British Triathlon Championships (Liverpool) Race Report – by Tom Williams

Tom and some of the team at IM70.3 Pays d'aix earlier this year

Tom and some of the team at IM70.3 Pays d’aix earlier this year

British Triathlon Championships (Liverpool) Race Report

There are times in life when you wonder what on earth you’re doing. This is one of them. It’s 6.45am and I’m standing in the driving rain, cold and barefoot on the side of the Albert Dock. With the exception of a few hundred other lunatic triathletes, the rest of the world is in bed. We do this for fun…right?!

I’m standing with sponsored athletes Chris Standidge and Iain Robertson. A friend of Chris’s comes over: “it’s the elites over here then?” he jokes. “This is the podium isn’t it?!” Chris and Iain look slightly awkward, all being well they’ll be right up there. I smile; “not me mate.”

After a short wait some ridiculously chirpy volunteers guide us on to the most unstable pontoon I’ve ever set foot on. I’m feeling seasick by the time I reach the other end. Into the water, the horn sounds and we’re off. I use Chris to give me a quick tow away from the pack (not literally – unfortunately!) and I get into a rhythm. It’s slightly disconcerting stroking the odd jelly fish (that’s not a euphemism) but the swim goes reasonably well. The narrow dock means even I can’t get lost and I’m out in just over 21mins.

A rule unique to Liverpool Triathlon is the fact that you have to get your wetsuit into a bag before entering transition. This involves doing the ‘wetsuit dance’ in front of a slightly awkward looking volunteer, whose job essentially involves holding a plastic bag while watching people doing a poorly coordinated striptease. Any of you who have tried to get out of a wetsuit quickly will know what I mean by ‘wetsuit dance.’ Personally I prefer the; pull, pull, stamp, stamp, lift, move. Now I think about it, I might try this next time I’m on a dance floor. To be honest, my dancing couldn’t get any worse.

 

Transition itself is in the Echo arena. Last time I was here it was to watch ‘Disney on Ice.’ The kids wanted to see it. Honest. What occurs to me is that the Disney production company spent a lot of money turning the arena floor into an ice rink. All they actually needed to do was get a few hundred wet triathletes to run onto the smooth concrete floor. A solitary volunteer with a mop is fighting a losing battle. I slide my way around to my bike, resisting any temptation to try a triple salco.

Out onto the bike and the first thing to hit me is the cold driving rain. The first thing I nearly hit is a junior work colleague from the previous wave who crashes right in front of me. I try to stop, but braking on wet carbon rims is a bit like using a chocolate teapot; pointless and likely to get messy. The resulting slide actually helps me turn the bike and I just miss him. He seems to be shouting “I’m alright,” although it may have been “oh shite.” I decide to crack on.

The Met office had labelled this a hurricane. Seems a touch dramatic. Growing up in Yorkshire I’d probably describe the bike leg as moderately damp. Although I concede the standing water and overflowing storm drains may have made it officially wet. And it was a tad breezy.

Onto the run and I have a plan; I want to run a 35min 10km. It hurts. They say that with training it always hurts, you just get faster. About kilometre 8 I decide it actually hurts more. I’m passing people but I’ve no idea if they are in my age-group or not. My sprint finish is simply me clinging on to hold my pace. I simply could not have gone any faster. As I cross the line I hear the commentator say something about third place. He can’t be talking about me, can he? Within a few seconds two friends rush up congratulating me. They don’t know each other and are both talking at me. This is a slightly awkward social situation at a the best of times. When you can’t get your breath and are trying to keep that last energy gel down it is even more so. But the upshot, unbelievably, is I’m third.

A British Championships medal. Still not sure I believe it. Turns out that chap at the start was right. I hope he bought a lottery ticket….

Now as any experienced athlete will tell you, recovery is vital. Nutrition is clearly an important part of this. It is with this in mind that I proceed directly to the Eureka stall for the biggest piece of flapjack I can find. Not exactly textbook, but it tastes great!

So what have I learned from this experience? 1. I clearly perform well in moderately damp “hurricane” conditions. 2. Stroking jellyfish (it’s still not a euphemism) is clearly lucky. 3. I’d much rather be dong a triathlon in a hurricane than watching Disney on Ice.

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