This wasn't my first experience of draft legal racing but I would still class myself as inexperienced, not ideal given that it was a Rotterdam world qualifier. However I was fit and race ready. I knew I was swimming well, the bike would be an unknown and my run has been pretty consistent all year. Fast racing would be the order of the day and every second would count.
I travelled to Redcar the day before along with my coach Rodger, it was good to spend time chatting about the race and how things might play out. Registering the day before gave us plenty of time to suss out the course, we even got on the bikes and did a couple of leisurely laps. This really helped me understand the road surface and anything to avoid on race day. As we left the hotel on Sunday morning and headed down to transition the sun was shining, the sea was pan flat, hardly a wave and there was a little breeze. Perfect conditions for the race.
It was a 10.15am beach start, which consisted of running like mad men (Baywatch style) and getting to that first buoy – alive! I say alive because it was the most brutal open water swim start since I have ever done. It was survival of the fittest and pretty much felt like that all the way round. I always like to get in a rhythm when swimming but in this swim it was more about making instant decisions. Go round, go over or even go under the person in front of me, the saying of ‘thinking on your feet’ needed altering for this 12 minutes of my life. Anyway, I exited from the swim and was glad to do so in one piece. Plenty of people had come out before me but likewise there were plenty still behind me.
Focusing on the job in hand I was straight off with my wetsuit, grabbed my bike and over the mount line. I went well past the mount line, probably some 40m, as it was very hectic with people falling, stopping and generally doing a poor job of getting on their bike. Flying mount completed I was on my way, it was a couple of minutes before I even put my feet in as there was a group of three riders about 25m in front who I wanted to catch. For all my efforts I never caught them unfortunately. In terms of drafting, it took until the start of the 2nd lap when a group of three came past, I had spotted them before they caught me and was ready to join on. I managed to stick with them for the remaining laps, which was pleasing as one of my aims was working with a group and getting the benefits of doing so.
I entered T2 at pace and was in and out in no time and on with the run. I ran the 5km in a way that I thought would produce my fastest time, in hindsight I may have got this slightly wrong. I possibly lost some time during the 1st and 2nd laps and my time was down on previous events. So room for improvement but I'm really enjoying the learning curve.
I'm now aiming to put a good block of sessions together before I return to racing at Bassenthwaite on the 19th August.