The Eirias Middle Distance Triathlon is a tough but beautiful race on the North Wales coast. Taking place in late September it is a great way to end the season. For me it’s a chance to get a bit more experience at the middle distance. And what an experience it turned out to be!
A beautiful morning dawned with the sea like a millpond and an almost balmy 16C. As the horn sounds I wasn’t expecting to have bright sunshine making sighting difficult. Nevis Triathlon eat your heart out! I feel good in the swim and find myself moving into the lead after the first turn. The great benefit of this is I now have a canoe to follow which is almost certainly going in a straighter line than I am. That is until it stops to guide us around the last turn and I almost swim straight into it, much to the surprise of the canoeist. My inelegant swim exit continues as I make the classic error of stopping swimming slightly too early in waist deep water. Given how often I do this, I should probably work on my water hurdling technique. The family are all watching and I think it’s fair to say they are a little surprised to see me leading out of the water.
“Is that really Daddy?” I hear Ben (7) say.
Out on to the bike and there is no time for a warm up. The road points up and just keeps on going with some serious gradients. Cresting the top of the climb some 10km later and the view is stunning towards Snowdon. Now the fun starts. I get tucked in and get the hammer down. The course is rolling but gradually losing height and it is fast. In my head I look like Bradley Wiggins in full TT mode. Just without the World Champions jersey. And the power. And a beard. Well at least one of these is possible. Maybe I should grow a beard? Or maybe I should start concentrating on the race?
Now I’m not prone to paranoia, but when you have your own BTF motorbike referee following you around the course you do start to wonder. I can’t possibly be drafting, I’m in the lead. Number visible, check. Riding responsibly, yup. Well, responsibly enough. Nope, no idea why he’s following me. While he’s here maybe I should get his opinion on the beard idea?!
I’m still feeling good on the second lap and keep on the power. As I reach the end of the 106km I know I have the lead but have no idea by how much. This is my third attempt at the half distance the big question is how will the legs hold up on the run. The answer; badly!
My coach had told me to divide the run into three. The first 7km should feel easy, then build, before clinging on for the last third. This turns out to be a little optimistic. I feel ok for 5km, positively ill for 5km and am deep into the proverbial pain cave for the remainder. I am on the brink of cramp in places I didn’t know I had muscles to cramp. The spectator support at the half way turn near transition helps, although I’m not sure Ewan (4) is going to have a career as a motivational speaker:
“Keep going Daddy or I’ll shoot you.” Well at least he’s clear.
At the last turn I can see I still have a good lead, but Sam Green is running well and I am clinging on. Crossing the finish line to take the win is a great feeling. A mixture of elation and relief that I’ve made it. I just about manage to lift my arms above my head before collapsing in a broken sweaty heap. Lots of people come up to congratulate me. Funnily enough no-one wants a hug.
A glass of Erdinger Alcoholfrei and a bottle of water later and I’m starting to feel human again. Now the Tour de France has its cuddly lions for the podium finishers, but we are in Wales. Ewan spots the cuddly Welsh dragons and is extremely pleased that his motivational chat did the job. I’m eyeing up the 3L glasses of Erdinger. As my name gets called Ewan shoots forward to grab his dragon. I suppose it would have looked worse if he’d gone for the beer.
Now one of the perks of winning is the Erdinger shower. Nothing makes you feel more like a pro than pouring 3L of tasty malted beverage over your head with a photographer snapping away. Mental note for next time: keep my mouth open! Although it could have been interesting on the way home:
Police: “Do you know what speed you were doing sir”
Me: “Very sorry, I’ve been doing a triathlon. My leg just cramped and got stuck on the accelerator.”
Police: “Of course it did Sir. You smell very strongly of beer.”
Me: “Yes. I..er…won the triathlon so I poured 3L of beer over my head.”
Police: “Come this way sir…..”
Hopefully they’ll let me out in time for next season!
Massive thanks to Xtra Mile Events and Erdinger AF for a superb event. As always thanks to; my coach, Chris Standidige of Total Tri Training; Eureka cycles; and the family for all their support (and mid-race motivational chats!).