3 August 2017 0 Comments

Cool Times

Looking back at my race history last night’s Capernwray Mid Week Sprint Triathlon was significant for two reasons. Firstly (and shockingly) it was my first sprint distance triathlon for 9 years! Secondly, it was my 49th triathlon, leaving me wondering where I might line up for my 5oth.

Why so long since my last sprint triathlon? I’ve always found the distance to be really hard: being a poor swimmer I’ve always been left playing catch up on the bike and run. Relative to the longer distances the swim takes up a larger proportion of the overall time meaning that my results have always been a bit disappointing. Also, the short distances mean that you have to race at a much higher intensity than you ever would on a half or full Ironman. You find yourself teetering on the brink of having to stop all the way around, and if you’re not on the point of collapse you’re not racing hard enough. Put it simply, sprint triathlons are for the talented, fit or young. Preferably all three.

That said, there is a lot to be said to turning up at a cheap, low key, local event and just racing with no pressure. And that is exactly what the Capernwray Mid Week Series is all about. Run by Epic Events, online entry is only ?20. The swim takes place in the incredibly clean Jackdaw Quarry at the Capernwray Dive Centre; the hilly bike route is on the quiet lanes around the local villages, and the run is along the towpath of the Lancaster Kendal Canal. In short, it’s an idyllic triathlon venue and ideal for an event such as this. If you fancy having a go, the last one of the season is on Wednesday 6th September.

Being local to Lancaster there was a good contingent of COLTs racing and there was plenty of good natured banter floating around in the hour before kick-off. In all, 122 swam out into the quarry for the deepwater start, which was a pretty decent turnout. If you’ve never swum at Jackdaw Quarry you have really missed out. Early season it can be bitterly cold, but by the end of July temperatures are benign and it’s harder to imagine a cleaner swim venue than this. It’s so clean that you could drink the water while watching the divers swimming 6o or 70 feet below you. My swim went as well as I hoped. I hauled out 109th fastest, but there were plenty just in front of me. the front crawl went fine all the way round, and I now need to work on speed – a project for the winter.

The bike route, at 17.6km, is a touch short for a sprint distance, but it makes up for that by having some stinging hills. Knowing the route reasonably well I knew when to push and when to pace myself so hauled in quite a few folk. I kept the intensity pretty high throughout and finished 53rd fastest. Well into the top half and not too bad considering Ironman UK was only 2? weeks ago. Could I keep the intensity going on the run?

Before hitting the canal towpath you have a nice half kilometre downhill to get your pace up. The legs felt good so quickly passed a few guys who beat me on the last few hundred metres into transition and then set off along the towpath at a solid sub 5 minute per km pace. Although a couple of faster guys passed me, I kept the heart rate and pace well up and it was only on the hill back up to the finish that I struggled, which told me that I had run as hard as I could. At slightly over 5km in length I was delighted to finish in 25 minutes dead, 58th fastest.

Danny Rogerson, Katy Douglas and I getting our breath back

My overall finish time was 1:18:54 which was 65th overall and 6th in my age group – irritatingly, an improvement of 20 seconds would have seen me finish 4th. Those moments faffing around in transition because I didn’t put Bodyglide on the heels and tongues of my running shoes cost me dear. Actually, it turns out that the time was only 5 seconds behind my pb for the distance (set at Trentham in 2004!), and, more importantly, I really enjoyed myself. It won’t be 9 years before I do my next sprint distance: I’m thinking next month at the last of the Capernwray Mid Week Series.





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