It’s the final countdown… (and yes I did sing that out loud as I wrote it) race day is Sunday, the Cotswold Classic is here, and I’m in that wonderful period pre race where I want to eat the whole contents of my fridge and am convinced that I have definitely not done enough training. The final week before a race is always a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions isn’t it? I was getting a bit of pain in my left leg yesterday and so of course starting imaging not being able to start the race let alone finish it, but a quick foam roller session seems to have sorted that out.
Realistically I’ve done as much training as I could have done with the time available, sure I missed a session here and there but I largely stuck to my plan. I’d have loved to get some more cycling in but family and work commitments made that hard. I’m sure with 6 months perfect training I could be faster but few people have that luxury. I’m happy with what I’ve achieved in training especially considering when I started way back in January I hadn’t ridden my bike for over a year and I can’t remember the last time I actually swam.
This week has featured at least 100 hours of playing with kit, choosing which gels to take, checking the weather forecast, changing which top I’m wearing, remembering to pack my goggles, figuring out what I need in transition. The list goes on, triathlon sure isn’t a simple sport is it?
But despite that and despite it being my first triathlon I’m feeling reasonably confident. My target is to finish in under five and a half hours, it feels achievable when I work through the splits but we’ll see how my running legs feel after 56 miles on the bike! It’s at least not going to be too hot, last year the weather was scorching and I’m really not good in the heat.
I do think it makes a huge difference that I train at the lake so know the course well and home turf is always an advantage. I really like the course too, the lake is beautiful, quite shallow and crystal clear water. You often see fish swimming around and don’t have to worry what might be lurking in the murky depths.
The bike course is essentially flat with only 1 hill which is relatively short and the course is mostly on quiet country roads. I actually really enjoy riding hilly courses partly because of the challenge and also because of the variety it brings to the ride. This course is a very different challenge, I’ve put some tri bars on my bike and I would expect I spend probably at least 80% of the ride tucked into that position. Definitely a course where a fast time is possible but requires consistent focus on keeping the cadence up.
The run is partly on dirt paths around the lakes and partly on road, it’s also pancake flat. You do 3 laps of the run course with a couple of sections which have 2 way traffic on so it’s unlikely you’ll feel alone while running. Being laps also means you pass the transition and start/finish area multiple times so from a spectating point of view it’s also good. I’ve bought my kids some cow bells to ring while they’re watching which I think they’re going to love.
Kit wise I’ve kept it simple, I don’t plan on doing loads of triathlons so I’m just wearing my cycling shorts and a cycling top. I considered buying a tri suit but it didn’t really seem to offer much advantage over what I have already. I went through a few wetsuits before I found one that fitted well finally settling for a Blueseventy Reaction suit which seems to suit my body shape. It would appear that I’ve just got too buff doing all this swimming and had to go up to a bigger size. Who’d have thought it?
Finally nutrition; the plan is to take gels every 40-50 mins on the bike plus I have a couple of bars also for something more solid. I’m also going to have a bar in transition for after the swim, you always feel a little light headed when you get up after swimming that distance so I think a few bites of a bar should help. When it comes to the run I shall be eating whatever takes my fancy from the aid station which I’ve heard is a veritable picnic. By that point you just want calories however they come and you eat whatever you can stomach.
I started writing this post on Friday night, it’s now Saturday night and the car is packed, the triathlon trug is full of gear and I’ve eaten a 2nd dinner. Nothing else to do now other than go to sleep and dream about crossing that finish line. Wish me luck!