Well, as seems to be the case, each year, a number of us descend on hilly Exmoor to tackle one of the hardest, wettest and windiest 70.3 around. And after each year, we say never again, yet each year we seem to be back there!
So, this year, we had goalspecific Adam R, Mark and myself who are also Tripurbeck athletes along with Jose, and Gary as part of a team. It was Adams first ever 70.3, so of course he picked the hardest one out there. Marks first full race since he broke his hip (for the second time) and my 4th time there, though this time with ruptured ankle ligaments and the strong advice not to be racing. But, something just draws you to that place, no idea what it is! So, we all had our individual challenges, Adam was to test the distance, fuel well, and pace it out, to finish strong. Mark was again, to be sensible, test out the fixed hip and gauge fitness after a time off, and as for me, well the main test was to see if I could finish a tough course with a non functioning ankle! (after a few dnfs already this year). On top of our individual performances, we were also racing as Team Tripurbeck against other, much larger Tri clubs for a slot to the European Club Championships! (Didnt actually know about this until after the race!!)
So, a rolling start for the first time at Wimbleball, was managed very well, and for the first time, although I didnt have a particularly good swim, I had a much smoother experience then in previous races. Adam, who only started swimming this year posted a fantastic 35 mins. Mark, as always right at the front of the field, was a super fast 29 mins. Those that have ever raced at Exmoor will know how hilly and tough the bike course is, and needs to be treated with the respect it deserves. Adam very sensibly rode hard but didnt rinse his legs on the hills, though did illustrate to many in his age group the benefits of lots of hill reps in your training! Although not a course that Mark would ever choose, he also had a solid ride, to be in the top quarter of the field of his bike, and although I know not 100% happy with how the run/bike went, I personally think its fantastic considering where he was 6 weeks ago! Literally weeks back into run and bike training, putting yourself out there on that course is pretty inspirational! Just think what you could do after a year of not braking anything!
As for me, well, it was an interesting experience. Normally I am very happy to get on the bike and push hard knowing that a hilly course really suits me. However, having a horrendous experience on the bike at Grafman and some pretty dodgy rides recently due to an overly fatigued and weak calf and foot from over working due to lack of ligament strength, I was cautious, and above everything else, was determined to finish the race. So rather than powering up the hills, I clicked down a few gears and spun up, taking as much pressure out of the limb as possible, and it worked, I got back into transition relatively pain free, knowing that I still had a bit left out of the leg! I have to say I was somewhat shocked to hear that I was 7th in off the bike with the second fastest time overall. So, the focus was get round the 3 laps! Being off road and hilly had mixed blessings. On the one hand with such varying surface meant that I wasn’t fatiguing the muscles in the same place all the time, but its impossible running up hill, there is just no power to push off, its like dragging your leg around. Also stability is rubbish, so I must have looked like a drunk person running along the paths most of the time! However, up to about 6-7 miles I got away with it. The rest of the run wasn’t too pretty. However, made it to the end, and was amased to find I came 2nd in my Age group 9th overall, and only a couple of minutes off my pace from last year. If only I was injury free!! I have to say a HUGE thank you to Joe Parkes, a truly top Physio, who took time to get my leg into the best shape possible for the weekend and took time out to show me some pretty secure strapping technique that really did work!!
As for Adam and Mark, also amasing performances, and goals achieved from both. 20th overall for Mark in what I would say was the hardest male age group, and 25th for Adam, with clearly a lot more to come there! A mention also has to go to the TOP support we had on that run. You were my markers on that run, to get there, and get that energy off your cheers and support, and I know thats the same for all the others, so thank you Ade, Annie, keith, Jackie, Fin, Max, Andy, Terri, Mel, Simon, Cheryl, Laura, Isobel, Darcy.
So we waited for prize giving for my Age group award and were somewhat surprised to find out, due to the hard work of all of the Tripurbeck athletes, (Jose, Gary, Mark, Adam and myself) we finished winning our division and 2nd overall out of all of the clubs, securing a place to the European Club Championships 70.3 and coming home with a rather nice trophy! Not bad for a small rural Tri club!
Jenni was also racing middle distance, unfortunately the day did not go so well, due to falling on the run turning over her ankle rather badly! RICE now and physio work, as Bolton is around the corner! However before Bolton for Jenni and Evan, we have Clodie and myself (rather foolishly and probably as a team) racing in the Freak Middle Distance on Sunday – a recovery / taper week for me then! Then some big races coming up in Bolton, Alpe Dhuez, Wiesbaden and Vichy!