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Marauding in the Mediterranean and Medals in Minehead

She said she was rubbish at sending in results but it looks like she didn't stop long enough to write anything down! In one e-mail Ros sent me a very impressive write up of all the events she has completed this year. I'm sure this will put her well up in reckoning for the Club's Triathlete of the Year award. However, here's what she said about her pinnacle event - Ironman Barcelona. How does she keep smiling through the pain?

'The usual format, starting with a sea swim - 1 loop out and back. You know you’re in for a fun time in the sea when professional triathletes walk away at the start line. The height and power of the swell would’ve been the envy of surfers. Some age-groupers were rescued before they hit the first buoy. I chose to go in a slower swim pen than planned, hoping to be protected by a pack and able to draft. The sea was a beautiful, clear light turquoise. At 21 degrees it was lovely and warm in a wetsuit. Adjusted stroke and breathing to the rhythm of the waves; very relaxed body and slower breathing with quicker strokes followed by long strokes. Challenging at times when being tossed in the air. Buoys were smaller than usual IM ones, so sighting was pretty much down to luck. I was beaten up for the whole 3.8km. Not out of malice, but because everyone had limited control over how far the sea chucked you from left to right. I was glad I wore two hats with goggles sandwiched in between and that I had secured the ankle timing chip strap with a safety pin.

Round 2 - The bike: Closed Roads, some scenic views. Fast and flatter. 2.5 laps 0 - 40 miles: I can do this. Felt great. Thoughts of; I'm a cyclist - I’ll finish in 6 hours. Thank you Saturday club rides. Nice views. 40 - 80 miles: Ugh, no amount of shifting in the saddle is going to make this comfortable. I wore the wrong kit. Ugh! Rain. I was cold and very wet. Couldn’t feel fingers and wished I had arm warmers. Wished the wind would stop or at least be behind me. Pity my poor support crew. Ignored the athletes drafting, they’re cheats. Waved at them as they sat in the penalty box. 80 – 100 miles: Speed dropped, but sun came out. Thoughts: Am I nearly there yet? Yee ha! 100 miles in 6 hours. Oh, another 12 to go. Have I pee’d yet? Raced for my life as started to slow down. 100-112 miles. Who put these climbs here? But wait – hey fellas you’ve been chick’d! Really wanted to get off my bike now.

Off the bike and I was raring to go but nearly fell over as had put trainers on and forgotten to take cycling shorts off. Grrrrr. Legs felt good. Run: Pancake flat. 70% coastal views. 3 laps. Lap 1: Nice comfortable jogging pace. Sun came out. Lots of smiley athletes and supporters. Thought I might be forgiven. Cowbells and shouting. Lap 2: Time to pick up pace. Bye-bye sun, hello rain and thunderstorm. Random thoughts kicked-in: What’s 13 miles in KM? Am I on target? Wait, what is my target? Oh yes, to run the Marathon. Am I talking out aloud? I developed an acute awareness of my foot muscles, but no cramp anywhere. Lap 3: Torrential rain and wind, no daylight. Cold and very wet. How could I make it up to my support crew? It was lovely hearing the waves crashing on the beach though. Entertained by drunk supporters and samba drums. Saw someone running barefoot??!!! Nooo, missed out on 12:30:00 finish. None of this soaking up the atmosphere on the red carpet; ran past people to chase a quicker time. 12:55:00 – Hugs and dry clothes from amazing Tri family. Oh and the very long shuffle back in the rain to fetch my stuff. Time for steak and Guinness!!

Continuing with the Mediterranean theme a group of Club Members headed to Elba and like Napoleon, made a triumphant return as Ed reports:-

A couple of weeks ago now, at the end of September, 11 TTC members and partners headed to the Italian island of Elba. Located between the west coast of Italy and Corsica, it's the perfect place for a relaxing holiday... or a triathlon. In my ignorance, I knew only two facts about the place before going:

  1. Napoleon was exiled there

  2. It's the home of Elbaman

Out of the group, six had originally entered the slightly long half IM distance event (Elbaman 73), although three saw sense in the weeks prior, and decided to join the rest of the support crew for a day in the bar! Meanwhile, I was the only one foolish enough to enter the full distance event.

It was my first attempt at this distance, and I knew I had picked a particularly tough course, largely due to the 2700m of climbing on the bike route. Training started in earnest back in April once a) I'd paid my money, and b) the snow had melted. I figured five months should be enough time to get in reasonable shape, but I also knew that just making it to the start line would be half the battle. Sure enough, by mid-summer I had picked up a running injury, which meant I managed just one long training run in the weeks before the race - I would be going into this somewhat under-cooked!

On the plus side, not running freed up more time for cycling, so I was able to fit in a handful of long rides. Trying to replicate the race profile proved difficult though, so it was often a case of hill reps. Unfortunately, this resulted in a niggle in my lower back after one tough session, which would come back to haunt me on race day.

The two-lap swim started in near perfect conditions as the sun rose over the sea. It went as well as could be expected. I emerged from the water in a decent position and jogged to T1, where I promptly slipped on some wet tape in the changing tent, used, ironically, to stop people tripping over the carpet! Picking myself up, I changed into my bike kit, located my trusty steed and hit the road. The bike route was three laps around the western side of the island and was either up or down. The first lap felt good; my level of effort was where I wanted and I was happy with the pace. The climbs were steady with no ridiculous gradients, although the road surface was pretty bad in places, making for some sketchy descending. Lap two and things started to go less well. The hills found out the existing weakness in my back. Before long I was slipping back through the field - seemingly everyone was going past me, including two day-tourers on mountain bikes and a woman old enough to be my grandmother. By lap three I was in agony and had gone into survival mode, looking at the scenery to help take my mind off things, knowing that if I kept turning the pedals I would eventually get round. And, after 7h 15m of riding, I did.

Then it was through T2 and onto the run - six sodding laps. The TTC crew, by now quite lary, had based themselves somewhere near the middle of the course, but seemed to move with frightening frequency from one establishment to the next, drinking each place dry in the process! Nevertheless, their encouragement and cowbells were gratefully received as I counted down the laps. Other than a slight wobble at half-distance as my legs ran out of fuel, the 'run' went reasonably well, and I eventually crossed the line after 12h15m, a bit slower than hoped, but happy nonetheless.

At the same time as Ed went long, three members Nicki, Dave and Stu took on the challenge of the shorter route with varying degrees of success. Nic decided it was an ideal return to competition after a two year injury lay off. She gives her version first:-

After the new experience prepping my pitch in transition in the dark (thank goodness I was advised to take a head torch). The swim went well (for me) and I quite surprised myself by not cowering at the back. The hours of club training and winter lake swimming with the hard core crazies in our midst really paid off, and for once I was able to relax and not panic. Rewarded with a place near the front as we left the beach, I headed off to T1.

With shouts of encouragement from our Chair Caz (who was marshalling in Transition and accidentally on purpose positioned within earshot of me) ringing in my ears, off I went on the bike. The course was two laps and I knew it was lumpy. I took it steady and eventually got to the top on the first lap, looking forward to a bit of respite for the legs on the way down. Unfortunately, it was not to be as at this point the road surface deteriorated as we negotiated our way around numerous hairpins, under relentless tree canopy which made it harder to see. Having scared myself a couple of times, I decided to approach the second lap with more caution. A number of competitors had already come a cropper and I was determined to reach the bottom without incident. With 1,500m of climbing behind me, and trying to ignore the discomfort in my upper body from the bone jangling descents, I eased into T2 before setting off on the run.

This consisted of 3 laps and began well. Keith had shouted to me that I was first in age-group off the bike which, to be honest, I thought was unlikely! Either way I was determined to stick to my plan, despite being goaded into erratic pace changes by an Italian competitor (who eventually blew up and I beat). Just past half-way however, I began to feel I was running on empty and one of the biggest lessons learned was managing my nutrition, as I definitely fell short. I was kept on my feet by one remaining gel and the support crew of Keith, Caz, Neil, Meinir, Stu, Linda and Anne who all threw themselves wholeheartedly into the task of cow-bell and vocal support, for which they needed copious amounts of liquid refreshment! All thoroughly deserved!

My intention going into this was to finish, and see if I liked it! I can honestly say I enjoyed the challenge – to come away with an age-group second was totally unexpected and blew me away.

Stu managed to finish in despite suffering the ill effects of some dodgy seafood. However Dave must be thinking that the golden bees of Elba have got it in for him as he explains:-

Following huge disappointment last year when I was standing at the edge of the sea ready to start my swim and the Biblical weather commenced I was determined to complete the course this year.

We woke on the day to beautiful weather and I was looking forward to the challenge. The sea was clear and warm and the swim went well. Transition was fine and I set off on the bike. Expecting a bit of a climb I took the first lap relatively easily. On the second I began overtaking some people and I was pleased when I reached the 75 K mark as it meant I had a mainly downhill ride of 19 K to go.

Descending at quite a rate down a windy and tree lined road to Marciana I hit a large pothole and ended up in the barrier, fortunately without any injuries. I had punctured my back tyre and immediately set to work replacing the inner tube. When I pumped up the tyre there was a bulge in the tyre. I tried to carry on but as soon as I started rolling the tyre punctured again. In total I tried 3 inner tubes all to no avail. I wanted to finish so decided to try and walk to transition. I began walking and was asked by many athletes on the way if they could help. A real tribute to our sport. I walked for 16 K (about 10 miles) with cleats and the bike when a marshal on a 1000cc motorbike explained I still had 3 K to go. He told me in Italian to put my bike over my shoulder and get on the back of his bike. He then drove me into the transition area.I spoke to the support team at transition, said I desperately wanted to finish the race and they told me I could. I then set off on the run and managed to finish it. They gave me the medal and T shirt. Quite an adventure!

I'm not sure that Dave would recommend it but Nicki's view was that it was extremely well organised, friendly, well supported and with volunteer marshals and refreshment staff who were truly superb. The island of Elba itself is simply beautiful, with stunning scenery, crystal clear sea and sandy beaches … Loved it!

The one thing they all agreed was the support of the fellow Club members. As Ed said 'Thanks to all the TTC coaches who helped whip me into shape, and to all those who put up with me on the long training rides. Thanks also to the support crew that cheered me round, and especially to Keith Ozz for his help, support and race day food preparation!

I can't tell you much about Cris in Lanzarote other than he described it as very hot and painful. Still he takes a good photo on the finishing podium.......

Meanwhile on the not so balmy Devon coast, we had two entrants at Minehead. As Jo said Jo the weather was awful, The shortened swim which incorporated an Australian exit was hell. She said she had never been punched and pushed so much! It was followed by a hilly bike and run. Definitely an experience that's for sure! She wasn't sorry to see the finishing line and recuperate!

In his last race before Ibiza and Tom took the relay win! He was happy that he held onto the lead group on the swim to come out of the water 4th, a great bike leg by Andy and backed up with Tom recording the 3rd fastest run of the day (catching a relay team that were ahead). The result should set him up well as he tapers before his big race.


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