Monday, 9 June 2014

Blenheim Triathlon 2014

08/06/2014 - So it was time for my first triathlon of the year, the Blenheim Palace Triathlon. My wife and I had travelled up on the Friday so that we could spend a couple of days at the Palace. We had a friend who was competing on Saturday and my wife wanted to take time to look around the Palace.

We had a lovely drive over and got settled into the Premier Inn at Bichester, 12 miles from Blenheim. As always with Premier Inn the hotel was nice and room clean and amenable but the Brewers Fare bar and restaurant was to prove a disappointment. Looks lovely but they forgot our order and a very simple couple of dishes took 1 hour and 20 minutes to actually make it to our table. To their credit they did at least refund the food cost and give us a free drink. So apart from breakfasts which were nice we never ate there again.

Saturday morning and we set off to Blenheim. It's beautiful round that way but we could not see a lot of it as the weather was appalling. Rain was hammering down and I felt for the people who would be already doing their triathlons. We got to Blenheim Palace, got parked and had trudged through the mud into the grounds.

Heavy weather
We had a look round to get a feel of the set-up for my triathlon the next day and waited for our friend, Helena, to arrive who was doing hers that morning. She arrived and after greeting us she set off to transition and down to the water for the swim start. Literally as her group stepped onto the pontoon to get into the water the sun came out and the sky cleared and for the rest of the weekend it was hot and sunny. Anyway I enjoyed watching the racing, cheered on Helena and had a great time while my wife disappeared into the Palace not to be seen for several hours.

Moving on to Sunday and I was up early, way too early but I was excited. My first triathlon of the year and my first ever open water one. It was the swim that was making me the most nervous and looking at the lake the day before the distance looked formidable. But I'd swum much further in training so I should be prepared. It was a beautiful day and the issue today would be the heat not the rain. We got everything out of the car, I popped the front wheel on the bike and we set off. A good friend of mine, Gareth, was already there so we met up for a post race chat. Easy since we were also going out in the same group - wave 8.  We're an odd couple what with me being a short arse and him being an actual giant - see below.

Just prior to meeting up I'd set off into transition to drop off the bike and the kit I'd need and I took my time in transition to check over the bike. Good job to as I'd nowhere near tightened the front wheel enough and would have looked a bit daft wheeling off into the race with no front wheel. So finished my business and out of transition, chatting completed, toilet attended to we set off for the swim start. I was very glad to have Gareth there as he'd done this one before which in my book made him an old hand at this stuff and since he was not panicking I chose not to. I'd set myself a small but essential list of things not to do in the swim, drown or shit myself, I was hoping for a 100% hit rate but would settle for 50/50. Good news was the water was a bath tub 18.2 degrees C, oh yes, and the lake looked bloody lovely. So after a bit of moral boosting pre-swim briefing and a reminder to have fun we were off into the water.

I'm there somewhere.
After 5 swimming out to the start I positioned myself at the back and waited. We were in the water for about 5 minutes when the start horn went off. I swam about 10 feet stopped, took off my goggles, adjusted them, swam about 10 feet, took of my goggles and adjusted them, swam about 10 feet took off my goggles and adjusted them. By now I'm firmly at the back and kicking myself for being a plonker. So head down I start swimming. I found a nice rhythm and before long I found myself in amongst the pack and for now both afloat and shit free.

Not entirely sure what to do I was weaving myself through and eventually thought, sod this, and swam out to the side and had a clear swim though it did mean I had to swim a little further. Quicker than I'd thought I passed the big floaty thing (buoy) that the super sprint peeps would turn off at, brilliant, head down keep going. Then up ahead loomed the big floaty thing (buoy) we had to turn at. Here again I took a wide berth swam round and headed for the exit pontoon. Getting there I climbed out, well was hauled out by the guy standing there and some nice helper unzipped my wetsuit for me - really good that. It's a 0.37 mile run up to the first transition and it's a damn steep climb too in a wetsuit. I was not sure how to play it so I held back a bit worried that I might knacker my legs before I even got on the bike. A few hundred yards up and Gareth passed me, I was a little surprised that I had got past him in the swim but he was making up for that.

I'm actually only a foot behind, he's sooo tall.
I dripped into T1 and faffed about at the bike and generally taking way too much time, approximately 2 minutes longer than Gareth to get out on the bike. But then again he did not have a cool Italian cycling top to put on - something he took the piss out of my for doing since it was just about the hottest day of the year. So I eventually left transition and tried to make up for lost time on the bike. The little Carrera doing a splendid job of getting me round.

Love my little bike
I was loving the riding and was really going for it on the flats and the down hills. Once again though I felt that it's the up hill bits that are letting me down. I need to really work out how to do them properly. I suspect it's my stubbornness that's the issue here though. There were people getting off and pushing their bikes up a particularly difficult spot yet there was I out of my saddle flatly refusing to drop into the smaller gear cog choosing to remain in the hero spectrum of gear cog selection - twat.

That being said I loved the bike section but all too soon it was over and I was back into transition, bike racked, nice Italian jersey off and heading out for the run. For some reason I ran the first lap as a bit of a stroll. I think I was perhaps enjoying it all a bit too much and forgetting to run, which it fine and I was really enjoying it.

"We can dance if we want to....."
So second lap I kicked on a bit, running like I should have run the first lap and it was at this point I decided I really, really should grab some water.

Well that went well as I very nearly choked myself by chucking down my throat and spent the next minute coughing up my guts. Near certain death avoided I finished my second lap and headed for the finish.

That is the "F Bot" my version of the Mo Farah "Mo Bot", though now I can see it's backwards so lost some of the effect.
Up the finish straight I see Gareth shouting me on from the sides so run past for a high five before doing a stupid dash for the line.

Boobs out for the lads!

"Run Forest run!" - obligatory.
So across the line and grabbed my medal, a bottle of water, a can of free energy drink but turned down a beer - it was alcohol free. Well there was Champagne to be had and my wife went and bought a bottle which we enjoyed a little later. Well I must say I absolutely loved it, no not the Champagne, well yes they Champagne but I meant the race. I grinned the entire way round. Deffo do this one again and it's given me the drive to do the Standard or "Olympic" length triathlon, maybe later in the year.

He's even taller than me when I'm on the top of the podium ffs!

I love my Carrera


  1. Great race and great report! I LOVE the F-BOT - that's got to catch on!

  2. Thanks, doing it the wrong way round somewhat dented the effect :)