I left Saturday for Vegas and Ella/Rich's wedding; Thursday I flew back to Austin, spent the afternoon packing my bike, and had problems getting one of the pedals off, only resolved by a last minute dash to Performance bikes on South Lamar who were open late. Friday I flew to the UK. I watched horrified as the ground crew at Chicago O'hare ejected my bike box from the conveyor belt while unloading it, a full 5ft drop onto the ground. No attempt to lift it, just an almighty shove.
I arrived back in the UK at 10:40pm, it took me until just after midnight to get over to Hertz, collect a car, drive over to the Next Generation health club in Hatfield, where I was staying. I spent Saturday morning assembling the bike, Saturday afternoon I went over to Cannons to help out with the triathlon set-up; Saturday evening I went with Darren to Lawrence Pidcocks 30th birthday party with lots of the old tri club members. and so it was, I woke up at 3:45am and got ready for the triathlon.
Race day - I was over at Cannons by 5:50am, they were not ready for registration and I stood around talking with a few of my former club teammates. This was to mark the race day for me, standing around talking.
Swim - The swim was individual timed starts. Slowest swimmer first, self seeding. I stood outside watching the first 60 or so come through transition, talking to Howard Davis, current Tr-Force chairman. I wandered into the health club, stood around talking to Andy Golden, and looked into the pool to see number 180 in the pool and left to go get to the start. By the time I got there, I'd missed my start slot. I waited for a missing number, 212 as it happened, while waiting I chatted to Ravi Dighe, when Dave Dawson said I was up, I jumped in the pool, Dave started counting and it was only then I realized I still had my top around my waist. I quickly put both arms in but didn't have enough time to zipp it up.
I didn't much enjoy the swim, it was like a washing machine, up and down each lane, then duck under the rope and into the next lane. I tried finishing each lane by going under the rope for the next lane, then turning, but decided in the end that it was better to turn in the lane I was in, the swim under the rope after the push off the rope. As far as I can work out, the swim times were taken at the entry to transition, which followed walking out of the pool and a 50m run. 6:31 wasn't as fast as I'd hoped, but not far out. 4/11 in my Age group, 86230 overall.
Bike - I had a fast transition and my running mount went fine, but then my problems started. First, although I pre-mounted my shoes and put bands on them to keep them in place, I hadn't loosened the Velcro straps, so I struggled to get my feet in. Once in though every seemed to go well until I tried to put my glasses on, they were my silver Oakleys, the right arm busted off. I shoved the remainder of the frame down the back of my shorts and pushed on. I was passed by 210, but re-overtook him about 300m further on, and only got re-passed by him half way through the run. I picked off maybe 20-people on the bike, and because I'd designed the current course, knew where to push hard and where not.
The bike course has a number of traffic circles. These are troublesome, but inevitable in a triathlon in a reasonable size town. The current course was designed after the authorities put in traffic lights on two of the major traffic circles on the old course. The one big difference between racing in the UK and the US, is that UK races, especially small ones, not only don't have closed roads, but they also don't have Police coverage at junctions. Marshals are only on turns to advise competitors which direction to go, not to advise on speed or traffic.
And so it is that hammering down the road at 24-25MPh towards a traffic circle, when you are not required to stop if there is not traffic coming from the right, is always exciting or dangerous. I must admit, I did take a couple, especially the double traffic circle in Hatfield road, too fast, although Simon later commented that I'd probably been one of the best.
My dismount went fine although I think I got off 10m before the dismount line, I flew through transition and back out. Bike time 41:44, including most of T1. Equal 2nd in AG, 30th overall. 20.8MPH Avg.
RUN - I had minor problems getting my shoes on but nothing to slow me down. I settled into an uncomfortable pace, breathing heavily, and managed to hold my pace pretty well until former club mates Kevin Dean, eventual overall winner, and then Paddy Brice, 2nd overall, came flying past me, closely followed by 210. I tried to stay with 210, but couldn't. Coming back towards the Health club I tried to sprint, but really couldn't, as I crossed the line I was gasping. 25:49 inc T2. 6th in AG, 114th Overall.
Total time: 1:14:04, 5th in AG, 58th overall.
3-seconds slower than 2006, but with a shorter swim this year. 2-minutes slower than my prediction, mostly I have to say, although my bike was marginally quicker than 2006, it wasn't as fast as I'd expected. I put this down to not really warming up, or zipping up for the swim, the shoes, the glasses and the time lost messing about with my toolkit on the bike, and not running for the past 9-days. Overall I was pleased with the race, I was creamed by Met Police member Peter Howarth, who won my Age Group in 1:08:25 and has beaten me a few times before.
Thanks to Howard, Dave, Tim, Tim and all the Tri-Force members, I enjoyed the race, although I could have been a bit more focussed!
Next-up: I've decided to have a go at the "Tri-it in Spanish" race on Saturday 14th in Zune Texas, then then Pure Austin Splash and Dash on the 17th, after that, nothing until the Couples Triathlon in July.