I decided to travel over a few days early to make sure I could take in the area where the event was taking place. On Thursday I went swimming in the sea to get used to swimming in salt water and to suss out how the course went. I also registered so I knew I had one thing less to do. On Friday I went out on the bike to Reccy the 2nd half of the route, I knew after that I was gonna enjoy myself on raceday.
Saturday came and I made sure all my transition bags were packed properly, quick check of the bike and I made my way down to the transition area. Bike racked, bags hung routes in and out worked out. Feeling good. Sunday morning arrived, early breakfast and time to go and give the tyres a quick pump up before going to join the other 2700 on the beach. It felt like waiting forever til the pro's had started and then they started with the faster swimmers. Soon it was my turn, 6 swimmers starting every 4 seconds. I hoped this would spread us out but it was a bit tight for the first two hundred metres. It seemed to spread out a bit and I felt I was swimming well. Just a couple of close encounters and then it was out, up the ramp and the 600m long run uphill to transition.
Transition went well, long run out to the mount line, flying mount and I was off. The bike started as it carried on, I just seemed to be passing someone every minute or less. I noticed a lot of large groups of riders passing me in the opposite direction and also noticed the penalty boxes full, presumably for drafting. Just after I'd reached the first turn around point I spotted a peloton moving very fast on the other side of the road. They soon passed me and after mumbling a few swear words at them, I carried on at my own speed. As they got about 200m away there was a massive crash. One of them hit the floor hard, rider one way, bike another and water bottles another. I had to fully concentrate to make sure I didn't hit any of the debris. After taking a right turn off the coast road we started climbing for a while before arriving at the old Formula One circuit at Estoril.
A full lap later and we were back on the roads again. After a while the toughest part of the bike route, climbing up a snaking road but I knew that after not too long, I would be turning around at the top and coming back down again. Just as we arrived at the turn around the guy in front of me got it all wrong and ended up flat on the floor, more precise manoeuvres required to squeeze past him and then it was time to fly back down the hill. This speed felt like it continued all the way back to transition. I had to stop myself from grinning like a Cheshire Cat. On the approach to transition, feet out and a quick dismount before the line.
T2 went smoothly, bike straight to spot, bag found, shoes and socks on and off. As soon as I started the run, I could tell that the heat was going to play its part. It's strange because the run time I got wasn't too bad but it felt really slow and it felt like I worked really hard to get that time. I just kept trying to pick people off to keep myself focused. On the 2nd lap I was passed by a guy from Tri Rivington and kept it in my mind that I would overtake him again. The last km I actually found some energy and my speed improved massively. I could see the Tri Rivington guy, I was closing in. 200m to go and I was in full on sprint mode, I managed to pass another 10 people including my carrot Mr Tri Rivy.
Overall I'm not really sure how to feel. I was happy with the swim, especially as it was my first sea swim race. I felt really happy while on my bike but looking back at my time I was a little disappointed, I thought I'd be a bit quicker than I was. The run time was definitely a bit of a let down, I'd been running well and was feeling confident but with the heat and possibly going a bit harder on the bike, I didn't have it in me on the day.
I think I'm happy but I've got something niggling ...
That's it for this season so I'd like to thank Sarah for her patience and support and look forward to more improvements next year.