Winchester sprint triathlon – my first race of the season and the first race since New Forest Middle distance back in September 2016, after a Winter plagued with foot and calf problems. After working out the issue with the physio and getting on top of it, I was very excited to finally have a hit out and find out where the engine was at! As it was just a short race I trained right through to the event and the week before turned out to be one of Blair's test weeks ooooffff!!!
The race included a 400m pool swim, 24km lumpy ride and a lumpy 5k run. This was the first pool race I've done where you stay in your lane and and count your own laps – one more thing to think about along with everything else! Thankfully I started in the first wave and first in my lane which meant a clear path through the whole swim. The lanes were very narrow, being a school pool, and there was barely enough room to fit two adults swimming either side of the lane and arm clashes were aplenty.
I managed to count the laps correctly and got out the pool in about 4th position. After being warned not to run around the pool perimeter, I had a clear run into a completely empty transition, making for a swift and clear exit with the bike. As this was the first race in ages, it was a great chance to get back into practising transitions again.
I hopped on my trusty stead and started the 24km ride. It was two 12 km laps and weaved through the Winchester countryside taking in what seemed to be just about every hill in the area! After about a minute the first of what turned out to be many hills approached and it was a real steep stinger of a mother. It eased off into a steady drag for a good kilometre and I managed to catch one the guys ahead of me after the swim.
After the first climb there was an awesome descent for maybe 2km's and some awkward pot hole bunny hopping at high speed! Hopping while on the TT bars was a first for me :-s I couldn't wait to get back to this stretch again on the second lap. There was very little chance to settle down into any sort of steady rhythm on the bike as every few minutes there would be another climb so it was just a case of trying to make the most of the downhill stretches. I managed to pas another of the guys ahead of me on the first lap and moved into second place in the wave. The guy in the lead was well out of sight (he was nearly half my age!) so I spent the rest of lap one and the start of lap two on my own other than the odd exchange of pleasantries with a marshal.
Over the last few km's of the second bike lap a couple of guys far more powerful than I caught up with me and raced on past. I could see they were blowing fairly heavily so didn't try to chase and hoped I could claw them back on the run. Thankfully the lights just before returning to T2 turned red and we all bunched up again (a marshal was handily placed at the lights to roughly record wait times so they could be taken off finish times).
So we piled back to T2 as a group of now 4 or 5 and I was in a decent position in the wave. Still no sign of the leader... he was long gone! I slipped into my run shoes and left T2 just behind a couple of the other guys. The first stretch of the run was about 400m downhill so things started quickly. I managed to catch the 2 guys in front before the end of the downhill as I wanted to hit the first climb before them. They were both bigger guys than me so I hoped I'd be able to pull away up the hill and get a decent lead. Like the bike, the run was very up and down and hard to settle into a rhythm. After the second climb I had a good 200m lead from the guy behind and then passed the leader. Sadly he was going the opposite way and still well ahead.
I held 2nd position in the wave for the rest of the run and crossed the line around 90 seconds behind the leader. My final time was around 1hr 13mins which I was quite happy with given all the climbing. I was particularly happy with my run time of just over 19mins on a lumpy course and given the injury problems I had struggled with over the Winter that meant very little running.
The provisional results were published later that day and had me in 3rd place. 2nd place had a slower time than me which was little confusing but I figured that traffic light stop times had been added but the finish times not updated. I didn't think much more of it and was quite happy with 3rd place and a solid race to start the season. Fast forward two weeks and the final results were published – apparently I came 1st after the young whipper snapper who had kicked all our behinds was DQ'd for jumping a red light! Woohoo, my first ever victory and prizes coming my way! I hoped anyway. Turned out there were no prizes at this race. Bloody typical.