Shropshire Lass, Surf Dude, Barry & Bling

This race report comes with a warning: never, ever go drinking with a racing buddy. Bad things get signed up for.

It all started innocuously enough: "let's do an end of season event that will be a bit of a challenge". Not a problem I thought, before remembering that I hadn't run a half marathon in over five years, and certainly never after sitting on a bike for two and a half hours. Still, Lucy persuaded me to enter, and I set myself two objectives: (a) to complete my first ever middle distance event, and (b) to beat the buddy.

After Estonia, I should - and could - have trained for the longer distance. I didn't. In the run up to the race, I should - and could - have done some race prep. I didn't. A panic email from me to Lucy on Thursday night: "I haven't even read the race instructions. Where am I going, what am I doing, and when?" Answer: "7:45 am. Ellesmere, Shropshire. Paddle, pedal, plod. Follow signs. Stop after five hours or so." So I was more than a little nervous. And the weather forecasts during the week were not promising.

By 6.30 am on Sunday, we were at Ellesmere. It was a blustery morning, with dark clouds threatening rain. Suffice to say that the swim was wet and windy. The bike was wet and windy. The run was damp and a little windy. If I had read the course map, I would have realised that the run route was designed for the Duke of York. It went up and down the same hill four times.

Coach's advice was to "take everything steady". For once, I did as I was told. A "conservative" swim (00:34), followed by a very "conservative" - some would say leisurely - bike (02:38 ). Given the conditions, I didn't even attempt fast transitions (putting on socks, let alone soggy ones, is not part of my normal drill....). But it was good advice, and somehow I put in a half-decent run (01:45), notwithstanding a sense of humour failure on the fourth ascent of THAT hill.

Lucy's instructions were also remarkably accurate. After five hours & 23 seconds it was all over. Lucy scampered home in 5;09. On top of which, we won our respective age categories, and I somehow managed third bird. (Shhh, but there were only 18 women in the middle distance race.... ).

As one of the club’s more reluctant swimmers I was glued to the surf report for weeks ahead of the Perranporth tri. Race day arrived with only 3-4 foot waves to deal with. Last year was twice that. Result. They look after you at this race. The vibe is all laid back gallows humour. But it’s pretty slick even though it’s done on Cornish time. Down to the beach, surf and stomach churning. Gun goes and I’m hammering into the surf with the front runners. I got through the washing machine pretty well then started to rapidly reverse. I beached about halfway through the pack feeling beaten up. The bike starts on Liskey Hill. A steep climb out of town then onto classic Cornish roads. Great support up there but a proper gurn inducing 20% in some places. The back road sections were closed so you could get a head of steam up. I made my way back up the field and got off the bike in the top 40. The run is on soft sand and sends you up an enormous dune. Not nice. I chewed through it and finished 32nd in 2.21. Great event, will probably do it next year because pain is addictive. The following weekend I did Lenchesman. Entered on the day and took my wetsuit. No need, the curse of the algae had hit the lake and it was turned into a duathlon. Normally I’d be good with that, but my legs were still stuffed. With amazing support (and booby trapped footwear) from team Ozz I gave it a rip and came in 2nd. It was a great small scale event and I loved seeing TTC’s Stu, Elaine, Claudia, Scott and team Ozz there in force.

There was a decent amount of bling collected by TTC at the recent Newent Tri. Nick Slim took the overall in 51:54, Claudia was first female in 58:30, Scott 2nd in his age group at 59:26 with Liz coming in at 1:04:06 and Paul close behind at 1:05:37.

Tom travelled to foreign lands again albeit a little closer than his Australian efforts. He managed a creditable 3rd at the Barry island aquathlon. In a tough sea swim, he got battered by a few big waves on the way out, but got going on the second lap. A negative split on the run allowed him to come through and take 3rd with a good last kilometre catching 3 others.

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