Blenheim was big. Big, pretty and I was cacking myself for some reason. Registration was quick and easy, toilets clean and plentiful and the grounds were really rather beautiful. But as we got to the swim briefing I was getting more and more wound up and really did not want to even start the race. I have -no- idea why. Sometimes shit happens, I guess.
We plopped into the pretty darned cold water and paddled over to the start buoys after the briefing. Too much nattering meant being rather startled when the start horn went off. I was even facing in the wrong direction for god's sake! It also meant that I didn't start my watch until a good 10s into the swim (rather redundant in the end, but hey ho). For me, the swim was glorious. An utter breeze. It felt easy, smooth and I went a little off course a couple of times but was way ahead of the majority of our wave by the turn buoy. I wasn't entirely sure where the end of them swim was, but carried on feeling fantastic and quick until I finally worked out where the finish was.
Again, still well at the front of the wave, I was helped out onto the pontoon with little trouble and squeaked in surprise as one of the support volunteers unzipped my wetsuit for me when I really wasn't expecting that. Very helpful! Thanking them both and tearing off the arms and top part, I ran up the hideous slope towards transition - really steep! Glancing down at my watch, my heart rate was 184! I rounded the corner at the top of one of the slopes into transition, pulling off my swimming caps (mine plus the race one on top) and goggles, and a huge grin spread across my face as the crowd were clapping and cheering for everyone and as I was still near the front of the wave and the competitors were relatively spread out, it meant that they were cheering for me! Yes, me!
Thundering into T1 with a heart rate through the roof, I found my spot really easily and tore off my wet-suit, put on my glasses and helmet, race belt then argh! The rubber covers that go over my cleats to protect them when walking about were still on! Bugger! And they usually take ages to pull off, but thankfully this time not. I jammed the shoes on, velcroed them up and trotted out of transition over the cobbles covered in matting.
The first bit of the bike course was a small downhill, followed by an actual hill. Bleh! No fair! These things are supposed to be flat. OK, I got over that pretty quickly as there were another 2-3 small rises in the early part of the bike course, then a long, slow, pretty straight downhill through the trees later on that I topped out at 52kph later on. 3 laps of the bike course was handy as having gone through the rises, downhills and couple of tight-ish bends on the first lap prepared really nicely to do it all that bit better in laps 2 and 3. I utterly flew past some rather more tentative cyclists and only got overtaken a few times - given that I was on 3 laps it was likely that I'd get overtaken by slower swimmers who were nippy cyclists a few times 'cause there would be quick cyclists on lap 1 or 2 while I was on lap 3.
Towards the end of lap 2 I was starting to wonder where Mr TOTKat had got to. Sure, I'm faster in the swim, but really, not -that- much faster. But then behind me came a "hello!" and he zipped past. Last lap of the bike was really quite fun and was over all too soon into transition again. As I hopped off the bike at the line, I was suddenly aware of my left knee. Already! Carefully jogging over the covered cobbles again, I stopped too soon for my spot and got a bit confused that Mr TOTKat's bike wasn't there until I worked out it was further down the rack. Racked my bike, changed shoes and took off my helmet and started to head out on the red matting for the run course.
My knee was being vociferous and half way out of transition I realised it just wasn't going to happen. It was pretty painful and starting to buckle. Not even 500m into the run as in the first Thames Turbo, but before I'd cleared transition. So, I decided to at least get a T2 time by crossing the timing mat at the run start. As soon as I'd done that, I ducked under the course ropes and headed straight for the pair of St. John Ambulances between the start of the run course and the end of the bike course. The volunteer there gave me one of those clever chemical ice packs and I sat on the grass and chatted with him for about 10 minutes or so until I saw Mr TOTKat go past at the end of the first lap of his run (it's a 2 lap run course). Shortly after that I took my leave of the St. John Ambulance guys and hobbled to the finish which was thankfully not too far away.
I arrived as the elites' medal ceremony was taking place and ended up wobbling about right by Tim Don as he was giving an interview after the medal presentation. Triathlon - it's a sport where you -can- get that close to the elites as a "normal" person. Try doing that at a top football match or even track athletics event. Anyhoo, Mr TOTKat came over the line just as the TV cameras changed their focus from the interviews to the rest of the race, so he may well be onna telly when the footage is aired in a couple of weeks :o)
- Swim - 00:14:13
- T1 - 00:14:18
- Bike - 00:44:45
- T2 - 00:04:18
- Run - DNF