So two races could be hardly contrasted enough; Melbourne, hot, Ironman distance, this weekend it was Grantham, cold and a sprint distance.
I only entered late this year as I was unsure of any injuries I might pick up doing Ironman. As it was I finished the ironman and had a month(ish) off from training without anything noticeable. Only when I took Belle for a gentle run (she was out of shape too after holidaying with my Mum) and got to 3 miles did I start to feel a throbbing knee pain. Nothing major but enough to think 'hmm whats this about?'
A few days later I try again and decide to reduce the run to 3 miles but it starts throbbing after 2 miles! Aaaarggghhhhh now I'm paranoid the season is done and I've paid for my Kona entry, flights and accommodation.
Well all is not lost yet. I try Victoria Park run whilst in Northern Ireland for my brother's wedding and I win in 17:45 with no pains. Hurrah! Unfortunately the next few days are pain filled again.
So Ali and I decide on a bit of open water swimming at Boundary Breeze and I'm thinking the cold water might help and Oh yes it is cold. A couple of laps and I get out to take advantage of a massage with Andy Chalmers and he finds a few tight spots on my ITB's and TFL's. After much heavy breathing, sweating and a few muffled swear words I feel lots looser but a little bruised and battered.
And so to race day. an early start required to get to Grantham so we are up at 4am and out the door with the car packed and Belle in the travel cage in 45minutes. At least it looks sunny in Grantham as we arrive in good time to register, chat with old friends and walk the pooch.
Ali sets off 32 minutes before me and is doing her best to prevent me catching her. Darren Kelly is off 14 minutes before me and he is hoping I won't catch him either. There are a few 'fast looking' lads with bling bikes too but I'm hoping they are are great swimmers with lots of money.
I get a good position in lane 2 for the swim and manage a decent first 100m keeping up with the other green hats( the benefits of pool triathlons). My goggles start to mist about 200m in and I miss a few perfect tumble turns but I'm not losing too much time. I climb out of the pool about 5:50 knowing I have done 400m without really counting the laps. The benefits of consistency and knowledge?
I race into T1 and, conscious that last year was freezing and slower as I donned clothes, this time the only thing delaying me is trying to squeeze my bike out from between others in the tight racking. A good sign I think as I must be ahead.
I let rip on the bike deciding to hammer the 18k course at all costs and I am overtaken on the first lap on the hill by Chris Pratt from Spalding Triathlon. nail it down into town and retake Chris just before the end of the first lap and continue to keep the pressure on acutely aware pool triathlon are time trials and you never know who if someone faster is ahead or behind.
another fast transition and I'm out running but not feeling the mojo. My hamstrings feel tight and I'm heavy breathing but no knee pain. The second lap is a lot better and I'm getting into my stride and feeling relaxed and I remind myself that 6 weeks ago I was running a marathon after a 112 miles of biking. I got overtaken by the 2nd placed finisher but not the 1st who started 2 minutes after my wave. I finished 3rd overall in 53min 41s and claimed the fastest bike split of the day(27min 14s). I was over 3 mins quicker than last year too.
I did catch Ali but only just before she turned off the main road and caught Darren just after but I could barely speak to acknowledge either as I passed. Its a race after all!
So I come away with a small trophy and a £10 cheque(it'll pay for nearly the petrol to get there but every little helps). The main thing is NO KNEE PAIN so happy days!
GB qualifiers next month so back on the Ironman diet of dust and training.