With only a sprint distance and a few super sprint’s between us, Laura and I arrived at Ludlow (a mere 2 and half hours early!) rather nervous. Walking into registration was quite exciting, with all the first waves preparing to set off and everyone talking about the course, it suddenly got real! It’s only a sprint distance though right? We got our gear into transition to also see the first few waves coming out of the pool! Flying along the grass through to the tennis courts where the bikes were racked, it was great to see how more experienced triathletes attacked T1. Laura and I checked, double checked, and checked again to make sure we had everything we needed in transition, then left our bikes to sit in the cold awaiting our wet arrival!
With 2 hours to kill, we went to check out the cycle dismount and mount area to familiarise ourselves with it, and good job too! Big unmarked speed bumps could’ve made clipping in a bit of a nightmare…! We also had our first experience of the road Marshall, who would encouraging people to get going whilst stopping traffic “Come on! Don’t you know it’s a race!”, Well if there was any motivation to hammer it out the gate on the bike, that was it! With nerves starting to set in we headed back to the car for a tactical banana and water, as our start times were 11:45 and 11:55, so attempting to stay fueled and hydrated was actually quite tricky. The queen of naps lived up to her name and had a power nap in the car.
We headed into the registration area with an hour to go to get warmed up on the spin bikes, which neatly had a round of the superleague triathlon on too for entertainment! Half an hour later, we were warm, stretched and ensuring we were ready to go. Ben’s race With not doing much swimming prior, I wasn’t feeling particularly swim fit. With, the pool looming, I climbed into my lane and prepared myself for the whistle. And we were off! Channeling my inner Brownlee, sprinting off and powering my arms as fast as they could go, to find the guy next to me had pulled out a quarter length lead on the first one! 15 lengths and 400m later, I was climbing out the pool and onto T1. With a sprint between the pool and the courts, and a cheer from Charlotte, I ran to my bike. Trying to not be frantic and fast, quite the combination! I shoved my feet into my shoes, but my hands were shaking and I couldn’t tighten them! D’oh! Finally tightened, belt, glasses, helmet, gel and off we go! I attempted to swing my leg over the bike, but sort of didn’t carry enough momentum and ended up being slower than if I’d mounted normally… But we were off!
The time had come, my wave had been called. This was it now! As we marched single file along the side of the pool, the air was thick with nerves and a few nervous smiles between athletes. My wave wasn’t as big as some of the others, so we were able to have 2 swimmers per lane. I was shuffled down to the very first lane. We briefly spoke with the marshal who took note of the color of our hats, so she didn’t confuse us in the water (although i really hope she could tell us apart as i was in the lane with a rather tall, rather large, ginger bearded man!). And before I knew it, the whistle blew and we were off! My lane mate flew off the wall like he was bat out of hell! The swim was the part that i was most apprehensive about as its so out of my comfort zone, so my strategy, ignore everything that went on around me, and just swim. Stay relaxed. I was pleased with myself as i stayed to my own pace. I was able to maintain my pace through out the swim and steadily gained on my fellow bearded swimmer. I ended up finishing nearly a whole length in front of him. As I hopped out of the pool i thought to myself, “Thank God that’s over with!!” I survived the swim!! So off I went, sprinting down to the transition area with shaky hands and legs. as i was running i tried to press my watch to set it to T1, but accidentally hit it twice which messed up the whole thing!! DOH!! as i ran into transition, I was greeted by a lovely shout from Charlotte!! I got my helmet on, race belt, shoes and glasses…and I was off!!!!! Then as i ran to the mount line, still some what shaky, I mounted my bike. clipped my first foot in and then in typical Laura fashion, lost my balance and nearly fell over (how embarrassing!! Haha!!). luckily i was able to get my foot out and catch myself from falling, but then also kicked my chain off my bike! so, then i had to get off my bike, flustered, and fix it. After fumbling around, which felt like forever, I jumped back on my bike and off I went.
Cruising at a steady 23mph out the gate and pushing on, feeling good. The bike was quite a scenic flat route with little to mention! One sketchy corner with a bit of gravel got the heart going but easily able to settle down and push the pace. The first 8/9 miles we’re steady uphill but nothing major, then flattening slightly to majority downhill from mile 13. Very cheery Marshall’s certainly lifted spirits when the legs were burning! Mile 16 and I started for push for the final mile, swinging it back into transition with a much smoother dismount.
I looked down at my hands to find them completely black and covered in oil, and all I could think was ‘Dear god..what ever you do Laura…do not touch your face! just had this terrible image of my finishing the race with a black oil Hitler mustache! Once I got settled on the bike, I tried to reset my watch and managed to get it just onto a ride. I was really pleased with my ride. I had my personal best average speed which was 20.7 mph. I have to say I enjoyed the course. I found it relatively flat with a few small inclines and relatively quiet through out. I made it back from the ride and ran into T2, and this time I couldn’t get my shoe off! Note to self…must relax and be more efficient. finally got my running shoes on, headband of course and fiddled with my watch to get it on a run and off I went. My t2 time was far to long, and i know from the super spring just the week before that I can and should have been much faster
Onto the run, and a fantastic cheer from the crowd as you run past the finish to the left. The run was quite an unscenic run, running mainly alongside a road squeezing past people on the return leg. A failed high five with Laura who was coming out for her run and I returned, spurred me on to push, I thought she was catching me! A final sprint for the last 200 yards put me in at 1 hour and 23 minutes for the event which I was pleased with. Being handed a medal and a bottle of water, I was very happy to sit down and wait for Laura to come in!
It took me about half a mile to get my legs feeling like my own again on the run. I was really surprised that I actually felt ok, and just had to keep reminding myself to stay relaxed and breathe, I found that i was staying relatively comfortable and able to control my breathing. I was looking for Ben for most of the first part of my run, as it was a 2 mile out and back, which was a good distraction. When I finally spotted him, he was looking very strong. He gave me a smile and a half assed high five and we carried on. I was so so so excited to see the big finish balloon. I might have even cracked a little smile…and ran through. I was greeted by a super stoked and proud Ben. My final time being 1:30:06.