Racing by the seaside has its pros and cons. On the positive side, you can nearly always expect it to be a cooler, a god send yesterday, plus Fish and Chips and ice-cream at the finish line 👌👌
On the flipside coastal towns can be busy on a hot day and so although there are a lot of people about, most of them are looking at you with a look that is part confusion, “why are you doing this???” 🤷🏻♂️ and part disgust, “eeeuww that’s a lot of lycra for 10:30am……🤢”
Ironbourne Middle Distance tri was perfect for me, being 5weeks before Ironman Sweden in August and being the Triathlon England National Champs it seemed like a good one to enter.
The alarm hadn’t gone off when the dawn chorus of seagulls started, boy are they loud, good job I had to get up at 4am anyway. 130grams of oats soaked over night with blueberries and almond milk, straight down the hatch at 4am then over to transition to set up.
What a stunning morning – there was a real wow moment as walking towards Eastbourne pier for the swim start. The only ‘hill’ right on the beach is the Wishtower slopes and as athletes crested this minor bump, flailing their arms as warm up, the silhouette of neoprene clad gods and goddesses against the stunning orange sky created by the sun rising in front of them, will be my go to race morning memory next time I’m in a cold, dark, wet transition area wishing I was somewhere else at 5:30am!!
A rolling start, with a jump of about 15ft from the end of the pier, (far scarier than I’d expected!!) and we’re off with the swim, sea water and neoprene combining seamlessly to lift my ‘sinky’ legs, what a joy to race in the sea! 28 ½ minutes later we’re scrambling out on the beach, I would have happily carried on for another lap.
As you all know triathlon is all about perfecting your prep, so looking down at my front wheel to see the skewer at 45degrees was not the start to the bike I’d hoped for, stop tighten, damn I’ve lost a position… off we go again. OK Eat now, haha remembered to open the wrapper on my veloforte bar in advance, perfect prep…. feeling smug about that one, forgot about all the “glide” lubrication I seemed to have managed to get all over the wrapper, Doh, dropped it, turnaround, stop again, pick it up, get going again, another place lost…. Getting out of Eastbourne takes some concentration, 15 zebra crossings and about the same number of roundabouts later we arrive at another large roundabout, the kind you find at a motorway junction with three lanes going round it, this one is a U turn, so of course I miss the exit, lets go round the roundabout again, this is not the race execution I was hoping for, another place lost!! The rest of the ride goes smoothly, Birling Gap and Beachy Head are absolutely stunning at this time in the morning and with this weather, perfect! 2hrs 28 on the watch… ‘whaaat’??? I’m thinking it must have been short.
The run course takes us up a gravel path and onto a hilly grassy section that was so tough, you could just feel the pace slipping with every footstrike on gravel, thankfully less than 4k ‘offroad’ and we’re back onto the promenade, I’m starting to feel for Nick and Lucy last week in Roth, its about 24degrees, and I’m already feeling like my teeth are sweating, they had double the distance in 32 degrees. I’d better man up and get on with this, last mile and actually feeling really great so push on to the finish. Catching the announcer out was a high point by turning right for the finish chute, when she clearly thinks I’ve got another lap in me and should turn left, So I burst through the finishing tape like I’d won the whole event. They did that for everyone by the way 🤫
Can’t say the English triathlon royalty came out to play on the day, but hell you can only beat who turns up, so you may now address me as Mr ‘Triathlon England, Male 50-54, Middle Distance National Champion 2022”…. Drop the mic…. Thank you if you’re still reading and good night. 😂