Windsor Triathlon has always been on my ‘triathlon to do list’. Last weekend I made the trip down to compete in the Olympic distance and see what all the fuss was about. I was not disappointed. With the castle looking down on transition and the run taking in the town centre and castle gardens it really was a splendid place to race, not to mention a dip in the famous Thames to start the race off.
I travelled down on the Saturday as it was too far to travel on the day, and I wanted to be in the best shape to compete. Arriving the day before allowed me to rack my bike, check out all the transition areas and get a good idea of the various discipline routes. I also managed a 30min run in the evening and ran most of the run route. All the prep was done, and I was ready for race morning on the Sunday.
06.24am was my start time in the Thames (think that is the earliest I have ever started a race) and at that time the water was not looking overly warm, still it was not raining, and the air felt mild. I had entered myself in the quickest wave of the day which was called the ‘sub 2hr 30 wave’. The river was moving fast with all the recent rain and I would say 70% of the swim was with the flow and the remaining 30% against the flow. The hooter went and very quickly the wave got spread out and with the sun bouncing off the river it was very difficult to sight buoys or athletes. The turn point seemed to take a long time to appear in my sight, eventually it did and as I turned to come home, I got cramp in both calves. The only thing I could do was tread water and try to release them, then I turned on to my back but still nothing released. It stopped me in my tracks. Eventually the left one released but the right was not budging. On getting to the exit of the swim (somehow) and out on the steps I still had cramp, once I got on the tarmac section to enter transition I manged to do the usual grabbing of the toes and all the other weird moves you do and eventually the right came back to me. With 2 aching calves I was off running and into transition.
Over the mount line with my bike and on with the 40km cycle. The cycle leg seemed to be over in a flash. With this being such a big event and waves off every 4 minutes from 6am (sprint distance athletes even earlier in the water) there was always a steady stream of bikes to pass and dodge. The course was relatively flat until the last 10km where it was undulating as you approached the city again and down into transition. As I dismounted and ran over the mount line, I took the most direct route to my spot in transition (which was huge with over 2000 athletes competing). The legs felt OK other than the aching from the cramp, I felt like they were still good to run but also knew that I needed to manage them a little as I did not want cramp again.
The run consisted of 3 laps taking you up into the town, passed the castle and on to the famous long walk within the castle grounds. With support on the street and people cheering you on it did give you that boost that you sometimes need – although at the time you may not know it. Again, like the bike there were plenty of runners to contend with all on different laps and doing different distances. I was flowing and I knew I was in a good rhythm, but I did not actually feel that fast. The legs held out for me and I managed to pick off people in my wave (you could tell by their numbers) and finish strong down the finishing straight. Overall time was 2hrs 22mins….and a few seconds. Very happy with the time and my overall performance. You can always analyse and pick holes but other than the cramp which really was out of my hands it was a well-executed race.
Not sure on my races for 2020 but I think this one might get on the shortlist!