My year started well with personal bests.
However, after getting injured I became downhearted. It didn’t take long to dawn on me that my inability to put in some meaningful running miles meant it was going to be another year before I took the step up to middle distance triathlon. Fortunately, the standard distance still had places and I was able to change my entry. I knew that I had the base fitness to run 10k off the bike without having to train that distance in the build up and there I rediscovered my love for participating in this amazing sport rather than putting pressure on results and times!
Adding to the excitement is being part of JBR Tri club. A small but growing and incredibly friendly club, they take on events with a real team spirit whether you only joined yesterday or are one of the founding members. We travelled to Cambridgeshire the day before the race and a hearty meal and few laughs set the tone for the evening and forthcoming race day.
Ely is a small, stunning Cambridgeshire town with a busy canal running by the cathedral packed with pubs, restaurants and art galleries either side of the water making a great race setting.
The water tasted a bit like diesel which wasn't too pleasant, but it felt more mild once in. This ended some pre-race concerns as it was a freezing late summer morning. A narrow funnel for the many competitors made for an exciting swim with sighting made less important as I could gauge distance from how many metres I was from the parked canal boats. The banks nearer transition were crammed with spectators as were the foot bridges meaning I could hear the supporters with every turn of the head.
Out to the buoy and back again I was sure that I was going well enough, knowing that a top 15 swim would put me well in contention when I came into my comfort zone on the bike. Into T1 and unfortunately this event has a rough swim exit due to the hidden rocks which are near impossible to avoid meaning some pain in the toes once the race adrenaline eases.
Into the bike and the course immediately felt fast. Flat and quiet roads meant for some mean racing! A slight incline out of town on the main drag worked the quads however once into the country my Garmin was giving me a smile. One section along the far end of the course is very bumpy and the road poorly kept however the main road back to Ely offered a kind tail wind and slight decline meaning for over a mile many of us were sitting relatively comfortably above 30mph. With the cathedral drawing closer, so was transition meaning that my racing was nearly done!
Something inside was telling me that maybe without training I could, by some miracle, run a PB off the bike, but reality soon kicked in and I was way off the pace! So I switched off and just tried to enjoy the fact I was racing again and embracing the support from fellow club members at the side of the road. Unfortunately for me, reality had another kick for me when my quads cramped up in a big way 5km in. So after a short walk and a stretch I got going again and 4 laps of a scenic course through the cathedral grounds were soon done.
Time to re-hydrate and refuel with a beer and a burger and cheer on my club comrades. One last pleasant twist to my race day was being joined by a friend I made riding to Paris as part of an event organised by Great Ormond Street hospital. He had just enjoyed a long ride and happened to live close by so was equally eager to re-hydrate and watch the race draw to a close.