Saturday I sold my soul and entered into my first proper multi-sport race, one of the harder ones around I was told afterwards the Big Day at the Office was definitely a big day out!
Saturday Morning it was pretty windy and with all the clouds around I was wondering whether I should ride in a jacket to start with! The first stage starting in Methven was a 40km cycle to the start of the run and it was going to be my first real bunch ride in a race situation so I was a little bit nervous. Once underway it seemed ok, I was coping ok with the pace, I successfully made my way into the front group and stayed there. Once the bunch was down to a manageable size the big boys started to get it a bit more organised. I found myself getting circulated a few times while some of the others hung at the back so I decided this time to slip right to the back before coming across and going forward. I was pretty much to the back and about ready to move forward again then all of a sudden the guy in front of me stopped peddling and slowed as the bunch obviously slowed but I had nowhere to go and ran right into the back of his wheel. I tried to stay upright but I was too far off balance and hit the chip seal hard. Another guy went down with me and the pack quickly disappeared. I did a quick check, got myself off the road, got my bike off the road and got the others guys stuff of the road. I checked to see he was OK, and he told me to keep going so just after the second bunch went through I was back onto my bike. The second bunch was within reach for a moment or too but I just couldn’t get there. One guy dropped off the back and I thought I could work with him to get back there but he was too far gone and gave up pretty quickly. So I was left to ride the last 10 or so km by myself with the third bunch way behind there was no way they were going to get me so it was a long and windy way into transition.
Onto the run I knew it was my chance to get back what I had lost in the bike so the first 45mins or so was a good solid grind and I started picking off places. Unfortunately and possibly due to the hard ride by myself at the end of the ride I started to get cramp halfway through. I had no electrolyte drink so leppin and gels it had to be. I was reduced to walking the hills to avoid the cramp onset and manage it however I could with food and some drink. The technical running downhill definitely fell into my favour and I was able to pull away from a good proportion of the field at the end and slot myself into 6th place. Not too bad after being in 30th and 10mins down after the first bike.
The next cycling section I really battled with cramp. I went through the electrolyte drink super fast and it helped for a while. The cramp kept coming and going and the headwind became worse and worse, until finally we turned off the main road and headed downwind. The cramp was still haunting me but the thought of some sports drink at the kayak was keeping me going. Into the kayak transition Riki was there busy handing me a drink bottle of Coke, not quite what I wanted but he was also missing the lid… I was keen to take this bottle with me in the boat but when I repeatedly asked for the lid, he thought I was talking about the spray skirt… so I gave up and paddled on!
The original kayak was supposed to be on the river, and having only recently got into river racing I have a nice stable boat. However because of the good old Nor-west wind the river was up and Plan B was enacted, we meant we paddled on a river canal also known as the RDR. Having a nice stable boat was a slight disadvantage on the flat water of the RDR and I slogged away while I was passed by 4 boats that were much faster than me….
Off the water there was only about 15km to go so I made it my goal not to lose anymore places. I could see the last kayaker to pass me in the distance on his TT bike but I was never going to catch him downwind and then upwind I just suffered along feeling like I was getting absolutely nowhere…eventually I entered the 70km zone of Methven and allowed myself a glance behind. No one there, thankfully. The last 1km or so had a pleasant tailwind before we turned off the main road into the finish around the back of the resort…except just as I wanted to enter the finish so did the BBQ and it ended up in my lane and while they were telling me to go left I couldn’t see a way through because of the stupid trailer! eventually I worked it out and slipped into the finish in 8th place. Not too bad for my first Multi-sport race. After stopping I could actually survey my wounds from the crash and realised basically the left side of my body was deeply grazed and my ankle a little swollen!
So in the end a fairly good day out… but a few things to learn for the future…
- Hydration – Electrolytes is essential on the cycling to run section.
- Bunch riding – how not to fall off…
- Time trial riding – how not to get bored and still push hard into a headwind
- Transitions – make sure the support crew is on the same page i.e. lid = drink bottle lid, not spray skirt!
- Avoid bbq trailers