him way off to the right. I enjoyed the rest of the swim finishing first in the wave.

There was a long run up to transition. It was very muddy so decided not to put socks on. I was on my Indie XS road bike as next week I’m doing some riding from my mums. This really helped me just enjoy the race as it didn’t feel serious. The bike route is really nice. Beautiful scenery. Some hills, some fast descents and some TTy bits. With 30 minutes between waves and not too big a field (a little under 200 per wave) there was loads of room and just no packs at all. It was encouraging to be passing people from the wave ahead and those guys in my wave that did come by didn’t pull away too quickly. It was a little frustrating that my power meter didn’t register with the head unit. This never happens on a training ride but regularly does in a race. Very odd and I can’t figure out anything I’ doing different. It didn’t get to me particularly (till after the event when I was interested how hard I’d managed to go). Towards the end of the lap I re-caught some guys from my wave when we hit the hills that rather favoured my road bike with compact gearing.

On the run I was a little concerned early on with the nature of the path and my choice of chose – Vibram Seeya – they are very light weight but not very good on very rough paths. Luckily it was only the first KM. After that it was a lovely lumpy route on a variety of terrain but always with the beautiful scenery of Castle Howards grounds.  I was enjoying pushing hard. Every KM under 5 mins … fast for me. Only a few people passed me but I passed loads. A very pleasant change from recent experience.

I crossed the line pretty pleased with my 47 minute run (for a little over 10k).

It’s a sign how much I loved it as I couldn’t help look and the results and wonder what it ! Feels like a few more olympics may be on the cards next year. So nice to race a distance where there isn’t that little thought at the back of your mind that you might blow up.

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