Tuesday 23 June 2015

(The Avenger) The day I was Johnny Mitchum

After my 10 mile run on Saturday, I sat in front of my computer to download my route and stuff. And just at that time, a message popped up on my FaceBook account. My buddy John had strained his calf  and was not able to participate in the Avenger Triathlon at Ragley Hall. He asked if I wanted to take his place...
I did a quick back-ground piece of research and found out the following:

The Avenger - Olympic Distance 
1.3km Swim 
46km Bike 
10km Run 

The swim takes place in Ragley's ornamental boating lake, with competitors completing either one, two or three laps. (2 laps in my case).

The bike sections head out onto the open roads of the Warwickshire and Worcestershire countryside, the routes are scenic and undulating with good road surfaces throughout. 

Finally the tough run course takes competitors through the tracks and trails of Ragley's beautiful estate; the run course has been changed from previous years to encompass more trail running and less grass sections. 

Please note that distances for the Sprint and Olympic events are subject to confirmation. (And Heartbreak Hill is making an appearance).

Without further ado, I decided I would be Johnny Mitchum for the day. Free entry into an awesome event. Would it really matter that I had just ran 10 miles, was ill prepared and had no time to train specifically?
Well, before I knew it, the race day had arrived. I packed up all my stuff and got to Ragley Hall about an hour before my event kicked off. First off, I located my slot within the transition area. Not an awful lot of room, but enough to just house my bike and leave my cycling sandals and running shoes ready for those legs of the event. After I got my stuff ready in the transition area, I just bummed about for a while. It was nice to take in the atmosphere and was awesome to bump into fellow triathlete's from my tri-club.

Only minutes before the start, I, alongside just over 100 others, was summoned to the water. My stomach felt full of butterflies and I just couldn't shift this feeling. Am not sure if it was nerves or excitement, maybe both. These feelings soon went once the whistle/horn/what-ever-it-was was sounded. My plan was to not race this section but just swim as normal and get to the finish. I knew swimming was my weakest discipline but I didn't think I was really as bad as I was. Quite embarrassing really, but I was the last but 3rd person out of the water! My 1.3k swim (2 laps around the lake) took me a good 38 mins to complete, that was a whole 8 mins slower than the field average. Out of the water, I ran to the transition area. It was awesome spotting my daughter Lunar (and Lin) watching from the sidelines. I just had to stop and give Lunar a kiss. Lunar got wet and exclaimed 'naughty daddy!'

I only spent about 2 mins in the transition area. I decided to wear cycling sandals (SPD's) so I wouldn't have to bother drying my feet and trying to put socks on. Helmet, glasses and gillet was all I decided I would wear (plus the tri-suit I was in). Getting the wet suit off was a menace, and getting my sandals on was a challenge. Once in bike mode though, I was off!
The bike leg was fantastic. I felt strong and was getting an almost constant buzz after I overtook cyclist after cyclist after cyclist. I chased each cyclist I saw in front of me and felt I was reeling them in one by one. I managed to cycle at an average speed of over 30kph which was my goal and I knew I could maintain this as the outward cycle was into a headwind.
At about the half-way section, drinks were being offered but I didn't partake as I was prepared already and taking sips from my bottle every 5k. The route followed roads that I had recently cycled with my blind friend Roger on his tandem. Thinking about Roger motivated me further and helped me grind my gears. I passed so many cyclists, this section was just great. As I neared the transition once more, I remembered advice from John Legge and span my legs big time in an easier gear before dismounting the bike. Just before reaching the transition, I passed Lunar and Lin again which was nice.
Lunar, my no.1 fan!
The 50k bike leg took me about 1 hour and 40 minutes to complete, about 8 minutes faster than the average cyclist in the field. My maths told me that I was now on an equal footing after my slow swim. Only a quick transition and a run to go....
In the transition area I swapped my sandals for my running shoes. I put my socks on but they felt damp. It was hot, so I removed my gillet and put on m running cap. I took a couple of gels as they were being offered and off I jogged.

The run was a10k off-road route. It was really warm by now and running was a sweaty affair. It was nice to cool off a little as the course went through wooded areas allowing me to simmer down a little. I took a couple of gels and drank some water at about the mid-way point. In retrospect, I wished I pushed myself a little harder during the run as I wasn't really racing. My time was about 1 minute slower than the field average and I only really raced the last few metres as I sprinted to the finish.
It was great getting to the finish and completing my very first ever Olympic distance triathlon (including my only ever triathlon with an open water swim). It was a lovely event and I felt I deserved the lovely medal at the finish. I came in 62nd position out of a filed of 109 (an additional 2 did not finish). My overall time was 3:15:09.
I didn't beat the 3 hour mark which no doubt the real Johnny M would have done, But hey, I had fun and have a target to beat should I race this event (or Johnny M) again in the future. It felt great to be Johnny M on that day in history. :)

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