As this race is taking place as close to my house as it can possibly get, it is more then obvious I take part in it. When I went to sleep the evening before I already noticed. I was nervous. I slept light and woke up early, but falling asleep every now and then. It got worse as hours progressed, even felt a bit noxious. After breakfast, around 9am I made my way towards the packet pick-up.
The content wasn’t that much. A few stickers containing my racing number, a swim cap, my bib, a flyer, and an ankle bracelet to put your timing chip on. As I have my own ChampionChip, it was just the bracelet.
All my gear was packed, so it was time for some relaxing, as the start would be around 12. When it was time to make my way to T1, gathered everything and checked my bike. When we set out, the tape from my handlebars snapped. What a timing!
Glad I have the advantage of living in the centre, as 50 meters from my place there is a bike shop. A few minutes later, and everything was sorted out.
In T1 everything was setup quickly.
T1 and T2 are the same zone, so it was pretty straightforward. I made it a habit to scope out the transition zones to make sure where I enter, and leave. This time, I clearly noticed where we would enter T1, and the bike exit/entrance would be the same. But the exit for T2, to start the run, let straight to the water….This couldn’t be right. So I asked someone from the organization. It turns out, the run course would be dynamic. As soon as everyone was out of the water, they would move a floating bridge, effectively closing the harbour, so we could run to the other side, to start the run loop. How cool is that!
The image below shows you the swim lap, transition and the bridge.
When everything was set-up another wait session began. I spoke with some triathletes from my club. Even others with way more experience were feeling nervous. After a while it was time to get into the water. Wetsuit on and do some warming up. Hopefully to calm the nerves down. In the meantime some friends found The Girl, who will be supporting me. After a bit of a warm-up, the announcer said everyone had to form a line, to have their swim caps marked with their race number. Something they forgot to do before packing them. When everyone was marked, it was time to get things on the way. I picked a spot on the far left. Close to my friends and The Girl. Hoping to stay away from the washing machine that was about to start. The horn sounded and the starting rope was lifted from the water. We were off, and all the nerves were gone!
Quite fast I managed to create a “free” spot to swim, without arms or legs hitting me, or people swimming against me. I stuck to the far left, as the lap was counter clockwise. Only on the last meters I would sneak in to the right, to round the buoy, and continue. This strategy worked well, as I saw various people switching to breaststroke instead of freestyle. Even a girl kicking in place to empty her goggles. I continued this strategy for the second buoy, and made my way into transition. The swim went good. I was a bit out of breath and slightly dizzy when I came out. But no complains! As the previous race I had issues putting on my shoes while cycling, I chose to put them on while standing next to my bike.
It worked well, as shortly after the bike start, a guy in full TT gear, was standing still on the course. Later I heard his shoe fell off the bike because of a speed bump. He would pass me around 10-15K into the race. Me on the other hand? I started flying! Which caused me some trouble too. Within the first 5K, there are a few intersections, all taken by volunteers to manage traffic, so we wouldn’t have to care about that. However, on the second intersection, the volunteer wasn’t exactly clear to a driver on what to do. The result being a car stopping in the middle of the course. As I was in TT position, I barely made it to avoid him, giving the driver an earful. I pushed on and passed several people. A few passed me. A part of the course we had to do as two laps. The final stretch of a lap had a strong headwind. In this place I tried eating one of my energy bars. This proved to be quite a struggle, as the thing was really dry, barely possible to swallow. In the same time I got passed by a group of riders, including the guy I saw standing at the start of the bike course. Sadly there was only a single motorcycle with a judge on it, to rule against drafting.
They pulled a gap on me for about 100-200 meters, but that was as far as it got. I pushed on towards transition, to start my favourite part of the race. The run! Despite putting them on next to the bike. I took off my shoes during the bike, hence why I arrived at T2 looking like this:
What a relief to put on my shoes. I flew over the bridge onto the course. Within the first 2K I caught the entire group that was riding in front of me, and pushed on. One after another I picked up. Then the heat set in. I managed to maintain my pace and stuck running with another guy. Every now and then we would pass each other, but continued ticking off others. In the last few K I had to let him go, I couldn’t maintain my pace, or he increased his, not even sure which of the two it is. I kept pushing, and saw some more guys in front of me on the last long straight. I tried to increase my pace, and slowly but surely decreased the distance. A few more corners to turn into the harbour, during the corners I started putting serious effort towards a sprint, as a guy was closing in on me as well. A left turn, over a bridge, to pass another two guys, hanging for the final right turn, over the finish line! If you look closely at the finish photo below, there are actually two guys close behind me.
I was really satisfied with how the race went and got some things to work on.
Overall: Rank 35 / 145
Age group: 16 / 50
This is a 15 minute improvement compared to last year!