A few weeks ago I heard of the event at my triathlon club. I thought of registering, but as the date got closer, I thought I might skip it and stick to my regular training schedule. Up till a few days ago. I received a message from Adrian, asking if I would join up with him to participate as a team. He would take on the swim portion, I would do the running. This would be a cool experience so I agreed.
We had some issue with the online registration (we didn’t show up in the list), but he spoke someone of the organisation and got confirmation that all was right. Around 18.45 I showed up at the swimming pool, where Adrian was already waiting with my bib. Our series would start at 7pm.
While walking around the starting area, I learned that another team would be participating, Iris and Guido. Definitely a strong team. Adrian was getting ready for the swim, as was Iris, while I was talking with Guido.
To explain why they are such a strong team, let me explain the math to you. The distances we would compete in are a 1 km swim, followed by an 8km run.
Knowing Iris, she would swim this distance in around 16 minutes. Then Adrian, he is flying, and won the previous 500 meter / 1K distance races. He would cover the distance in around 13 minutes. Not knowing a lot of the other athletes, I figured I would be starting the run in the lead position, roughly 3 minutes ahead of Guido. This would be a problem. The reason is simply, He is FAST, swim, bike, and running. When I asked about his pace, he estimated he would run a 3.45 min/km pace. Compared to my pace of 4.15 min/km. That is 30 sec/km faster then me, or 4 minutes over the 8K distance…hence the problem. He would overtake me somewhere in the 3rd/4th lap.
So how would the race go down? The swim portion will be done in the swimming pool. All 5 lanes. 2-3 people a lane. There are two distances. The 1K-8K and the 500 meter / 4K. First the long distance would start, and when the swim part is done, the short distance goes off as well.
The faster swimmers will take the outer lanes, the slower, the more in the middle you would be. Adrian was in lane 1. Iris was in lane 5. A small advantage for us here, as the emergency door that was open to reach transition, was next to lane 1. I am standing in the doorway when taking the above picture. Small notification: The guy in the bright orange shirt is Guido, remember this, as it plays a part later on.
Below is transition:
The race was underway and things were going well. Adrian was taking the lead in his lane as expected, with someone drafting off him for 600 meters or so. He got tapped, indicating he had 50 meters to go. Time for me to walk outside and wait for his tab. Before I know it, he was there, and I was off! Time to see if I could find a minute somewhere. As I wasn’t familiar with the course (I thought it would be 2 4K laps at first, which turned out to be 4 2K laps) I was glad with the cyclist that would join me along the course. This was Iris’ father. As always with races, I started fast, too fast. Within the first K I became really thirsty. I lowered my pace a tiny bit, to a level I knew I could maintain. The first kilometer still went in 3.50min. On the back of the course there was a U shape, which allowed me to watch back easily, to see who was following me. I saw a few people, but no one wearing a bright orange jersey. Still good there.
A short while later the first lap was done. At this point I got right behind someone from my club. He is a good runner and was running my pace as well, so I stuck with him. At this point in the race, I wasn’t comfortable passing him, as I couldn’t maintain the higher pace, I was just capable of following, so we stuck together. The cyclist was doing a great job alerting everyone around us, as it was crowded with cyclists, other runners, people walking their dogs, the lot. In the second lap the cyclist said Guido was almost grabbed by a dog, which was kind of funny, as he was joking at the start he would send his dog to tackle me, so he would be sure of first place. Luckily nothing happened. We pushed on and in lap 3, we came across the same dog. Big thanks to Bas (the cyclist) as he was riding his bike between us and the dog, nearly crashing as the dog ran into him, to make sure we would be fine. Still no sight of the orange jersey, so things where good. Before we knew it I entered the final lap.
Once again, on the back of the course. I saw him, Guido! Not in a bright orange jersey, but in his black&white tri suit. ****!! And only a few 100 meters behind me. This was getting close, too close! I even shouted to Bas that Guido was coming to hunt me down, he just laughed and said I had to keep running. You can even tell from my heart rate when I saw him. It jumped from 187 to 193.
Only solution for me was to increase my pace, cheered on by Paul (the guy I ran along with). I just took off, not looking back, trying to stick to my higher pace. The last long straight, cheered on by people watching, I stuck right towards the finish line. Done! Finished, We won!! Right after I finished I turned around, I would guess that Guido was around 50 meters behind me. This race was tight!. Overall my average pace was 4.07 min/km. Later it turned out that Iris was tapped at the wrong time or not hard enough, causing her to swim 50 additional meters. That is around 1.30 minutes added to their time. Her pace was really good, as she crossed the 900 meter point around 14 minutes. Easily bridging the gap between me and Guido. Still, we are excited we managed to win. The event went great. Good organization, and around 60 people attended on the various distance, solo, or as teams. This is my first podium finish, and we got rewarded with a 15 euro coupon for a restaurant close by. Not bad for a Wednesday evening!
A short impression of the event: